The box step of writing

Quick! What’s the first step in business writing?

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Did you say, “Purpose”? Did you shout it from the rooftops? Go on, shout it! If there’s anything in need of passion, it’s business writing. You can’t really add that passion into your writing, but you can add it into your life! Get some perspective! PURPOSE!

Okay, *reels it in*, for a quick rundown on business writing, and how it can save your life, go here. This is the second post in our business writing journey, and we’re going to focus on the four initial steps in writing. BONUS: Use these steps to conquer ANY project in your life!

But before getting into the nitty-gritty of it . . . Maz Lusk, you not only nailed the answer to last week’s blog question, you gave a fabulous reply about the importance of technical writing! “I think we all need to be technical writers if we are wanting to communicate at all.” Yes! Guys, check out Maz’s full response in the comments section here.

First rule of business writing: purpose. Whether you’re crafting a procedure (a set of instructions) for customer service representatives or developing a high-level document for a CEO, you need to figure out why you’re writing that particular document. What do you want the reader to do? In the customer-service example, maybe you want the user to reallocate funds from one customer’s account to another. We know that a procedure is the best route. But what of that high-level document for your CEO?

Step two in business writing is something that’s equally important in creative writing: Know your audience. When considering your audience, you want to determine if the user is a decision-maker, processor, project manager, etc. You need to keep in mind what the reader understands about the topic and how they’ll use the document. 

Once you’ve established your purpose and audience, you need to get a good grasp on your main message. What do you want the user to retain after reading your document?

Now you’re ready to bring it all together and decide on a delivery method. Are we talking email? Communication? Meeting? Intranet? Presentation? How are we going to Get. It. Done?

Let’s back it up. You’ve been tasked to create a high-level overview for the CEO on how your team is going to implement new steps for processing disputes. Pop quiz! Should you go with a) flow chart, b) procedure, or c) proposal?   

If you answered a, give yourself a high-five. Go on, you deserve it! A flow chart is a basic chart that states a purpose, and the steps that will be used to accomplish that purpose. It’s not detailed. It’s not illustrated. It’s not for entry-level positions. This is a map that tells the what and the brief hows. Nothing fancy here. The End.

And there you have it! Purpose. Audience. Main message. Delivery. Four easy steps and you’re on your way to developing your writing skills and impressing your mum.

In our next post, we’ll discuss the importance of designing effective visuals in your documents. Yes, there is a place for them! So what’s the first thing you’re going to tackle using the steps discussed in this post? The most creative answer WILL be mentioned in the next post! C’mon . . . five seconds of fame here! Eternal internet glory!

Happy writing!

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Desirae Roosa is a technical writer by day and an aspiring author by night with an unhealthy addiction to the BBC. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.