These days, you can’t do anything in business without doing some writing. Even if it’s only creating invoices and quotes, we all still need to write. And for most of us, it’s a lot more than that – we write emails, website content, blog posts, FAQs, procedures and process instructions, Facebook posts, twitter quotes and a whole lot more. Yet very few of us were ever taught much about writing and, just as likely, we hated doing essays at school.
So – how can you improve your writing, so that all that stuff you need to create is good, and helps your business?
Here are 5 tips to help you write better, no matter what you are writing.
- Always get someone else to read it, once you think it’s ‘finished’ because they may not interpret your words at all in the way you expected. You can then adjust things, based on their feedback. They will also likely spot spelling mistakes and other errors that you might have missed.
- Use strongly descriptive terms – make the reader feel like they can see / smell / taste / hear whatever you are describing, whenever possible – people remember things better, when they have a clear mental picture of them.
- Before you start writing, consider what outcomes you want for you / your business, and for the reader, from this piece of writing. If you want them to act once the read it, and buy something from you, then you know that you need to ask them to, and to tell them how to. If you want them to be able to do something, then you know that you need to include all of the steps of doing it, in the correct order. If you understand that, before you write, you can plan what you write to make sure that is what happens.
- Provide plenty of ‘thinking space’. In the world today, people are very visually oriented – they watch video, they read digital books, and they do it all in micro instalments, usually on their smartphone, at the bus stop, when waiting for a meeting to start, etc. So, you need to make your writing very visually accessible, very easily consumed in small, bite sized pieces and immediately visually appealing. Big, long blocks of solid text turn people off. Write in short sentences, in short paragraphs, and break it up with images or diagrams. Make it a comfortable and entertaining experience to read.
- Write in a friendly ‘conversational’ way – but don’t write as you literally speak. What does that mean? You need to write as if you are speaking, but with enough punctuation and necessary words that the meaning is clear, and not misinterpretable. When we speak, we leave out words (like ‘that’ and ‘of’) quite often – because when people hear our voice, they can tell what we mean by the pauses and the tone. When we write, we need to add some of those words back in, so that the meaning is clear, without the extra cues available. Similarly, we need to add commas to indicate where we would pause slightly, as we speak, for clarity (like those commas in that sentence you just read….). You don’t need to get all formal, but you do need to help the reader hear your ‘voice’ correctly.
Apply those tips, and you will find that writing gets easier, and that readers understand what you write, better.