10 Tips for More Effective Business Communications

Everyone can use a little help making their business communications more effective. Here are ten tips you can try today.

1. Write the Way You Speak

Take a look at your letters and memos. Do they sound like you or someone else? Effective business communications don't need to be formal and stuffy to communicate effectively. Most readers understand what you're saying more easily when you use a normal, conversational tone.

2. Take a Positive Approach

When readers are confronted by a negative message, they become blocked on an emotional level and often cannot fully absorb the entire message. So no matter what the message even if it isn't what the reader was hoping to receive deliver the message using a positive tone and a positive approach.

3. What's the Benefit

If you really want to reach your readers, tell them how they will benefit from the message you're communicating. Tell them what they stand to gain.

4. Write at the Correct Level

So you have a masters in psychology. Big deal! Most of your readers won't. And you won't impress them with big words. You'll only confuse them.

A business communication is written to communicate. To do that effectively, your readers must understand the message you're sending, so be sure to use words your readers will understand.

5. Never Send Communications When You're Angry

It's okay to be angry. But communications written when you are still angry tend to be accusatory or condemning in tone. Little things can slip into your writing that you wouldn't normally allow, putting up walls between you and your reader or fostering ill will.

In business, its never wise to totally burn your bridges. So wait until you calm down before you send off that message and then choose your words carefully.

6. Anticipate Questions

As you are writing a communication, try to anticipate what questions, if any, your reader will have. Then answer them right away. Your reader will benefit from being informed up-front and you'll save on additional correspondence or communications to answer those questions later.

7. Remove Acronyms and Jargon

Common acronyms, words, and phrases within your specific industry may seem like everyday language to you. But what about your readers? If you're writing to a colleague in the same field, it may be acceptable to use industry jargon. But if you're writing to someone and you're not certain what their level of understanding is, spell it out in clear terms everyone can understand.

8. Longer is Not Necessarily Better

If you can say what you want to say in three paragraphs, why write five? Extra text doesn't necessarily enhance the message. Sometimes it just buries it and bores the reader. Tighten up your text. Make each word count. Every sentence should convey something meaningful.

9. Patience

If you can wait an extra day before sending the communication, take advantage of that extra time.

10. Final Proof

Write the communication one day, get a good nights sleep, and then proof it a final time in the morning when you are refreshed and ready to start a new day.

Frequently, you will find small or subtle errors you might otherwise have missed when you were caught up in drafting your message.

If you have difficulty writing effective business communications, writing at your readers level, or with spelling, grammar, or punctuation any aspect of the written communication process take a class to enhance your skills and/or enlist a good secretary or a trusted colleague to proof your communications before you send them.

Writing effective business communications is a skill. It is a skill that can to some degree be learned and developed.

Practice, practice, practice, and develop your written business communications skills today. Effective business writing is a transferable skill you can use in any and every profession.

By: Tina L. Miller

Has been published in “Corporate & Incentive Travel” and “The Milwaukee Business Journal”.