Good Business Writing: Understand Your Focus

Based on many years experience in writing business documents, Frank and I at Business English HQ have put together the BEHQ Guide to Business Writing. It simplifies the fundamentals of business writing. It also gives you language activities to practice your understanding and writing.

We’ve broken down the writing process into five broad areas: 1. understand your focus, 2. plan properly, 3. structure your document, 4. use appropriate writing style, and 5. know how to self edit. You need to master each of these elements to write effectively. If you are a non-native speaker of English, it’s about looking your best and gaining a competitive edge in your business.

In any business writing you do, it’s essential to understand your focus, the first step in the writing process. For business writing to be effective and persuasive, you have to be aware of the goals of your writing and situations you are in.

You need to know the:

  1. Why – the purpose of your writing, and
  2. Who – the audience you are writing to.

Why am I writing? 

Know the main message, the purpose or goals of your document before you begin to write. This, of course, will help you to stay focused.

For example, there are many reasons for writing a business report. Your company may want to purchase new computer equipment and software, to find ways to improve worker motivation, to design a new company process, or to reorganize the office set up.

Who am I writing to?

It’s helpful to know the experience, education and personal characteristics of your audience, such as age, attitudes and biases. You could be writing internally for colleagues or management. Or you could be addressing customers or a general audience. Knowing who is your audience will help you determine the tone and level of formality of the report.

In another post, “More about Understanding Your Focus,” we’ll look at the what and how of business writing.

  • What – the context in which you are writing, and the
  • How – ways of achieving your purpose.

My name is Craig Gonzales and I co-run Business English HQ with Frank Bonkowski. Please ask a question, comment or let us help you.


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