In finding out how to improve writing skills for business writing in English, there are a number of important points to bear in mind. Some are specific to English, some reflect writing skills required in business across the world.
There are some Business English phrases and techniques which a person who is not a native speaker could very usefully learn and understand to improve their writing skills in Business English.
This article will look through some of the most important sills needed when communicating in writing in your business work.
Remember, the recipient of your email is going to be a) a very busy person and b) somebody in receipt of many emails each day. The following key points will help you to improve your writing skills in emails:
- Be clear
- Be concise
- Make your emails actionable
Remember not to waste words with a greeting or even a context, get straight to the point with short sentences or bullet points.
Start with your heading, or subject. Keep it to eight words maximum in a way that will tell the reader what you are writing about. For example: Meeting at 3.00pm For All. Conference Room. There can be no doubt about that.
Secondly, think about what you want to communicate. When you have written your email, edit it before sending to make sure that you are not wasting words. For example: JP is holding a meeting to discuss sales figures. They are down by 11% over the last month.
Make it clear what actions are needed, naming precisely who needs to do what. If there is a link, give the URL, don’t refer back to a previous email. Remember, it is all about allowing the recipient to know what they need to know in the shortest way possible. An example of this is:
All staff will need their monthly forecasts for the next three months. They will also need their sales figures for last month. Jane – please bring the overview on sales; Bill: please bring the latest figures from the competition. Everybody should read www.anyshop.com/salesfigures2018 before attending.
Short, sweet but informative, the recipe for the perfect business email.
Some of the same rules apply, but a business letter is a more formal way of communicating. If you are seeking how to improve writing skills in formal letters, the following guidance will help you.
Firstly, make sure that you follow the correct English format. Many businessmen and women are old school and value correctly laid out letters.
Use business headed paper, or if you do not have this, write your address in the top right-hand side. Level with where the heading or your address finishes, you should write the name and address of the recipient. This will be on the left-hand side, and will have the date underneath.
If you do not know the person to whom you are writing, you should begin the letter with: Dear Sir or Dear Sir/Madam. This kind of letter ends with: Yours faithfully, then your name and signature. If you do know the person you are writing to then you may begin the letter with: Dear Mrs Smith or Dear Jill. As it is a formal, business letter this form should end with: Yours sincerely, then your name and signature.
The content of the letter should be formal, but not unfriendly. It should give a context at the beginning:
I am writing with reference to your recent request for information regarding changes to transport links in your region.’
It should satisfy the purpose of the letter:
‘I can confirm that the new railway station will open on December 9th, and that buses on route 62, which pass your office, will stop at the station. It is expected that the new station will increase traffic in the area and your clients may therefore need more time to reach your office, and find parking space.’
The letter should end in a way that allows the recipient to seek more information if needed:
‘I hope that this answers your question. There are more details on our website: www.moretraffic.com and I am happy for you to telephone me at the number above if you have further concerns.’
Writing to Persuade
Be it emails, letters, advertisements or other forms of communications, most business writing seeks to make clients wish to use your business services or products more often.
Writing skills to help to persuade a customer are more flexible and varied that with letters or emails, but still have certain rules and phrases which make them effective.
Firstly, outline the problem. The client needs to have a reason to use your business. For example, a plumbing company might pick on the fact that finding plumbers is hard to do:
Have you been looking for a plumber for weeks, but can’t find one?
The use of a question is a good tool for establishing the problem.
Secondly, expand briefly on the issue at hand, giving authority to your writing.
Customers often have to contact up to ten plumbers to find one to do their job. Even when it is urgent.
Next give them the solution to their problem.
All Plumbers guarantee to respond to your enquiries and will organise a visit to give you a quote within 48 hours of contact. Usually, we can respond within a day. And we do not charge emergency prices for this service.
Finally, this type of business writing will end with a call to action.
Make a note of our contact details and get in touch next time you need a plumber. You won’t be disappointed.
To summarise, the key to using business writing skills is to keep the message short and to the point. Don’t waste words, because people do not have the time or the inclination to read long missives. Finally, say what you want to say and then stop.
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