The way you write for business needs to change.
Pompous is out, plain speaking is in. That’s the long and short of it.
I know, some of you may have been writing the same way you were taught at school and university – and it’s worked perfectly well, thank you very much.
That’s true, it has.
It’s got the job done, but can the job be done better? Could it be more engaging? Have more personality? Deliver a better result? Probably, yes.
Business writing originally took place solely in various printed mediums, and it was considered necessary to have a conservative, authoritarian tone. Much of its language had legal heritage (for preciseness), leaning towards boring and dull.
That’s no longer the case. The vast majority of business writing is created and read in a visual form on screens – which is an entirely different mode of writing, reading and absorbing.
Between smart devices, emails, blogs, social media and websites we’re probably spending far more time writing than we’ve ever done; especially than prior to the arrival of the internet.
It has revolutionised the way we communicate with one another.
Words are back.
But they’re different words.
They’re simpler, more direct. Shorter.
Write like you speak
Formal is out. Conversational and approachable is in.
It’s really a question of style.
English teachers of old used to spend much of their time trying to persuade their charges that they had terribly common speech and manners and that if they could write with a slightly posher style, they’d be able to drag themselves out of the gutter that they were inevitably headed for in later life.
The fact is we are natural talkers.
We speak before we can write; and most of us are better at speaking than we are writing.
Some still feel that compared to writing, speech is lazy and second class. Well, it ain’t.
There are just differences.
More than plain
Most of us are more engaging in person than we are on a page or screen. We’re more straightforward, natural, quicker and clearer. Most of all, we have personality in person.
Your writing needs to adopt the best of these.
And that doesn’t mean your writing becomes plain, or dumbed down.
Your writing needn’t be childish; there is a clear difference between something that is simple and something that is simplistic.
The best business writers have a brilliant knack for taking something that’s complex and making it feel straightforward and easy to understand.
There is no need to use complicated, long pompous language to impress your readers.
The quality of your thinking (behind the writing) should do that.
Lean and strong
Avoid killing your writing with pompous words, and instead adopt the tenant of ‘big impact with little words’.
Choosing words that are more unusual, more interesting, more resonant – without going to the extreme – also helps to add style to your writing.
|In the event that
|At the present time
|The possibility exists for
|According to our records
|our records show
|In order to
|In the neighbourhood of
|As per your letter
|in your letter
|From time to time
|In reference to
|It is necessary that
|Due to the fact that
|In the amount of
An easy way to keep your writing more economic and impactful is to use fewer words and keep sentences short.
Remove language that’s willfully complicated, obscure or formal.
Choose words that are familiar, and lively.
Accessible, engaging and real.
Just like the way you talk.