What would be your first answer to this this question? Well, if you’ve lived long enough, I’m sure you already know this truth about life; everything changes and evolves over time. Doesn’t it?
Look at languages, even though it may take decades, even they evolve over time. If English is your language, go pick up one of Shakespeare plays and see for yourself if it sounds like the English you speak and write today.
But let’s not even go that far, just watch movies from the 1950’s and see how much language has evolved. I bet you’ll hear few expressions that are not really used anymore. Besides that, compare it to movies of today, and hear the difference. You wouldn’t hear expressions like, “you’re cool,” or words like computer, internet, cell phone, GPS, the web, texting, etc.
In languages where both the formal and familiar forms still exist such as French, Spanish or Italian, for example, the familiar form is used more and more, because people are becoming more relaxed in their way of talking to each other. That difference is noticeable even compared to only 20 to 30 years ago.
So, yes, whether you’re aware of it or not, and whether you even agree with it or not, our way of speaking evolves and changes.
Now this, said, if our way of speaking changes, then our way of writing changes too. Even business writing. If you write for business, you should be aware of few elements that I’m going to discuss in this post, so your writing will be up to date.
Business Writing shouldn’t mean Complicated
Went you look at the progression of languages, I guess we could say that beside the fact that our vocabulary increases and evolves with our life styles, it has also become simpler, in the sense of less complex and maybe less fancy.
I think that in the past, business writing, and business letters were full of fluffy words and phrases that were there only to make writing more official and more impressive to the reader. Over time, however, as the human race has grown up (so to speak) we’ve come to understand that simplicity works best. Today, instead of being impressed by stiff official sounding business writing, we are rather bored by it. It just doesn’t work anymore.
The reader needs more true value and less stiffness.
Even Legal Briefs are Changing Style
10 years ago I was working in a law office as a legal assistant for a while, and my boss sent me to a few legal writing classes and seminars. For the purpose of this post, I pulled out my books and notes form these classes, and found some very familiar reminders there. I’m sure you’ve heard them before.
Here are some tips given for legal brief writing.
- Start with a basic introduction of the facts
- Follow up with a clear statement of what you want
- Include the strong facts at the beginning all the way to the weakest
- Follow up with the actions that you will be taking
Yes, this about writing a legal briefs, but it really sounds a whole lot like any writing tips you would read for bloggers or any writing tips book you may have read, doesn’t it?
The reason for this is because no matter what you write, you want your writing to make sense for people who read it. Not people living one hundred years ago, but consumers of today. Business writing is writing for the consumer.
Legal Writing – Business Writing – Online Writing
I still have all my books from my legal writing courses and I thought I’d share some tips here. This will also prove to you, in case you doubt it, that business writing is a lot similar to blog writing, article writing, and any other promotional writing you’re doing.
Somewhere in my Effective Legal Writing book there is a chapter about wordiness. There it says how lawyers are found of “verbose” and how useless it is to the reader.
Legal writing is by nature, formal and detailed, so it doesn’t need to be made longer and more complicated by adding useless words.
In this chapter there are few very common writing tips that are valid for all writings, legal, business or online writing. Wordiness is a no-no for any type of business or non-business writing.
Use Active rather than Passive Verbs
Instead of: “The car was repaired by John.” You need to write “John repaired the car.”
Instead of: “Paris is visited by millions of tourists each year.” You need to write “Millions of tourists visit Paris each year.”
The use of active words works for any kind of writing, because they work better period. No matter what you write and no matter whom the reader is.
Make a strong argument the first time around, and you won’t have to repeat it again, and again in the same article.
Repetitions are OK only if use purposely to create a specific effect, but beside that, repetition is boring to the reader. Thus it makes your writing dull.
Avoid filler words such as “clearly,” “truthfully,” or “obviously.” Make it so rather than saying that it is. This is also called writing laziness, just adding fillers rather than finding a way to make our argument stronger.
Whatever niche or market you’re in, I’m sure there is a jargon. Lawyers have a jargon, doctors have a jargon, computer geeks have a jargon, SEO experts have a jargon, and bloggers have a jargon, but whoever you are and whatever you do, you need to remember, that not everyone is going to be familiar with your jargon, so while you can use it when you talk to your peers, avoid using jargon when you write if you don’t want risking not being understood.
Business/Legal Writing Tips that may Sound Familiar to Online Writers
I found some very interesting tips again in that legal writing book, that sounded so familiar to me. Any business writing, or blog writing should know this.
Before you start writing know the followings:
1) Who you are writing for?
2) What is it you are writing?
3) Make a list of the things you want to cover.
4) Outline your writing to direct your article better.
5) Once you’re ready, write freely. Let yourself write. I found that note in this book so interesting indeed. (Read my subconscious writing post if you haven’t yet, to understand what I mean here).
6) Edit several times over.
7) Proof read.
Business Writing is Simply Writing
As you can see from this article, it doesn’t really matter what business you’re in or what or whom you’re writing for anymore, because writing is writing, and nowadays, even lawyers and paralegals are asked to simplify their writing and write in such a way that they can be understood by people who don’t know anything about the law.
Whether you are a corporation, a freelance business or anything else, make sure that your letters, emails and other articles can be understood by most.
Drop the formalities, fluffy words and terms that only people in your business can understand. Write correctly, but as if you were speaking to the reader in the simplest manner possible.
You can still keep a business tone, with a simple style that speak to everyone. Our languages have changed and evolved, and so is business writing. But not only business writing – any writing.
So, you’re turn to write a few words about what you think about business and/or any type of writings of today, in the comment area.