Professional writing skills are necessary in all fields and can greatly impact your professional image. As Bindu Ranaut, an instructor at West Coast University in Irvine, California writes in the International Journal of Language and Linguistics: “Communication skills, including writing, are one of the most important transferable skills that workers possess.”
To ensure that you’re representing yourself, and your organization, in the best possible manner, you must properly exercise and practice your professional writing skills. Here are eight reasons why.
The importance of professional writing:
- Convey your ideas successfully
- Reach your audience
- Convey professionalism
- Save time
- Get money
- Enable users to use your products safely and effectively
- Get published
- Improve other soft skills
1: Convey your ideas successfully
The single most significant reason underlying the importance of professional writing is that it ensures your documents will successfully communicate their key messages to the intended reader.
Although strong professional writing skills are the foundation for most professions, many professionals simply lack the skills they need to write concisely and precisely, whether it’s emails, grants, manuscripts, or SOPs. Ranaut says, “Most business professionals, such as marketing, finance, and research and development managers, need excellent writing skills to properly convey ideas and concepts.”
Unfortunately, in many cases, these businesspeople may be experts in their field, but require coaching to help them hone their writing skills. Proper practice and coaching, either via online or customized onsite workshops, can help professionals learn strategies to write more effectively and efficiently.
2: Reach your audience
Writing is used daily in all professional fields, from emails to memos to reports. Emails, however, can be especially problematic: because we write them so often, we may forget the importance of using language, tone, and structure properly.. For instance, we wouldn’t use the same tone addressing our boss as we would a peer. This is another core reason underlying the importance of professional writing: it is the best way to ensure that you successfully reach your audience and address them in the way that they expect and want.
3: Convey professionalism
A foundational goal of almost all writing projects is establishing credibility. Whether you’re a businessperson addressing a customer or a scientist addressing academic peers, your written works need to convey that you are a knowledgeable, trustworthy professional within your field. But nothing is going to undermine credibility more than a poorly written, amateurish document that is confusing, unclear, and/or littered with errors. Being a professional means producing professional writing characteristic of the most accomplished members of your specialty.
4: Save time
Unpracticed and inexpert writers require more time even to produce less effective documents. This makes sense; think about your own area of core expertise. Could someone who doesn't possess your skills or know your area of subject matter expertise produce work at the same quality level and as quickly as you do? Almost certainly not!
There's another dimension to saving time as well: saving the reader’s time. More professional writing can communicate more effectively more quickly than amateurish writing.
Emails are a good example: Conciseness is especially important in emails. Like it or not, we live in a world of five to seven second soundbites, and readers simply won’t give us lots of time to make our point. In addition, most professionals are busy; thus, we need to ensure that we understand the main point we wish to make and make it. Don’t make readers wade through information they don’t need or want to get to the point.
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5: Get money
Every business document has a purpose to serve, from the humble email to major business proposals. A more expertly produced document is more likely to convert the reader into someone willing to give you money than a poorly written document.
This is true for all kinds of professional documents. A business might answer a request for proposal (RFP) with a document that needs to convince the reader to sign a contract, or they might produce customer-facing sales and marketing material that are key to completing a sales process. A scientist might need to produce a written document that persuades a foundation to give them a grant.
In short, the importance of professional writing is often its ability to actually lead to revenue.
6: Enable users to use your products safely and effectively
An unhappy customer is a lost customer, and often it is an organization’s written documents that are integral to keep them satisfied. For example, technical documentation and user manuals are central to ensuring your customers can use your products or services effectively. In some cases, this may even be a safety issue, as with industrial equipment that might pose a safety hazard if used improperly.
7: Get published
Professional outlets are not going to publish written documents that do not meet their editorial standards. Professional writing is key for scientists, technical authors, and businesspeople who want to submit their writing to industry and trade publications.
8: Improve other soft skills
Soft skills refer to skill sets that are universally needed across domains for professional success. In fact, there are some indications that soft skills are even more important in a post COVID-19 world than before. In one survey of over 700 HR leaders, over 60% of respondents said it was more important post-pandemic to hire for skills like communication (60%) than pre-pandemic. Professionalizing one’s own writing is the perfect way to improve communication skills while simultaneously boosting related soft skills like critical thinking and problem-solving.
Solid professional writing skills are crucial to ensure that we can develop and write more complex documents such as scientific manuscripts, technical reports, grants, and standard operating procedures (SOPs). These types of documents require more planning and work than emails and can be vital in ensuring that your organization gets funding, your work gets published, and your teams are able to work safely and produce quality products.