“Clarity in business writing is not a luxury”
Sir Richard Branson, Founder, Virgin Group
We live in an ironical world. Google and Facebook prompts our thoughts, suggests and advices everything we do, funny faces and new language describe our deepest emotions, samples and templates stereotype our creativity in the name of ease. Yet it is with these tools of camouflaged self destruction that we want to be unique. Standout and express.
It will be a miracle to be even heard in this collage of messy readymade ideas.
This is the present day reality. We live in this information society where the online highway is so crowded and noisy it will take unusual amount of effort to be heard and even harder to convince.
Great communication that is clear and effective has never been more important than it is today. Good communication that holds the audience captive is not an intellectual abstraction. It is now a critical tool to economic success.
Why is business writing so important?
It does not matter whether you are an employee or entrepreneur, client or investor, you are what you communicate and much of this happens in writing. But the growing role of business writing is rarely mentioned as important much less strategic to success.
With the advent of technology – email, whats app and intranet, every person in the business workplace is a writer. As Seth Godin observed, today much of our writing goes unfiltered. There was a time when secretaries would edit and public relations would polish the managers work before written matter reaches the public’s eye. Today you press that tiny send button and many times proofread later. That sent message has already reflected not only your words but mostly your attitude and work methods as well.
It is not just the lack of a secretary that makes good business imperative. In the present day it is the price of opportunity. One that knocks on your door with a pen in hand. Great resumes get selected. Good language and clear speech is an important requirement in any interview. This is only the first push into the gate. Inside the business world especially today clear concise writing is necessary to get every idea and point across. Badly written proposals, dull presentations, grammatically incorrect reports and stereotyped emails that reek of inhuman technology will all contribute to undercut your personal growth.
“If you are a native English speaker and never learned the difference between it’s and its,” Grammarly CEO Brad Hoover writes in a recent Harvard Business Review blog, “especially given access to Google, an employer might wonder what else you’ve failed to learn that might be useful.”
The necessity to great business communication is not just to micromanage one’s career but also an essential skill of every business today. With the staggering amount of communications channels available businesses are now challenged with new ways to connect, persuade and market their ideas, establish expertise, satisfy customers and in many cases try to publicly solve customer issues, create communities and reach niche segments.
And if the Organization sports a writing deficit, then that goes public too. Moreover the working culture and leadership focus is shifting. Collaborative approaches, multi disciplinary targets, work from home, transnational transactions and global clients have opened up approaches that did not exist before.
All these has made writing in business a powerful tool, even a strategic one if you think about clear thoughts put across in a simple language to get positive results, faster.
This last point deserves more depth. While face to face conversations is great, writing, when done with care, warmth and positive words inflicts the same human touch on paper. The digital world can seem dehumanizing with unseen, unknown voices but there also exists great opportunities to personalize this medium, build trust, motivate team and customers alike and to be heard in a unique voice.
Yet the digital world does not hold a captive audience easily. It is not the necessity of the reader to be captivated by what you say. That responsibility is solely on your shoulders. Hence words need to be chosen for its clarity and simplicity.
Studies show most employes find it difficult to go beyond the first screen of the message. Hence it is important to be able to write a successful message that delivers your points in the first 100 words.
If that can be done in the first 2-3 sentences then half the battle is done. Getting your message read is a challenge itself but for managers, investors, clients to actually act upon your ideas demands writing to transcend the clarity level to enter strategic.
These are some reasons why good business writing is a must today. What reasons can you think of? Please include in the comment.