This month marks 11 years since I first whipped out my BlackBerry device and wrote my first blog article.

I didn’t have a choice. Some divine prompting ordered: ‘Write!’, and I did.

And so the Rethinking Business Communications Blog was born.

At that time, blogging was the rage. Savvy content creators, riding on the popularity of the blogging trend, began monetizing their entertainment and news blogs to live the ‘easy’ life.

I resisted the pressure. I wanted a ‘clean’ experience for viewers. Therefore, I didn’t advertise on my blog. I also ensured the site was free from popups. I was determined to provide value for free.

So, I blogged and blogged, and blogged—every month (sometimes twice a month) for 11 years.

I’ve blogged through everything: unemployment, health issues, recovering from a third pregnancy, starting my side hustle, rejoining corporateville, and expanding my communication training, coaching, and speaking business.

Blogging has been invaluable for building my knowledge, boosting my critical reasoning skills, sharpening my writing chops, and cementing my credibility. Seven years ago, writing also led to my first paid full-day training programme for a consulting company in Lagos, Nigeria.

Over the years, I’m honoured that this blog has won multiple awards.

But I’d be the first to admit this:

I was a decent writer when I started this blog over a decade ago, but not at my current level. Before blogging, I’d enjoyed four years working in a commercial position at a foreign mission. I worked concurrently at a bilateral chamber of commerce where writing was also a core function. I had to develop templates, write numerous emails, and pen business articles. Therefore, I was comfortable writing different pieces.

Still, I wish that the myriad resources I read could have prepared me for the painstaking work I was to embark on to improve my writing skills.

I wish someone or an authority in the field could have broken it all down to explain what to expect if I wanted to use my writing to influence people.

But that didn’t happen.

So, I had to learn it all by sheer grit. Then over the years, I’ve applied techniques, tweaked my tone/style, and continued to hone the craft.

In PART III of my bestselling business communication blueprint Influence and Thrive, I listed two simple habits that you must develop to improve your writing chops: reading well-written materials and writing regularly. 

However, if you’re determined to elevate your business writing skills, you must:

1) Get rid of what you thought you knew about effective writing

Even if your knowledge and skills are above average (based on feedback from credible sources), you must endeavour to “kill your darlings”, as Stephen King advises. This means that you must discard those treasured expressions and creative nuggets you love if they’re not relevant to the subject matter or fail to add to the flow of your piece. For the sake of clarity, you must become brutal with your rewriting and editing.

Become accustomed to questioning your writing and look for ways to sharpen it. Note that simple, concise, and clear writing makes you more persuasive.

Admit that you don’t know it all and be open to learning. It’s the only way you can continue to improve your craft.

Even with over twenty years in business communication, including over a decade of blogging, I’m still learning valuable ways to enhance my writing.

2) Re-acquaint yourself with the fundamentals of grammar: punctuation, sentence structure, style, etc.

This step is non-negotiable.

Good grammar is the solid foundation on which you build your writing prowess. You can’t write effectively if you don’t know when to use the semi-colon, or if you can’t distinguish between the hyphen and the dash, or if you mix up your tenses.

You must become obsessive about relearning grammatical rules. At the same time, you’d need to know when to break them (with caution)  for the sake of stressing a point or evoking a desired emotion. Therefore, pore over trusted grammar resources. On Amazon, you’d find numerous options. But it’s smart to begin with any book by Mignon Fogarty for the Grammar Girl series.

Don’t forget free online resources such as the University of Bristol grammar web page and Purdue OWL grammar section. Do all the listed grammar exercises at least once. When I facilitate sessions for executive MBA participants at a globally ranked business school in Africa, I stress the importance of beginning with the segment on punctuation marks before tackling other aspects of grammar and style. Realise that you may need to refer to at least one of the two online resources to refresh your knowledge as you advance in your journey.

Additionally, you must dedicate time to honing your editing skills. Great writing really means great editing. By all means, use the Hemingway app, Grammarly, Word Tune, and other online editing tools to help you polish your work. But know that the best editing tool is the trained human brain. Therefore, learn practical techniques to improve your proofreading and editing skills. Editing hacks include reading slowly and audibly, reading backwards, and leaving your work for some time before re-reading it with ‘fresh’ eyes.

