Buff Up Your Business Writing Skills

Freelance consultants are called upon to do quite a bit of writing.  When we meet a professional contact we’d like to know better,  we send an email to schedule a time to meet and talk further.  We write proposals that help us obtain assignments.  We write press releases,  our bio,  our LinkedIn summary,  thank you letters and sometimes diplomatically written reminders for payment from slow-paying clients.  Some of us write articles,  blogs and newsletters,  too.

Nevertheless,  many of us are a little insecure about our writing ability.  Writing is an important skill.  Written communication helps one to advance and achieve business goals.  It reflects our expertise and our etiquette.  Good writing gets things done,  but it’s not necessary to emulate Pulitzer Prize winning novelists when called upon to express oneself in writing.  All you have to be is a good technician,  not a literary star.   Buff up your writing prowess by following a few easy-to-follow tips:

Purpose     Be very clear about what you must communicate.  A proposal must describe the services that you will provide and persuade the client of your ability to provide those services  (i.e., sell).  When your proposal is accepted,  you write a letter of agreement.  An email might document a meeting or conversation,  or provide follow-up info that was requested.  A press release gives pertinent info about an event or an announcement,  that is expressed in a way that will interest the target audience.

Bullet points     Help yourself complete and organize your message by jotting down the important talking points.  For example, the bullet points of a proposal will describe the services you will provide and benefits that will be derived.  Presenting information in bullet points makes for easy reading and retention.

Format     Once you have your information complete and logically organized,  you might decide to use your bullet points to form paragraphs,  or present the information primarily in bullets.  If you choose the latter,   you’ll want to write at least one opening and one closing paragraph,  so you’ll come across and friendly yet still professional.  Thank you letters,  however,  are generally written in paragraphs and not bullets,  because they are personal and call for a warm and friendly style,  even in business.  Long and ornate sentences are never necessary,  or even desirable.  Clear and simple sentences always work best in business communications.

Edit     Make a draft of what you must write and then begin to edit your work.  After an initial edit,   I like to let my writing rest for a while and then return to it.  Stepping away for even an hour helps me to eliminate wordiness,  provide clarity and continuity,  improve my word choices or add something important that I’ve forgotten.

The task of writing need not be intimidating.  We write when we have a purpose:  to say thank you,  request or recommend a certain action,  announce a decision,  submit a proposal.  Writing is all about being understood and getting results.

Thanks for reading,

Kim

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