Learn how to improve your writing skills, and avoid common mistakes.
Do you need to improve your writing skills?
Poor writing can cause other people frustration, it makes a bad impression, and it can set you back in your career.
For instance, your boss may question your ability, if you send unclear emails. Poorly written instructions could confuse your team, reduce their productivity, and cause them delays. And documents full of grammatical errors make you look unprofessional, so it's definitely worth the effort to hone these skills.
The first step to writing effectively is to understand your audience. When you know who you're writing for, you can use the appropriate format and tone. For instance, an email you're writing to a trusted team member will likely sound different from a report you're sending to a new client.
Next, consider your audience's needs and motivations – how will they benefit from reading your document? How can you structure your message to appeal to them?
Then, identify your central theme. This is the main point you want to make. If you're having trouble defining what it is, imagine you have 15 seconds to explain your point. What would you say?
If you're drafting a longer written piece, like a report, create an outline. This will help you focus your thoughts so you can put information in a logical order.
When you start writing, use simple words. Complicated ones may confuse and frustrate your readers. And avoid jargon, unless you're writing for a highly technical audience.
As you write, pay attention to the structure of your message. Long sentences are more difficult to read and understand, so make them as short as possible. Use headings, subheadings and bullet points to break up your text, so it's easier for your audience to scan.
Once you've written your piece, go back over to check it for grammatical errors. These are unsightly and confusing, and they also make you look unprofessional. Make sure you've used punctuation correctly, and haven't misused any words.
Your last step is to proofread your document again. It's easy to overlook mistakes in your own work, so it's always worth taking a second look. Get someone else to look at it, too, if you can, as a "fresh pair of eyes" can often see things that you've missed. To make it easier to spot errors, and to check that your writing flows smoothly and elegantly, read your document out loud.
These are just some of the ways you can improve your writing skills. You can find out more about this in the article that accompanies this video.