Writing well can be difficult even for those who do it professionally. The English language is rife with opportunities to use the wrong words, punctuation, syntax, or style.
And while some might shrug off an inability to communicate in writing as no big deal, others say it matters more than you might think.
Writing, communication skills, and organizational skills are in high demand in nearly every occupation—even fields like IT and engineering—but difficult for employers to find, according to a study by job market analytics software firm Burning Glass Technologies.
根据就业市场分析软件公司Burning Glass 科技的一项研究，几乎每个行业——甚至像IT和工程领域——都对写作、沟通技巧和组织技能有很高需求，而雇主却很难找到。
And being unable to write well may also hurt your personal brand and effectiveness. “If you have a reputation as a bad communicator, a bad writer, when emails come in and they see it’s from a certain person, a lot of people might just delete it before reading it.
Like, “Oh, I know this never has anything important in it,” says business writing coach Jodi Torpey.
While learning to communicate well in writing is a skill that takes practice, there are some tricks of the trade.
Here, professional writing coaches share the most common writing mistakes they encounter—and how to remember to stop making them.
ONE: USING THE WRONG TONE
One common error that business writing coach Wilma Davidson sees often in her coaching practice is simply writing inappropriately for the audience.
Whether it’s not considering what the recipient cares about, or sounding like you’re scolding when you’re correcting behavior, the wrong tone will turn people off, she says.
Solution. Visualize your recipient, suggests business writing consultant Natalie Canavor.
“Just take a minute to see them in your head, look at their office, hear their voice in your head,” she says. When you see the audience as a real person or people, you’re more likely to address them in a tone that resonates with them.
TWO: BURYING THE KEY MESSAGE
In journalism, it’s called “burying the lede”—or “lead” to others.
And it simply means that you’re taking too long to get to the point. Providing context or chronology may be necessary, but state your purpose or point up front, then get into the details, Torpey says.
Solution. Write like a journalist, Torpey says.
Journalists typically use the “inverted pyramid” approach to writing, stating the most relevant facts–who, what, when, where, and why–upfront. Then, they provide the background and supporting material for their story.
This way, even if the reader doesn’t finish your email or document, you’ve still had a chance to get your point across.
THREE: INCLUDING PROBLEMATIC TURNS OF PHRASE
Using tired phrases, colloquialisms, or idioms can be problematic. Senka Hadzimuratovic, the head of communications at grammar platform Grammarly, points to commonly misused words says they can be difficult to learn and not translate well in business settings.
For example, the phrase, “I could care less” is most often used to indicate that you have no interest left.
To say, “I could care less” is, in fact, to imply that you do have more ability to care. The phrase for those searching to say they’ve really reached their wit’s end is, “I could not care less.”
Solution. “Get rid of clichés,” Davidson says. “They do nothing for your writing.” When you find yourself relying on well-worn phrases, find another way to say what you mean.