Show me the average entrepreneur, business person or manager of a small business, working off-line or online, who cannot benefit from improved writing skills!
I know I usually emphasize having public speaking skills but effective writing skills are equally essential for various aspects of your business life.
For example, it’s also important for your:
- success in business
- professional development
- effective communication in the workplace
- role as a leader and influencer
But…why being able to write well is important to the above roles?
Well, in business, you are the one closest to the problem, situation or customers. You know more than the reader or user of your written communication does. Therefore, your conclusions and opinions matter.
It follows then that when business people write in the process of their jobs, it can really be describes as professional writing.
In Professional Writing, unlike academic writing, YOU are the expert. You are the one who has first-hand knowledge of the project, circumstance or situation. In many instances, you have conducted the research or gained the experience.
Therefore, your writing will lead to something happening. Decisions will be taken, recommendations will be followed, proposal accepted. You really don’t want to undermine any of these with poor writing skills. Do you?
Look, even when you have someone write for you, effective writing skills can help you manage the arrangement so much better.
So today, just for you, I am sharing 8 easy ways to help you improve your writing skills. And best of all, you can start implementing them right now.
So if you’re ready, I’ll get right to them…
1. Read widely to improve your writing skills
Yes, I am serious about that.
Reading widely and regularly helps you to think well and write well. I have always read – anything from labels on bottles to the bible – and guess what? When I start to write, I’m never lost for words to express what I’m thinking or feeling.
American writer and novelist Lisa See sums it up beautifully when she says “Read a thousand books, and your words will flow like a river.”
I completely agree.
Reading quality content, including books, articles, reports, and industry-specific publications, exposes you to different writing styles, vocabulary and grammar structures. This helps develop a better understanding of writing conventions and improves your own writing.
Reading also helps you to develop a love of language. Or at least an appreciation for it. You can use it to communicate your ideas to your employees, and just as easily to persuade your customers to buy.
When you read widely, your writing improves tremendously.
2. Read what you have written aloud
When you are finished rolling up your eyes…just hear me out.
The best way to gauge if you’ve been brilliant or boring is to read aloud what you’ve written.
I know this first hand from my public speaking life.
When I deliver speeches, I sometimes write them out and read them aloud. This is even before I begin to chop and churn to make sure I have something my audience wants to hear.
Doing this gives me a good idea if I have something worthwhile to turn into a brilliant speech.
You might not be looking to turn your writing into a speech but you might want people to understand and act on what you have written.
So go on, give it a try. And while you’re at it…
3. Ask someone to read your writing back to you
Hearing what you have written being read by an objective third party helps you to listen equally objectively.
When you do, you pick up areas for improvement or rewrite. You might notice you have left out an important fact. Or thoughts come to mind which didn’t, when you read it yourself.
When you do a rewrite, this approach helps eliminate errors, improve clarity, and enhance the overall quality of your writing.
Having someone read what you’ve written back to you is especially important when you write in vexation. You know by now this is the surest way to place yourself on the fast track to making an ass of yourself.
4. Know your purpose for writing
Okay…stay with me now…this is really valid advice.
Many times, small business people believe that their final written output is the purpose for writing in the first place.
For example, if you write a proposal then it appears your purpose for writing must be to produce that proposal.
This does not necessarily have to be the case.
Consider this…when a potential client declare “send me a proposal!” my purpose for writing that proposal is not just to give them a proposal.
My purpose for writing is to show them that I understand their problem, I have the solution and I am the only person who can solve their problem. In other words, I am writing to sell myself.
I feel so strongly about this that I have reduced the process to a series of steps which you can use to write a really awesome proposal so that your purpose is to win more business fast.
When you know your purpose for writing, you will pay attention to a lot more factors rather than to just throw down your first thoughts or research on paper.
5. Write from your heart to improve your writing skills
I recognise this is not always possible, but do it when you can.
By writing from your heart, what I mean is that you share how you feel instead of trying to write something you think will be more acceptable.
I will let you into a secret.
When I write (and speak) I share my unique perspective on the issues. I do this confidently, knowing that there will be some people who will like me or share my views. And there will be those who do not.
Even as you write from the heart, do practice self-reflection.
Regularly review your past writing and evaluate areas for improvement. Be on the lookout for repeated mistakes or weaknesses and work deliberately to address them.
6. Write when your energy is high
This is something I can’t stress enough.
I know it’s not always possible but it’s especially important when you’re writing under pressure.
If you can wrap your head around this or if you have ever written something when you were stressed and tired, then you KNOW what I’m talking about.
I can’t tell you the number of times that I have written something when I was tired and then looked at it when my energy was high.
Each time, I swear on something precious that my computer has been hacked. There is no way that “tired” writing could have been produced by me!
There’s also a really good reason to write when your energy is high. You are improving your writing skills under ideal circumstances. Then, when you produce a document under pressure, it’s still of a fairly decent standard.
7. Keep your writing short
I really mean this – short words, short sentences, short paragraphs.
Look, I love language and I can read a book with a poor to nonexistent plot just for the pure joy of the prose (sick, I know!).
But when I write, I understand it’s no longer about me. It’s about sharing information to help my readers take some necessary action. It should be the same for you.
So what’s the solution? Understand your audience.
Think about who will be reading your writing and adjust your language and level of technicality to suit them.
Short words, short sentences and short paragraphs will help you to keep it simple and ensure your message is easily understood.
People will be able to read what you write quickly and easily and those who want, can start taking your advice and implementing it fast.
Those who don’t want to, are equally clear what they don’t want and can move on equally fast.
8. Edit your writing for maximum effect
Editing your own writing is not always easy but when you can master this, your readers will benefit from your “up-level” writing skills.
But how do you do this? Well…
1. Just like how you write for an audience, edit your writing for that audience as well.
2. Check for spelling, grammar, typos and related mistakes.
3. Check to ensure your writing has achieved its purpose.
4. Make sure your ideas “hang together” neatly and flow logically.
5. Make sure your writing is visually appealing; no long paragraphs, lots of white space.
6. Check and recheck names, titles, job titles, company names, etc.
I also like to leave what I have written for a little while (if I can) and then go back and read it again. This feels like I’m seeing it for the first time and often that’s very helpful for editing.
Make your best “writing skills” moves now…
Now you have them…my 8 easy ways for you to improve your writing skills.
And let me tell you, I use them constantly as part of my treasure chest of good writing tools.
It would be an embarrassing mistake for you to continue writing poorly after you’ve read this post.
Come on…stop making those feeble excuses for why you write badly.
Not when you now know that when you improve your writing skills, you improve your effectiveness and your chances of increasing your revenue.
So my challenge to you is simply this:
1. Decide you will be improving your writing skills, right now.
2. Then pick one of the 8 ways I share to improve your writing and implement it.
3. Choose the one that will fix your most difficult writing problem fast, and simply use it the next time you write anything.
4. Keep doing this with the others until you’re happy with your writing.
You will be so proud of yourself!
To your awesome writing skills…