How better writing can improve the bottom line

It helps to get to the point

Editor's note: This story was updated on July 23, 2018.

Clear, jargon-free writing makes communication more efficient across all levels of an organization, Josh Bernoff writes for Harvard Business Review.

Bernoff conducted a survey of 547 business people, of which 81 percent agreed that bad writing accounted for a lot of wasted time. Most respondents said they often read material that doesn't get the point across because it's too wordy, filled with jargon, and lacks clear structure.

Whereas subpar writing can spell trouble for organizations, good writing can have a hugely positive effect. Bernoff provides three benefits of strong writing:

Increased productivity

Writing clear, simple emails helps employees understand exactly what they need to do. Focus on the most important points so that your colleagues don't waste any time deciphering your message.

Building trust

Your message need not be buried under tons of jargon. And the less fluff you use, the more trust you can build with your customers, who know you have nothing to hide.

"When clarity and truth are core values for marketers, they can spend time trumpeting what works, rather than concealing what doesn't," Bernoff writes.

Getting things done

Effective writing is well-organized and uses an active voice. Bernoff points to an analysis on the economics of hosting the 2024 Olympics in Boston that used a passive voice. The writing concealed important parts of the bid, and in the end, Boston rejected the bid.

"Requiring clear, direct, active language has two benefits," Bernoff explains: It forces writers to think through what they really mean and the arguments they can use to support it. And it makes smart people stand out. If you prize clarity, the clear thinkers will rise to the top" (Bernoff, Harvard Business Review, 9/6).

Write better emails: How to be an inbox ninja

How to be an inbox ninja

Ever struggled to write a concise, action-oriented email that effectively conveys your message? You're not alone—many otherwise high-performing professionals still struggle with using email to accomplish their goals.

So, what does it take to be an inbox ninja? Check out our infographic to get best practices for email-specific writing and email management. You'll also find tips for email formatting, scripting, and structure, plus approaches to collaboration and decision-making over email.

Download the Infographic


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