Assistants are expected to be great with the written word. The more you write for work, the better your writing becomes. For those who lack confidence in their writing abilities, it can be daunting having to put pen to paper.
Here are ten ways you can improve your writing skills so that it doesn’t feel like such a burden. Just follow these simple tips.
- Read a lot of good books and articles/blogs/publications about your industry. This will inspire you and give you a good idea of how people in your industry convey messages.
- Read books, articles, journals, or publications from your company about the work they do every day. These publications are a great way to learn about what writing is used for at your workplace. They also might contain formatting and style guides that can be helpful.
- Work on your web research skills. In this day and age, most people use the web as a research tool at some point. Learning how to use it wisely is going to help you not only with work but also in day-to-day life.
- Take a writing class or find a good writer that can teach you the basic rules of grammar. This is a great way for assistants to learn how to avoid basic mistakes that often occur when writing something from scratch.
- Use short sentences and paragraphs -Don’t beat around bush! No one likes wading through a long, winding paragraph with ten commas and twenty semicolons. Be direct and brief. Short sentences keep your writing concise and to the point; it is less intimidating for readers who do not like complex language.
- Use bullet points. Bullet points make any task easier, especially when drafting an essay or report. They outline what you want to say – in short phrases or lists rather than full sentences – so that nothing gets lost in translation. If someone else has to write something based on what you’ve written, using bullets will prevent them from getting confused at any point during the process.
- Only use one idea per sentence -If your sentence uses more than one idea or thought, then it’s likely that there are more concise ways of expressing the same thing. Think about it – if you had to say everything that your sentence is trying to say in one breath, would you be able to? If not, then consider splitting it up into two separate sentences (or even bullet points).
- Jargon is confusing and often unnecessary- Try to describe what you mean using words that everyone will understand. You may know exactly what a ‘key performance indicator’ is or how to use an ‘e-learning platform’, but if someone else doesn’t then they won’t be able to explain it properly. There’s nothing wrong with simplifying language for other people’s sake.
- Write clearly Make sure readers never have to guess what you’re saying. If they have to re-read a sentence or paragraph to understand it, then rewrite it. You can also try reading your work aloud so that you notice any mistakes or awkward phrasing before anyone else does.
- Keep it simple Using complex language will intimidate readers and, again, prevent them from understanding what you’re trying to say. If you don’t want to sound condescending at all, then try simplifying your writing as much as possible. It’s ok not to use big words or long sentences. People are more likely to read words written in plain English rather than have to spend their time figuring out what it means.