In the fast-moving environment we live in today, those who jump to the top have fantastic communication skills, and that means better business writing than the competitors. You’ve heard the cliché, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Well, in business, you’d better be able to flourish a pen or else you may just fall on your sword.
In the Information Age in which we reside, it’s an inescapable conclusion that your capacity to communicate is one of the most critical talents you can master. In business, you’ve got to communicate with clients, employees, providers, attorneys, consultants, maybe even legislators. In many cases you can express yourself verbally and do ok; yet, you are dead in the water in business if you can’t communicate in writing.
So why is business writing so necessary? Come on, you didn’t know? As an expert, you need to have the ability to prepare impressive pitches to management and clients, provide meeting agendas to associates, and update others as to the current developments of your business. You may be responsible for writing ad copy, guides, or legal records. These are the obvious ones, but just remember that there are people you need to correspond with, share plans with, and persuade who just aren’t in the same place at the same time as you are. Your aim is to offer your valuable pearls of knowledge to be read at any time convenient to your audience.
There are a number of crucial times in the course of small business where it’s utterly essential to write rather than speak. I’ll give a strong, but certainly not complete, list right here:
1. Visible Impact. Do you agree that the fact that you learn more if you not only hear but view information? Just think of any speech you’ve ever listened to about setting goals and the vital importance of documenting your goals. Sales trainer extraordinaire Zig Ziglar, in his book Secrets of Closing the Sale, highlights the importance of using your writing pad when persuading prospects of the value of your goods and services. Why? Seeing it in writing makes something more believable: increasing recall. In addition to sales, the written message is suitable for work instructions, company goals and mission, and updates about your industry. If you want something to really register with your listener, you need to write it down.
2. Keep Records. You can’t have a spoken employee handbook; it just won’t suffice. The spoken message gets manipulated and twisted throughout the chain of command. If you’re accountable for policies or methods at a firm that definitely must be followed word for word, you need to put them on paper and publish them for the suitable parties. Just imagine telling your OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) inspector that, “we’re very careful, we just don’t keep any records.”
3. Grievances. Have you ever been ripped off by a provider? If you want to get it settled, I suggest doing it in writing. You’re trying to persuade someone to your point of view, and your written grievance will have legs. For starters, you now have a documentation of communication. More importantly, it’s very possible that the person you initially complain to won’t be the person that resolves the problem, meaning that your complaint must be transferred. If you give your complaint over the phone, it goes up the pecking order verbally. Remember in elementary school when the teacher whispered “The Easter Bunny will be here on Wednesday” to the kid in the first seat, who in turn spread it around the room by telling his pal behind him. By the time the last little girl recited the original message back to the group, it came out “Godzilla can beat King Kong in a fight because he breathes fire.” Write your complaints down to avoid the confusion.
4. Kudos. People love to get compliments on a job done well. Supervisors today are learning that a crucial part of an incentive program is to make these thank yous available to the top staff members. Funny thing is, when the praise is received in private over a cup of coffee, it’s nice. When it’s posted in black and white on the office newsletter, it’s like giving the employee an unexpected bonus. Just think of the amount of work and loyalty that the fortunate employee will show now. Thank people in writing and publicly to get considerable results.
5. Complex Ideas are expressed. If your company has achieved ISO 9000 Certification or is going through that process now, you can relate to why the ISO auditors call for written documentation. You must illustrate processes for corrective action, for instance, telling people exactly what to do when things go wrong. ISO is concerned with detail or repeatability, and putting something complicated in writing leads to consistency during implementation. Whenever you have to illustrate or report complicated ideas at your firm, put it on paper. And keep in mind; steer clear of esotericisms and lingo.
6. Protect Yourself. We all know this, don’t we? It’s become the number one use of email on the company intranet. If you’re involved in questionable problems at the office, or if your activities for whatever reason are under the company eye, you definitely must document your positions for posterity and future defense. You can use paper or electronic messages, but always cover your assets.
7. Agendas. If you’ve ever been to a meeting that was an ordeal because nobody knew the goals or what they were supposed to do, raise your hand. Alright, put it back down. You know firsthand the importance of a written schedule for a meeting. It focuses people on a common goal, assigns duties, and helps the meeting leader keep time control. Never, never have a meeting without first creating a written schedule and sharing it in advance with the meeting attendees.
I’m sure in your particular business that you can think of other circumstances. The point is that for the reasons given here and many others, it’s really essential that you clearly express your ideas in writing. It will help your bottom line by saving numerous man-hours normally lost in confusion, you will increase efficiency by getting people on the same page immediately, and you can prevent the frustrations that come with communication failures on the job.
So go ahead– do yourself a favor — and write it down.