In the world of corporate communication, business English proficiency is a must-have skill. So much so that companies have spent billions of dollars developing training software and translation tools that can help people master the world of business communication once and for all. Fortunately, though, you don’t have to spend billions to brush up your skills and bolster your business English on paper. There’s a lot you can do for free. Here are some of the best insights on how to improve business English writing skills.
Know the Basics
In any language or culture, business communication is typically direct and succinct. You’ll want to focus on short sentences that get to the point. Save the fancy words and flowy paragraphs, and strive to be clear, concise, and direct in your writing when it is related to business. If it helps, take a class or study online to learn more about business communications so that you have a foundation from which to apply your skills.
Speaking of Classes…
An online course or tutor can be a great asset when it comes to improving a language skill. Especially when it comes to writing, having someone who can read your content and address any concerns can make a huge impact. Choose a professional training course or tutor, or if you happen to know an English perfectionist personally, ask them to take you under their wing.
Practice makes perfect, as they say, and it’s true when it comes to language learning. If you want to improve your business English, just keep doing it. Write and write and write some more. Send as many emails as you can. Write up professional documents like press releases, intra-office communications, and more. Take the opportunity to practice as much as possible. It really will help.
Trim the Fat
This is an age-old saying as well, but it also makes a lot of sense here. Until you get the hang of writing effectively in business English, you’ll want to edit at least a few times before you send any communications. Go through and get rid of any excess language. Remove any “fluff” or filler content that’s just taking up space. Make sure that your written material says exactly what you want it to say, nothing more, nothing less.
Read, Read, Read
If you want to develop better writing skills, copy what others are doing. Especially when you communicate with native English speakers regularly, it can be helpful to see how they construct their business communications and what kind of writing style they use. Don’t just mimic or copy their habits, though– read through and try to understand why they’re doing things and what their reasons are for their approach. Proficiency isn’t about copying– it’s about understanding.
Tell People to Correct You
This one is always difficult—even if you can muster up the nerve to let everyone point out your writing flaws, they might not be so willing to respond in kind. People don’t always like correcting others. It can seem rude or abrasive, and especially with non-native speakers, people are hesitant. You have to tell them that it’s okay to correct you and ask that they do. Explain that you are trying to improve your skills and that their input will be appreciated and beneficial. Don’t ask them—tell them (nicely!).
Write Down New Things You Hear
Throughout the day, you probably hear tons of business English used in everyday conversation. Whether it’s at the office, on your commute, or elsewhere in the world around you, pay attention. You’ll catch new phrases and words that you may not be familiar with. Write them down and then research them later to understand what they mean, make sure that you heard accurately, and learn how to use them so you can add them to your repertoire.
It’s About Practice
Ultimately, no matter how you go about it, the best thing that you can do to improve your writing, speaking, and even listening skills in business English or any other language is to keep doing it. Ask for help, practice as much as you can, and take advantage of the world around you.