Looking to enhance your career with improved business writing skills? Understand the importance of clarity and concision in business communication, the challenges involved in learning business writing, and how sharpening these skills can propel your professional growth.
- Business writing, a specialized style revolving around concision and clarity, is a crucial skill essential for every office worker due to the prevalence of emails and other written communication in the workplace.
- Improving business writing skills can not only enhance your professional image but also help in organizing thoughts for oral presentations and improve overall writing quality.
- Business writing courses can teach how to create functional prose for the modern workplace. However, if writing is not your strong suit, you may require an introductory writing class or a grammar brush-up class before undertaking a business writing course.
- Business writing differs from expository and creative writing in its focus on clarity and concision. It is unlike scientific disciplines or tech skills, and does not involve any high-level technical commands.
- Improvement in writing skills can be achieved by increasing the amount of reading and writing one does. Reading good English prose stylists can particularly be beneficial.
- In the contemporary business world, writing skills are fundamental. Emails, being the preferred means of communication, are often the only direct interaction with supervisors and managers, making it important to master business writing.
Do you wish your business writing were better than it is, but are you afraid it will be too difficult to improve? People learn things at all different rates and with different degrees of difficulty. With business writing, the pons asinorum will be how well you can write in English in the first place. If you already write well, it’s just a matter of retooling yourself to the demands of business English. If writing isn’t your strongest skill, you’re going to be facing a double challenge. Happily, neither of those challenges is insurmountable.
Indeed, with all the tools available today, learning to become an effective business writer may be easier than you think.
What is Business Writing?
Business writing is a specialized writing style for written communication, both internal (inside your own company) and external (as with a client.) It’s a very different discipline than academic writing (let alone any other writing in which personal style is paramount), substantially limited in the creativity department, and designed to make practical points as quickly and straightforwardly as possible.
The qualities upon which business writing today most depends are concision and clarity. Learning to express oneself within those confines is an invaluable workplace skill, given that email has become the preferred inter-office communication method. There’s no office worker who doesn’t have to read and write emails; a study quoted by GreggU calculated that the average businessperson has to deal with a whopping average of 80 emails daily. And that’s just email: there are business letters, memoranda, reports, and proposals that all need to be written in business language as well.
Read more about what business writing is and why you should learn to do it.
What Can You Do with Business Writing?
Business writing is, in today’s commercial landscape, inescapable. Consider its most frequently encountered application, the email. A generation ago, people made internal calls for quick inter-office communication. They used to have secretaries who could return calls at the recipient’s convenience. Today, those calls have all but been replaced by internal email. Whether or not you perceive that as faster or slower, it’s an inevitable fact of life. Suddenly, people must be able to write in the language of business.
Above and beyond, emails, memoranda, reports, and client proposals all call for business writing that can impress the recipient. Little can make you look better today than being able to write well in the idiom of commerce. Learning how to write a good piece of business English has several other advantages. It will teach you how to organize your thoughts, which, in turn, will help you when it comes to oral presentations. You’ll also become a better writer in general: your social media posts will improve in quality and correctness, and who knows? You may even be able to write a convincing love letter that will capture the person of your dreams.
What Are the Most Challenging Parts of Learning Business Writing?
By far, the most challenging part of learning business writing is the writing itself. Business writing classes can teach you how to create prose that functions in the contemporary workplace, but they can’t teach you to write per se. Usually, business writing classes are very brief and have jam-packed syllabi that don’t allow for much time for explaining predicate nominatives. If writing isn’t your strong suit, you’ll probably need an introductory writing class before you tackle a business writing class. Most people who aren’t used to writing as a daily activity can benefit from a quick grammar brush-up class.
The good news is that business writing fundamentals aren’t all that complicated; you don’t need to be Shakespeare to write a good email. Business English, while very important if you are to advance in the workplace today, isn’t exactly high art. You’re still going to need to know where to put a comma or a semicolon, how to get a subject and a verb to agree, and how not to split an infinitive. Still, you’ll be able to get through an entire business career without knowing the difference between “that” and “which.” (If you need a comma before it, you use “which,” no comma means using “that.” Like most points of grammar, it’s fairly straightforward once someone explains it properly.)
The other challenge you’ll face with business writing classes is that, because they’re usually very fast-paced, you’ll be hit with a lot of incoming information that might seem like more than you can handle. Or even faster than you can take notes, sometimes. This is one of the many reasons some classes come with a free retake option that allows you to go over the material a second time.
The most important thing to remember is that business writing isn’t sending up Skylab, and it can do much more for your career than Skylab ever could. You’ll need some patience, certainly, but it truly is a skill everyone can learn. By happy coincidence, it’s also a skill from which everyone can benefit.
How Does Learning Business Writing Compare to Other Skills?
There isn’t anything fully comparable to learning to write for business, partly because business writing is fundamental to just about any career today and partly because it involves more intangibles than learning a computer language. Indeed, writing for business in English for an English speaker will be much easier than learning Python or C++. It’s also going to be infinitely easier than trying to master the more advanced features of Excel.
The technophobic will probably be relieved to learn that business writing isn’t a tech skill at all. Yes, you will need to know how to use an email and a word-processing program, but the central command you will use is clicking Send. This is where the intangibles come into play. Of course, you must adhere to hard and fast rules, but business writing isn’t a scientific discipline like many others in today’s business world.
