Business Writing For Dummies
eBook - ePub

Business Writing For Dummies

Natalie Canavor

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eBook - ePub

Business Writing For Dummies

Natalie Canavor

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About This Book

Learn how to write for the results you want every time, in every medium!

Do you wish you could write better? In today's business world, good writing is key to success in just about every endeavor. Writing is how you connect with colleagues, supervisors, clients, partners, employees, and people you've never met. No wonder strong writers win the jobs, promotions and contracts. Business Writing For Dummies shows you, from the ground up, how to create persuasive messages with the right content and language every time—messages your readers will understand and act on.

This friendly guide equips you with a step-by-step method for planning what to say and how to say it in writing. This sytem empowers you to handle every writing challenge with confidence, from emails to proposals, reports to resumes, presentations to video scripts, blogs to social posts, websites to books. Discover down-to-earth techniques for sharpening your language and correcting your own writing problems. Learn how to adapt content, tone and style for each medium and audience. And learn to use every message you write to build better relationships and solve problems, while getting to the "yes" you want.

Whether you're aiming to land your first job or are an experienced specialist in your field, Business Writing For Dummies helps you build your communication confidence and stand out.

  • Present yourself with authority and credibility
  • Understand and use the tools of persuasion
  • Communicate as a remote worker, freelancer, consultant or entrepreneur
  • Strategize your online presence to support your goals
  • Bring out the best in people and foster team spirit as a leader
  • Prepare to ace interviews, pitches and confrontations

Good communication skills, particularly writing, are in high demand across all industries. Use this book to gain the edge you need to promote your own success, now and down the line as your career goals evolve.

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For Dummies
Part 1

Winning with Writing

  • Learn the core elements of good business writing that equip you to create successful everyday messages and solve your most pressing communication challenges.
  • Adopt the professional writer’s goal-plus-audience strategy that will never fail you, no matter how hard the writing challenge seems.
  • Discover how to make people care about your message by connecting with specific readers, highlighting benefits and showing them “what’s-in-it-for-me.”
  • Understand how to use the tools of writing — language, tone and structure — to say what you mean in a way most likely to earn respect, support and agreement.
  • Use everything you write to build relationships through understanding other people’s perspectives and how they will perceive your messages.
  • Learn how to switch into the editor’s role and fix common writing problems so that your messages accomplish what you want.
Chapter 1

Making Writing Your Weapon for Success

Rising above the pack with good writing
Using writing to achieve your own goals
Applying the three imperatives of strategic writing
Using an easy structure to plan everything you write
We take the ability to read and write for granted today, but human civilization started with, and depends on, the written word. Originating more than 5,000 years ago, writing empowered people to record events and share information with people beyond shouting distance. Over time it enabled us to collectively build knowledge and experience. We could think bigger thoughts and invent better ways of doing things.
For most of the time between early writing and the world we live in, writing skills were typically owned by the governing classes. A mere 50 centuries later, we can all own this magic. And as we know from Superman and his friends, when you own a power, you need to use it to accomplish great things.
But good writing is not an innate skill for most of us. It is definitely a learnable skill, but one that few people develop in school. Even if we got good marks, the academic writing we struggled with is very different from the practical writing we need for everyday and work purposes. This book shows you what this kind of writing looks like: how to do it, how to use it and how improve your own results — all in the cause of achieving what you want. It demonstrates how to create all the business staples from emails to reports to proposals to résumés; visual and oral media — presentations, video and new media — blogs, social media posts and new channels yet to be invented.
Practicing the process I show you in this chapter will lead you to clarify your thinking, understand yourself and your goals better and relate to other people more effectively.
Big promises? Yes. Let’s get right to it.
In this chapter, I highlight the core elements of good business writing and introduce a planning structure that enables you to figure out what to say and how to say it in just about every circumstance. This step-by-step approach to writing works for every communication platform with some adaptation for each. You’ll immediately start to see how to improve your own writing. Once you’ve absorbed the foundation, the chapters that follow demonstrate how to apply these ideas to all your business communication.

Putting Strategic Writing to Work for You

Can you imagine building relationships without language? Think about movies in which two people who don’t speak the same language fall in love. All those soulful gazes and sighs eventually look like uphill work — and the relationship stays pretty superficial — until one person learns the other’s language. Today we initiate many relationships, especially in business, through the written word. In-person contact may follow, or it may not. In many cases we continue to rely on writing to build the connection and collaborate, whether the people are down the street or thousands of miles and hours away.
From everyday email to reports, letters and digital platforms, today’s working world runs on writing. Therefore, the rewards of good writing have never been more extraordinary. The Internet enables us to reach beyond our personal geographic and social reach to almost anyone we want to sell to, collaborate with or learn from. Almost anyone with time and dedication can start a business and sell a product or service, post artwork, publish a book or establish authority as an expert on a subject.
There’s just one catch. Because anyone can do this, unless you are a specialist or have a private niche, the competition is overwhelming.
Consider these statistics about online platforms:
  • Email: Globally, 4 billion people use email, and American workers receive an average of 126 business emails daily.
  • Twitter: 330 million people globally are active Twitter users, sending 303 million tweets per day.
  • Websites: The Internet holds 1.3 billion websites.
  • LinkedIn: More than 660 million members in more than 200 countries use this site.
  • Blogs: In the United States alone, 31 million active bloggers post monthly or more.
Of course, you’re not competing with all of these email messages, tweets, websites and blogs, or reading more than an infinitesimal fraction of them yourself. But people today — just like you — are extremely selective about what they choose to read because so many options vie for their attention. Your blogs, online posts, proposals and emails will be read according to how well you write them. You’ll build followers according to the value you deliver.
And always, in business writing, “value” means the right content that is well expressed and shaped for the readers you want. Good writing is never “a way with words.” A better maxim is “good writing is good thinking.” That’s why this book also focuses on how to create the right substance for your messages. Once you know what to say, how to say it becomes much easier.
There are few captive audiences in today’s world. Check how many messages you’ve recently received that you must read, and how many you zapped away because they did not immediately interest you. Even if you hold top-down authority, there’s no assurance that your message will be read. Attention, along with respect, must be earned. Writing a message that someone will actually read is an achievement. Writing messages that people will act on demands not just writing that is clear and direct, but also content that aligns with what your readers care about. In other words, today’s business writing needs to be strategic.
What is strategic writing? Planned communication that achieves a set of goals — the goals of your employer if you hold a job, and always, your own goals. The good news is that you already have a solid base for knowing how to write strategically. You’re in command of the three imperatives:
  • Your subject: You are invested in your field and possess in-depth knowledge of it.
  • Your audience: You know who your audience is, such as prospective employers, coworkers, people who share an interest of your own and target markets for your business.
  • Your goal: You know what you want, now and in the bigger-picture future.
Here are some of the things you may not know yet:
  • How to choose the right communication tool for the job
  • How to capture and retain reader attention
  • How to make people care about your message
  • How to understand other people’s perspective and predict their responses
  • How to gauge the right degree of formality and when to convey emotion
  • How to select the right content to make your case
  • How to use writing techniques that make your material persuasive
  • How to use every single thing you write to build relationships and advance your cause
  • How to coordinate your online platforms to achieve your purposes
  • How to sharpen your ear and eye so you can spot your own writing...

Table of contents