4 Ways to Advance Your Professional Written Communication Skills

Due to recent global circumstances, everyone’s a bit more video-savvy in 2020. This bodes well for the technology industry, especially for businesses pushing to accelerate their digital transformation efforts.  

However, when it comes to our old-fashioned written communication skills, many people still struggle to communicate clearly. Unlike video, text does not allow us to see facial expressions, or hear voice pitches and volumes, all of which provide helpful communication and social cues.  

With written communication, tone can be misread, misleading or altogether missing.

Text-based communication still dominates the workplace

Why does written communication remain the most common way we communicate professionally? To put it simply, there’s just too much information being shared for one person to remember.  

Effective written communication gives you the chance to clearly express your message to your audience with little room for interpretation.  

For this reason, it is critical for you to maintain and improve your written communication skills. 

At a time when we’re all writing more emails, posts and instant messages because we’re all working remotely, it’s crucial – for communication to be effective, and business to run smoothly – that we get the message right. Read on for some simple tips on how to improve written communication within the workplace. 

woman working from home taking notes while on a conference call

How to improve your written communication skills for the workplace 

1. Think before you write

It might sound simple, but written communication isn’t as forgiving as verbal communication. To ramble on and switch topics in an email is not charming – the way it could be during a face-to-face conversation.  

Instead, write with intention. Ask yourself: 

  • Who is my reader? 
  • What am I asking for in my message? 
  • What are the key takeaways the reader should get from my message? 

In additionyou can strengthen your written communication skills by applying the 5W + H method to your writing when necessary to make sure the following information can be easily answered:  

  • Who is this information relevant to?  
  • What do they need to know? 
  • When and where will it apply? 
  • Why is this information important? 
  • How should the reader use this information? 

Then compose your message accordingly.  

EXPERT TIP: When requiring a response from your reader, add a call to action to your message. It’s extremely important in your communication to be clear about your expectations. If you require a response, note that you require a response in the message and include information on how the reader can or should respond. With clear calls to action, assumptions about required actions are eliminated 

Don’t forget to reread before you hit send.  

2. Keep it simple

Buzzwords, industry jargon and acronyms are all over the internet and can mean different things to different people. If you use too many buzzwords, your writing looks generated, insincere, marketing-focused and sometimes even ill-informed. Text-based communication is all about the words you use, so in a professional setting, less is (usually) more.  

One study on the Impact of Linguistic Concreteness found that “content was judged as truer when written in concrete language than when written in abstract language. 

On the other hand, ornamenting your sentences with multisyllabic, long words to appear intelligent might do the very opposite, or even make you seem pretentious and old-fashioned. Be straightforward and concise in your writing.  

Say what you mean – staying both professional and friendly, of course!  

3. Find the right