I still remember the scariest part of my school exams.
We’d always get a least one totally random topic to write about in English.
Talk about terrifying!
I was worried that one day I’d get a topic that I wouldn’t have any idea how to write about. What if I couldn’t find the right words in English? What if I couldn’t organize my thoughts clearly?
In short, I had no clue how to write a good essay in English.
Fast forward to the future, where I’m a professional writer.
Now my job involves being able to write about anything under the sun with absolute ease.
You might be wondering how I did that.
How did I, a non-native speaker of English, master the skills needed for English essay writing?
And how can English learning professionals have the same success for their business English essays?
Well, in this post I’ll show you how you can write a great essay in business English by following eight practical steps.
Why Is Business Essay Writing so Important?
Let me first tell you why it’s absolutely crucial to cultivate your business writing skills.
- Communicate critically and logically: To write a strong essay, you’ll need to process any piece of information and logically argue your views on it. Both of these skills are much valued in the workplace and will come in handy in a number of real-life assignments.
- Become more persuasive: Most business essays are persuasive in nature. To write a strong essay, you’ll need to use facts and logic to convince readers of your views.
Developing this skill will be important outside of just essay writing. Working or owning a business involves a fair amount of persuasion, negotiation and diplomacy. You must be able to make others see and appreciate your point of view. It’s also an important leadership skill and will aid you in climbing the corporate ladder.
- Gain acceptance to business degree programs: If you plan to apply for business programs at English-speaking universities, an essay in business English will be an essential part of your application.
- Be more articulate: You’ll learn how to express yourself clearly and effectively, which will improve all aspects of your business communication.
Business English Essays: 8 Steps to Clear Writing That Boosts Your Career
There are two main types of writing: critical and creative. Creative writing is what poets, novelists and screenwriters do. Critical writing is what we’re concerned with here.
Of course there are other types (copywriting, technical writing, academic writing) and there’s some overlap between the different types. But my point is this: while creative writing depends a lot on talent, critical writing can be learned and perfected.
In short, essay writing in business English has some key traits and techniques that you can quickly learn and apply. Once you know these tricks and the basic structure of a business essay, you’ll be able to write them easily and quickly.
1. Make a Plan
You probably already know the importance of organization and planning in the workplace. Any good project must be mapped out thoughtfully before it’s executed.
The good news is that you probably already possess this skill from your work experiences. You just have to apply it in your writing.
So before you write your essay, take a rough sheet of paper and decide your essay’s objective. Your essay must have a clear goal that it’ll try to demonstrate or prove, which must be evident from the title.
Note your target audience for the essay as well. That’ll influence the tone of your piece.
You can then make a list of points or arguments supporting your objective. You can do this basic prep work in the form of a mind map, bullet points or simply jot them down. With practice you’ll eventually be able to do this mentally. If you’re unsure of how to proceed, you can even look up online essay templates.
2. Write the Introduction
Your opening paragraph should briefly but clearly set out your purpose and structure for the essay. Think of it as the “Contents” page of a book, except in prose form. It should tell the reader what the essay is about, but not give away all the key information. Your goal is to draw in the reader and ensure they keep reading until the end.
Ideally, if it’s a short essay of 300 to 500 words, keep the introduction to just a few sentences. For longer pieces, six sentences or more is fine. Ultimately, the introduction shouldn’t take up more space than your body paragraphs (the paragraphs in the main section of your essay). The body should comprise the bulk (biggest portion) of your essay.
3. Write the Body in Stages
The body is the main part of your essay and what your reader is primarily interested in. While writing it, you have to remain clear and concise, making sure it’s not an information dump and that the ideas flow logically and sequentially.
To do that, focus on one to two related points per paragraph. Keep the most important arguments at the beginning, and you can devote a paragraph each to more complex points.
Illustrate your arguments with adequate examples or justifications (more on this below). Use transition words like “moreover,” “however,” “additionally,” etc. to make the jump from one paragraph to the next as smooth as possible.
4. Use a Formal Tone
As you must know, business English is very different from the everyday colloquial English that we use among friends. The same rule applies in business English writing.
