When you’re sharing information via business communications, whether internally or externally, conveying a consistent, clear message that reflects your brand and achieves your objectives is essential.
And if you want your communications to have the maximum impact, all content associated with your business should be thoroughly proofread. Overlooking this step can yield negative results and affect your bottom line.
In this guide, we’ll discuss the following proofreading techniques and tips for business communication:
- Use your brand style guide
- Check for concision and clarity
- Avoid excessive or unnecessary jargon
- Verify times and dates
- Confirm factual accuracy
- Get a different perspective
Why You Should Proofread Business Communications
Through business communications, you exchange information within and outside your organization. They include internal communications among colleagues, such as presentations, memos, and company training, and external communications, such as press releases and social media.
Before you release any business communication, a proofreader should thoroughly review it to ensure it’s error-free, fluent, and well-structured. If you release content that isn’t proofread, it could have inaccuracies or mistakes that reflect poorly on your business. So, it’s never a good idea to skip proofreading – even for short pieces – because every item your business publishes can affect its standing in the industry.
1. Use Your Brand Style Guide
Use your brand style guide when proofreading business communications to ensure they reflect your company’s standards for tone of voice, language, and point of view. This is because not all language rules are straightforward.
A style guide eliminates some of the guesswork associated with grammar and punctuation issues, such as whether to use a serial comma or capitalize a job title. If you don’t have a style guide, the content your business publishes may be inconsistent and disorganized, decreasing your brand influence and credibility.
2. Check for Concision and Clarity
Above all else, your brand’s messaging should be clear and concise to achieve your goals. For example, potential customers likely receive daily communications, such as emails, from multiple businesses, so yours should grab their attention and get right to the point.
No matter the form of communication or the audience, being direct and avoiding distractions from the overall message are key. To improve clarity, reduce wordiness by removing excessive adjectives and words that don’t add to your objective and eliminate word repetition or redundancy. If they persist, these issues can decrease your brand authority and cause your audience to lose interest in what you have to say.
3. Avoid Excessive or Unnecessary Jargon
You should use jargon (i.e., technical language associated with a specific industry) only when necessary. Unfamiliar terms or acronyms can be confusing or frustrating for the reader, so you should replace them with straightforward synonyms when possible.
And consider your audience: if your message is directed at potential customers, valuing clarity and simplicity over technical terminology is best. However, if you’re presenting quarterly earnings to top executives, some jargon is likely expected.
Avoiding jargon when you can is a good idea, but if you must include it, be sure to define terms when they first appear. For example, if you’re using an acronym your audience may be unfamiliar with, such as CRM or SaaS, write out the full terminology when you introduce it, and then use the acronym for subsequent instances.
4. Verify Times and Dates
If your business communication contains times and dates, such as the day of a new product release or the beginning of a conference, be sure to confirm them during the proofreading stage to prevent misunderstandings.
Check to ensure that the times reflect the correct time zone and that you’ve written “a.m.” and “p.m.” correctly (if they appear). People also write dates differently depending on the English dialect they’re using (such as US or UK English), so make sure the dates reflect the relevant convention(s).
Don’t forget to check your company style guide to confirm how to format dates since you can write them in multiple “correct” ways, and it’s important to be consistent. Finally, double-check any numerals for accuracy because they can easily be misread or mistyped.
5. Confirm Factual Accuracy
In your business communications, you should confirm factual statements, such as statistics and claims about products or services. You must verify client names, job titles, and locations and make sure they’re spelled correctly.
Misinformation and factual inaccuracies can have a negative impact on your business, damaging its reputation and leading potential customers to question the value of your brand. Incorrect facts can also hurt your relationship with your employees and prevent your team from doing its job properly, so be sure to verify all facts that circulate internally as well.
On a related note, if you’ve used AI to generate content for your business, it’s especially important to fact-check any claims or statistics the technology has employed because AI-generated material is not always factually accurate.
6. Get a Different Perspective
It’s not easy to proofread your own communications or even content you’ve been closely involved in creating. So whenever possible, you should outsource proofreading to get a fresh, objective perspective.
Someone who’s not associated with your business, such as a freelance proofreader, can offer advice on improving your business’s content to ensure that it reflects your brand’s style and appeals to your target audience. Outsourcing also allows you to focus on the overall message of your communication rather than the subtle nuances of grammar and punctuation rules.
If you’re proofreading your own content, don’t do so right away. Wait a few hours after you finish writing to get some distance from the material. And use a proofreading checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything.
You can also try to “trick” your brain into thinking you’re reading new content by proofreading your writing on a different screen, such as a tablet or mobile device. Or, if you’ve written the piece on a computer, print out a hard copy to review.
If you want to make sure your business communications promote your brand and leave a lasting impression, check out our business services. Our editors have worked with a variety of businesses, from Fortune 500 companies to innovative start-ups.
Let us help you streamline your content creation and expand your reach. Schedule a call today to get started.