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.

Your writing needs to be quick to read, and have personality injected in it – through the clever use of stories, rhythm, sentence length and metaphor.

 

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.

 

Pompous Plain-Speaking
In the event that if
At the present time now
Subsequent to after
The possibility exists for might
Prior to before
According to our records our records show
In order to to
In the neighbourhood of around, about
As per your letter in your letter
Concur agree
From time to time occasionally
In reference to about
Comply with meet
It is necessary that must
Due to the fact that because
In the amount of for
However but

 

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.

 

 

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