Being about to communicate well, making a connection with your readers and getting your message across is a fundamental skill for anyone in business. And it could be that you have a perception about your writing ability – how formal you should be, what to write about and for some of you, it might even take you back to school days, which could be good, bad or indifferent.
There might be things that you are doing without realising how they are coming across and there are certain conventions and rules that you should be following, whether that is in an email, blog, LinkedIn About and/or another communication.
Take blog writing for example, with these 7 basic rules (many of these rules also apply to writing emails, letters and articles):
- DO NOT USE CAPS – it means that you are shouting at your audience, and it is rude. It may be appropriate to use capitals for a heading but not much else.
- Use a contemporary font like Arial and font size 11-12 point, however when writing a marketing email using a bulk email system, or possibly for an Eventbrite message, 16 pt is suggested so it is easier to read, particularly when on a mobile device.
- The file name should be easy to understand with a version number and the initials of the writer.
- Any images for blogs should be sent as separate jpeg and png files.
- Everything needs to be left justified across the document.
- Title to be centred and in bold.
- Number of words for a blog are generally around 500-700 words (about a page in Word or just over).
Now onto the content.
Depending on the topic, it could all be in your head and/or you might need to get some ideas, so you’ll probably do a bit of an online search. What is important here, is that you use content without changing it then it should be a quote with a reference or source link. If you are outsourcing blog writing and/or writing a blog for someone else, then it is important that there is original thought and ideas (no plagiarism).
Do not state the obvious (haha). Instead add value to you reader, spark ideas in them, demonstrate your understanding of what people want to read, alongside your education, insight and knowledge.
When you use words like I, me, my, we, our or us, you are mostly focusing on yourself – don’t do it! A number of years ago there was a tool called the we we test where you could enter your website and it would count the number of times you used words like this and/or your business name.
Consider the words that you are using to start sentences, as you can fall into a rut and/or blank when it comes to ideas. It shouldn’t all be the, this, we etc. and a simple way to change up the way you begin is to consider a verb (action word) or an adjective (descriptive word) as a starting point. Vary the length of your sentences too. And you’ll need to ignore some of the grammar rules that you may have been taught at school, like not using ‘and’ to start a sentence.
Everyone has an opinion, but when writing for business (depending on the context) keep it conversational. As in, how you talk when you are having a business conversation is how you write. You’ll notice the use of commas relates to where you would pause if you were speaking the content out aloud. So, no airs and graces, sirs and madams, minding your p’s and q’s. But not slang or acronyms either, unless it makes sense to do so like writing for a specific industry audience. And think about whether you need a call to action or not.
Overwhelmingly though, you need to put yourself in the shoes of your audience, do not make the communication about you, tap into what your readers are thinking and feeling, show you understand that, and you’ll connect on a deeper level and see people reach out to you.
PS. Leaving the discussion on the use of an apostrophe to much more learned friends.