business writing

Written communication in business is one of the most important day-to-day activities. Whether it's with your boss, your co-workers, or your clients, effective written communication can either make or break you. Writing effectively can help you get that promotion that you've always wanted or score points with clients. Alternatively, poorly written memos or e-mails can, and often do, prevent many people from being recognized for their work and efforts. 

It's commonly agreed that the most effective communication is both clear and concise. Yet everyday, businesses are haunted with thousands of offenders who just don't understand what effective communication really means. Or maybe they do understand, but are not putting it into practice. Either way, everyone suffers when you write unecessarily long prose with ambiguous word usage.

On Writing Concisely: Less is More!

Not only does verbosity waste time, but it also diminishes comprehension. When writing reports, memos, letters, and e-mails, check your writing for common business phrases that can be written more concisely. Substitute the wordier version with the shorter version. 

10 common phrases to make more concise:

  1. According to our records - we found
  2. At your earliest convenience - soon/now
  3. Enclosed please find - here's
  4. In the event of - if
  5. In accordance with - by/under
  6. Inasmuch as - because/since
  7. It is obvious that - clearly
  8. Finalized our decision - decided
  9. For the purpose of - for
  10. With the result that - so that

On Writing Clearly: Avoid Jargon!

Everyone in business wants to sound like they actually do things by using jargon to make their work sound important or to hide the fact that they in fact haven't really done anything. In some cases, jargon is necessary, but in most, writers who use jargon just don't want to tell you anything worthwhile. If someone told me that he or she has been "effectively streamlining the strategical synergies," my response would be: blink.. blink. What does that even mean?

10 common jargon to avoid:

  1. I'll circle back around that tomorrow morning. (should be: Let's talk tomorrow morning.)
  2. Which projects are actionable? (should be: Which projects can we do?)
  3. Our group has increased functionality. (should be: Our group has improved.)
  4. In our company human capital is most important. (should be: Our employees are the most important.)
  5. Be sure to keep Jane in the loop. (should be: Please include Jane.)
  6. We received pushback on the idea from the client. (should be: The client did not like the idea.)
  7. These are Company X's core competencies. (should be: These are what Company X does best.)
  8. This idea does not move the needle. (should be: This idea does not generate cash flow.)
  9. Can we leverage Adrienne's idea? (should be: Can we use Adrienne's idea?)
  10. Let's operationalize this project today. (should be: Let's do this project today.)

While the list above is not comprehensive, I hope you will start incorporating clear and concise language in your business communication. If there are other phrases (that you think can be more concise) or jargon (that you think are particularly annoying), please feel free to share in the comments section below.