Whether you’re in communications, are applying for a new job, or work in a sector that needs your writing to be professional, having good writing skills will be critical to your success. Today, our CEO Jo Caruana is sharing some of the tips that our writers find most useful here at the Finesse Group.
Write for your audience
You’ve probably heard me say this before, but the best tip I’ve ever received is to always write for your audience. Understanding your target audience will immediately help you tailor the language and style you use; both to the person you’re writing for, and the platform you’re using.
Think about it, you wouldn’t write a blog post the same way if you were targeting a business owner vs. a student. Therefore, before you put pen to paper, try to visualise the person you’re writing for and let that guide you.
Get to the point
Your next step is to get to the point. At school or University, we often write in terms of quality over quantity – word counts need to be met somehow, right? But, when it comes to the real world, and, more specifically, copywriting, the quicker you can get to the point the clearer your writing is going to be and the more professional it’s going to sound.
So, when you go over your work, try to remove any extra ‘waffle’ or anything that doesn’t clearly get your message across. In doing that, you’ll make your writing more succinct, effective, and easier for your reader to consume.
One thing that can really determine how professional your writing comes across is your level of consistency in a piece.
After all, while some things in the English language aren’t necessarily right or wrong, you will need to take a decision about the way certain things are written.
For example: Are you going to write “you are” or will you opt for the contracted “you’re” in your work? And are you going to use UK or US English spelling? These are the sorts of decisions you’ll want to take in your writing to make you as consistent as possible.
Now, as we already mentioned, these decisions are often a matter of preference and that’s why it’s important to refer to your company’s (or client’s) style guide. If you understand the guide, align your decisions with it, and ensure you’re consistent in your work, you’re bound to look more professional and will ultimately save your editor a lot of time and patience! Bonus? This will guarantee you get more work from them in the future!
Use active voice
Another thing I really look for when hiring new writers is whether they overuse the passive over the active voice. Here’s an example of the passive voice: “the squirrel was chased by the dog”. As opposed to the more active voice: “the dog chased the squirrel”.
Readers find that an active voice is, tonally, more confident and engaging overall. And that’s exactly what you want to make your writing sound more professional. I suggest reading your work back, ditching the passive voice for a more active one, and connecting more to you reader as a result.
Does the piece flow?
My next tip is to focus on the flow of your writing. One of the things that really sets professional writers apart is how effectively their thoughts and paragraphs flow from one into the other. Here are a couple of ways you can connect your paragraphs better:
- Add linking words and phrases to the beginning of your paragraphs. For example: starting a fresh paragraph with “however” or “with that in mind” will help back up the previous thought and introduce a new one more seamlessly.
- A good rule of thumb is to contain one main thought or argument to each paragraph (or section) so your reader can easily scan your piece and understand where you’re taking them.
The difference between doing that and not can make a massive difference to how professionally your writing comes across.
Edit, edit, then edit again.
Finally, probably the most important tip of all is to thoroughly edit and proofread your work before you send it off. Now, you’re probably thinking, “Jo, of course I already proofread my work before I send it off.” But I will question whether you really do.
I advise taking a short break after you’ve written something (whether it’s an important email, blog article, interview, or anything!), and returning to your work with fresh eyes. Close your laptop, make a cup of tea, think about something else entirely, and then take another look at what you’ve written. You’re guaranteed to spot all those little mistakes you wouldn’t have noticed before. Then, as you’ve made all your changes, you can confidently send it to your client or boss knowing that your writing is as professional as it could be.
And that’s it! Those are my tips for making your writing more professional in a few easy steps. But, if you’d like even more tips, or, if you’d like to focus on making your writing more professional, then why not consider joining our Finesse Writers’ Club? It’s an online space for writers and aspiring writers to share tips, tricks, worries, and, more importantly, their writing with a group of like-minded individuals with the guidance of professional writing coaches.
Applications open in the next few days, so stay tuned
– we’d love to have you in the Club!