What are effective written communication techniques?

Written communication can be more effective than a spoken conversation, because you have time to think about what you are writing. You can employ several techniques to make the most of that extra time and enhance your written pieces.

If you apply these writing techniques consistently, your pieces are more likely to be read, and the reader will understand exactly what you are trying to convey.


Written communication's biggest advantage is that it is clearer than a verbal conversation. When one person is listening to another, he might miss part of what is said or misinterpret it. Written communication lays out the words, which means it is critical to choose the right vocabulary and be clear in what you say. Do not be vague; write specifically what you mean, and give examples if appropriate. Conclude with action words that spell out the response you are seeking, whether it is an answer to a specific question, an action on the reader's part or something else. Keep the piece as objective as possible rather than interjecting emotion that could confuse the reader or make him defensive.


Time is a valuable commodity for just about everyone. Keep the piece itself short, and use concise sentences and brief paragraphs that are written in the active voice. If you write a long communication piece and riddle it with passive sentences, the reader may not get through all of it, because she does not have enough time. She may even toss it to the side and not read it at all. Your work is much more likely to be read immediately and thoroughly if you make it short and to the point. This brevity also shows respect for your reader's time, which will give her a better overall impression of you.


Thoroughly proofread any written communication piece before you send it out. Check it for incorrect grammar, misspellings, use of the passive voice and other mechanical flaws. Errors can create a bad impression, so it is vitally important that your written communication be error-free. Pay attention to the tone, too, and make sure the piece does not contain anything that the reader may accidentally misinterpret.


Consider your audience, and aim your communication piece appropriately. Business writing should have a formal tone. When you are writing to a friend, use a more conversational tone and even interject some humour. If you are not sure whether a written piece has the right tone, read it out loud. This makes it easier to tell how it will come across to the reader, and it is also a good way to catch mistakes you might have missed.