Put it in writing: How to improve your business writing

17 November 2004 by
Put it in writing: How to improve your business writing

Although you didn't join the hospitality industry to spend time writing beautiful prose, there are times when it is necessary to put pen to paper. The ability to write good letters, reports and e-mails is important for business. Good written communication says a lot about you and your organisation. Poor writing says even more.

Unless you're a budding JK Rowling, sitting down at the keyboard can be a tedious experience. So how do you take the pain out of the process?

Who's the reader?

Why, oh why?

Think about why you're writing. Not "Why? Because I have to…" but "Why? In order to…"

What's the purpose of the piece you're writing?

Is it to inform, summarise, sell, clarify, query - or maybe apologise?
Answering the first two questions will tell you what to include - and what to leave out. It will also tell you what style and format to use and the best possible presentation. It's pointless sending a beautifully-bound and highly detailed, 10-page report to someone who only needs a few bullet points.

What's the best order?

You also need to decide how to structure the piece. Structure is the key to successful writing. A well-planned piece is easier to read. Follow this process:

•Identify the points you want to cover.
•Note them down.
•Order them logically.
•Write sentences to support each point.
•Add or refer to any supporting figures, tables etc.
•Ensure the order still makes sense.
•Check for errors and mistakes.

Where do I start?

Think about how you want to start and finish the piece. You don't have to do this at the beginning of the process. When setting out, don't agonise about the opening and closing lines. Simply have a rough idea of what you want to say. This will give you a sense of direction: you can flesh out the introduction or conclusion at any stage.

How can I say it?

Keep your language simple, avoid slang and don't use too much jargon. Tailor the text to the audience.

How long?

Letters - about a page
Reports - as many sections as is logical
Less is more…

What should it look like?

Use straightforward fonts.
Avoid fancy effects.

What next?

Check, check, check…
If your grammar and spelling are poor, take an extra-long look.
Ask someone to proof-read it for you if necessary.

Produced by Caterer-online in association with learnpurple.

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