Writing skills help you disseminate information throughout the workplace in an informative and clear manner. Developing your writing style to become a confident communicator can help you advance in your career. During the hiring process, showing your writing skills gets you a step closer to being hired.
In this article, we discuss what writing skills are, why they are important, how to improve your writing skills and the writing styles you need to know to be successful at any job.
What are writing skills?
Writing skills include all the knowledge and abilities related to expressing yourself through the written word. It is a sound understanding of language through grammar, spelling and punctuation. People with excellent writing skills can tailor their tone and word choice to different situations and people. They use advanced writing techniques, such as literary devices, to clearly communicate their ideas and keep their readers engaged.
Why are writing skills important?
Writing skills are essential in the corporate world to execute decisive action and provide clear instruction. In order to function smoothly, businesses need to send and receive information at an internal, regional and international level. Writing skills allow people to connect without physically being present in a room. The ability to articulate your points effectively saves time and company resources.
Here are more reasons to develop your writing skills:
Makes you a better leader
As you progress up the corporate hierarchy, writing skills become even more important. Small details such as paying attention to your word choice and tone of voice can impact the way your subordinates and your customers feel about you. Writing is a tool that can be used to build trust and show empathy. Using it to your advantage can make you a more effective leader.
Helps you get hired
Writing skills are also essential to the hiring process. A well-written cover letter and CV can help you make a good impression. Knowledge about persuasive language techniques can further convince a recruiter of your potential.
Shows your professionalism
Business writing skills are important because they are used in various communication channels. To give you an idea of how many there are, here is a list of the most common writing forms in the workplace:
- Social media posts
- Text message
- Website copy
- Press release
- Business proposal
- Work report
- Internal memo
- Official document
- Instruction manual
- Cover letter
- Job description
How to improve your writing skills
It takes a lot of practice to improve your business writing skills. Learning a variety of writing techniques can help you become a more effective communicator. The key thing to remember is to give more thought to your structure and writing style. Here are our 10 tips to help you improve your writing skills:
1. Think before you write
Taking time to think before you write will help your email or presentation come together effortlessly. Dedicating more time to the planning stage in the writing process will help you build a consolidated argument. In return, you will not have to spend a lot of time editing your work.
A plan gives you a clear mental picture of the purpose of your writing. For example, if you want to communicate a new project to your team, the purpose of your writing would be to instruct them on what to do and how to distribute the work. Planning will help you break down a larger message into simpler, achievable steps.
2. Do your research
Work reports and official documents require thorough evidence and research. Compile all the necessary information you need before you write. Taking precautions to make sure your writing sounds accurate will give you the confidence to answer questions and stand by your work. Being knowledgeable about the subject you are writing about will reflect positively on you.
3. Create an outline
Creating an outline can help you organise your thoughts and break down a complex message. Detailed documents such as reports, presentations and CVs need to address several questions from different angles. Brainstorming your points or creating a linear outline will ensure that you have covered all the important information. Taking time to prepare your work will save you from making clarifications and amendments in the future.
4. Understand your audience
Your writing style can take on different forms in a business setting, depending on who you are writing to. Your corporate culture and industry will also determine the type of language you use.
When you write, you need to put yourself in your reader's shoes. Think about whether they have enough context to understand what you have written.
For example, if you are announcing a new shoe line on your fashion e-commerce store, you need to write from the perspective that your customers know nothing about the designs and functionality that your new shoe line provides.
5. Keep it simple
Short and concise sentences hold the attention of your reader. As a writer, you need to scrutinise every word and phrase to see if you can communicate your point more simply and naturally. You want to give them just enough information without overwhelming them with trivial details.
6. Cut down filler words
Creative writing is always fun and exciting; however, it is not appropriate for every occasion. Learning how to edit your work diligently can help you become a better writer. There are always some words we use a lot in our writing, but they do little to enhance our point. Delete words or phrases that sound repetitive or too wordy. People are more likely to read your work from start to finish if it flows with ease.
7. Improve your word choice
Try to be as specific as possible with your word choice. Adverbs, words that end in "ly", can often be replaced with more concise adjectives. For example, instead of "he worked very carefully", use "he was meticulous." Common descriptive words such as "beautiful" can also be substituted for more accurate words, including "charming" or "gorgeous."
8. Use simple vocabulary
Often, there is an assumption that rich vocabulary makes you a better writer. However, this is a myth. Powerful communicators select words that are appropriate for their audience. They are adaptable and can cater to different purposes and skill levels. Most business writing is about sharing information with people in different departments and regions. Simple and direct writing is key to this process.
9. Avoid contractions
Indian English does not use contractions. So while writing, use "I am" instead of "I'm", "you are" instead of "you're", "can not" instead of "can't", "will not" instead of "won't", "have not" instead of "haven't", "we will" instead of "we'll" and "did not" instead of "didn't" to make you writing clear.
10. Read it out loud
Hearing your writing out loud helps you determine whether it flows smoothly. If it sounds too wordy, cut down long sentences into shorter ones. Similarly, if your writing sounds too curt, mix in a few longer sentences to balance out the feel and sound of your writing.
Common writing styles for the workplace
Skilled writers can adapt their writing styles to complement the task at hand. To improve your writing skills, you need to identify when to use a particular writing style and how it will impact your message. Here are four common writing styles with examples of how they are used in the workplace:
Descriptive writing style
Descriptive writing creates a vivid picture of characters, events and settings to immerse a reader in a writer's story. It is often used in marketing collaterals to entice customers to purchase a product or service. Practicing descriptive writing can help you become a more creative and expressive writer.
Narrative writing style
Narrative writing is just as detailed as descriptive writing, but it also follows a clear storyline and plot, such as a novel or memoir. Brand stories will follow the narrative writing style to share the journey of how an entrepreneur discovered the solution to their problem. Practicing narrative writing in your free time can help you structure your thoughts and words in a logical format.
Persuasive writing style
Persuasive writing builds an emotional connection with the reader to convince them to adopt the writer's beliefs and opinions. Examples of persuasive writing in the workplace include marketing advertisements, business proposals and cover letters.
While writing a cover letter, in particular, you need to take extra care to balance honesty with persuasion. In other words, you want to ensure your cover letter accurately represents you.
Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing
Expository writing style
Expository writing is the most common writing style in the workplace because it is used to inform and explain. Examples of expository writing are work reports and manuals. When you use this style, it is important to separate your opinions from the facts.