Effective Business Writing in 5 Easy Steps

By on July 1, 2011

someone working on laptop writingBy Nichole Bazemore

I was watching the news the other day, when a story came on about an attempted robbery at local convenience store.

The reporter interviewed a police spokesperson, who described for the audience how it all went down:

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“At approximately 6:58 p.m., the suspect entered the establishment, where he then commenced to demand money from the cashier. An anonymous witness to the attempted robbery called the Fulton County Police Department, and at 7:10 our officers apprehended the suspect. We would like to thank everyone involved for their diligence in helping us to catch the perpetrator.”

I laughed and shook my head, and hoped the cops arrested the suspect a lot faster than it took the officer to talk about it. It would’ve been easier, and quicker, if he had just said this:

“The suspect entered the store around 7 p.m. and demanded money. An unidentified caller dialed 9-1-1, and our officers arrived and arrested the suspect on the spot. Thankfully, no one was hurt.”

Wasn’t that easy? We got all the details—what happened and when, that the suspect was caught, and no one was hurt—in much less time. While most of us can accomplish this pretty easily in our speaking, we tend to get long-winded in our writing. That’s a big mistake, especially in your marketing materials, because prospects—especially when they’re reading materials online— typically scan, rather than read, your content.

If you’re going to convert readers to buyers, you have to be clear and succinct in your writing. Here are five things you can do to “cut to the chase” in your written communications:

1. Get clear about what you want to say. If you could convey just one point to your audience, what would it be? That is your core message. Get clear about what you want to say, and then offer examples or arguments throughout your writing to support that point.

2. Write in the language your audience speaks. The best writing reads like a conversation between two people. If the officer mentioned in the example above were speaking to fellow officers, works like “apprehended” would be appropriate. But when you’re writing for broader, lay audiences, avoid jargon. Instead of using, “apprehended,” for example, use “arrest.” Rather than using “commenced,” use “began.”

3. Use contractions whenever possible. This falls under writing in the language your audience speaks. Using “it’s,” rather than “it is,” or “let’s,” instead of “let us,” helps your writing to flow more smoothly and sound more conversational.

4. Use active voice. Listen to how people speak. When they do, they typically speak in active, rather than passive, voice. For example, you wouldn’t say, “A great day was spent at the park with my family.” You would say, “I spent a great day at the park with my family.”

5. Cut to the chase. All your audience or reader wants to know about your message are five basic things: who, what, when, where, why, and (sometimes) how. Effective communicators can quickly identify and sum up these elements in their writing.
Get clear, cut to the chase, and speak to your audience in the language they understand. That’s the quickest, easiest, surest way to convert readers of your marketing copy to buyers of your product or service.

Nichole Bazemore is an Atlanta-based freelance writer. Her company, Simply Stated Solutions, provides marketing materials for coaches, consultants, and small businesses. Learn more at http://www.simplystatedsolutions.com/ or connect with her via Twitter @nicholebazemore.

About Nichole Bazemore

Nichole Bazemore is a freelance writer and blogger. Her company, Simply Stated Solutions, provides marketing materials for coaches, consultants, and small businesses. She and her son live just outside Atlanta, Georgia. Learn more about Nichole and her company via her website, www.simplystatedsolutions.com, or connect with her on Facebook or Twitter @nicholebazemore.

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Effective Business Writing in 5 Easy Steps