Writing skills have become a business-critical consideration across almost every industry. For more than 73% of employers, writing skills are a vital determinant during the hiring process.
This is no surprise, considering American businesses spend more than $3 billion annually on remedial writing skills training—most of which is spent on current (not new) employees.
But you may not necessarily be able to invest a lot of time or money in traditional training options for your team right now. That’s OK—there are plenty of practical ways that can help improve your team’s professional writing skills as soon as today.
This post covers which specific skills to focus on, what tools can help improve them, and how to choose tools that will best suit your business’ goals and workflow.
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Critical professional writing skills and how to improve them
So what does it take to succeed as a business? Grammarly Business identified five fundamental writing skills that are critical to business success:
1 Organizing ideas well
Organizing ideas properly improves the flow of writing. It also makes it easy for readers to follow the content from one point to the next.
Before writing a business blog or proposal, have your team try outlining or mapping out ideas first. This can help inform the structure of a draft by providing an easy means of seeing what ideas fit best where. For smaller, quicker messages (like emails), a full outline likely won’t be necessary, but making a brief list of major points to discuss can help ensure no vital information is left out.
After writing, ask team members to review the main point or argument of their message (which should be introduced at the beginning of the draft). Does the rest of the content still support it? If not, one may need to be revised to better reflect the other.
2 Writing clearly and concisely
Clarity and conciseness directly impact efficacy. The more obvious the point is—and the sooner it’s made—the easier it will be for others to understand the message and the writer’s expectations.
Before writing, consider what the most important points will be. These are the ideas or arguments that need to be emphasized; everything else should support these ideas or relate to them in some way.
After writing, proofread for spelling and grammatical mistakes, and keep an eye out for wordiness. If there is a word, phrase, or even a whole paragraph that can be removed without losing the meaning of the message, that’s a good indication that it should be removed. Improve readability by bolding information that’s especially important to the reader. Also consider converting longer paragraphs into bulleted or numbered lists.
3 Keeping the message relevant
Aptly tailoring a message to its intended audience can help readers connect with the piece’s point emotionally as well as intellectually, which in turn fosters a higher level of engagement.
Before writing, it’s important for you and your team to think about who the message is for and what’s most important to them. When writing to a group, it can be helpful to choose a specific individual or create a persona to represent the ideal reader. When writing to customers, customer data can inform both the content of the message and how it is presented. For messages between colleagues, on the other hand, a slightly more informal approach—with more emphasis on brevity and clarity—may be more appropriate.
After writing, it’s critical to review messages with the intended audience in mind. Remove slang and jargon that readers may not be familiar with, as well as idioms that may not translate clearly to multilingual readers.
4 Striking the right tone
No matter how professional the setting, humans are emotional by nature. The tone of a message can have a huge impact on how well or how poorly it is received—especially when the conveyed tone doesn’t match the intended one.
Before writing, you and your team should consider what kind of tone is not only appropriate for your message but also most effective at generating the results you want to see. This is also a good time to review your brand’s internal style guide if one exists.
After writing, reread your drafts. Does the tone of the message match the intended tone? Be sure the tone is kept consistent as well; an abrupt change in tone can be distracting and even alienating to readers. If your team is having trouble recognizing how others will interpret your writing, Grammarly’s tone detector feature makes it easy to empathize with your reader.
5 Adding value with every message
A message is most poignant the first time we hear it. If a message is merely parroting something the audience has heard before—perhaps more than once—it’s not as likely to evoke the desired response. Keeping communications fresh and action-oriented is key to crafting engaging content, whether you’re writing a quick email or a long-form blog article.
Before writing, try brainstorming different ways to add value to the particular message you or your team are trying to convey. You may want to try a new structure, add a personal touch with an anecdote, or use recent internal research or external studies to shed light on new findings that relate to your message.
After writing, keep an eye out for any overused language you and your team should avoid. This includes clichés as well as any words and phrases you may be prone to repeat a little too often. If anything sounds too familiar, consider revising it, just to be safe.
In most cases, rereading and revising is the most effective way to improve one’s work and professional writing skill set. However, this typically requires some time—especially for documents that may be tens or hundreds of pages long. It can also be difficult to spot areas for improvement if the content needs to be reviewed immediately after it’s drafted due to a looming deadline.
This is where having the right tools on hand can make all the difference.
Leveraging tools to improve business writing
Implementing a few valuable business writing tools will allow you to automate the difficult or tedious parts of reviewing and revising your team’s work that make it virtually impossible to complete on your own.
Grammarly Business’s own research revealed that the best writing tools can:
- Reduce drafting time by up to 50%
- Reduce editing time by up to 66%
- Reduce writing mistakes in final drafts by up to 74%
So how do you know which tool is the right one for your business?
One method for building professional writing toolboxes for business teams is to choose specific tools to solve specific problems. While this can be a quick and easy way to improve a single skill quickly, you’ll achieve better results in the long run with a multifunctional tool that can assess multiple potential problem areas at once. This helps identify issues you or your team may not yet be aware of.
Grammarly Business is an AI-powered communication assistant that uses natural language processing to assess writing on a deeper level and provide suggestions for stronger, clearer messages. Grammarly provides better feedback over time as it learns from accepted revisions.
In short, using the right tool to augment skills development will make it as easy as possible to improve professional writing skills as quickly and effectively as possible—allowing you and your team to unlock your full potential sooner.
Ready to start improving professional writing skills right away? Grammarly Business is a multifunctional virtual writing assistant that uses AI-based technology to analyze the quality and tone of writing and provide instant revision guidance. Contact us to learn more and get Grammarly Business for your team today.