Timm Gunn, co-host of the Emmy-winning reality show Project Runway, once said that in this Internet age, the word “manners” seems antiquated. Life moves so rapidly that it’s easy to feel justified in being rude.
Therefore, many people write short and curt messages. Others don’t acknowledge email. Yet others forget that their readers are busy, and have little time to read long and tedious messages.
Business writing is always about the reader – not the writer.
What is the point of showcasing your writing prowess, when your reader cannot understand your message easily?
And just because you have all the information, should you include it all to show the reader how much you know?
To make reading even more challenging, the tone is sometimes cold and unfriendly. This makes the reader feel uncertain or unwelcome.
Here are some quick tips for your writing:
(1) Ensure logical flow in your writing – especially when the message is complex.
Circle key words in your paragraphs, and see if they convey a logical sequence of ideas. Better still, plan your content before you start writing.
(2) Eliminate old-fashioned words and phrases.
“Attached herewith” and “the undersigned” come to mind. Others include “as per your message dated” and “pursuant to your email of”.
(3) Keep sentences to below 20 words.
Most people can follow the flow easily in a sentence that contains 20 words or fewer. Beyond that, this becomes a challenge.
(4) Take some care with the layout.
Use one paragraph for each key point, and leave a line-spacing between paragraphs. Use headings and lists where appropriate.
(5) Eliminate grammar mistakes in your writing.
Read a good grammar reference book or attend a grammar workshop if grammar is a challenge for you.
The way you write projects your professional image. Make sure it is a positive image.