Shirley's Articles / Business Writing

Business Writing at Work – The Rules Have Changed

We are all writing more than ever now. We depend on our business writing skills to influence, persuade, encourage, collaborate, and to lead. However, most people don’t really notice the quality of the writing they read – they simply react positively, negatively, or not at all.

If you have ever wondered if there’s a better way to write your messages so they get better results, there is! Here are three of the new rules for effective written communication:

1. If you can say it, you can write it

We connect with the world today largely through e-mail, web sites, blogs, texting, and social media. With all these channels we have only bare facts, without tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, or pauses. It makes sense to use business writing that’s as close as possible to spoken language.

Writing conversationally will give you a great advantage – you put your personality and individuality into your message. This will help you to stand out and make a greater connection with your reader.

2. Write for today, not yesterday

Yesterday’s business writing was passive, wordy, and really dull. It created a distance between the writer and the reader. Today’s writing is more conversational. It’s crisp, clear, transparent, and the personal context makes it more positive and interesting.

Yesterday: Please be advised that a meeting of the Annual Convention Committee will be held on 24 February (Thursday) at 9.30 am. You are required to attend to report on progress made since the last meeting. Kindly advise your availability.

Today: I’d like to hold another meeting of the Annual Convention Committee on Tuesday 24 February at 9.30 am. I hope you can attend to report on the great ideas you mentioned at the last meeting. Please confirm if you can join us.

3. Aim to build relationships with good writing

People will judge you based on what you write and how you write it. In today’s fast-paced, technology-crazy world, it’s essential to come across as a human being.

If you insist on using old fashioned or redundant jargon (Please be reminded, Kindly be advised, Please find attached herewith, above-mentioned, etc) you will obscure the real meaning and will not be adding any personality.

Make your writing positive, stimulating and interesting, add some feeling and a personal touch. Help your readers get to know the real person behind the message.

Here’s one of my videos discussing how you can avoid redundancies and use active voice in your writing. It’s just a few minutes, so please check it out.

Poor business writing damages reputations: Poorly written messages reflect badly on you and your organisation. Poor writing will not clarify your organisation’s products, services, values, policies, beliefs. As a result, business efficiency will be lost, as will opportunities to connect and build relationships with clients, colleagues and stakeholders.

Good business writing makes a difference: Good writing is receiving increasing recognition as an essential business skill. It will give you a huge advantage today. Good writing can help you work more efficiently, build credibility, improve relationships, influence people, win more clients and achieve your goals.

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Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at

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