How to Improve Your Business Writing Speed by 30-50 Percent
Yes, yes, it sounds like a weight loss ad, just like “Lose 60 pounds in time for your next trip to the gym!” Except this time, it’s true. We see it often among learners in our business writing workshops: they cut their writing time by 30–50 percent.
How does it work? Frustrated writers, lend me your ears.
Where’s the fat?
There are two huge time sinks in most approaches to business writing:
False starts, unsatisfactory paragraphs and whole chunks of writing that we just discard because we realize they won’t work—after we’ve written them.
Constant editing, which becomes perpetual second-guessing of our content and absorbs more time than drafting.
But how can you cut the fat?
Are you willing to try something new—something with a track record of success?
If you’re still at the office at 7 p.m. on a Friday, “cleaning up” those last 35 emails in your inbox, you’re probably frustrated enough to try a radically new approach to business writing. If so, you’re already on the path to improved business writing speed. Take these three steps and call us in the morning—to celebrate.
Plan with intention
If you’re already howling, “But I don’t have time to plan!” it may be that lack of a plan is what’s wasting your time. We’re not talking about a sophisticated architectural drawing. We’re talking about a few jotted notes. Eventually, for a short email, you’ll be able to do the planning in your head.
Begin your plan by asking yourself, “What outcome do I want? What do I want to make happen?” If your first answer is, “Nothing,” keep thinking. Yes, you do want something to happen. You may want to make a good impression, or persuade a reader that you’re handling an assignment well, even if the reader has no action items right now. Write down that outcome.
Then write one sentence that pulls together two elements: what you want, and how the reader will benefit by cooperating with what you want.
Example: “If we switch to Fled the Coop Pest Control, our chickens will be safer and less anxious, and lay more eggs.”
Even if your reader were able to read only one sentence in your communication, she would know what you want and how the whole operation would benefit.
Draft with intention
Make every sentence relate directly to that one powerful statement you just wrote. You researched 33 farm pest control companies before you found Fled the Coop? That’s nice. But we don’t need to know it to decide on your proposal. Tell us only what we need to know to make a good decision. Give us all the vital facts, and then stop. Write the entire draft without allowing yourself to edit.
This is where you’ll be tempted to go back to the old way of writing. Resist! Right now, we’re eliminating one of the two major time sinks. This is no time for backpedaling.
Ask yourself one question repeatedly as you edit: “Will this wording and this organization help me to reach the goal of convincing my reader to hire Fled the Coop Pest Control?” Maintain your laser focus on outcome. Everything else is sawdust. When you can say “yes” to each sentence and your overall structure, and you have run spellcheck, you are finished. Press “send.”
Gaining speed in business writing, it turns out, is a result of clear thinking and working your plan. Otherwise, speed is just sloppiness.
You’ll be hooked on the simple three-step approach. And you’ll improve your business writing speed by 30-50 percent—in time for your next trip to the gym!