Business Communication Skills You Need to Succeed
The potential list is exhaustive when it comes to determining the right business communication skills to hone. Here are just a few important skills to have in the workplace:
- Active listening skills
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Presentation skills
- Negotiation skills
These skills are vital. But at Instructional Solutions, we argue another skill is the most important in business — a career skill that must be achieved to help you successfully hone the others. That skill is business writing.
Succeed with honed writing skills
Effective business writing is the channel that transmits nearly all business work and insight and interaction. Writing forces you to think logically about different forms of communication.
Below are key reasons why effective business writing helps you succeed in business (and why it's foundational for all other office communication skills).
Switch between business documents with ease
Business writing is a type of writing that enables a reader to know or do something. It flows up, down, laterally, internally to colleagues, and externally to customers. Easily switching between different types of business communication helps you be a better team member and communicate with customers.
So what counts as business writing? It covers a wide range of common documents in the workplace. Practical examples of business documents include:
- Business Letters
- Business Memos
You first need to understand your audience and the purpose of what you're writing. What, exactly, do you want your reader to know or do after reading your document? Are they familiar or unfamiliar with the information? What type of document best matches this communication — an email, report, Slack message?
You use the reader's needs to frame the content you include in your document. It's essential that we don't include what we think matters. We must include what the reader needs to know or do what we've identified.
The reader's needs and the content you include impact how you organize and sequence the information. What visual structures break up the content and make this easier to skim
You write and edit the draft to either inform or elicit the action you want, using tone and language to match the reader and purpose.
If you can write one document effectively using this process, you can write another the same way. For example, if you can write a short, effective email, you should be able to write a long, effective report. You're grounded in the optimal business writing process.
To dive deeper into business writing, read our full Guide to Business Writing.
Effectively communicate with multiple audiences
No matter what industry you're in, business communication involves interacting with different types of people — from CEOs and directors to teammates and customers.
Without strong writing skills, it's difficult to create an effective presentation (e.g., PowerPoint slides and notes for verbal communication) to share with a room full of different audience members. You need to be able to translate messages into reports, emails, and more. Writing also helps you develop critical thinking skills to ask better questions and share ideas with various readers.
Knowing how to write also helps you adopt the right tone for different audiences, using formal or informal language as appropriate to connect on a personal level.
Become more productive
Strong writing skills reduce the overall time you or your team spend writing by up to 25%. Instead of wasting time staring at a screen, unsure of what to write, you have a process to follow. This means less time spent writing, and more time focusing on other business tasks.
It also improves the focus and efficacy of presentations, reports, business letters, and more. Clarity = less back and forth with your reader.
Tips for effective business writing
Becoming an effective business writer takes practice. We recommend taking the following steps to take your business writing skills to the next level.
1. Know your audience & purpose
Before ever picking up the figurative pencil, ask yourself,
- "Who is my reader? What do I want them to know or do?
- "What is the purpose of this document?"
You first need to understand who the audience is and why you're writing this communication so your writing has direction.
Use your audience's needs and the purpose of the doc to guide the information that you include. Too, realize that your substance matters. Substance = the information and core message of the document. It’s “the meat” of the document.
No amount of revising words and sentences later can fix a document that lacks good substance (e.g., irrelevant information or content gaps). Knowing your audience's needs and purposes helps you get your substance right.
2. Carefully organize the information
Avoid writing in a stream of consciousness. Organize the information to where it makes the most sense to the reader. Remember to lead with what matters.
We also recommend grouping content with like content — apples with apples and oranges with oranges. Headings and bullets can help you effectively organize your content. Add paragraph breaks when you introduce a new thought. This also creates white space which is visually pleasing for the reader.
3. Write to express
Use clear language to effectively express your message to the reader. Use powerful verbs. Don't use long words where a short one will do. Avoid adverbs. Concise writing takes practice to master, but it will result in communications that get the job done.
Edit the document only when you have finished planning and writing. Edit for grammar errors such as missing periods and comma splices so you don't lose points for professionalism. This also demonstrates your commitment to details.
Level up your business writing communication skills
Successful business communication skills help us better solve problems, collaborate with colleagues, and improve customer relationships. Writing is foundational to all these skills. If you can strengthen your business writing skills, other professional communication skills become more effective — this is a win for both your career and personal development.
Want to become a better business writer? Our online courses and resources at Instructional Solutions are designed to specifically help you learn an effective writing process that you can apply to any document. View the Effective Business Writing course, our most popular online course option with instructor feedback on your actual writing.
Improve your business writing today in our most popular online course with feedback on your actual writing.
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