5 Quick Tips to Improve Your Workplace Writing.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

#1. Cut to the chase
Put the important information first; background or supporting information can come afterwards. Many work environments are fast-paced, so people don’t have time to filter through “long stories.”

#2. Avoid using contractions
It’s common knowledge that contractions are inappropriate in formal writing. However, some workplaces have a semi-formal culture and write in very relaxed tones. In such set-ups, you may find employees using contractions for internal communications. I don’t recommend contractions in workplace writing for two reasons:

First, old habits die hard. You risk sending bad vibes about you and your organisation if you forgetfully use contractions in a piece of writing sent to an external recipient.

Second, contractions could be confusing and make you more susceptible to grammar errors. Writing “they’re” and “there’re” as “their” or “could’ve” as “could of” are some examples of this. Such errors easily slip into workplace writing (and other types of professional writing) when people use contractions.

Third, contractions could detract from the clarity of your message, depending on the context. Consider this sentence: “He’d come to refuse the offer.” Does this mean “He would come to refuse the offer” or “He had come to refuse the offer”? Your guess is as good as mine. Even if there’s supporting information to guide the reader’s understanding, I’d rather not leave room to be misinterpreted.

#3. Be as specific as possible
Thanks to the lack of cues like body language, eye contact, and so on in written communication, being specific is excellent for making the message of your writing stand out. Here’s an example:
Instead of “The new website design will attract more customers,”
write, “The stylish simplicity of the new website design and its interactive features (live chat, interest calculator, and clickable images) will attract visitors, engage them, and turn them to paying customers.”

The first sentence doesn’t say much. It doesn’t pull the reader in and will likely raise questions or leave room for varied interpretations. This could easily be an inconvenience and jeopardise the outcome you desire. The second sentence, though longer, gives more details and, therefore, is more precise.

#4. Keep lengthy sentences to a minimum
Lengthy sentences can make your writing tiring to read. On the flip side, don’t make all your sentences too short, or else your writing may come across as abrupt or choppy. Try to strike a balance.

#5. Write like you would speak if your reader were standing before you.
This is my way of saying write naturally. When you talk to your boss or colleagues face-to-face about work matters, I bet you don’t try to impress them with grandiose language. You pass your message across clearly without even trying hard because being understood is the goal. You also know, instinctively, not to ramble and use colloquialisms. Model these when you write and watch your writing consistently achieve its purpose.

Did you find these tips helpful? Let me know which of them you’ll be using.

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Lola Ayangbayi, PhD

Lola Ayangbayi, PhD

Wife. Mum. Editor. Educator. Publisher.