Guest Post: Top Five Tips for Better Business Writing

Jessica Beauchamp

Jessica Beauchamp

Founder, Author, Lead Designer at Jess & Co.
MBA, BA, AA, & Teaching Certificate.
Jessica Beauchamp
This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Guest Bloggers
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash

Remember the old days when people wrote to impress others rather than to communicate with them? Many writers used formal language and multi-syllable words that no one ever said out loud (like “notwithstanding” and “heretofore”). Lawyers still do this so you’ll have to hire them to translate legal stuff.

But most of us have evolved! Today’s business writing style is less formal and far better. Clarity and brevity must take priority in our fast-paced, information-overloaded world.

Here are five tips for better business writing:

  1. Write below the 8th-grade level. Some writers worry that this may insult the intelligence of their readers. But in reality, no one ever complains that something is too easy to understand! Studies show that writing below the 8th-grade level achieves the best results. It’s not that your readers are dumb; they just don’t have time to process complicated messages.

    Note – Here’s how to check the readability of your writing when using MS Word: Under “Tools” click “Options” and then “Spelling & Grammar.” Select the “Check grammar with spelling” box and the “Show readability statistics” box then click “OK.” The next time you complete a spell check, it will display information about the reading level. If the “Flesch-Kincaid grade level” is above 8, edit your document to make it easier to understand.

  1. Get to the point immediately. As a general rule, state the reason for your correspondence in the first sentence.

    Good: “We’ve already filled the position for which you applied.”
    Bad: “We wish to thank you for inquiring about employment opportunities at Joe’s Networking, Inc. We are an equal-opportunity employer and are always looking for talented individuals to join our team. Your experience and educational background are truly impressive. Unfortunately, the position for which you applied has already been filled and we are therefore no longer accepting applications.”

  1. Get active (use active voice, not passive). It not only burns more calories, it clarifies your writing and gives it more impact!

    Good: “We like your ideas and will implement them by the end of the year.”
    Bad: “The ideas you proposed have been reviewed and found to be acceptable and appropriate. An implementation schedule has been developed with the goal of being completed by the end of the year.”

  1. Use fewer words. People are busy; be brief!

    Good: “We will not tolerate sexual harassment. Please read the attached policy. Call Mr. Write if you have questions.”
    Bad: “This is to inform all employees that sexual harassment of any kind will not be tolerated under any circumstances by this organization. Be advised that, in order to clarify the company position on this subject, the attached policy has been developed and provided for your reference. Your cooperation in this important matter is appreciated. Please do not hesitate to contact Mr. Wright if he can be of further assistance or provide you with additional information about this issue.”

  1. Include a clear call to action. If you are writing for a purpose other than to inform, tell your readers exactly what you want them to do.

    Good: “Please sign the attached form in Block 10 and return it to me by May 1st.”
    Bad: “It is our desire to receive an indication of your concurrence as soon as possible.”

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Here’s a bonus tip:

  1. Do not repeat numbers. Spelling out numbers and then repeating them as digits within parentheses is redundant and unnecessary. Use this basic rule: less than 10 or beginning a sentence, spell it out; more than 10, use digits. Do NOT do both! 

    Good: “We collected 13 samples.”
    Bad: “Thirteen (13) samples were collected.”

 

In summary, it is recommended that individuals who prepare written business correspondence follow a format and style similar to that of their verbal communications.

 

Author Bio:

My name is David Lieberman. I work as the president of Bestforacar.com. As one of the founding members of Bestforacar.com, I have helped the company from its initial concept into the leading digital automotive marketplace. Also, I am a technology investor and advisor, helping companies and entrepreneurs with their projects and sites.

 

 

 

4 Reasons Why You Should Never Schedule a Meeting 30 Minutes Prior to Lunch

Jessica Beauchamp

Jessica Beauchamp

Founder, Author, Lead Designer at Jess & Co.
MBA, BA, AA, & Teaching Certificate.
Jessica Beauchamp
This entry is part of 1 in the series All About Business

Meetings are a staple in every business, they are unavoidable in business, but there are certain times during the day that work better for a meeting than other times. One of the worst times of day to schedule a meeting is 30 minutes prior to lunch. The 4 reasons being the following:

    1. Distracted. People are not entirely focused on the task at hand – and there is nothing wrong with that – it’s just the internal distraction of a grumbling stomach causing a lack of focus amongst individuals as they think about what’s for lunch or that delicious meal awaiting them in there lunch box – maybe some leftovers from the gourmet dinner the night before.
    2. Hangry. Have you ever been hangry – hungry and angry? I am sure there are many people that fall victim to this, but as you sit in a meeting that meanders closer and closer to lunch-time observe how people’s demeanor and attitude changes, even slightly. They go from agreeable to a little edgy. This is hangry, and this is not productive in business. Let them eat and then have that important meeting.
    3. Off-Topic. Rather than focusing on the topic at hand, discussions begin circling around what is for lunch. Clearly, any off-topic conversation during a meeting is not productive – so this would be best avoided by not scheduling meetings right before lunch.
    4. Time Matters. As lunch begins creeping closer, people begin watching the clock and counting down until they can eat their lunch. They start focusing more on the clock and less on the tasks at hand. Imagine if the meeting needed some extra-attention – many people would be frustrated to have to stay late in a meeting during their lunchtime and brash decisions may be made (scheduled or not, our body’s know when it’s time to eat). It’s better to become aware that the meeting needs some extra time and maybe tackle it later on, especially if a major decision is to be made than make a decision that has not been fully thought through.


What can you take away from this?

It’s best to schedule meetings to not be 30 minutes prior to lunch and not 30 minutes after lunch. Imagine that everyone has an hour-long lunch break – well, add another hour (30 minutes before and 30 minutes after) that is completely blocked off from scheduling to allow for a more efficient and productive meeting.

By allowing for 30 minutes after lunch, you’re taking into account both differing return times for employees lunch hours, as well as the sluggishness that is often felt right after a meal.

So, when is the best time to schedule a meeting?

According to a study conducted by Quartz – the absolute best time to schedule a meeting is at 2:30 pm on Tuesday. Not only are the majority of people available during this time-period, but they are also more in-tuned in the business as it’s mid-day and mid-week. So if you need to schedule an important or critical meeting – aim to do so on Tuesday at 2:30 pm.

Even if a Tuesday doesn’t work well for you, then you may want to consider Wednesday or Thursday, as well, seeing as these are also mid-week.