Posted On March 18, 2016 By Alison Hardy

But you’d be surprised how many people haven’t developed this key competence yet.

Business writing is based on the principles of Structured Writing, a style of written communication to achieve maximum impact and readability. It’s been proven to increase the reader’s understanding of the content and has the power to both inform and influence.

Once you’ve mastered the techniques of business writing, you can write content that is concise, well-structured and easy to understand. You’ll stand out as a professional communicator and get the right outcomes from your documents and emails.

So how good is your business writing? Are you making any of these common writing mistakes?

Mistake 1: Failing to plan before you hit the keyboard

It’s tempting to fire up a document or email and jump straight in, but this often results in a muddled message that won’t have the desired effect.

Before you start typing, work out the purpose of your communication and the outcome you want. Be clear why you’re sending the communication and what actions you want the reader to take, and spell these out in the content.

Mistake 2: Telling the reader what you know, not what they need to know

When we write, we tend to take our own perspective rather than the reader’s. This can cause you to gloss over important points that others need to know to make sense of your instructions.

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes as you write and keep the information focused on their needs. Consider what they may or may not know about the subject – and their attitude to it – and tailor your communication accordingly.

Mistake 3: Making the reader do all the work

Confronting your readers with an endless stream of words is the best way to disconnect them from the message and any action you need them to take.

Format your content for reading speed and comprehension. Break up slabs of text with concise, relevant headings and sub-headings to signpost the way through the information. Use white space, bulleted lists, tables and graphics so your readers can scan and process the information quickly. They’ll thank you for it!

Mistake 4: Writing like a novelist (unless it’s Hemingway)

Sit on that urge to write as if you’re penning your first novel when you produce business documentation. This is not the place for flowery prose.

Business writing works because it’s concise, clear and uses plain English, so keep to these important guidelines.

That doesn’t mean you need to be boring though. Use a personal and positive tone to keep your readers engaged.

If you need inspiration from a master of clear writing, reach for Ernest Hemingway.

Where to brush up your writing skills

If you’d like to learn how to write better business documents and communications, we run a 1-day Business Writing Skills course. Come and join in!