Book review: Business writing – How to write to engage, persuade and sell by Ian Atkinson

Posted on: April 2, 2012

Whilst I have read a great many books on how to write and the psychology of communication, in advance of a writing workshop I’m running soon I thought I’d have a look around to find the very best book to help with the fundamentals of good business writing (not copy writing, not advertising, not for social media etc).

This Financial Times Essential Guide seems to fit the bill. The 176 pages are easy to read and packed full with useful ideas, engaging examples, practical tips and summary checklists. It adopts a fairly standard structure: planning, doing and reviewing.

The planning section addresses the objectives, proposition, content (interrogation and insight), context (audience and medium) and concept (bringing your story to life).

The doing section starts with a summary of common punctuation and grammar dilemmas (although I would still recommend that those needing help in this area acquire one of the specific guides in this area), usage and typography, structure, headlines, openings, winning hearts and minds, being utterly fascinating and irresistibly persuasive and quick wins.

While the third section on reviewing is quite short it has some sound advice for pruning and polishing as well as giving and getting feedback.

And for those attending the workshop, the other books I suggest might be worth checking out:

  • What not to write – A guide to the Dos and Don’ts of good English by Kay Sayce
  • The Economist Style Guide (The Economist)
  • Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss
  • A dictionary of modern English usage by H W Fowler
  • Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  • Think Write Grow – How to become a thought leader and build your business by creating exceptional articles, blogs, speeches, books and more by Grant Butler
  • Media relations in property by Graham Norwood and Kim Tasso
  • Hypnotic writing – How to seduce and persuade customers with only your words by Joe Vitale (There’s a separate blog on this one…)
  • Writing for business – focus your message, use active voice, be concise, edit for accuracy (Harvard Business School Press Pocket Mentor)
  • Words that change minds – Mastering the language of influence by Shelle Rose Charvet
  • Ogilvy on advertising – David Ogilvy

 

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