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Quick Guide to Honing Your Business Writing Skills

Business leaders need to know how to write. This is an indisputable fact the simple reality of today’s landscape. A significant amount of business communication occurs through writing — emails, memos, reports, blogs and more — and the stronger a leader’s writing ability, the better they can communicate their thoughts, opinions and ideas to their target audience. If your writing is not up to snuff, you need to find ways to strengthen this critical business skill before you will see any movement up your career ladder.

The first step to getting better at business writing is admitting that this is a skill that can always be improved. The second step is to engage in any of the following methods for practicing your business writing skill, so you can better your chances at achieving that executive leadership position of your dreams.

Utilize Basic Writing Principles

Becoming a better writer takes concerted effort, but there are a few tricks you can use to improve your business writing on a daily basis. A few simple principles of effective business writing include:

A graphic of a woman working at the computer with a list of tips on how to become a better business writer: Be direct; Reduce word count; Avoid jargon; Write everyday; Take a course; Study experts

Being direct. You do not want to hide the goal of your writing deep in the text. Your first sentence should inform the reader of your objective, and you should keep your ideas concise and to the point. If you do need to draft a longer report, you might summarize the issue and solution in a paragraph at the top of the first page. 

Reducing word count. The professionals reading your writing are just as busy as you are. You should keep your text succinct, cutting out as much fat from your writing as possible. You can practice substituting shorter words for longer phrases, like “viewpoint” for “point of view” or “indicates” for “is indicative of.”

Avoiding jargon. Sometimes, industry-specific words are unavoidable, but in most cases, using jargon and buzzwords is a lazy approach to writing. You might start a list of blacklisted words and phrases you are not allowed to use in your writing to improve clarity and conciseness.

Proofreading. Once you have completed your text, you should reread it at least twice, looking for errors. Try to imagine yourself as your reader and consider how the meaning of phrases and sentences might be interpreted differently. You can also look for weaknesses or gaps that could topple your arguments. Then, you should make appropriate changes to strengthen your writing. Though it might be tempting to outsource proofreading to a colleague or friend, engaging in proofreading yourself will provide valuable insights into your writing that can improve your skill in the future.

Write Everyday

Many business professionals have not written more than 100 words since their college days, which is why their writing skill is so weak. Writing requires regular practice, and if you want to improve your skill quickly, then you need to practice every day. In your daily schedule, you should set aside 30 minutes for your writing. You might experiment with different journaling techniques to discover which writing practice works best for you.

Enroll in a Writing Course

Many professionals enjoy having guidance from an experienced professional when they strive to gain new skills. You can find introductory writing courses online or at your local community college, but in truth, these might not provide much benefit to your career. Instead, you should look into executive courses online, which will provide you with the writing practice you need to excel in your career. You should foster a relationship with your course instructor and ask for detailed feedback on your writing, so you have as much information to improve your skill as possible. Our courses, developed by Lynn Gaertner-Johnson have helped thousands sharpen their business writing acumen and can be found at 

Study Excellent Business Writers

Writing is a solitary activity, and the only apprenticeship writers have access to is reading the works of more accomplished writers. Fortunately, there are many effective business leaders who have published works of writing for you to learn from. Undoubtedly, your local library has on its shelves some of the best business books of all time, to include:

  • Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  • Shoe Dog by Phil Knight
  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

You might also ask for recommendations of business writing from mentors, colleagues and superiors. Understanding what those around you consider to be good writing will help you hone your skill to your unique industry.

Are there more tips? Of course! But this is a good start.

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By Susan Barlow

Dr. Susan Barlow is retired from academia after teaching business administration, project management, and business writing courses for over 20 years.

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