Business Writing For Dummies

Business Writing For Dummies

by Natalie Canavor


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Business writing that gets results

The ability to write well is a key part of your professional success. From reports and presentations to emails and Facebook posts, whether you're a marketer, customer service rep, or manager, being able to write clearly and for the right audience is critical to moving your business forward. The techniques covered in this new edition of Business Writing For Dummies will arm you with the skills you need to write better business communications that inform, persuade, and win business.

How many pieces of paper land on your desk each day, or emails in your inbox? Your readers–the people you communicate with at work–are no different. So how can you make your communications stand out and get the job done? From crafting a short and sweet email to bidding for a crucial project, Business Writing For Dummies gives you everything you need to achieve high-impact business writing.

  • Draft reports, proposals, emails, blog posts, and more
  • Employ editing techniques to help you craft the perfect messages
  • Adapt your writing style for digital media
  • Advance your career with great writing

In today's competitive job market, being able to write well is a skill you can't afford to be without–and Business Writing For Dummies makes it easy!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781119369004
Publisher: Wiley
Publication date: 04/24/2017
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 205,642
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Natalie Canavor is a business writer, magazine editor and workshop leader. She has won dozens of awards for her publications, articles and scripts. Her journalism credits include features for the New York Times, columns for business publications and advice for professional communicators. She is also the author of three books on business communication.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

