We know the value of oral communication skills for today’s workers, but that other type of communication— writing — is just as important. With today’s emphasis on fast communication through technology, it seems more people ask why they need to take writing courses or learn writing skills when they can just text their views to employers, clients and colleagues.
Even children seem to gripe more these days about why they need to learn to write in complete sentences. So what is the value of good writing skills today?
Most successful people will emphasized the criticality of good writing skills. Professionals spend more time each day writing and are inundated with written communications (e-mails, reports, memos and such), so it is imperative that we are able to write well.
Here are some things to think about when you sit down to write:
- Think about your audience (business colleagues, friends, etc.) and the appropriate format (e-mail vs. report vs. letter).
- Use structure to make it reader-friendly. Section headings, paragraph subheadings, graphs, charts and bullet points can help.
- Proofread your work or get someone else to review it. Review accuracy, clarity, spelling, punctuation, grammar, and conciseness.
- Be clear. Don’t rely on technical jargon or acronyms.
- Be concise. For many jobs it is important that you be able to write a one-page executive report as well as other short reports.
- Be professional, especially in e-mails. Anything that you send can be copied or forwarded to others. Employers often comment that a person’s written message reflects his/her personal image and degree of professionalism.
- Be comfortable with revisions. Don’t expect that your first draft will be the final product. Great writers often spend many hours revising and improving their work.
- Practice and get feedback on your writing.
- Take classes to improve. An Internet search quickly reveals numerous in-person and online options to improve technical writing and creative writing.
- Read your writing aloud to uncover mistakes.
- Cite references where appropriate. Make sure you do not plagiarize by taking others’ work without crediting it.
Remember, it is not the reader’s job to decipher what you are trying to say. It’s your job to make it clear.
I have seen many individuals stop reading a paper, report or job application if they were having a lot of trouble understanding it. You want your work to stand out, but not in the wrong way.