Communication skills are more important than ever, but what if your grammar doesn't quite make the grade? Given that the average professional sends and receives more than100 emails a day, no one has time to read rambling messages that don't get to the point quickly. To get you started, we've put together a list of tips for quickly improving your written communication skills. (And if you're looking for more, here's an excellent list of helpful websites and tools that address common grammar questions and errors.) Study commonly misused words and phrases. This means email subject lines, blog post headlines, and even report titles should be capitalized. It's much harder to convey tone in the form of words than it is in person -- the types of formality described above are how you can compensate for this and ensure your audience doesn't feel disrespected. You can always personalize your communication with a sentence or two. Study commonly misused words and phrases. You'd be amazed at the difference removing the word "very" makes in your writing.
Communication skills are more important than ever, but what if your grammar doesn’t quite make the grade?
Fifty years ago, you would’ve walked over to your coworker’s desk or called up to the second floor to ask a question. Now, whether your coworkers are in the next cube or half a world away, it’s standard practice to email, instant message, or text them.
This shift in basic communication has made writing skills crucial to being listened to.
An increasing number of employees are “working with people they have never met and communicating with them largely through email,” Will Ellet, adjunct professor of writing at Brandeis International Business School, told CNBC.
No matter what format your written communication takes, it needs to be clear and concise. Misunderstandings can lead to costly mistakes. Given that the average professional sends and receives more than100 emails a day, no one has time to read rambling messages that don’t get to the point quickly.
We could all use a little refresher on our business writing skills. And thanks to a wealth of free classes and resources online, we can improve our grammar and writing from the comfort of our own desk chairs — without spending a dime.
To get you started, we’ve put together a list of tips for quickly improving your written communication skills. Check ’em out. (And if you’re looking for more, here’s an excellent list of helpful websites and tools that address common grammar questions and errors.)
How to Become a Better Writer
- Develop a daily writing habit.
- Try to read every day.
- Capitalize when you’re supposed to.
- Avoid using exclamation points.
- Always think about your audience.
- Cut the filler phrases and buzzwords.
- Sign up for a free writing course online.
- Use writing templates.
- Make sure you address people correctly.
- Study commonly misused words and phrases.
- Drop the word ‘very’ from your vocabulary.
- Read your writing out loud.
- Ask for feedback from your peers.
1. Develop a daily writing habit.
Practice makes perfect, so set aside just 10 or 15 minutes each day to free-write. Free writing is a healthy daily habit that allows you to get your thoughts down on paper (or computer) without worrying about outlining or proofreading your ideas. Think of it like a journal, but focus your daily entry on personal growth or a subject in which you want to become — or be seen as — an expert.
Once you’ve finished writing every day, you can then use a tool like Grammarly to help spot mistakes and remember them for the next day.
2. Try to read every day.
In addition to writing each day, a daily reading habit is also crucial to increasing your vocabulary and expanding your writing repertoire.
Be selective about your reading choices, though. While reading in general does help you take on new points of view, the content you’re reading can have the biggest impact on what you get out of it. According to a study by the University of Florida, reading academic journals and literary fiction can actually make you capable of more complex writing projects than reading simple, curated, or pop-culture web content.
So, pack a novel alongside your lunch or peruse a magazine. Even industry blogs can be a great source of quality writing (if we do say so ourselves).
3. Capitalize when you’re supposed to.
Notice how the University of Florida published that study referenced in the previous tip. And notice how the “University of Florida” is capitalized.
It might seem pedantic to school you on basic rules of grammar, but it’s not always clear what deserves to be capitalized and what doesn’t. Here are two types of writing you should always examine closely when uppercasing your words:
- Proper nouns. If it’s an official name of a person, city, company, product, book, publication, country, continent, government job title, or school (we’re likely missing some on this list), capitalize it. These words refer to specific…