If you hated writing in college you are in for a bumpy business career. Every aspect of business today requires that you write in a strong and interesting manner. With phone usage in decline, people communicate more through email and messenger. Entrepreneurs and managers need to articulate their visions in inspiring ways. Sales and marketing both require the ability to create compelling copy, articles and presentations. Even video demands the ability to script powerfully using words and imagery. To do business the right way today, you must do it the write way.
It's not easy for many. But there are ways to make your writing better. Who better to learn from than those who write for a living? So here is my favorite tip for improving your writing plus more insights from my Inc. colleagues.
Many business people don't write unless they have to. They wait until they have a project and then struggle through. The best way to improve your writing is to write a lot. When I started writing columns for Inc. at only once a week, it took a lot of time and effort. Now at three columns a week it takes one third of the time. You also need to make the writing fun. Entertain yourself. In my weekly newsletter I introduce my columns with limericks and haiku poems. Because of this regular practice I can now create these poems in minutes on the spot.
2. Be natural.
Don't try to write like a "writer." Write--at least your first draft--the way you talk. Pretend we meet in an airport lounge and I ask you for advice. How would you answer? You'd walk me through the pros and cons and reasoning and wind things up with a smart, practical, useful conclusion. So write what you would say and follow the structure of how you would say it. Then wait a day or two and tighten your draft. The best writing doesn't sound like a "writer." It sounds like you. --Owner's Manual
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3. Don't conform.
Three words I live by when it comes to writing: Break. The. Rules. As anyone who writes knows, there are innumerable rules for style, punctuation, grammar, and a whole lot more. Unfortunately, many of these rules are centuries out of date, and they only serve to make your writing stale and boring. To avoid this terrible fate, I push, prod, and break the rules whenever it serves to make my writing better and more interesting. If the rule says "Never start a sentence with 'And,'" or end a sentence with a preposition, or use a single-word sentence, then that's exactly what I'll do. Do the same, judiciously, and your own writing will stand out from the rest of the pack. --The Management Guy
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4. Begin at the end.
I always begin with the takeaway(s): What do I want my audience to learn, feel, or become aware of while reading my content? It helps to envision myself in the place of the reader to better understand their position and explore any questions they may have about the topic. This helps me connect to the all-important passion that's behind most everything I do. With the purpose and passion in place I am able to outline the main points of the piece and work from there. It's so much easier to begin at the end because then I know exactly where I'm going! --The Successful Soloist
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5. Cut out unnecessary words.
When you are struggling with wording a sentence or the structure of a paragraph, you might be tempted to add more words or additional content. But one of the best lessons I received in writing for business was to read through my content and identify any words that aren't important to the meaning. I try to cut some of the words out, specifically adjectives or filler words, and find that the end result is much clearer and easier to read.
Here is that paragraph again, applying the rule:
One of the best lessons I received in writing was to read through my content and identify any words that aren't important. I cut words out, specifically adjectives or filler words, and the end result is much easier to read. --Lean Forward
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