Business writing training: taking it back to work

You been on Simplified business writing training, you loved it, and you can’t wait to get back to work and change the way you write. But it can be overwhelming to do everything at once. Together, these small steps can become a giant leap to more effective business writing. (Guest post by Simplified business writing trainer, Melissa Davidson)

Lead by example – step by step

  • Start by making small changes in your writing. What stood out most for you during the course? If your light-bulb moment was learning about the active voice, start using it in your writing.
  • Make your sentences shorter.
  • Pick some of your favourite complex words and replace them with plain words.

These quick fixes are already a great improvement!

 Test your skills on your readers

You may have a brilliant idea for improving that standard email your department’s been using for years. How to go about it? Try this:

  • Ask your readers for suggestions – how do they use the document? What information is important to them? Where do they go to first when they receive the document?
  • Send a test version in the new format and ask for feedback.

Asking your readers how you can make life easier for them is the best way to improve your writing.

Ask colleagues for help

  • Connect with other people who’ve been on the training.
  • Develop a process for checking each other’s writing, preferably using a checklist. Editing is a great way of learning.
  • Set weekly challenges that focus on a particular aspect of plain English, for example, improving the way your documents are structured, or eliminating jargon from internal emails.
  • Share ‘before-and-after’ examples from websites or your own writing.

This works well within and between departments – it’s always good to get the perspective of readers who aren’t familiar with your area of work.

Spread the word

  • Share what you’ve learnt with your team. Explain the benefits of using informative headings or share tips on how to handle jargon.
  • If you loved the Simplified business writing course and believe it’s of value, tell people about it and encourage them to attend.
  • Thank your manager profusely and don’t stop talking about the course until your manager agrees to go! (We don’t mind if you keep talking about the course after that, too.)

Look out for good business writing

Being a good reader helps you be a better writer:

  • Start reading more critically. Look out for good writing.
  • If you get an email that you think is written well, consider whether the writer has used plain English. What can you use in your own writing?
  • If you find it really easy to fill in a form, look at the way it’s been structured and designed. How has the designer considered you, the reader?

If you read good writing, and understand what makes it good, you’ll be able to write better yourself.