Should Business Writing be Funny?Posted by Jessica Oman
Business writing can be an enjoyable process if the writer is inspired or motivated by the subject. Although most of us would likely agree that writing about business ratios, balance sheets and revenue projects isn’t the most scintillating experience, sometimes a piece on competition or marketing can be a lot of fun. Yes, I said fun. But if you’re moved to insert a joke or two in your business plan or web content, it’s important to consider whether your audience will get it or appreciate it.
When to Use Humour in Business Writing
Humour can be effective if the subject of your writing supports it. If your business has a playful edge – maybe you are a creative design firm, or even a gaming company – a little humour can go a long way to help readers understand where you’re coming from and why you’re different. Use it if you want to show how approachable and easygoing you are. If it will help you sell your product or service, try it.
If you enjoy making your writing funny, and the process is not too arduous, it’s probably worth the effort. Get a friend or colleague to read it over before sending it to your audience (which is a really important tip for any business communications). If you’re not sure whether others will think you are funny, get a second, third or even a fourth opinion. Please.
When Not to Use Humour in Business Writing
If it’s really difficult for you to write using humour, or it takes you a lot longer than other types of writing, then a humorous business proposal is probably not your best approach. If you are strained, your communications will also seem strained. Readers will feel it in the tone of your work. Also, if you’re at all concerned that someone will be offended by your joke, don’t include it – your instincts are probably correct.
You should definitely avoid using a joke that someone else told you, because that person probably heard it from someone else, who heard it from their friend, who heard it…well, you get the idea. If a joke has been rehashed too many times, no one thinks it’s funny any more, so it should stay out of your business communications.
The Funny Bone
A poorly executed joke in business writing can be a bone of contention for investors, so use humour cautiously. A few puns can be fun to include; if these are done well, they will bring a chuckle from your readers, and if done poorly, they may not even get noticed. Puns are probably the safest form of humour in writing, but keep it subtle; if you have to say “pardon the pun”, no one is getting the joke.