Tips for Business Writing – Making it easy/easier
This week I gave a talk on Tips for Business Writing to 30+ people at Bicester’s Wednesday Breakfast Club. Sold a few books, too – but more of that later.
We started at 7.30am, so I decided not to bombard people with Powerpoint, and instead to speak ‘off the cuff’.
People often say my enthusiasm for writing comes across when I talk – the difference good writing can make to your business, where writing can go wrong, and sharing my experience and tips of advice. So why use visual aids?
(To be honest, I was just back from Madeira and hadn’t fancied working there, beside the pool.)
There was real resonance around the room with a couple of my opening lines:
- Does it take you several drafts?
- Have you got other work that is more pressing?
- Do you want more impact and results from your print or digital publications?
Tip 1 – Writing is not easy.
‘But do we give writing the attention and time it requires?’ I asked the room. For example, people are often in a rush to get started and finish a job, but I know from experience the gains from proper planning before you start writing, and editing – which should take up at least 20% of the total time you spend on a job. That is my 80-20 Rule.
Tip 2 – Business writing is particularly hard.
Let’s face it, the subjects are often uninteresting, sometimes complex, and littered with jargon that sometimes has to be included, as a legal requirement.
Tips 3 – But it needn’t be like that / Where it goes wrong.
In my talk I outlined a few places where business writing goes wrong. For example: (1) people write to impress rather than to engage/interest the reader; (2) they cram sentences with more and more details, which rapidly erodes sentence’s clarity and turns readers off; and (3) they are saddled by ‘grammatical myths’ from their schooldays, like ‘You can’t start sentences with “And”.’ (Not true, is today’s advice.)
As a former journalist who wrote features for 5 years for national broadsheets, I know some of the tricks of the writing trade. Maybe I can share them with you?
Businesses value my ability to:
- Transform a draft text.
- Write a case study, newsletter, website, etc. that can engage, influence and sell.
- Check and proofread documents.
- Train staff to do all the above.
Oh yes, the books … Well, the businesses must have found my talk useful as six people bought copies.