Over the last two decades, I’ve subscribed to numerous grammar and writing resources on social media and trusted websites. It’s a continuous process of learning, and the effort has surprised me over the years. Taking courses on grammar and writing is valuable. Nevertheless, you must continue with self-education, and you must be consistent with the effort if you want to elevate your writing faster.

And no one ever told me that.

3) Realise that your audience/recipient is your #1 priority—not your vision or your ideas

Similar to ‘killing your darlings’, you’d need to leave your ego at the door when it’s time to write effectively in corporateville. Whether you need to refute a claim, decry an action, advocate for a cause, or inform people, it’s never about you. It’s always about them—the audience/recipient.

Now, you might have a vision, ideas, and priceless solutions that might boost your credibility and benefit others. But unless you learn how to focus on the audience and convey your brilliant ideas in ways that appeal to them (thereby making their lives better/more productive/more worthwhile) you won’t get the consistent results you seek.

So, the question to always ask yourself, despite your valid agenda is simple:

How best can I address the WIIFM angle (the ‘what’s in it for me’ premise) of the audience to get them to care and take the action I want?

It may take years to develop this skill and to tweak it for different audiences. But it can be learned. Thus, learn from powerful writers in different fields. Then apply elements you like to your writing.

Writing only for yourself is a dangerous trap that you should avoid. And this difference is what distinguishes business writing from creative writing (such as fiction).

Your number one priority in business writing should be communicating your ideas in a way that will move the target audience to take an action you desire—even if that action is simply changing their mindset or reasoning.

Always write with the audience in mind.

4) Become comfortable with feedback

Yet, seek feedback only from those whose brilliant writing consistently gets results. They can offer helpful suggestions and act as mentors in your writing journey at the beginning. More importantly, they can tell you why some aspects of your writing are weak and explain what you could do to improve the outcomes.

It makes sense to take advice from experienced professionals, but your delicate writer’s ego will be bruised in the process. Nonetheless, focus on the learning points and not on your emotions. As your writing improves, you’d find that you depend on others less and less for advice. After some time, you may not consult anyone at all, even when writing in high-stakes scenarios.

When it comes to feedback, be prepared to be uncomfortable. Brace yourself for the unpleasantness.

5) Consult the classics and at least one modern resource

Classics include the following:

On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

The Elements of Style (Fourth Edition) by William Strunk Jr.

Read them at least once. I have. Some ideas might seem dated, but the books are digestible resources on writing clearly.

One modern resource that I’ve found to be exceptional is the Style Guide for Business and Technical Communication: Tools for Highly Effective Communication (Fifth Edition) by Stephen R. Covey. It’s a comprehensive textbook that covers grammar, style, expression, and more. I’ve got a trusty, dog-eared copy in my office.

6) Read extensively and in other genres

On the surface, this advice might not make sense. After all, what is the correlation between reading and developing your writing skills?

What no one told me, but what I eventually discovered over the years, is that regularly reading well-written materials did four things:

  • It improved my vocabulary, which ‘flavoured’ my pieces.
  • It exposed me to excellent grammar and showed me when to break stiff grammar rules to ease reading.
  • It introduced me to interesting expressions, styles, and tones, which enriched my writing.
  • It sharpened my critical reasoning skills.

Based on the benefits of reading, I developed the ’15-minute rule’, which I introduced in my book Influence and Thrive. Now, in all my training and coaching programmes, I challenge participants to develop the discipline of reading well-written materials (not tabloids) 15 minutes a day, every day.

It doesn’t matter what you read as long as it’s written well. But read from different genres. Also, ensure you only read content from authors/writers/publications with impeccable grammar and style, so that you train your brain to recognise polished writing.

It also doesn’t matter how much you read in the allocated 15 minutes. The constant exposure will trigger your brain, like a sponge, to ‘soak up’ all you read. As a result, in some magical manner, the knowledge will seep into your writing, thereby amplifying your impact.

Trust me on this.

7) Commit to regular writing

The previous point will still not yield much fruit if you don’t write often. So, the other side of the coin is to commit to regular writing. Don’t rely on your work emails or occasional reports as sufficient practice.

