Business writing top 10
Whatever your reason for writing something for business—to entice new clients, roll out a new product, compete for a contract or even rev up the troops—you want to make sure your copy is powerful and persuasive. Here are 10 ways to make that happen:
- Know your audience. Are they familiar with the topic? Will they be a “tough sell”? Are they old or young, highly educated or not?
- Know your message. Determine your goal before you start writing and a key message to achieve it. Consider if you’re sharing, explaining or inspiring.
- Think like a reporter. Don’t leave out basic facts. Include the answers to the Five Ws and H: who, what, where, why, when and how.
- Eliminate buzzwords. Don’t use phrases like “service-oriented” or “customer-focused” or clichés like “thinking outside the box” or “low-hanging fruit.” Be more creative.
- Dump the jargon. Use acronyms and technical terms sparingly so you don’t confuse your audience—and define them when they’re necessary.
- Tighten it up. Use short sentences and short paragraphs. This is especially important for documents read electronically, especially on phones.
- Make it easy. Assume readers skim before reading, so put deadlines and other vital points in bold, use descriptive subheads to break up long copy blocks and put the most important information at the top.
- Cut the symbols and abbreviations. Using full words is more professional than shortcuts like “&” and “etc.” Save those for personal communication.
- Be active. Use active rather than passive voice. Ask who is acting in the sentence and make sure that person or organization is the subject of the verb. “XYZ company is offering a free trial period” is active. “A free trial period is being offered by XYZ company” is passive.
- Proofread. Spell check is a good start but it’s not enough. Read copy out loud to catch missing words and ideally have someone else review it, since it’s hard to proof your own writing.
Time for cake
August and September are celebratory months for me for business and personal reasons. On Sept. 1, 2004, I took the brave step of leaving my job to go freelance. Thank you to everyone who’s supported my journey as I celebrate the 18th anniversary of Adrienne Moch Writing & Editing. August 23 will mark 21 years since I moved to San Diego and August 31 is my birthday.