In a world filled with technological advances, humans have changed not only the way we communicate, but the way we write. There are a lot of different ways to write an idea, some causal, some filled with industry language, and not all approaches work for all audiences.
Polished written communication still matters in the professional world, and you may be wondering how to improve your skills. Below, 15 members of Young Entrepreneur Council share one specific way people can work towards better-written communication, as well as touch on why this aspect is so important.
1. Proofread Your Work
Well-written content says a lot about someone’s professionalism and sets them apart from other potential employees or clients. Spend time proofreading your content and do it out loud. When you read out loud, you’re more likely to catch errors in your text. I have found people send emails or messages without actually reading over them and miss a great deal of spelling, grammar and context errors.
2. Work on Your Structure
Even if you have the best vocabulary and are really articulate, if your text isn’t well-structured it won’t be easily understood by people, and that’s a definite communication failure. Eloquent writing requires the ability to structure things in a logical sequence so that it flows well. Working on structure can help improve written communication skills, and make things easier to understand.
3. Read and Write More
When you read more, you learn more writing tactics and skills, making you extra knowledgeable. Practice makes everything perfect. You can’t really be good in anything without practicing all the time. Reading and writing, hand-in-hand, are both things you can do to be better at writing.
4. Write Every Day
Practicing writing every day helps me improve my writing structure, syntax and overall organization. I generally spend 10 to 15 minutes every morning writing in my journal. This also helps me think more clearly and write more effectively.
5. Think About What’s in It for the Recipient
With any type of written communication, whether it’s a marketing piece or a company-wide email, it’s important to consider the recipient’s point of view. Always answer the question at the top of your recipients’ minds: “What’s in it for me?” If you frame your communications from that standpoint and address what your recipients care about, you’ll have a much better response.
6. Write Directly to Your Ideal Customer
Write with your ideal client or customer in mind. Too many people write for the vast majority and communication gets lost. They want the message to speak to everyone — so much so that it speaks to no one. The more you can narrow in on your ideal client or customer’s needs, the clearer you will be able to communicate to them. Consider this mindset when creating written communication.
7. Focus on Emotions
One of the easiest ways to improve writing communications is to focus on what the reader is going to feel, not just think, as they move through the material. We often focus on factual writing like we’re in school, and focus very little on the emotions we’re eliciting from the audience. Although initially unnatural, emotionally fueled written word is a game-changer.
8. Use a Grammar App
If you want to improve your grammar, try using an app to help you out. There are many out there. Some free ones are hemingwayapp.com and grammarly.com. Before you know it, you’ll start recognizing common mistakes and catching them before the app corrects you.
9. Take a Writing Class
My writing skills improved dramatically during my freshman year of college thanks to an introductory-level writing class I took. I took an advanced writing course in my junior year, and unsurprisingly, my writing got even better. Everyone can improve their writing, and good classes can help you take your written communication skills to the next level.
10. Keep It Short
Audience interest, attention and time are valuable and increasingly scarce. Write short sentences and concise paragraphs. Edit twice to reduce, combine and compact as much as possible.
11. Read Your Writing Out Loud
When you speak an email, blog post or any piece of writing out loud, you get a better idea of how it comes across. You can simply read what you’ve written out loud to yourself. If it’s something important, read it to someone else for another opinion. Another possibility is to dictate into your phone and transcribe the words. You can do this for free or use a high-end software such as DragonSpeak.
12. Review to Ensure You’ve Hit All Your Key Points
Clarity is important in emails. When you are close to a subject, it’s easy to forget that the person on the other end doesn’t have all the information you do. I will often go back through an email to ensure it hits the key points: goal, timeline and a clear deliverable or question. While this might seem obvious, it’s surprising how often emails are unclear and how much confusion it can create.
13. Include Clear Examples
One of the best ways I’ve learned to improve my written communication is by using easy-to-understand examples. I think we establish communication barriers between ourselves and the people who work for us when we don’t explain what we expect. Examples helps make your message clear and improves your communication.
14. Use Simple, Jargon-Free Language
Sometimes when people are writing communications, they try to appear more professional by using bigger and more complicated words or industry-specific jargon. But, if you want to improve your written communications, you should make it easy to understand. Use simple language so that anyone who is reading your communication, whether expert or beginner, can understand your message.
15. Seek Out a Mentor
Seek someone with an outside perspective on your writing can give you objective feedback. When you seek out or hire someone to look over your work for a second opinion, you can receive honest thoughts about what you need to improve and how you can get there.
These answers are provided by Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co.