Business Writing Tips
Writing as a Superpower
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Effective business writing is a “superpower” and it takes numerous rewrites and reviews to develop the skill.
Clarity of writing = clarity of thought.
Compress to impress (aka be concise).
Numbers > adjectives.
Write out acronyms on first use. For example, Demand Side Platform (DSP).
No “weasel” words.
Make the desired outcome or “ask” clear and known ahead of time.
Work backwards from your audience.
Use numbered or lettered lists (easier for reader to reference); avoid bullets.
Include page numbers in the footer of every page (easier for reader to reference).
Consider a global audience and either write in an international standard format or remove subjectivity. For example, write dates as December 1, 2020 (instead of 12/01/2020).
Lessons from Teachers
State at the beginning of a document what the purpose is, what is being requested from the reader, and what the writer recommends.
Clearly convey the key insight. Start by developing an outline, starting with the key insight you want readers to takeaway.
Clearly outline the pros/cons when seeking guidance on a hotly debated topic. Highlight key disagreements.
Write as if the decision were to be made by simply reading the document (aka no meeting for verbal discussion).
A document that is too long expresses a lack of thought, organization, and respect for the reader’s time.
A detailed FAQ section should handle all the questions the reader may have.
Use tables to show data/numbers and use sentences to explain why the numbers are what they are.
Get up to speed by reading previous good examples. Pay attention to format, outline, sentence structure, etc.
Excellent documents are born through multiple reviews and iterations. Plan time for multiple reviews with different stakeholders, edits and reedits, time to wander and rethink the document. However, ensure you are time-bound so that you work backward from a deadline.
Most important: be clear and concise.
Fact of the Day 1 Tips
What business writing tips have you found effective? Tell me in the comments.
What writing principles do other companies employ?
How do companies that primarily use non-writing methods such as PPT view the pros/cons?
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