Convoluted business writing, from emails to reports and proposals, are all too common scenarios in many organizations. Jargon, verbose sentences, and unnecessary details all contribute to a lack of clarity that can obscure messages, delay decision-making, and ultimately impact the bottom line.
It’s not just a matter of personal preference. As Josh Bernoff’s survey, for Harvard Business Review, found 81% of 547 business respondents feel that poorly written material wastes their time.
This lack of clarity and simplicity can have significant consequences, from miscommunication within teams to lost business opportunities with clients and customers.
This article will explore why clarity and simplicity are crucial in business writing and provide practical tips for achieving them.
What are clarity and simplicity in business writing?
“Clarity” refers to the quality of being easy to understand. Clear writing is straightforward, concise, and free from ambiguity. It conveys the intended message without causing confusion or misinterpretation.
On the other hand, “Simplicity” refers to the quality of being easy to read. Simple writing is accessible, engaging, and free from unnecessary complexity. It conveys the intended message without overwhelming or boring the reader.
In contrast, unclear and complex business writing can hinder understanding, create confusion, and cause mistakes. For example, lengthy sentences, technical terms, and convoluted language can cause readers to lose interest or miss critical information.
Clear and simple writing has several benefits, such as increasing comprehension, reducing errors, and improving engagement.
Why “clarity” and “simplicity” matters in business writing
Clear and simple communication is the foundation of effective collaboration, decision-making, and problem-solving. Here are some reasons why clarity and simplicity matter in B2B business writing:
Time is precious
B2B partners and clients are often busy professionals with limited time to read and process information. If your writing is complicated to understand, they may not take the time to read it thoroughly.
By writing with clarity and simplicity, you can make it easier for them to read and understand your message quickly.
Effective communication is key
Clear and simple writing can help you communicate your message effectively, avoid misunderstandings, and build trust with your partners and clients.
On the other hand, unclear and complex writing can create confusion, and misunderstandings, and ultimately damage your relationships.
Professionalism is paramount
In B2B relationships, professionalism is critical. Your writing reflects professionalism and can influence how your partners and clients perceive you and your organization. You can demonstrate your professionalism and attention to detail with clarity and simplicity
Accuracy is crucial
Misunderstandings and errors can have significant consequences for both parties. By writing with clarity and simplicity, you can reduce such risks and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Branding and Image
Your writing style reflects your brand and image. Clarity and simplicity communicate your brand values and personality. You can also make your writing more accessible to a broader audience, enhancing your reach and reputation.
Improving search engine optimization (SEO)
In this digital age, search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for B2B businesses.
Clear and simple writing can improve your website’s SEO by making it easier for search engines to understand and index your content. This can help increase your online visibility and attract more potential clients.
B2B businesses often have a global reach, and writing with clarity and simplicity can make it easier to communicate with partners and clients from different countries and cultures.
Using plain language, avoiding jargon, and keeping sentences short and simple can make your writing more accessible and engaging to a broader audience.
Tips for achieving clarity and simplicity in business writing
Now that we’ve discussed the importance of clarity and simplicity in business writing, let’s take a look at some tips that can help you achieve these goals.
Consider your audience
Understanding who you are writing for can help you tailor your message to their needs, preferences, and expectations. When you know your audience, you can choose the right tone, language, and style that resonates with them.
For example, if you are writing for a technical audience, you might use jargon and technical terms to convey your message effectively. However, if you are writing for a general audience, you might use simpler language and explanations to avoid confusion or boredom.
Use simple and direct language
“Simple language” means using words and phrases that are easy to understand and familiar to the reader. Direct language means being concise and to the point, avoiding unnecessary or redundant words.
For example, instead of writing,
“Since we are experiencing a shortage of inventory, we regret to inform you that your order cannot be fulfilled at this time,”
You could write, “We are out of stock and cannot fulfill your order right now.”
Avoid jargon and technical terms
Jargon and technical terms are words specific to a particular field, profession, or industry. While they can be useful in communicating with experts in a specific area, they can be confusing or intimidating to non-experts.
For example, instead of writing,
“Our product is a B2B SaaS solution that leverages AI and ML to optimize workflow,”
You could write, “Our software helps businesses streamline their work process using advanced technology.”
Use active voice
In active voice, the subject acts, making the sentence more direct and engaging. In contrast, in passive voice, the subject receives the action, making the sentence more convoluted and less engaging.
For example, instead of writing, “The report was submitted by the team,”
You could write, “The team submitted the report.”
Use short sentences and paragraphs
Short sentences are easier to read and understand than long sentences, which can be overwhelming or confusing. Short paragraphs break up the text and provide visual relief, making it easier for the reader to follow the flow of ideas.
For example, instead of writing,
“Although we have been experiencing challenges with our supply chain due to the pandemic, we have been working hard to find alternative sources of materials and are confident that we will be able to meet our production goals for this quarter,”
You could write,
“Despite supply chain challenges, we’re working hard to find alternative sources and meet production goals.”
Use bullet points and headings
Using bullet points and headings can help you organize your ideas and make your writing more scannable. Bullet points provide a concise summary of key points, making it easy for the reader to understand the main ideas quickly. Headings break up the text and provide a clear structure, making it easier for the reader to follow the flow of ideas.
For example, instead of writing, “Our company offers several benefits to employees, including health insurance, retirement plans, and paid time off,”
You could write:
Benefits of Working at Our Company:
- Health insurance
- Retirement plans
- Paid time off
Proofread and edit
It’s important to review your writing carefully and make sure it’s free from errors, typos, and grammatical mistakes. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that your writing is clear, concise, and easy to understand.
For example, you could read your writing aloud to yourself or ask a colleague to review it for you. You could also use tools like Grammarly or Hemingway to check for errors and improve readability.
It’s a common misconception that complex language and long-winded sentences are a sign of intelligence in business writing. However, the truth is that clarity and simplicity are far more valuable in communicating ideas effectively.
The solution starts with recognizing the importance of clear and concise writing and making it a priority in your organization.
At Ojehs, Inc., we understand the value of clear and simple communication. Our team of expert writers and communicators is dedicated to helping businesses achieve their goals through effective written communication.