Your tone must be formal and dignified. Avoid slang, casual expressions and even contractions (e.g. use “will not” instead of “won’t”).
5. Illustrate Your Arguments
As a business writer, you’re expected to provide concrete evidence or logical reasoning to support your essay’s arguments.
So make use of research findings and statistics to prove your points. Label them properly and you can even divide the essay into smaller sections with appropriate headings to organize the information.
For instance, EssayBuilder’s graph and chart guides will help you organize information using visuals to make your essay more interesting. You might even consider getting a trial version of EssayBuilder that’s packed with brainstorming ideas, word-prompters and essay templates to speed up and improve your writing process.
6. End with a Call to Action
A successful “call to action” will persuade your reader to take some specific action that’s relevant to your essay. It should ideally promote an immediate reaction. For instance, if you’re writing a report about energy conservation in the workplace, the reader should feel inspired to use energy-saving tips from your essay right away in their own office!
The call to action itself can be brief—maybe just one or two sentences. It should sit within the essay’s conclusion, which neatly summarizes all the key points from your essay. The conclusion should give the impression that the essay has delivered what it promised in the introduction.
Ideally, your conclusion should be slightly longer than the introduction (say, by four to five sentences).
7. Don’t Forget to Cite Your Sources
The essays that you write will usually involve some amount of research. It’s important to acknowledge all your sources either as footnotes or in a bibliography at the end, to make for easy fact-checking, avoid plagiarism and also as an access point for those interested in learning more about any of the points in your essay.
There are plenty of citation and bibliography styles and you can easily access their rules online.
8. Proofread Before Sending
Before you mail or submit your essay, you must proofread and revise it until it’s perfect. Check for factual or grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and even language issues. Make sure you’ve covered all the relevant points from your essay plan and expressed them in the clearest way possible.
Initially, you may have to rewrite an essay until you get it right, but gradually you’ll get the hang of it.
If you have a mentor or a study partner, do show them your writing and ask them for feedback. You’ll know how your writing is viewed by others and what to do in order to create the right kind of impact on the right people.
Grammarly is the perfect tool for proofreading your writing on your own. It’s like a supercharged spelling and grammar checker, with the power to find mistakes depending on context. It looks for errors in grammar as well as punctuation, spelling and general writing problems such as repetitive word usage.
Plus, Grammarly won’t just show you your mistakes—it’ll actually teach you what you did wrong so you won’t make the same mistakes again.
It might also be useful to make a checklist of the above steps and cross-reference them after you’ve finished writing the essay.
With the right kind of practice, you can drastically improve your business English essay writing skills. Try to write as much as possible, applying the rules above. The more writing experience you have, the better your skills will be. Get constructive feedback on your pieces and don’t give up until you get it right. Happy writing!
Archita Mittra is a freelance writer, journalist, editor and educator. Feel free to check out her blog or contact her for freelancing/educational inquiries.
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And One More Thing…
To learn more business vocabulary and really perfect your essays, use FluentU.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like business dialogues, inspiring speeches, news and more—and turns them into personalized English lessons.
FluentU has a huge collection of English videos that people in the English-speaking world actually watch.
More to the point, FluentU has an entire business category filled with authentic business-related videos covering six language levels.
To show the variety of videos even inside this single category, real-world business videos on FluentU include “Introducing Business Colleagues,” “Business Buzzwords,” “Control Your Inbox!” and “What Warren Buffet Thinks About Cash.”
An added bonus is that if you want to work on other topics later, simply use the same, familiar FluentU platform to learn with videos from other categories, such as “Science and Tech,” “Politics and Society” or mix it up with “Arts and Entertainment” or “Health and Lifestyle.”
Every spoken word is subtitled, complete with an in-context definition, image and multiple example sentences.
All you have to do is tap or click on one of the words in those subtitles to get more information. For example, if you tap on the word “brought,” you will see this:
Plus, these great videos are all accompanied by interactive features and active learning tools, like multimedia flashcards and fun games like “fill in the blank.”
If you are interested in watching fun, relevant videos and practicing language actively in the process, be sure to create a FluentU account and try it out on your computer, iOS or Android device!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.