Series: Four Types of Written Business Communication (Part 2 - Instructional)
In this series on four types of business communication, we aim to make life a little bit easier on all those business leaders sending out mass communication around at this time of year. In this series we’ll tackle transactional, instructional, informational, and persuasive business writing to add tools to your growing toolbox of all things business.
What is instructional business writing?
While there are various forms of business writing, instructional business writing serves a particular practical purpose. ‘The goal of this kind of material is to provide step-by-step details on how to complete a specific task.” This type of content considers what the reader knows to start and does its best to provide any further information to continue the necessary action. If the disseminated directional information is aimed at the eyes of an audience of varying skill level, then the information is certain to include everything one needs to know to complete the task. Instructional writing is geared towards process and procedural steps. ‘The written record must account for reader’s knowledge of the area, [and] the scope of the task while integrating variations of potential problems’.
When to use it?
Keep in mind that this form of written communication is direct. It is to the point, sometimes contains bullet points, and often follows chronologically ordered steps. Some examples of instructional business writing are ‘user manuals, job description handbooks, technical specifications and instructional memos’. Memos include instructions and potential process while user manuals are technically designed to instruct readers how to utilize a product or service. Memos may have guidelines while productive user manuals not only inform a customer on how to use a product but may actually enhance their experience with the product and company. While all of these pieces provide details, their desired effect is to outline a ‘method of completing a certain task in the future’.
How does this differ from transactional writing?
Similar to the transactional method, instructional content usually requires the reader to take some kind of action either now or in the future. Process and procedure are at the top of the purpose list of instructional business writing. While transactional writing is also used in business communication, its aim is more for those daily, quick communications that move the operations of the business forward. The transactional method is more often utilized in email functions, responding to questions from employees, scheduling those million Zoom or Microsoft Team meetings, or managing the minutiae of the heaps of humans, software, and customers/clients/vendors that move your business from point A to point B.
Remember that no matter what format your particular document, business writing is for a professional purpose with a particular audience. For all forms of business communication, we’re talking about clear and brief direction, concise use of language, and purposeful intention of message.
'Effective businesses thrive on strong communication skills...Sound business communication styles improve interoffice communications, encourage success among employees and improve the bottom line'. Utilizing the best possible style of business writing seeks to bring order to the chaos of our inbox and management to the madness of everyday operations.
However you choose to communicate, keep in mind that connection is key. Here’s to greater communication and a kinder, gentler 2021 for us all.