How to Master Business Writing Skills [Guide]

You probably write many times a day in your job to contact with suppliers, clients, and team members. But how can you be sure you're writing clearly and effectively? In this guide, we will go through some tips on how to write different forms of communication.

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Are you tired of waiting for people to respond to your emails, or your ideas being sidelined never to be realized? This is a common problem that frustrates many in today’s fast-paced world. But what if all it took was a bit of finesse and adjusting the formatting your correspondence to get your inquiries the attention they deserve?

Often times, great ideas are overlooked and proposals are never accepted not because of what we say, but how we say it. We’ve put together this how-to guide on how to improve writing skills for business writing to roll your ideas to the top. Also, check below some tips for communicating in the business world if English is not your native language.

Types of Business Writing

Communication comes in all shapes and sizes. From resumes, propositions, emails, corporate chats, and business plans. Whether you’re a budding startup or part of a mega-corp you’re going to need strong skills for written communication.

We’ve consulted some expert MBA writers to share their in-depth knowledge on they’ve succeeded with written communication. They’ve provided some tips on these popular formats.

Writing a Business Letter or Email

Let’s start with the most common tasks you’ll face when communicating – letters and email. The formatting for a hardcopy letter slightly differs than that of an e-mail, but the contents and how you address your audience in the body will be the same.

First, always start off with a greeting, even if you know the recipient well. This demonstrates a level of professionalism and courtesy that sets the tone of what to follow. Also, remember to write clearly and be specific in what you're asking. Lengthy e-mails that don't get to the point are often ignored. That's why it's important to break down the substance of your letter into easy-to-read blocks that people can easily scan through.

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If you have three points you'd like to make, separate each idea, so your letter becomes scannable and digestible. Another useful tool is to create an action item list of what you're asking. This will allow the reader to address each point individually. For example, after leading in with a brief summary, you could list the following:  


After today’s staff meeting, it looks like some adjustments need to be made to our project. Would you be able to help me with the following details?

  1. Is it possible to …
  2. Do you have an ETA when this x component will be ready?
  3. The current project is behind scheduled 3 days. Would you advise …

Thank you for your assistance,

As you can see, the recipient can quickly determine what you need, if they can help you, and most importantly easily respond.

Another aspect of e-mailing is when to CC others. People generally get annoyed by receiving unnecessary emails, and if you have a habit of sending messages to everyone, they will develop the habit of not reading your correspondence. For this, it is advised to send directly to those who have the ability to take action on your message, and only inform those who are involved in monitoring the process.

Writing a Business Proposal

So the pre-sales team has come up with some great leads of potential customers who could really benefit from your products or services, now what? The key lays in an effective business proposal. If you’re asking yourself what’s the best business proposal format, let’s start from the fact that it is not a business plan. With your proposal, you outline how your company’s business skills will handle a particular problem and why you’re the right solution. An effective proposal will contain the following parts:

  • Executive Summary: This is a brief overview of what is contained in the entire offering. The purpose of this section is to put your best foot forward and present a summary of your strongest ideas and benefits so your potential customers can dig deeper into your proposal for the details. It is critical to do a good job on this section since it will motivate people to get interested in your plan.

  • The Main Body: Here you describe your plan details. You may include sections on Market Analysis depicting where opportunities are falling short, or the methods of how you’ll approach a certain problem or the products and services required to implement a project. Here it is essential to be detailed and focused. Always keep in the back of your mind why your proposal is important. This will ensure any resources or methods you aim to solve a business issue will always be relevant. If you’re working with an upstart, you may include some of these 20 reasons to start a business in 2019 to help motivate them to take a step forward.

  • Conclusion: A strong finish will motivate the reader to accept your ideas and implement them. If you’ve done an effective job, your proposal will show the benefits of doing business with you and thus add value to a company.

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If English isn’t your native language

Doing business in a foreign language can be quite difficult and you want to present yourself as a qualified professional, so people take you seriously. In the English language, soft skills are imperative to effective communication, especially in business writing. Here are a few tips to guide you for English business writing.

  1. Almost always ask something as a possibility. In English, it's easy to ask for things, and if you're too direct, it comes off as being rude or bossy. Even if you "need" something, it's better to ask in the form of a possibility, i.e.  "Would you be able to" or "Could you please" are great phrases to use. Once you pose your request, then state if it's essential. For example, an email to ask for help from a colleague could look like this:  Could you please help me with this report? I have a deadline today that I need to meet.
  2. We vs Me: Business politics can get a little tricky and nobody likes being thrown under a bus. In almost all cases you should refer to your work as a group. This is important for good times and bad. When writing progress reports use the words “we” when documenting achievements as well as shortcomings.
  3. Always review your work before finalizing: This goes for native English speakers as well. Nothing says a lack of care or consideration than simple spelling mistakes[sic]. Online grammar checkers are great for capturing simple typos or punctuation issues but fall short of being reliable for professional purposes. For this be sure to give your work a good read before submitting.

As you see, business writing can accomplish a lot with the right habits and a positive attitude. Whether you’re sending off some emails or generating a new proposal, the right organization and a concise way to add value to your communication will go a long way.

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