Three-Step Writing Process for Business Communications
Writing Effectively and Efficiently with the Three Step Writing Process
Writing effectively is a discipline that requires practice. Thus, as you practice, writing becomes easier and faster. Imagine an elite athlete who fails to practice their sport. Chances are that they will not perform as well as athletes who spend time perfecting and refining their skills. There is no difference when it comes to writing, specifically business writing. It takes practice to be effective, to communicate your message so that your audience has a complete understanding of what you want to convey to them. Nevertheless, the three step writing process for business communication is the tool that will help you become an effective writer.
Before I discuss the three step writing process, I want to make clear two things. First, while the three step writing process is important to business communication writers, it is not solely for business writing. Anyone who wishes to be an effective communicator can practice and use the process to become an efficient writer. Second, you may have heard of this process by another name, the 3×3 writing process. Both the 3×3 writing process and three step writing process are the same writing process. As you will see, I use both terms interchangeably throughout this article. Thus, both processes aim to simplify and improve writing for the writer and to communicate clearly so that their audience understands the message being communicated.
Advantages of the Three Step Writing Process
Learning the three step writing process is an advantage for the business writer. As discussed in the previous paragraph, the premiere advantage is that your writing becomes faster and effective the more practice. However, the additional advantages of the three step writing process are equally important. These additional advantages include:
- Three simple steps to this proven writing process: planning, writing, and completing.
- Following the process will help you optimize your writing time.
- By planning your messages, you can write or communicate effectively. Planning helps you:
- Deliver the right message to the right audience
- Streamline your writing process while eliminating unnecessary time and stress.
- Prepare your communication and reduce mistakes, which saves you and your company’s credibility.
Why Effective Writing is Important in Business Communication
Before I dive into each step of the 3×3 writing process, let’s get a clear understanding of what I mean by the word effective in the context of writing. When you write effectively, you convey your ideas in a way that ensures your audience completely understands the message being conveyed. Furthermore, effective communication, or writing in our case, includes how you deliver your message so that your audience wants to hear what you have to say.
Thus, In a business context, effective business communication is essential to a company because it creates efficient communication that leads to:
- Increased productivity
- Faster problem solving
- More decisive decision-making
- Increased profits
It also helps boost the organization’s credibility by eliminating errors in writing and improving the quality of the company’s communication.
Some professionals find writing challenging. As a result, they often miss deadlines or communicate poorly with company or marketing information because of a fear of writing. Writers who suffer from writing paralysis end up wasting company resources which can lead to lower productivity, slow decision making because the message is unclear, and increased costs that reduce company profit.
Business writing skills are a necessary skill-set for any business professional to master. For example, a marketing professional must write advertising copy, press releases, sales copy, internal reports, social media postings, blog posts, and much more content as part of their job duty.
The three-step writing process helps business writers, like marketing professionals, create compelling messages in any medium. It allows them to communicate their message effectively while meeting their target audience’s needs. The three-step writing process also ensures that writers make the best use of their time and the audience’s time. As the writer gets more practice with the 3×3 writing process, it becomes easier to write.
Steps to the Three-Step Writing Process
There are three primary sections of the three-step writing process. In order to make the process efficient and accurate, there are additional steps within each section, or step. The three primary sections of the 3×3 writing process include plan, write, and complete.
Let’s break these three major sections down into sub-sections so that learning and practicing the three-step writing process is easier to understand.
1. Planning Stage
The first step is the planning phase of your writing, titled Planning. Simple, right? You should have no issues remembering this first step. There are several sub-steps in the planning stage, and they include:
- Analyze the Situation
- Gather Information
- Select the Right Delivery Vehicle (Medium)
- Organize the Information
Let’s briefly discuss each sub-step in this first process.
Analyze the Situation
This is perhaps the most important part of the three-step writing process. In this step, you define the reason or purpose for writing and develop an audience profile. Without understanding your writing objective, you may not fully grasp the audience you are writing for and end up crafting a message that fails to be noticed or does not get a response.
In this step, you determine the needs of the audience and gather the information required to satisfy those needs. What does your audience need to know? This step helps you focus your attention on the important parts of your message.
Select the Right Delivery Vehicle
Here, we determine the best medium (delivery vehicle) for communicating the message. Does your audience receive their messages through email, printed letters, or some other way? In order to deliver an effective message, you must use the appropriate communication channel. Otherwise, your intended message will not reach your audience.
Organize the Information
Once you complete the preliminary work, like analyze, gathered your information, and decide on how you will distribute your message, it’s time to organize all of your information. In this sub-step of the planning stage, we will define the main communication idea and decide on a direct or an indirect approach to communicating the message. It is also best practices to outline the communication content during this step.
