Swallowed the dictionary? 8 ideas for clear and engaging business writing

Like any skill, it takes effort, practice and perseverance to write clearly and in a way that engages your loyal clients – and attracts new ones.

Whether it’s writing a business plan, a blog or an award entry, here are 8 ideas that will help you to boost your writing skills – and, if writing’s a challenge, increase your confidence.

1. Hate it? Get it down anyway

As you’re drafting you’ll write things in a way that doesn’t please you. Get the words on the screen (or on paper) all the same.

A draft is perfect because it exists. Your next draft will be better, the following one even more of an improvement.

2. Save as

Captain Obvious? Maybe. Every so often start a new version of your draft and save the previous one. You may want to return to that unwanted turn of phrase or idea, whether for this piece of writing or another. You’ll kick yourself if it’s gone.

3. Swallowed the dictionary? 

Keep it clear and simple. Why say “ameliorate” when “improve” is much clearer? Chances are you don’t really need to “assist” your clients when they just want you to “help” them.

4. Take a break

We don’t always have that luxury of course. But if time allows, and you can’t see the draft wood for the deadline trees, stop.

Go for a walk, talk to your cat, play with the dog, load the dishwasher. Whatever helps you feel more refreshed.

5. Read, read, read

As I mention in another blog about writing, read as much and as widely as you can.

This quote about writing from goodreads.com by American novelist and short-story writer William Faulkner is food for thought:

Time, of course, is probably in short supply to do screeds of reading every day. News round-ups such as Quartz (you can sign up to free daily emails) and magazine The Week may help.

6. Say it aloud (and listen)

If you trip up on something you’ve written when reading it aloud, a reader will probably struggle too.

And if you’re running out of breath as you read then that sentence may be too long. Try splitting it in two, perhaps one longer and another shorter sentence.

How about punctuation? Try out using a semi-colon if a pause seems shorter than a full stop.

7. Two brains…

Once you have a more detailed draft, even with holes still to plug, ask someone to read it. You may want to offer to return the favour.

Ask them for specific feedback: “Does it flow?” (ask for more than a yes or no response…) or “What examples would make that section clearer?”

8. Give them space 

Opt for a mix of short and longer paragraphs, allowing for white space on the screen and paper. Just as we need to breathe when reading, a wall of text can be very off-putting.

So if the format allows – blogs certainly do – include photos and illustrations. Be sure to credit the originator.


Remember to reward yourself after each drafting session then when the writing is finished, especially if you find it an uphill struggle. I bet the dog, who’s given you moral support through thick draft and thin, will enjoy that longer walk too.

(Images by pixel2013, deedster, scottweb and stux on Pixabay;
and by Roman Kraft on Unsplash)

*What helps you when you’re writing a text for work?
What tips might you try out from this blog?
Please add a comment below.
I”ll add a reply. Many thanks.*

6 comments on “Swallowed the dictionary? 8 ideas for clear and engaging business writing

    • Brian McGee on

      Thanks a lot for your comment, Allison. Great to know that you found this blog useful. Keep it simple? Yes, I’m all for that!

  1. Sue Reeves on

    Hi Brian, really enjoyed the newsletter. Thank you. These tips are great. Looking forward to the end of lockdown and establishing what the new normal looks like. Take care, Sue

    • Brian McGee on

      Great to know that you like the newsletter and that you found these tips useful too. Thanks a lot for your comment. Yes, the new normal is an interesting prospect… Let’s see!


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