Developing good business writing skills will help you efficiently
achieve the goal of your writing while keeping the audience focused and
interested. Anyone can learn effective business writing skills and this guide
gives you the tools and confidence you need to develop it. Here is an outline of Garner’s main points:
1. Present your
message fast and clearly
a. Understanding exactly
what the purpose of your writing is and clearly stating it before you begin
writing will help guide you on what to write and how to write it.
b. If you are well
informed about your audience, it can help your writing because you can frame
your writing and use certain tones to be more appealing to your readers.
c. If you use these
four steps for your writing process, it can help you save time because it gets
your writing started quickly and it allows your writing to flow continuously to
form your first draft.
i. Generate ideas
and gather information onto a spreadsheet.
ii. Sort and order
the information into a simple outline.
iii. Transform the
outline into complete sentences and paragraphs according to the outline.
iv. Review and polish
the work by making additions and corrections.
d. Clearly write
your three main points in well-formed sentences with your topics organized and
in logical order so the information presented flows well from the reader’s
e. Rapidly write a
first draft without making corrections as you go and schedule a time when you
will make corrections so you utilize your time wisely without getting stuck.
f. Give yourself
plenty of time to revise your first draft and make sure you’ve said everything
you need to as clear as possible.
g. Transform part of
your report into a chart, graph, or other visual aid to help your readers
better understand your message.
2. Improve your
a. Write as clear as
possible with concrete details so the reader understands your writing precisely
without getting bored from too many fillers.
b. To write a good
summary, summarize the main points at the beginning of your work to give the
reader a clear image of what they are about to read. Summarize each main
section of the passage with a sentence that answers “the five W’s”; who, what,
when, where, and why. Then use these sentences to form your summary.
c. Form sentences
that express your message as simply and with as few words as possible. This
will help the reader stay focused and engaged.
d. Abstain from
bizspeak by writing as you would speak naturally so the reader can follow
e. Use chronologic
order when writing non-fiction so the readers can follow easier and remember
your writing more.
f. Use transitions
to flow your information together and guide the readers to the next passage and
understand relationships between your main points better.
g. Ensure you are
using proper grammar so the reader trusts your competence and reliability.
h. Ask others to
review your drafts and give edit suggestions so you can receive feedback on
your writing before the final draft is submitted.
3. Avoid writing
errors that turn readers off
a. Use these tips to
i. Use the words we,
our, you, and your instead of using I to add a more personal appeal to your
ii. Don’t be afraid
to use contractions.
iii. Use active voice
to increase clarity of your writing unless it needs to sound more natural.
iv. Make sure your
sentence lengths and structures vary to keep the reader interested.
v. Avoid acronyms
when you can or explain the meaning at the first instance of it.
b. Use tone to help
express your message appropriately to your readers by writing similarly to the
way you would if you were talking face to face with them to get better
4. Tips for writing
four everyday forms of business writing
i. Be polite and
straight to the point of your email within the first few sentences.
ii. Always check the
recipient list before replying and only reply to the people who need to hear
iii. Keep your email
brief so the reader doesn’t get confused or bored.
iv. Write a direct subject
line so the reader has a good reason to read your email.
v. Always apply
standard writing conventions, even for short messages.
b. Business Letters
i. Write simply,
personally, and directly. Try to avoid phrases that take away value from your
ii. Give the reader a
legitimate reason for them to want to read your letter.
iii. When delivering
bad news, start and finish by giving a positive message and make sure they clearly
understand the reason for the bad news.
iv. Always be
professional, polite, and sympathetic to engage the reader.
v. Remain fair and
diplomatic to the audience. Always claim the responsibility for your mistakes.
c. Memos and Reports
i. Form a concise
subject line or title for your report or memo so the reader can know what the
topic is and why it should matter to them.
ii. Start the
document by clearly stating the main points, the issue, the solution, and the
reasoning behind the solution.
iii. Refer to the
example summary when trying to elaborate on your first draft for ideas.
iv. Add modifications
to the summary as you write the body to ensure the summary delivers the same
messages as the body.
i. Keep performance
notes throughout the years to gather information to use to on the evaluations. Use
feedback from coworkers on those who you’re evaluating. Also utilize employee
self-assessments to understand their perspective.
ii. Use sample
phrases from this chapter to help express your impressions.
iii. Always use
specific examples to back up your statements.