By Minhas Meghani, Communication Specialist – Learning Minds
Perfecting a draft is like working on your painting. There is always one more thing you want to change or improve if you are an artist at heart. But for business communication, it is completely a different ball game. Following are the six most common mistakes while writing for business, so avoiding them can save you time and bring effectiveness to your next email instantly.
- Don’t miss the call to action
It is rare that business communication is carried out and it is just informational. Quite often you want your reader to take an action. This can include anything from calling you back, doing research to just following the rules.
You must see it as your responsibility to inform about what you want your reader to do. Clarify and specify. For example, change this sentence:
“We can talk with the client about the next phase.”
“Please call Mr. Siddiqui tomorrow to ask about the requirements of the next phase.”
You can see the second sentence mentions ‘when’ and ‘what exactly’to do.
- Don’t juggle too many balls (topics)
Always try to focus on one point instead of many, especially while writing emails for business. You will do your reader a big favor by doing so as it helps them process your message and respond faster.If you are ever confused about “What is that one point?” Your subject will tell you that. That is why it is always a good idea to begin by writing the subject first.
By choosing to write separate emails for different things, you are allowing your reader to organize their inboxbetter and find those archived emails easily in the future if need be.
- Avoid passive voice
If you remember school, a lot of us just learned about active and passive voice without being able to figure out the real reason for using the passive voice. To put it simply, I’d say that passive has its own benefits and need to be used in some scenarios. However, using it in emails too much can take away the clarity and coherence at times.
Here are a couple of examples that show how no one gets to know who’s responsible for a certain task when you use passive voice.
“All the clients need to be called.”
“She will be given a brief.”
Instead, if you use active voice here, it will provide clear and complete messages mentioning the people who will carry out these actions.
“Sarah needs to call all the clients.”
“You will give her a brief.”
- Let go off the difficult jargon
Even though skilled business writing doesn’t need or accept jargon, usually people feel the need to use certain jargon or use “better” vocabulary while writing for business, because they feel it will create a good impression. The problem is that this can also alienate your reader and make you sound pretentious.
Then there are other reasons people end up using jargon, like just following the industry specific phrases and buzzwords. Just remember, your reader shouldn’t have to ask colleagues or take Google’s assistance to decipher what you’re trying to get to.
- Don’t go on and on
Try to keep your emails concise and don’t exceed half a page limit.
Identify first what it is that you need to communicate. Then get to the point quickly. In my experience, people appreciate that more than one can imagine, no matter how much time they have on their hand.
A YouTube video is a good example to understand this. Ever encountered a YouTube video with a thumbnail that lured you instantly but after clicking it, you kept waiting for the introduction to get over. Then you started reading comments and voila! Someone went through the same pain and wrote “Video starts at 3:21.” Unfortunately, readers cannot do the same, especially during business correspondence.
- Don’t click ‘send’ right away
One of the things that can be more important than writingis proofreading. Why do I say that? Well, especially while communicating for business, little mistakes can create serious miscommunications and cost you business as well. Hence, proofreading is always essential.
Two best-proven ways to proofread are,
- Giving it some time to proofread later.
- Printing it out.
When you see a hard copy of your draft, something changes and you are able to see it just like a reader.
But if these options aren’t available. Change the font size while editing- the bigger the better. You can also get your email proofread by some colleague or ask them to read it aloud for you.
Overall, avoiding these mistakes can also help you enjoy the process of writing, which is the key to improving and communicating better. Happy writing!