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Business Writing for the Non-Writer

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White papers, grant applications, articles, blog posts, a business plan for potential investors. If you’re a small business owner, you’ve got a lot of writing to do. You may not like writing, you may not think you’re any good at it, you may even be in a position to hire someone else to do it. Even so, there are probably going to be times when you have to do it yourself. A blank white page – or these days, a blank white screen – can throw otherwise intelligent, capable people into a frenzy of fear.

As a writer, this has always amazed me, even as I am grateful for it since it provides my income. What I find most puzzling about it is that all these people can talk. Yet, they are terrified or writing. People often have this idea that business writing is different than talking. And true, in many cases, it is. But not in most. Most of the time, if you just write what you say, you’ll be fine.

Business correspondence does not necessarily have to be more formal and stilted than conversation. In fact, more often than not these days, conversational style is better. Especially when it comes to search engine optimization. Search engines are much faster to pick that up than the more formal writing most associate with B2B communications.

If you are a biomechanical engineer, articles for trade journals and white papers may require that more technical style of writing. But if you are a biomechanical engineer, that’s probably the way you talk when discussing matters related to business.

Resist the temptation to over-explain. Trust your reader. If they are colleagues, they speak the same language you do, so they’ll understand. If you are writing for someone who is not in your line of work, that’s a different story. But for now, just write the way you talk. Have someone look it over before you send it out, but I do that, even as a professional writer. Don’t let the blank screen terrify you.



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