Written communication skills are important in almost every job. Whether one needs to submit reports, correspond with clients via email, create presentation slides, compose articles for a website or write something longer and more in-depth, knowing how to communicate clearly and effectively in writing can help to perform well and advance in own career.
If one wants to improve their written communication skills, they must consider these strategies to help write clear and engaging material:
2. Target the audience- Perhaps the most important key to effective writing is to consider who one is writing to before one begins. Spend some time identifying who you want to reach through your writing. The audience’s opinion about the subject matter, as well as their interests, age, personality, location, and education level, will all affect how they think and feel about what one communicates to them. Such a writing style must be chosen that will resonate with the audience for a long time.
3. Using an outline- Good writing has a clear purpose that is achieved through its beginning, middle, and end. Before one writes out a full draft, an outline of what they want to communicate must be made and it should discuss the points so that the writing will have a clear and easy-to-follow structure. To write a good outline, one must begin by brainstorming a list of everything they might want to say in their writing. Then, one must look at the list and cross out what might be unnecessary, irrelevant, or not appropriate for the audience. Taking the items and arranging them in a logical order. This might be chronological, reverse chronological, or in ascending order of importance.
4. Keeping a strong opening- The first sentence and first few paragraphs of any writing is the author’s opportunity to interest and engage the reader. An effective opening is one that persuades the reader to keep reading. It is often helpful to write the rest of your piece first, then go back to the beginning and write or rewrite your essay. Knowing how you expressed the body of your message and the ending can it make easier to see how you should begin or how you can create an interesting lead-in to the most important information. Some interesting openings include a surprising fact, an engaging anecdote, establishing a personal connection, or just a very well-written sentence. What the best opening is for your writing depends on your topic and the style of what you are writing, such as whether it is an article, presentation, pitch, email, or report.
5. Answering the 5 Ws and H- The five Ws and H Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How. Double-checking that one has answered all of these questions about the topic throughout your writing helps to ensure that you have communicated the subject fully and clearly. This is a strategy used by reporters and journalists to give an audience the full details of a story.
6. Being simple and direct- One mistake that ineffective writers often make is trying to make their language too flowery or worrying about using bigger words when a smaller one works well. Aiming for a style and diction that is simple, direct, clear, and concise in order to communicate the purpose well is important. Every word and sentence in effective writing adds value to the whole piece. It can be helpful to let ideas flow and write everything that comes as you compose the first draft, but then revise the piece by cutting down the content to only the material that is necessary. Eliminating any words and sentences that are repetitive, redundant, or don’t further the purpose of the whole is essential.
7. Choosing strong verbs- Since verbs are actions in writing, they are arguably the most important words to choose. Clear, effective writing uses clear, strong verbs. One writes, that considering what verbs they can use that present a vivid image to the reader is important.
8. Limiting adjectives and verbs- Adjectives and adverbs are the parts of speech that describe or modify nouns and verbs, respectively. While these descriptive words can be important and clarifying sometimes, a sentence that is cluttered with too many modifiers distracts a reader from its main purpose. When editing the writing, watch out for frequent adjectives and adverbs and consider if your point might be clearer without them.
9. Understanding the three appeals- Any serious consideration of how to write well involves studying the three rhetorical appeals. Rhetoric is the art of persuasion, and since most writing seeks to persuade the reader of the truth of its subject, considering how you can convince your reader is an important part of effective writing. The three rhetorical appeals are ethos, logos, and pathos.
10. Considering using literary devices- Literary devices are techniques writers use to create a special effect. An effective literary device can capture a reader’s attention, be very memorable or illustrate a point especially clearly. Similes, metaphors, imagery, rhyming, repetition, alliteration, assonance, and the inversion of words or phrases are all literary devices that can enhance your writing style.
11. Revising, editing, and proofreading- These steps are essential to good writing. Although sometimes used interchangeably, revising, editing and proofreading are all individual steps that help with the micro view by considering each sentence’s efficiency and identifying and correcting any errors in grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Proofreading is the final step before publishing or submitting your work. It’s similar to editing but involves going through your work in even finer detail to ensure that it is completely ready for an audience. Proofreading might involve finding typos or adjusting formatting as well as double-checking for any stylistic or grammatical errors.