Take an extra few minutes beforehand to plan your communication. This will save you a lot of time in the long run as you won’t need to explain and clarify the information later. In planning, you need to think of two main things:
Identify clearly what you hope to achieve with your correspondence, otherwise your reader won’t get a clear message and probably won’t respond correctly.
Think of who you are writing to, how much they know, how much they need to know, how they feel about the topic (and you), and then determine what sort of tone they would expect you to use. Always think beforehand about what your reader needs to see.
Do not use long, rambling sentences when writing. Avoid unnecessary information and fancy language. We lose the effect of what we want to say when we try to impress by using words that are irrelevant in today’s world. Good business writing is clear, well-structured and simply written. Do you ever use the words or phrases listed here? Try our suggested alternatives and improve your communication skills by keeping your language simple and clear. This will make it much easier to understand.
AVOID SAYING ………. INSTEAD SAY
Demonstrate ………….. Show
Discontinue …………… Stop
Endeavour …………….. Try
Implement …………….. Carry out
Initiate ………………….. Begin
In the event that ………… If
Make application to ……. Apply
We would be grateful if .. Please
Many words used in South African business are either incorrectly used, or are meaningless jargon cliches. These often clutter our business writing and make it difficult to understand. If you use any of the following examples of jargon in your business writing, try to find more straightforward phrases, or eliminate them completely:
“keep your eye on the ball”
“the fact of the matter”
“as a matter of fact”
“at the end of the day”
“came to the conclusion”
“didn’t come to the party”
“each and every”
“enjoy your day further”
“first and foremost”
“last but not least”
Focus especially on correct use of capital letters, commas and apostrophes. Poor or missing punctuation can cause confusion or misinformation as it changes the meaning of paragraphs and sentences. Read sentences out loud, or as the reader would see them, to ensure that you have commas, full stops and other punctuation marks in the right places.
Once you have finished, read through what you have written and check the following:
- Are there any spelling, punctuation or grammar mistakes? Careless errors create a very bad impression of the writer and/or the company.
- Do your ideas flow logically and make sense to an outsider?
- Does your correspondence have a clear outcome and have you made it clear to the reader what they need to do?
- Have you included all the appropriate and necessary information?
- Then just to be sure, read it again from the perspective of the intended reader to check that you have used an appropriate tone and that it speaks to his/her needs.
Copperline Training offers a Basic and an Intermediate to Advanced Business Writing Skills Course, teaching people to write professionally, appropriately and persuasively, in any business context. The Basic Business Writing Skills course has been designed to address the emerging need to “fast-track” English Communication skills for staff members where English is not a strength. Writing skills are enhanced through exercises which are enjoyable, interactive and work-related. Our Intermediate to Advanced Business Writing Skills programme addresses the need for people to be able to correspond effectively in a written format when required to write e-mails, present proposals, letters and reports. This course teaches people to write professionally, appropriately and persuasively, in any business context.
Cape Town – October 2011
Copyright Copperline Training