What is Business Writing?

Business writing requires a professional to communicate clearly, concisely, and convincingly across a range of written communications – memos, reports, letters, resumes, social media, promotional material, speeches, proposals, business plans, marketing collateral, and emails (which have become the most common way of engaging with clients). Clear and cogent written communication is vital for any endeavor in the business world and the ability to write well is a strong contributor to success. Business writing can be instructional, informative, persuasive, or transactional – depending on the purpose.

Good writing makes a strong impact across the business and professional spectrum. Indeed, good writing can contribute to a business’s bottom line. Good writers convey relevant information in a clear, concise, and effective manner – banishing ambiguity. Simple language, correct grammar, and logical structure characterize good writing.

Key Learning Points

  • Before writing for a business audience or clients, it is imperative to know precisely what you wish to communicate and why.
  • You should ask certain key questions that will help craft a message that is appealing, compelling, and incentivizes your clients or target audience to act in the way that you want.
  • There are certain principles of business writing to keep in mind and implement after taking into account the answers to preliminary q These principles can help you gain a competitive advantage and enhance the brand value of your company, which in turn should positively impact the bottom line.

Business Writing – Key Questions

Business writers need to focus on the needs of their audience and express ideas accurately in a style that is clear and accessible. Jargon, overly complicated language, and ambiguity are among the worst crimes a business writer can commit.  You have to have a clear idea of what you wish to communicate, the audience you’re writing for, and the action you want your writing to inspire.

Effective business writing is a highly valuable skill and in an era characterized by frenetic change, your business writing must stand out and compel your audience to action.

It’s important to ask some questions at the outset before starting to write, in order to align your style and message to the client or audience you are targeting.


What do you want to accomplish? Define your objective at the outset and organize your ideas to make your message compelling. What is the message you wish to convey?

Who is the target audience or client? What is the client’s industry, company size, location, and culture? The tone and the content are both dependent on these factors. Determine what’s important to your audience. How can you grab their attention? What will compel your audience to keep reading and take action?

Next, select the appropriate format that will make your message stand out. Would your client or target audience prefer emails or a more formal type of correspondence? Emails are typically considered more informal, while letters, reports, and proposals are thought of as being more serious in nature. Your purpose might be best served by a format more formal than email, but you have to consider your target’s preferences carefully.

What do you want the reader or the audience to do after they read your message?

Which medium is the optimum way to reach your goal?

How can you positively impact your audience in the shortest possible time?

Clarity on these questions should help you craft a message that’s persuasive, effective, and appropriate in tone and style.

Business Writing – Principles

There are a few other principles that can make your message more effective and compelling.

Call for action: business writing is typically intended to inspire the reader to do something which means that your communication needs a call to action. It’s usually best to have the call for action at the beginning of the piece rather than at the end. This is because the attention span in the business world is very short and your audience is buffeted by competing demands. If you want to make an impact and generate results, include a clear call to action. This should help you connect honestly and directly with your audience.

After the call to action, follow up with the information necessary for action. Given that the key question for a reader is: “what is it in for me or my organization,” the key idea should preferably be stated in the opening paragraph.

The positive impact of acting on your proposal should be clear, as should the negative consequences of failing to act. Highlight the gain or loss (especially in $) failing to take action.

Facts, figures, and opinions offer a potent way of getting your message across to your audience. Support your position with data, facts, opinions, and/or quotes from experienced industry experts.  This will lend credibility to what you say and make your writing more credible.

Make sure you are writing in a tone that is appropriate for your audience. Your tone should match your message, your audience, and your brand personality. Use powerful language that is clear and unambiguous. Avoid words and phrases such as ‘might’ or ‘I think’ as they convey uncertainty. An authoritative tone is more effective. Moreover, you should consider whether your message is instructional, informative, persuasive, or transactional?

Be concise, as less is more when it comes to writing. Edit for superfluous language before you send anything out. But while you’re cutting, make sure to retain the central message and key points. Please avoid jargon and complex business terminologies, which both obfuscate your message and annoy your audience.

Formatting and structure are also important in keeping your audience engaged. Use paragraphs,  sub-headings, and bullet points to separate key elements and present your message clearly.

By breaking up your writing into digestible capsules, your message is more effective. Large paragraphs tend to turn off the reader. Dense writing is not enticing.

When your message demands an explanation or more detail, use headers, sub-headings, and bullets to convey your message. Margin alignment is also important in that it visually directs the reader.

Consistency also helps gain the trust of your audience. Companies and brands typically have style guides to ensure that messaging is presented in a consistent format.  This projects a cohesive and uniform brand presence across all types of written business communication. Being consistent will also help build trust, which ultimately helps to drive sales and profitability.

To gain a competitive advantage, quickly impress upon the reader that you have something of real value to share, and then state it quickly. Second, write with clarity and precision, maintaining an in order to make your writing more compelling. Finally, use a tone that is appealing and makes you appear friendly and accessible to keep your client engaged.

Business Writing – Career Tips

Below are some tips to keep in mind. They relate to the purpose of your writing, understanding the client or target audience, and ensuring that your message is persuasive and appropriate in tone. If you keep these career tips in mind, it will make you more productive and add to your company’s brand value and profitability.

Feature of Effective Business Writing Explanation
Purpose of writing For effective business writing, a lot depends on clarity in terms of what you are trying to accomplish and the audience.
At the outset, state clearly what you wish to accomplish, which will help the reader to focus their attention.
A call for action must be stated in the first paragraph and aligned with the purpose of the writing.
Understand your clients or target audience It’s imperative to know something about your clients and target audience to effectively communicate your ideas.
Know something about the industry, company profile and size, and the culture of your client.
Know that they are very busy and have a short attention span.
Valuable message and tone Prove to your audience that you have something valuable to express and then state it clearly, succinctly, and quickly.
Be care of the tone you use. If you use a likable or friendly tone, readers may spend more time with your message.
To make your message truly effective, keep in mind this question while writing ‘- “what is in it for your clients or audience”.
Persuasive writing For persuasive writing, you must blend sophistication and style with accessibility.
Active voice Use active voice, rather than passive, while communicating through your writing.
When you use active voice, rather than passive, the subject of the sentence performs the action.

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