Business writing tips – when to break the rules

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No one likes rules. There are rules in life for just about everything – for music, art, photography, behaviour at home, in the workplace and public spaces and business writing. But you need to know the rules before you can break them. As Pablo Picasso said, “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

What are the rules of business writing?

It’s not all about grammar, punctuation, spelling and whether you should or shouldn’t use contractions.

Of course, you need to know that dangling expressions must be avoided unless you want to write something like this: “John Jefferies wrote the marketing strategy while traveling to Cape Town on the back of an envelope.”

Business writing has “rules” such as etiquette, addressing people, tone and style, avoiding jargon and being clear and understood. It doesn’t mean that these “rules” take away your individuality or personality. As Charlie Parker, American jazz saxophonist and composer, said, “Master your instrument, Master the music, and then forget all that BS and just play.”

It’s the same for business writing. When you know the rules and practice your writing, you will quickly learn when to break the rules so that your communication is more effective. As the Dalai Lama said, “Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively.”

What you need to know to improve your effectiveness in business writing can be boiled down to five simple guidelines

  • Know the techniques of getting your message across
  • Be aware of common mistakes in business writing
  • Understand the 5 Cs of business writing
  • Show empathy towards others
  • Use the most effective approach and words in difficult communications
  • Develop your writing skills and techniques to persuade and influence others

Every day you aren’t developing your writing in your business life, is a day you are missing out on building relationships, getting your proposals approved and leaving your career to chance.

To improve your business writing skills with our personal coaching will cost thousands but you will know the rules of effective business writing and gain editing and proof-reading skills (if you are insistent on personal coaching and want a quotation, then please let us know).

A much more cost-effective way to improve your business writing skills is to take our Better Business Writing Skills Course. If you want to get these business writing tools and methods at a very low $30.00 (R500.00) cost (the price will eventually go up after this generous introductory special offer), head on over to the link below before this special offer expires.

The course will show you how to improve your business writing including things like:

  • Six ways to tell if the tone and style of your business writing is about to fail
  • How to use a little-known planning secret to get and hold your reader’s attention with today’s business readers having an average attention span of 8 seconds
  • How to add power to your writing and why you should do it if you want to make your message count
  • How to ensure that your audience is receptive to your business writing
  • Dirt-cheap, “low tech” way to ensure that your business writing has punch for even the most critical readers

Here are the links to the Better Business writing Skills Course (hosted on two platforms):


Should you wish to obtain a brochure on the course, please email

Chesney Bradshaw

Chesney Bradshaw (BA Communications and English, MBA), Business Writing Trainer, Editorial Consultant and Founder of the Business Writing Academy. Chesney has more than 30 years’ experience in business writing for publications and companies. He has helped managers and employees improve their business writing through training and coaching. His many years of business writing include journalism, magazine writing, corporate communications, trade and technical articles in industries from financial services, food manufacturing to engineering and technology. Chesney brings a broad business perspective to his training, consulting and coaching and shares his insights in a warm, engaging manner.

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