Business writing: 6 ways to get your business voice right

Sharon Tanton

Writing Valuable Content Marketing book

Here are some tips to improve the quality, clarity and accuracy of your business writing for better business results.

The case for promoting your business with clear compelling copy is already won. No one would argue that it’s good to be waffly and confusing.  Likewise the need for accuracy. Spelling and punctuation matter, because getting them wrong makes your communications  look unprofessional and this reflects badly on your brand. You know that already.

But how do you do it?

Here are my top six tips for creating a clear business voice.

1.  Short sentences are better than long ones. Really, they are. For example, if you’re reading this hoping to discover the reasoning behind my implication that the length of both word and sentence impacts upon the readability of said article, or web page, then by this point you might be becoming a little weary of it, wondering aloud to yourself, maybe quietly, maybe not, when, oh when, will it ever reach a conclusion, and I might say to you, maybe quietly too, or I might shout it, or even sing it as an operatic soprano might, in top C, that it’s not going to.

So, short and sweet is better. Cut sentences down. Be ruthless. Don’t be frightened of full stops, they’re your friends, so use them.

2. And it’s the same with words. Don’t say ‘facilitate’ when you mean ‘help.’ I’m not saying limit your vocabulary, English is full of beautiful words, but if there’s a simpler way to say it, then use it. Your aim is to be clear and easily understood. Get potential clients from A to B without losing them on the way in a maze of confusing words and meandering sentences.

3. Create a team. Your voice should reflect your brand. If you’re more than a one-man band use ‘we’ when you’re talking about what you do. We help our customers like this. ‘We’ is inclusive and engaging, and can put you on a level with your potential client. But….read on….

4.  Look lively. Get some energy into that copy to engage potential clients. A good trick for creating a compelling business voice is to look at the first words in each of your sentences and make sure they’re different. Long lines of ‘we’s are dull; ‘we do this,’ ‘we do that.’ Yawn, yawn. Throw in some new ones. Shake it up a bit.

5. Seize the power. Your choice of words can put you in control or shuffle you onto the side-lines. Using an active voice gives your words authority. Don’t say ‘the report will be delivered,’ say ‘we’ll deliver the report.’ Much more powerful.

6. But our business is different. What we do is highly technical and specialized. I can’t explain it in simple language. Potential customers need to see how you solve problems for people like them.  Expertise can be a stumbling block if you just dump it in somebody’s path.  Take a step back and get some perspective on what you do. Ask your clients what they like about you, and I guarantee it won’t just be your technical know-how.  If you’re good, it will be your problem solving abilities, the fact you keep your promises, the way you use your skills to make their businesses run more smoothly.

A powerful business voice communicates these qualities first, and lets the expertise speak for itself.

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9 Comments

  1. Brilliant advice in a truly multi-media age. Only just starting blogging and tweeting, and this advice will be great to set me off on the right footing.

    I also believe it’s incredibly powerful advice to remember for good old fashioned press releases and copy.

    Oh yeah, and I really like that image too. With this advice my business is going up just like those balloons, baby.

    Reply
  2. Brilliant and simple – am so guilty of using never ending sentences. I will be befriending those full stops from now on. Love Lizzie’s pic too.

    Reply
  3. Thanks Kristina – short and sweet so often best. Obviously you need longer sentences sometimes, but when in doubt, cut it short! I love Lizzie’s pic too, she’s very talented.

    Reply
  4. Brilliant Sharon! As always. I’d get you to write my copy anytime.

    And re point 3 have you heard the We song by Neil Diamond? Grammatically it’s not exactly spot on but a cute song and my kids think it’s hysterical (fairly predictable as to why…).

    Reply
  5. Great, thanks Sharon. I’ve just rewritten part of a contract proposal as a result of reading this.

    Reply
  6. Emma – is that the one that goes something like: “It’s not about you, it’s not about me…dah dah dah dah dah…it’s all about we…we-ah-we-ah-we” or words to that effect? I can understand why the kids like it!

    Reply
  7. Glad it’s useful Nick, good luck with the blogging and tweeting. Emma, I don’t know that song, and would like you to sing it to me in the playground sometime. And will keep my fingers crossed for your proposal, Dick. Thanks all for comments.

    Reply
  8. Fantastic article… love they way you demonstrated point 1!

    Reply
  9. Thanks James. I’m a big fan of the short sentence!

    Reply

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