Writing business documents – General advice
Writing business documents is a topic we get a lot of enquiries about, so I hope you will find this useful.
Nearly every job requires you to write, even if it is just email. But you might also be required to write Meeting Minutes, Business Plans, Reports, Business proposals, Customer contact reports, Letters, memos, Analyses, Project plans or summaries, Product descriptions, Sales reports, sales forecasts. The list is endless!! We will cover some of these in detail in this series of modules.
In some parts of life, in communication in particular, with the advent of social media and texting, communication has become very informal.
But in the business world, people expect writing to be professional, and it should be able to fulfil its function of clear communication, so it should be without use of slang, shorthand, deliberate misspellings, emoticons and abbreviations
If you don’t write well, and make basic spelling , grammar and punctuation mistakes, this will lower people opinions of you and they will regard you as less professional than if your writing was correct and business-like at all times.
Target your writing
Think about who you are writing for. You need to adopt a different tone or language if you are writing for a client than if you are writing to your Management team. A different tone again if you are writing for the public, or for your employees.
All these situations call for different styles of writing –you need to think about your audience background, and their knowledge of the topic.
Be careful of using technical language, or shorthand or acronyms which your audience may not understand
Business like style
Keep your writing Style business-like and objective. Make clear what the document is about, and check that you have communicated your message effectively
When writing a letter or note that is part of a series of documents about a subject, refer to their letter to you, putting your letter into context for them.
For example “Thank you for your letter of 5 th Feb 2016, responding to my query on XYZ “
Use references if you are responding to someone who has used a reference in writing to you. If you referring to a product that has a reference number, use that number for clarity.
Keep it brief
This is a balancing act. People are busy so they don’t want to read a verbose document, but they do need enough information for you to communicate the message effectively with all the relevant facts and figures, instructions, deadlines etc.
Check for accuracy of information, Get a colleague to “sense –check “your document .It is amazingly difficult to check your own work.
Also proofread it carefully yourself, and ask your colleague to do that at the same time, checking for spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Remember your professional reputation is on the line- always. Errors could cost you time, money, clients, promotion, or even make you legally liable.
Take the time to check out your presentation – it is as important, if not more important, than the content of the document.
Check the content to make sure it is clear, contains no errors, factual or grammatical
If it’s worth writing then make it the best it can be!
We have already looked at how to write two business documents on this site. I will give you the URL’s here so you can click through if you want to revisit those modules.
Developing a Business Plan was part of the series of modules called Starting a Business.
The module that covered developing a Sales Presentation was part of the Sales Performance series of 12 modules, plus a quiz. During the modules, exercises are set that will help you to develop your plan.