For some of us, written business communication is more difficult to master than oral communication. We have to spell correctly, use proper grammar, and get our point across without benefit of body language or other helpful aids. When you use these seven tips, your writing will improve and become clearer to your readers.
Spell like a champion.
When your automatic spell check comes up, don’t dismiss it, but take a moment to look at it and see which words you may be mistyping or misspelling. Take another minute to commit the error to memory. The more often you do that, the faster and clearer your writing will become… automatically.
Pay special attention to word pairs such as blue / blew, they’re / their / there, and your / you’re. Simply changing these minor mistakes can vastly improve your writing.
Read your writing when you’re finished—aloud.
You’ll find awkward phrasing, adjectives that don’t fit, and incorrect verb use when you read documents out loud. If you don’t have time or aren’t in a position to read it out loud, at least give it your full attention and skim through it. (However, do your best to give yourself plenty of time to proof your writing.)
Always use grammar check when you finish a document.
You’ll find passive sentences, incorrect verb usage, and nonstandard grammar when you check your writing every time. Again, take a minute to truly learn what could be improved. After a few weeks of doing this, you’ll be surprised how much better your writing will feel to you and look to others.
Ask someone else to read it.
Every one of us has at least one intelligent coworker who knows how to write, so ask him or her to take a quick look at your writing. He or she may see things that need corrected that you’ve never noticed before. A second set of eyes is always a good thing!
Don’t take anything personally.
You’re going to hear derogatory comments about your writing. Consider the source, and adjust your feelings and expectations accordingly. Often people are quick to jump on other people’s writing, and sometimes they don’t know what they’re talking about. Other times, however, their comments are spot on. Take what they say under consideration, and you might learn something that will improve your writing.
Slow down and look at what you’re writing.
Could you cut some words? Do you use extra words that don’t need to be there? For example, I read a statement a few weeks ago that said, “The major stakeholders, they need to sit up and figure out what’s happening here to their business.” Couldn’t that have been shortened and the redundancies taken out? One way to shorten it would be, “Major stakeholders need to heed changes in business management.”
Don’t be afraid to change the way you do things.
If you find that you tend to ramble on if you write in the morning, then write later in the day. We all have our stronger times of day, so use yours to the fullest!
How do you keep your writing sharp and clear?