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Effective business writing.


Basic principles of business writing.

Conveying the right message, to the right audience, in the right way and of course did the right time.

Did the writing achieve its purpose?

Clearly and concisely.

Technology does not remove the need to write well.


1.  Decide what you're trying to achieve.

What is your main aim?

Relate your objectives to the wider organizational picture.

2.  Determining outcomes you want.

What do you want to happen.

Be explicit about the action, if any, you expect recipients to take.

3.  See whether a written communication is the most appropriate medium.

Are you addressing a number of people, requiring a considered response, do you need a permanent record.

Is it complex?  Do you need visual support.  Would a simple phone call work.

Should you have a meeting first.

4.  Decide who should sign the communication.

The message might be more powerful if it is signed by someone more senior, or more junior than you.

Matched the right credentials, to the target audience.

5.  Identify the target audience.

Will these people have the right to act.

Will the recipients be motivated to respond.

6.  Build a rapport with your audience.

Begin by setting the right tone, three choices.

A.  Plead for the audience to do something on your behalf.

B.  Persuade them to do something by selling its benefits.

C.  Appeal to broader organizational interest and invoke the value of teamwork.

The last approach is usually the most effective.

Try to establish common ground.  Express the issue in terms of its shared effect on both you and the recipients.

7.  Build a convincing argument.  Spell out the benefits.  See the issue from the recipients perspective.  Understand their concerns, while fitting in to corporate strategy. Be realistic about problems, and the effort required to overcome them.

8.  Prepare an outline.  Note the key terms of your argument and build a structure around them.

Group key relationships and things.  Example (issue then evidence) or (conclusion then evidence).

9.  Guide the reader around your text.

Clear, eye-catching signed post and flags to guide the reader around.  Introduction, summary.  Separate out your conclusions and recommendations.

10. Make your text easy to read and unambiguous.

Short paragraphs and short sentences.  Clear English, avoid jargon, explaining jargon if necessary.

Spell out abbreviations the first time you use them.  Use tangible rather caused abstract concepts.

Active voice, not passive.

Use an occasional image.  Use humor sparingly and tastefully.

11.  Enliven your text with graphics.  Clear and easy to read.  Statistical tables in the appendix.

Size of graphic should relate to the importance of the point.

12.  Revise your text once it is complete.

Ask someone else to read.  Be self critical.  Verify your facts.  Give your sources.  Respect contradictory arguments.

13.  Pay attention to presentation.  The audience will judge you as much on your presentation as the content of your message.

That sounds pathetic, but that's what it says.

Use easy to read typefaces and font size.  Quality paper and Ink.  Ample white space on every page.

Use indentation, bullets, and one line paragraphs to break up the text.

14.  Follow-up.  If the communication is important, followed up with a telephone call if appropriate.

Verify no misunderstandings or ambiguities exist.  Verify that the action you need is underway.


Do not underestimate the problems caused by typos.  Always proofread.


End of data.





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