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Marketing / Business writing

Writing business documents: Get to the point

Ever found yourself mid-way through writing a proposal, report or email and realised you’ve waffled on without covering your key points? Here’s how to plan when writing business documents.

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Think like your reader

Readers prefer documents with logical order and flow, consistent layout, and easily understandable terminology, so if you want your writing to be read, pay attention to those elements. Don’t use jargon or set things up in a way that makes the relevant sections difficult to find.

Whether your document is a report, a proposal or an email, you want your reader to actually read it. You wouldn’t be writing it if it wasn’t important, would you?

Benefits of planning

Do you plan your business documents? Most people I speak to about their business writing say to me that they’re time poor and need to ‘just get the document done’.

That’s understandable, however, wouldn’t it be better to have an approach to writing business documents that made your life easier and saved you time?

Just as we form an impression of a person when we first meet them, your document conveys an impression of you and your business to your reader.

"Readers prefer documents with logical order and flow, consistent layout, and easily understandable terminology, so if you want your writing to be read, pay attention to those elements."

Determine your objectives and formulate your plan

A document that’s easy to follow with clear objectives is more likely to be read. To achieve this you need to spend some time planning your document and establishing an outline.

Want more articles like this? Check out the business writing section.

In addition to helping you stay on message, planning your writing will save you time, ensure your document follows a logical order, help make sure you don’t leave anything out, and allow you to meet your deadlines.

As a starting point, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Why are you writing the business document?
  • Who are you writing for?
  • What important information do you need to include?

At the end of this process, you’ll be able to spend less time writing and editing your document. Furthermore, the work you produce will meet your reader’s needs, and your readers will be more likely to take action as a result of reading it.

In short, you’ll find that you’ll spend less time waffling and have a greater chance that your email, report or proposal will be read and acted upon.

Do you follow a process when writing business documents? Please share your tips with us, and don’t forget to present them in a logical order!

Maria Pantalone

works with individuals and teams in developing their business communication skills. Her company, Infinite Growth, provides training in presentation skills, business writing and leadership development. Armed with these skills, there is nothing a business person cannot achieve.

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