2. Writing Stage
The writing stage involves writing our message. Composing the message and adapting it to our audience are part of the writing stage. In this stage, we concern ourselves with writing, but not the full editing process yet. We will discuss the editing in the third step of the writing process.
Adapt to the Audience
We need to connect with our audience. In other words, adapt to their needs. We want to include a strategy known as the “you” attitude.
The “you” attitude is an audience-centered approach to communicating that involves understanding and respecting your audience and trying to get your message across meaningfully.
The goal is to learn as much as possible about your audience. Learn things such as their biases, education, age, status, style, and personal and professional concerns. Using this information, you can satisfy their need through communication.
It is also in this step where we want to build a strong relationship with the audience by establishing credibility. We use a conversational tone, plain English, and an appropriate voice to deliver the message.
Once we have worked through adapting to our audience for our business communication, we need to compose the message. In other words, write the message for our audience.
Compose the Message
The last step in the writing stage is to choose strong words that create useful sentences and coherent paragraphs.
When composing your message, select words that impact the message and the reader. Insure in your writing that you are differentiating between abstract and concrete words and eliminating jargon if you are writing to a general audience. It is acceptable to use jargon when writing to a technical audience, because they will better understand your message than a general audience.
3. Complete Stage
The final stage of the writing process is the complete step. Some instructors using the term the 3×3 writing process may refer to this part as the editing step. Either terminology is correct.
In this last step, there are three sub-steps that relate to making certain what you wrote is efficient, effective, and presentable to your audience. Thus, the last step involves:
- Revising the message
- Producing the message
- Distributing the message
Revise the Message
Evaluate the content and review it for readability. Ensure that the content is concise and clear by editing and rewriting it if necessary. A great way to evaluate the content of your message is to answer the following questions about your message:
- Is the information you provided accurate?
- Does your audience find the information relevant?
- Is there enough information to satisfy the audience’s needs?
- Is there a good balance of information that includes background information and details?
When you have finished writing your message and find its content satisfactory, review its organization. You can determine the organization of your message by asking the following questions:
- Have you covered all discussion points logically?
- In your document, are you able to place your most important ideas in the most prominent positions, and do they receive the most space?
- If the message were arranged differently, would it be more persuasive?
- Are any discussion points unnecessarily repeated?
- Does the document have logical groupings of details, or do you have some or all scattered throughout?
Once you have gone through the above step, you are ready to produce your message.
Produce the Message
When preparing your message, you must format it based on the communication channel your audience will use to receive it. Thus, elements like using useful design elements for a clean and professional layout make your material easy to read, as well as convey a sense of professionalism and significance. Therefore, you will need to consider what format you are using, digital or analog, and any visuals, fonts, and white space.
Proofread the Message
Review the communication piece for errors in the layout. Check the spelling and mechanics as well. A Few quick tips to proofreading your written communication include:
- Read your message several times, focusing on different spots with each pass.
- Check your document for spelling errors by reading it backwards.
- Set the document aside after your first review and return to it a few hours or a day later. Fresh eyes will help you pick out any mistakes you may have overlooked on the first review.
- Double check important acts and figures for accuracy or typographical errors.
- Be patient and take your time. Rushing through editing can make matters worse.
Distribute the Message
Now that you have written your message, proofread it and made any necessary changes, you are ready to distribute the message to your audience. Make certain that all of your documents and files to be distributed apply to your message. Some key points to consider when considering your delivery channel include:
- The cost of delivery. This applies to printed and larger messages, mostly.
- Convenience for delivering the message. How involved is it to prepare and deliver the message? An email will take a lot less time than printed material.
- Timing. How soon do you need to distribute your message? Is it urgent, or can the message wait to be delivered to the audience?
- Consider security and privacy related challenges. Are you distributing sensitive information? If so, are you using an encrypted digital channel or delivering via printed material or via voice?
While writing may seem challenging at first, practicing often and implementing the three-step writing process will help improve writing skills. The Three-step writing process is not just a guide for business communicators, but for anyone that needs to develop messages or distribution to an audience.
The steps may seem daunting at first, but as you practice and learn each of the three steps and their sub-steps to the process, your message development becomes easier and automatic. I wish you all the best in your pursuit of writing more effective business communications. If you have any comments on the three-step writing process or communication, please leave them in the comments below.
Communication Activity: Compare your Writing
Now that you have a better understanding of the three-step writing process, let’s examine a previous piece of written or spoken communication you created. Apply the three-step writing process to your previous work and identify areas that you can improve upon using the process you just learned. Did you find that you had to make a lot of changes? How did you distribute your previous message? Was the communication channel effective? Can you take your previous communication piece and rework it using the 3×3 process to improve the message?