Effective Written Communication Skills
Did you know that 75% of millennials would rather text than talk on the phone? Studies show that texting and other…
January 8, 2021 | 7 mins read
Did you know that 75% of millennials would rather text than talk on the phone? Studies show that texting and other forms of written communication have become widely popular among smartphone users. Written communication enables you to communicate at your own pace as you can think and take time before writing a message. It’s more effective than verbal communication because it helps recall information with greater efficiency. Writing also helps communicate complex ideas more easily.
Let’s explore the meaning and benefits of effective written communication and see why it’s one of the best forms of self-expression.
Before we set out to define written communication, let’s look at what ‘communication’ means and entails. In a nutshell, communication is the process of exchanging ideas, information or concepts between a sender (who creates and sends the information) and the receiver (who receives and interprets the information). This exchange takes place through a medium or a channel— it could be verbal, nonverbal, visual and written.
Written communication is the process of exchanging messages (information, thoughts or concepts) between a sender and receiver(s) by making use of the written word. Effective written communication is important for businesses as it helps to bring everybody on the same page regarding overall goals and objectives. In this day and age, everybody is expected to navigate emails, bulletins, reports, circulars and office memos.
Imagine that a new client is interested in collaborating with your organization. You are likely to give them a snapshot of the history and success of your organization and how it has overcome challenges. A business deck or brochure is an effective way of communicating important as well as attractive details about the organization. Not only will it help you provide a summary, but also persuade your client to work with you.
Organizations often use business memorandums (memos) for internal communication. Although a majority of memos are now communicated via emails, it’s an effective tool to give instructions or remind people of events, actions or observance. If you want to broadcast a message to a large number of people, memos are the way to go.
Different types of written communication are used in different contexts and needs.
When you communicate something only to get a response from your receiver, it is known as transactional communication. The online medium is the most effective way to send your message quickly, and emails or texting platforms work wonderfully. Since you expect a response, you need to be careful about the way you frame your message. Be mindful of the tone, language and style. Some examples of transactional communication are asking for a favor, scheduling a meeting or requesting a quick clarification.
When you communicate something for the benefit of the reader or to inform them about something, the message is known as informational communication. The onus is on you to deliver the message and the receiver doesn’t have any role to play, except for raising doubts or asking for clarifications, if any. You need to communicate clearly, avoid complex terms and be direct so that your readers can understand the message easily. Memos are excellent examples of informational communication. They are a quick and efficient form of internal communication.
When your communication is meant to instruct or direct someone to do a specific task, it’s called instructional communication. These messages should be detailed, giving the reader a fair idea about the topic. It should be easy to follow and should clearly instruct the reader what’s expected of them. The most crucial aspect of instructional communication is the format. Using bullet points to lay down the instructions step by step can help. Using smaller paragraphs or short sentences are a powerful way to help your reader understand your instructions.
You have probably come across the phrase “we require excellent written communication skills” in several job descriptions and advertisements. Employers value written communication skills because it’s instrumental in driving professional relationships, brand image, and business goals. Written communication skills refer to the ability to effectively get your point across through the written word. Anyone can develop these skills with adequate practice and attention to detail. Here are a few examples of written communication tips that can help you develop good written communication skills and enhance the quality of your business writing:
Use active voice so that readers follow your writing at a quicker pace
Use the appropriate tone, also known as the voice, which will indicate the degree of formality or friendliness
Use the correct grammar and punctuation to ensure that your point is sent across the way you intend it to; poor grammar reflects badly on you as well as the organization
Be precise; it helps you to not divulge too much or too little information when communicating your main agenda
Keep it simple; it will prevent you from confusing your readers
Written communication skills are essential for every stage of career development. Whether you are applying for a new job or building new professional networks, you need to showcase your writing skills at every stage. For example, you need to learn how to be precise when building your resume so that your strengths and accomplishments are highlighted. Even during presentations, you can’t dump all your data on the slides and expect the audience to follow everything. All your written communication should be easy to read and should contain appropriate terms that get your message across.
In some ways, written communication is more important than verbal communication. It helps you record information and refer to it in the future. It creates accountability and establishes a powerful channel to engage your audience. Effective written communication depends on various factors. You can remember them through these five Cs.
It is the way you connect with your readers or audience and engage them through written communication.
You should have clarity of thought while engaging in written communication—it shouldn’t confuse your reader.
Before you write something down, ask yourself what it is that you want to convey. Your goal or purpose should be clear to you as well as your reader. If there are any actionable items, they should also be laid out clearly.
Written communication is effective when it is direct and to the point. You need to be clear and put forward your points succinctly.
Always use appropriate grammar, inoffensive language and the proper tone while communicating. Always proofread what you have written.
Now that you know the importance of written communication in business, let’s look at how you can improve your approach. Here are some questions that you need to ask yourself to write and communicate proficiently:
Having an end-goal in mind helps you focus on the things you want to communicate. For example, if you want someone to take action after reading your email, you need to communicate that objective clearly. Often, emails begin with the main purpose or the big idea so that the reader knows exactly what the communication is about. Irrespective of what format you use, organize your message so that your main idea is communicated even if the reader simply skims through the message.
After you have identified your purpose and written your first draft, you should check for a few things:
Whether your message contains unnecessary details, and if extra words or sentences can be removed
Whether the message is direct and leaves no room for misinterpretation, and if there are words that can be replaced with more accessible ones
A useful trick to organize your thoughts is to use an outline. Organize information in a logical order, ensuring that you have covered all the major points. This is especially helpful in communicating large chunks of information. For example, you can summarize complicated business reports by outlining the introduction, body and conclusion.
Whether it’s an email to a client or a close work-friend, it’s safe to assume that all written communication will be shared with others or forwarded. Before hitting ‘send’, check whether the content is free of inappropriate and insensitive information. What you think is a harmless joke can hurt someone’s sentiments.
Written communication in business is tricky. Sometimes, we may come off as condescending even if we didn’t intend to. We must pay close attention to our tone, style and language and keep our messages respectful. Proofreading and editing are good ways to ensure that the information has been double-checked.
To write clearly, concisely and compellingly is an art. But anybody can learn how to master the art of effective written communication! Harappa Education’s tried-and-tested methods will teach you how to improve your business communication in ways that everyone will sit up and take notice. The Writing Proficiently course will help you structure your thoughts better and deliver your ideas with precision. The GRT (Goal, Recipient and Tone) Framework will guide you in determining your readers and purpose. The PREP (Point, Reason, Example and Point) Model will help you write with clarity and conciseness. Your words will not only convince but also impress others!
Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics & skills related to the COMMUNICATE Habit such as Writing Skills, Report Writing, How to Take Effective Meeting Minutes, What is a Memo & How to Write a Follow-Up Email to polish your written communication skills.