Generally, we communicate with many people in different ways throughout the day. Whether it’s the person who serves us when we go shopping or the email we send to a co-worker.
A lot of importance has been given to oral communication, such as learning how to make presentations, and to nonverbal communication, taking into account what we say with our body, whether by facial expression, posture or gesture. But we tend to downplay the importance of written communication, although we use it much more than we think.
- Good communication helps us to convey our message better, avoiding different interpretations that can lead to misunderstandings.
- It is possible to achieve effective written communication through practice in writing, but also by reading different genres.
- Keep in mind that when communicating in writing, we do not have the help of gestures or tone of voice, which can give us a lot of information when communicating orally.
What you should know about effective written communication
Effective written communication helps us to convey correctly what we want to communicate in a simple and concrete way. We must also take into account who we are addressing and adapt the tone to the receiver.
We use this communication when we send an email, in our blog or in a job offer. It is necessary that our message is transmitted correctly, as well as being attractive to the reader.
What characteristics define effective written communication?
In order to know how to improve our written communication, we must first look at everything that defines it. Below you will find its characteristics (1):
- Complete: contains all the important information we want to convey.
- Concise: brief, avoids all the irrelevant information.
- Appropriate tone: knowing who we are addressing and adopting the tone of our message.
- Correct: no spelling or grammatical mistakes.
- Understandable: it must be understandable and clear to the reader.
If a text has these attributes, it is easy to read, and we will understand perfectly what the writer wants to tell us.
How to improve written communication and make it effective?
The purpose of your message
You must have the purpose of your message very clear and not lose it at any time. If necessary, before getting down to work, make an outline with the most important ideas and, once written, review the text to check that you are following the line you have set.
If this is not the case, correct and reformulate the paragraphs, choosing the right words so as not to take away space for other types of interpretation.
Use the right tone
Remember who you are addressing, since sending an instant message to a friend is not the same as sending an e-mail to a company manager. Use a formal tone when necessary and avoid jokes.
Be polite and respectful, this way it will be easier to create a bond with the reader. And, above all, don’t be in a hurry and reread the text before sending or publishing it.
Don’t beat around the bush, focus on what you want to say without too many embellishments. If you don’t focus on your message, the reader won’t get the main idea or will end up bored.
If you can eliminate some words without losing the meaning of the text, do it. Every word you write translates into time, and no one likes to waste it.
Ideas get forgotten
You’ve probably had some good ideas for writing down on a walk, but once you get home, there’s no trace of them.
That’s why it’s a good idea to keep a notebook nearby, so you can write ideas down and not forget them. If you are more of a fan of technology, you can always use your mobile phone notes or recorder to capture them.
Active or passive?
The active voice is where the subject is the one doing the action. This type of writing is more attractive to the reader and motivates them to keep reading.
To make the difference clearer, here are some examples of active and passive voice:
|Passive voice||Active voice|
|The computer was assembled by Txarls.||Txarls assembled the computer.|
|The ball was kicked by Miguel.||Miguel kicked the ball.|
|The room was decorated by Marta.||Marta decorated the room.|
Read and write regularly
Reading is a fundamental pillar to improve writing. Read a bit of everything, different genres and authors, don’t close yourself to a single style.
To do this, practice is also crucial. Take advantage of any situation to apply different types of written communication, such as emails, blog posts or reports.
Proofread and edit as often as necessary
We can start writing our text schematically and develop all the points. Once completed, go over it again, and reformulate the content that does not convince you.
Do this as many times as you think necessary until you get a satisfactory result. When you have it, read it out loud to better empathize with the receiver.
Don’t forget consistency
Structure what you are going to write and use a logical order for the information you are going to provide. If your text is not logical, the reader will not understand the main points.
Without coherence, the text is more difficult to read, so it is important to maintain the verb tenses. If there are different tenses, start a new paragraph or sentence.
Ask for advice and take advantage of constructive criticism
It’s always good to have a trusted person who can give you another point of view. This way, you may be able to see things from a new perspective, making it easier for the recipient to read.
It can be difficult to accept criticism, but when it is constructive, we must see it as an opportunity to improve and write more efficiently and effectively.
So, open your mind when you receive constructive comments and find a way to keep growing.
Why is effective written communication important?
Effective writing allows us to communicate more fluently with the reader. It is essential to know who we are addressing and what the key idea of the message is.
But this type of communication is also useful for managing projects and work. For this reason, follow the above guidelines to be brief and concise, but without omitting relevant information, and thus have a solid foundation for your project and relationships.
Effective written communication and employment
Within the field of employment, and more with the increase of teleworking, this communication is one of the most used. From applying for different job offers and having to send a cover letter, to internal company communications.
Generally, with colleagues, a more informal tone is used, since they are usually quick messages to solve doubts or share opinions.
But if you have to email a superior to arrange a meeting or even write a press release, remember the above guidelines to clearly express the points you want to talk about (2).
When we communicate orally, we have more tools to emphasize the message, such as tone of voice or gestures. Even mistakes are often overlooked because of the speed of the interaction.
Read more about Written Communication for Remote Teams
With written communication, we do not have these tools, so we need to have good grammar and spelling, in addition to the skills described above. One of the advantages of this type of communication is that we can structure and review the message before sending it to the receiver.
1. Mac Lean Alejandro. Written communication. [Internet] Inter-American Institute of Agricultural Sciences, 1979 [cited 2022]
2. Cassany Daniel. Written communication in business: research, interventions and examples. [Internet] Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 2003 [cited 2022]