About This Book 2

Foolish Assumptions 2

How This Book Is Organized 3

Part 1: Winning with Writing 3

Part 2: Applying Your Skills to Business Messages and Documents 3

Part 3: Writing to Present Yourself Effectively 3

Part 4: Evolving Your Writing for Online Media 4

Part 5: Extending Your Writing Skills 4

Part 6: The Part of Tens 4

Icons Used in This Book 4

Beyond the Book 5

Where to Go from Here 5

Part 1: Winning with Writing 7

Chapter 1: Make Writing Your Not-So-Secret Weapon 9

Putting Good Writing to Work for You 10

Planning and Structuring Every Message 12

Applying the Goal-Plus-Audience Strategy to All Business Needs 16

Succeeding with email, letters, and business documents 16

Writing for the spoken word 17

Writing online: From websites to blogs to tweets 18

Special purpose writing 18

Taking the global perspective 19

Chapter 2: Planning Your Message Every Time 21

Adopting the Plan-Draft-Edit Principle 22

Fine-Tuning Your Plan: Your Goals and Audience 23

Defining your goal 23

Defining your audience 25

Brainstorming the best content for your purpose 30

Writing to groups and strangers 31

Imagining your readers 32

Making People Care 33

Connecting instantly with your reader 34

Focusing on what’s-in-it-for-me 34

Highlighting benefits, not features 35

Finding the concrete, limiting the abstract 36

Choosing Your Written Voice: Tone 38

Aligning tone with the occasion, relationship, and culture 38

Writing as your authentic self 39

Smiling when you say it 40

Using Relationship-Building Techniques 41

Showing active caring and respect 41

Personalizing what you write 42

Framing messages with “you” not “I” 43

Chapter 3: Making Your Writing Work: The Basics 45

Stepping into Twenty-First-Century Writing Style 45

Aiming for a clear, simple style 46

Applying readability guidelines 47

Finding the right rhythm 50

Achieving a conversational tone 53

Energizing Your Language 54

Relying on everyday wording 55

Choosing reader-friendly words 56

Focusing on the real and concrete 57

Finding action verbs 58

Crafting comparisons to help readers 60

Employing Reader-Friendly Graphic Techniques 61

Building in white space 62

Choosing a typeface 62

Keeping colors simple 64

Adding effective graphics 64

Breaking space up with sidebars, boxes, and lists 65

Chapter 4: Self-Editing: Professional Ways to Improve Your Work 67

Changing Hats: From Writer to Editor 68

Choosing a way to edit 68

Distancing yourself from what you write 70

Reviewing the Big and Small Pictures 71

Assessing content success 72

Assessing the effectiveness of your language 73

Avoiding telltale up-down-up inflection 74

Looking for repeat word endings 75

Pruning prepositions 78

Cutting all non-contributing words 80

Moving from Passive to Active 83

Thinking “action” 83

Trimming “there is” and “there are” 84

Cutting the haves and have nots 85

Using the passive deliberately 85

Sidestepping Jargon, Clichés, and Extra Modifiers 86

Reining in jargon 86

Cooling the clichés 88

Minimizing modifiers 89

Chapter 5: Fixing Common Writing Problems 91

Organizing Your Document 92

Paragraphing for logic 92

Building with subheads 93

Working with transitions 95

Working in lists: Numbers and bulleting 97

Catching Common Mistakes 101

Using comma sense 102

Using “however” correctly 103

Matching nouns and pronouns 104

Weighing “which” versus “that” 106

Considering “who” versus “that” 107

Choosing “who” versus “whom” 107

Beginning with “and” or “but” 108

Using sentence fragments 108

Ending with prepositions 109

Fine-tuning punctuation 109

Reviewing and Proofreading: The Final Check 112

Checking the big picture 112

Proofreading your work 114

Creating your personal writing improvement guide 115

Part 2: Applying Your Skills to Business Messages and Documents 119

Chapter 6: Writing Messages That Get Results 121

Fast-Forwarding Your Agenda with Email 122

Starting Strong 124

Writing subject lines that pull people in 124

Using appropriate salutations 127

Drafting a strong email lead 127

Building Messages That Achieve Your Goals 128

Clarifying what you want 129

Assessing what matters to your audience 130

Determining the best content 132

Structuring Your Middle Ground 134

Closing Strong 136

Polishing Your Email 136

Monitoring length and breadth 137

Simplify style 137

Going short: Words, sentences, paragraphs 138

Using graphic techniques to promote clarity 138

Using the signature block 140

Good Letter Writing Techniques 141

Chapter 7: Creating High-Impact Business Materials 145

Creating Valued Reports 146

Writing activity reports 146

Reporting project results 151

Fast-Tracking Your Proposals 152

Writing formal proposals 152

Writing informal proposals 155

Applying for grants 158

Writing an Executive Summary 160

Giving perspective to complex material 161

Determining what matters 162

Putting headlines to work 163

Writing Tips for All Business Documents 165

Part 3: Writing to Present Yourself Effectively 167

Chapter 8: Speaking Well for Yourself 169

Building Your Elevator Speech 170

Defining your goal 171

Defining your audience 171

Strategizing your content 172

Representing your organization and yourself 175

Preparing and Giving Presentations 177

Planning what to say 177

Crafting your presentations with writing 181

Integrating visuals 182

Standing and delivering 184

Composing Talking Points for Live Interaction 185

Chapter 9: Telling Your Business Stories 189

Finding Your Core Business Message 190

Searching for true value 192

Making your case in business terms 195

Finding, Shaping, and Using Stories 196

Finding your story 197

Building your story 198

Story-writing tips 199

Putting stories to work 201

Telling Your Story with Video 202

Deciding how to use video 203

Using video for marketing 205

Introducing yourself with video 206

Sharing expertise with video 207

Chapter 10: Writing for the Job Hunt 209

Knowing and Expressing Your Value 210

Pinpointing your personal strengths 210

Pulling your ideas together 212

Writing Résumés That Win the Race 215

Choosing a format 216

Writing the summary statement 218

Building your work history section 219

Showing off strengths 221

Succeeding with Cover Letters 222

Planning a cover letter 222

Opening with pizzazz 223

Networking with Messages 224

Requesting informational interviews 224

Saying thank you 227

Part 4: Evolving Your Writing for Online Media 229

Chapter 11: Writing for the Digital World 231

Positioning Yourself Online 232

Strategizing Your Platform Choices 233

Breaking down your goals 235

Knowing where your audiences are 236

Assessing your skills and potentials 239

Writing for Digital Media 239

Loosening up 240

Keeping it simple and visual 241

Communicating credibility 242

Cutting hype, maxing evidence 243

Devising nonlinear strategies 244

Incorporating interactive strategies 244

Translating text into visuals 245

Chapter 12: Creating Your Online Presence 249

Creating a Website from the Ground Up 250

Determining goals, format, and audience 251

Planning a basic website 252

Creating the site structure 254

Assembling and writing a home page 255

Writing the About Us page 257

Writing the inside pages 258

Graphic tips for websites 259

Creating a Blog 260

Choosing your best subject 262

Developing tone and style 263

Creating magnetic headlines 263

Using progressive subheads 265

Networking with Twitter 265

Planning your Twitter program 266

Guidelines for tweeting 266

Writing Online Profiles 268

Using Social Media Platforms 269

Engaging with social media 270

Exploring content ideas 272

Part 5: Extending Your Writing Skills 275

Chapter 13: Writing and the Independent Worker 277

Writing Persuasively Cross-Media 278

Communicating with conviction 278

Connecting with your reader 280

Maintaining reader engagement 281

Giving people time 281

Introducing Yourself in Writing 282

Writing to Pitch Your Services 286

Creating Letters That Sell 288

Writing Difficult Messages 290

Spelling out services performed 290

Collecting on your invoices 291

Raising your fee structure 294

Communicating as a Virtual Worker 296

Pitching the Media 297

Writing traditional “press releases” 298

Writing email pitches 299

Finding ideas for the media 301

Chapter 14: Writing Well to Manage Well 303

Communicating as a Manager 304

Relating to your team members 305

Writing to inspire and motivate 306

Delivering bad news 307

Writing good news messages 313

Criticizing with kindness 314

Writing requests and giving orders 315

Writing to Higher-Ups 316

Guarding your tone 318

Avoiding the blame game 320

Making it easy to respond 321

Writing Backup Memos 323

Part 6: The Part of Tens 325

Chapter 15: Ten Ways to Advance Your Career with Writing 327

Write to Build Relationships 327

Write a Great Elevator Speech 328

Write Your Own Long-Range Career Plan 328

Write an Ad for Your Dream Job 328

Go Out of Your Way to Thank People 329

Take Notes to Control the Conversation 329

Use Social Media Strategically 329

Know How to Explain Your Value 330

Profile Your Higher-Ups 330

Create Talking Points 330

Chapter 16: Ten Ways to Energize Your Résumé 331

Don’t Apply for the Job You Have Now 331

Adopt the Employer’s Language 332

Write Clearly and Concisely 332

Communicate What You Actually Do 332

Write Narratives, Not Just Bullets 333

Sidestep Jargon and Business-Speak 333

Use Action Verbs to Prove What You Accomplished 333

Write in a Confident, Positive Tone 334

Incorporate Keywords 334

Make It Look Good 334

Chapter 17: Ten Steps to Creating Video 335

Know Your Goal, Know Your Audience 336

Plan Your Production Style and Content 336

Write a Word + Picture Script 336

Create a Shot List 337

Lights, Action, Camera 337

Review Your Shoot and Other Resources 337

Find a Good Lead 338

Match Picture and Words 338

Craft the Right Words 338

Let Me Entertain You 339

Index 341

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