Becoming a proficient business writer also requires the ability to organize your thoughts and beat them into a beginning/middle/end format (and, generally, an essentials/details/call to action format as well). That’s a skill you may have picked up when you were learning to put oral presentations together, with or without PowerPoint, which is the tech side of another process involving many intangibles. If you haven’t learned it, you can rejoice that it will be a free bonus that comes with business writing.
What Makes Business Writing Different from Other Styles?
The two words that keep coming up in connection with business writing are “clarity” and “concision.” People reading business emails are, by definition, busy. They no longer have the time to spend reading wordy business letters; more often than not, they expect something they can skim on their phones while stopped at a red light.
While clarity and concision are admirable qualities in all prose (look at Shakespeare’s Macbeth), they’re not usually the backbone of classic expository writing, which places value on both form and substance. Expository writing calls for the development of an argument and illustrating your point in attractive (but not necessarily flowery) language. Expository writing gives you the elbow room for some artistic devices and figures of speech (it even offers chances for a touch of humor), but business writing crams you into a coach seat with nary any room for any part of your body, let alone your elbows. If you find yourself trying to come up with the perfect metaphor for an email to your supervisor, you can probably give up; it likely won’t get noticed, let alone be appreciated.
You can also compare business writing with creative writing, which gives the author a chance to experiment with all manner of linguistic strategies to tell a story. Creative writing doesn’t even require that you put the beginning at the beginning: you can tell your whole story as a flashback, a technique that is not recommended for business emails or reports. Journal writing is a form of writing with which you may have some experience, although that is even more removed from business writing, especially the more stream-of-consciousness it gets.
On the other hand, all these forms of writing share one thing in common: they require the use of a human language, which will most probably be English in the case of anyone reading this. Grammar is still grammar, and the things you’re not allowed to do in expository writing are more or less prohibited in business writing as well. Familiarity with any kind of writing will stand you in good stead when you decide to learn business writing.
How Can I Improve My Writing?
There are two main ways anyone can improve their writing: read and write more than you already do. Reading, especially for non-native English speakers, is probably the best way to learn to write. That’s not to say that you need to make your way through the complete plays of William Shakespeare to get a promotion. You can, however, benefit immensely by reading good English prose stylists, fiction or nonfiction. You may even enjoy reading literature instead of social media posts.
The other way to acquire proficiency in a skill is through practice. Practice is what you do so you can learn to play the piano or hit a baseball – whether or not you make it to Carnegie Hall or the World Series – and writing is no exception to that rule. Practicing writing – be it expository, creative, or just a journal – teaches you how to put your ideas into words and to be aware of language mechanics. You become aware of where punctuation ought to be, and with discipline and patience, you can even train yourself not to write the way you talk. Then you’ll begin to learn how to edit yourself, another highly prized skill in the workplace.
Why Should I Learn Business Writing?
In the business world today, very little gets done without being written. Despite all the telecommunications technology at our disposal, email has become paramount as the preferred means of communication. It may seem risible to be “shooting” an email to the person in the cubicle next to yours, but that’s how things are done today.
You’re also going to be shooting those emails to supervisors and managers – the very people who are in a position to advance your career. These people may have more to do with your emails than they’ll have to do with you face-to-face, so you’re going to have to rely on your written words to get them to realize that you’re an invaluable part of the organization. Moreover, emails may be the only time you have these people’s complete attention, however briefly that may be. They’re your chance to shine, and you need to be able to take advantage of those opportunities when they present themselves. And the way to do that is to master the – it’s not an art, but it is a skill – of business writing.
What’s true for email is all the more true for longer documents you may be entrusted with. Reports have a much wider audience than your email, and you can catch an important reader’s eye by writing a good one. Good writing will also make it possible for your team to do its job better because they’ll understand the matter at hand. There’s no business scenario that doesn’t gain from good writing, and those well-written emails could well blaze a trail to a best-selling book on how to succeed in business while writing.
Learn Business Writing with Hands-on Training at Noble Desktop
An excellent way to learn business writing is to take an in-person course such as those offered by Noble Desktop, a tech and IT school in New York City that offers in-person and online classes. Noble provides its students with expert and experienced instructors who are always ready to answer students’ questions, whether they’re posed in the physical classroom or online.
Noble Desktop’s classes offer several features, including small class sizes that guarantee you’ll receive ample attention from the instructor. The curriculum is hands-on, meaning that you’ll be making practical use of what you’re being taught while you’re still in class with exercises that allow your instructor to check on your progress. There is also a free retake option that enables you to repeat the class at no charge within a year of your first taking it. Far from just a means for those who fell behind to catch up, the free retake option makes it possible to cement what you’ve learned firmly in your mind. Classes are fast-paced, and you’re likely to discover that there’s some handy detail you missed the first time around.
Noble offers a Business Writing Bootcamp that begins by reviewing key points of grammar over which people are wont to stumble today. The course then delves into the hows and whys of written business communication in the contemporary world, be it for emails, reports, or other essential documents. And be aware that business writing is only one aspect of the business training classes offered by Noble Desktop.
How to Learn Business Writing
Master business writing with hands-on training. Business writing consists of written communication in emails, memos, reports, and other business documentation.
- Business Writing Bootcamp: live, instructor-led course available in NYC or live online
- Find Business Writing Classes Near You: Search & compare dozens of available courses in-person
- Attend a business writing class live online (remote/virtual training) from anywhere
- Find & compare the best online business writing classes (on-demand) from the top providers and platforms
- Train your staff with corporate and onsite business writing training