One easy way to improve your writing is to request additional writing projects at work, no matter how short. So writing the minutes of meetings, co-authoring a technical paper, or collaborating on a project will help. If these options aren’t feasible due to the nature of your work, then start a blog and commit to writing regularly.

Whatever writing you do, do it to the best of your ability, even if no one reads it (e.g. your blog). Write as though you’d be paid handsomely for your brilliant pieces. Practice is critical to honing your skills. You may even develop a passion for writing, which will motivate you to continue on your path when you see the benefits it brings you. 

Even if you switch careers, launch a business, or pivot to politics, writing well will become your superpower when you need to influence people and get results.

And I speak from personal experience. For example, in the last few years, I’ve written to generate support for a worthwhile cause and to capture the attention of influential people.

8) Understand that mastery is an illusion

I hate to break it to you but note that ‘mastery’ in writing (and in communication in general) is an illusion—no matter how long you’ve been writing for or the commendation you’ve enjoyed this far.

You can be celebrated for your expertise and you should be proud of your well-deserved recognition. However, understand that as a true professional, you’d need to work on your craft, month after month, year after year to remain relevant.

I’m considered a communication ‘expert’ and an authority on business writing in some circles. However, I never fool myself I know it all, or I’ll never be open to refining my skills.

Stay the course. The return on investment of finances, time, effort, and practice will yield incredible outcomes.

Business communication changes with time. In the last decade, with the rise of the digital age, I’ve seen the shift from overly stiff, pompous writing to simple, clear outputs. Therefore, to ensure your writing skills remain relevant in different eras, you must continue to upgrade your writing skills.

And no one told me that either.

9) Imitate, tweak, and refine different constructions

“Good artists copy; great artists steal”.

~ Pablo Picasso

You won’t elevate your writing capabilities if you don’t draw inspiration from others.

Similarly, your writing could remain ‘stale’ if you don’t imitate excellent writing to apply aspects you admire to your work. There’s no shame in this practice, especially early in your writing journey.

There’s also no shame in using interesting expressions you come across (with attribution) at opportune moments in your writing. You could also draw upon different references, from history to pop culture to enrich your writing (particularly useful in political speeches).

What makes your writing different is your unique spin on the topic. So, do you love a line of poetry? Weave it into your writing. Know some comedic staples? Relish some witty remarks? Experiment with different constructions and season your writing with such nuggets. Using your writing to evoke different emotions—from mirth, pleasure, and happiness to disdain, anger, and frustration—gets you noticed.

10) Embrace your style, tone, and essence

It’s painful to read from a writer who is unsure of his/her point or style and settles for a ‘blah’ piece. Or from one who appears confused about the tone he/she needs to use and ends up indiscriminately switching between the informal and semi-formal styles.

Whatever level you are on the writing competence ladder, embrace your uniqueness and style. Remember no one can ever be you. You have a background and life experiences that you can harness to connect with others through your writing—even in the business context. Even if you imitate some aspects of the work of others (as per the previous point), note that your uniqueness lies in the total package that makes you who you are.

So boldly embrace your story and your style.  My advice here is to remember your audience and be intentional about using your writing to connect with them in ways they’d appreciate.

Build such confidence in your writing and then release your work to the world.


Superb writing is hard but achievable. 

Whether you want to begin your own blogging experience today or simply want to amplify your business writing skills, the ten truths unveiled in this post will be your guide.

No one told you what writing well will demand of you—until now. So I understand that you might need a few minutes to process the information provided.

But don’t be discouraged. Start the process of honing your writing skills today and commit to the journey.

 You won’t regret it.

Do you need help with your communication skills?

I love working with ambitious professionals, executives, entrepreneurs, and business leaders.

You already know my approach, my credibility, and my experience. So kindly get in touch, and let’s explore how my transformational communication coaching and training services will catapult you to success in your career or business.

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N.B: First image is courtesy of Arek Sochaa via Pixabay. Second image is courtesy of PDPics via Pixabay. Third image is courtesy of Gerd Altmann via Pixabay. Fourth image is courtesy of ElasticComputeFarm via Pixabay. Last image is courtesy of Pexels via  Pixabay

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