Whether you are fresh out of college looking for your first job, president of a company retiring next month - or somewhere in between on the career path - communicating through writing is an essential skill.
However, just because you can write, it doesn't mean you can write!!! Our writing is often the first impression we make, and it affects how we are perceived. Quality writing is no doubt a very essential and instrumental in conveying our intended message and ultimately in the success of our message.
In business world quality writing is even more important. As an effective marketing strategies take on greater importance in any business - so do our writing skills. Social media and other marketing means that quality writing is important for professional work - as well as being vital for communicating with those we are trying to reach via letters, memos, reports, proposals and other means. It is very important to find out what gives you problems and keep an eye out for it.
Creating written documents reveals so much about you and your business skills. Your writing tells the reader about your educational background, pride in your work and business expertise. The emergence of the paperless office, e-mail, the internet and web pages only increases the power of the written word. Any company with employees who can write clearly and concisely has a competitive edge over others who are still struggling to communicate.
Well the question of the day is "Is your correspondence free of any errors?"
In this day of computers with spell and grammar check, it is so easy to let your writing skills lapse. The computer scans the correct spelling of a word, but it is a homonym with the wrong meaning for your sentence. Beware this error shows the reader that either you don't know the difference or you're too lazy to check and edit.
Is your writing full of words that people don't understand? Many times, you are so rushed to compose a business document that you use easy methods to get it done. The result is business documents are often filled with buzzwords, cryptic dialogue and outdated phrases. Readers won't say that they don't understand what you are writing, but will note not to use your business services. So the trick is to keep your writing simple and current.
Writing styles are like fashion and have indeed changed over the years. You must keep up with today's business practices and expectations, but beware of certain crutches such as buzzwords, industry jargon and clichés. Unfortunately, ideas don't grow in manure. You want to make sure that everyone understands your written ideas. The last thing you want to do is to give the impression that your writing is too formal or outdated. A more direct way of writing has replaced some standard business phrases. Examples of this are "As per your request" now becomes "As you requested" or "Enclosed please find " now becomes "I am enclosing." Also, the previous impersonal style of business writing that avoided the use of "I" has been changed to use a limited amount of "I" to give directness and warmth.
How often have you typed away what you wanted to say, rather than what you needed to write? Slipping into abbreviated dialogue is so easy to do instead of expressing complete thoughts in a sentence. Readers may think that this writing also indicates your incomplete logic and business services. That believe me, is a killer for your business!!!!
Hence writing is the major means of communication within an organization; some estimate that up to 30% of work-time is engaged in written communication. Thus it is absolutely vital for a Professional to actively develop the skill of writing; not only because of the time involved in writing, but also because a business's success may depend upon it. Indeed, since so much of the communication between an employee and more senior management or between the company and the consumer occurs in writing, your whole career or business for that matter may depend upon its quality.
In a broader context, writing has two major roles:
it clarifies - for both writer and reader
it conveys information
It is this deliberate, dual aim which should form the focus for all our writing activity.
There are some important steps which can enhance the quality of your writing and your business prospects. When you approach any document, follow this simple procedure:
Establish the AIM
Consider the READER
Devise the STRUCTURE
DRAFT the text
EDIT and REVISE
You start with your aim. Every document must have a single aim - a specific, specified reason for being written. If you cannot think of one, do something useful instead; if you cannot decide what the document should achieve, it will not achieve it.
Once you have established your aim, you must then decide what information is necessary in achieving that aim. The reader wants to find the outcome of your thoughts: apply your expertise to the available information, pick out the very-few facts which are relevant, and state them precisely and concisely.
A document tells somebody something. As the writer, you have to decide what to tell and how best to tell it to the particular audience; you must consider the reader.
There are three considerations:
What they already know affects what you can leave out.
What they need to know determines what you include.
What they want to know suggests the order and emphasis of your writing.
For instance, in a products proposal, marketing will want to see the products differentiation and niche in the market place; finance will be interested in projected development costs, profit margins and risk analysis; and R&D will want the technical details of the design. To be most effective, you may need to produce three different reports for the three different audiences.
The key point, however, is that writing is about conveying information - conveying; that means it has to get there. Your writing must be right for the reader, or it will be lost on its journey; must focus must be upon enabling the reader's access to the information.
Writing is very powerful - and for this reason, it has to be precise and perfect. The power comes from its potential as an efficient and effective means of communication; the power is derived from order and clarity. Structure is used to present the information so that it is more accessible to the reader.
It all comes down to the problem of the short attention span. You have to provide the information in small manageable chunks, and to use the structure of the document to maintain the context.
While still considering the aim and the reader, the document is broken down into distinct sections. It is done so that they can be written (and read) separately. These sections are then each further decomposed into subsections (and sub-subsections) until you arrive at simple, small units of information - which are expressed as a paragraph, or a diagram.
Every paragraph in your document should justify itself; it should serve a purpose, or be removed. A paragraph should convey a single idea.
Draft, Revise and Edit
When you have decided what to say, to whom you are saying it, and how to structure it; say it - and then check it for clarity and effectiveness. The time spent doing this will be far less than the time wasted by other people struggling with the document otherwise.
The following are a few points to consider as you wield the red pen over your newly created composition.
The main difference between written and verbal communication is that the reader can choose and re-read the various sections, whereas the listener receives information in the sequence determined by the speaker. Layout should be used to make the structure plain, and so more effective: it acts as a guide to the reader.
Suppose you have three main points to make; do not hide them within simple text - make them obvious. Make it so that the reader's eye jumps straight to them on the page. For instance, the key to effective layout is to use:
Another way to make a point obvious is to use a different font.
People in business do not have the time to marvel at your florid turn off phrase or incessant ill iteration. They want to know what the document is about and (possibly) what it says; there is no real interest in style, except for ease of access.
In some articles a summary can be obtained by reading the first sentence of each paragraph. The remainder of each paragraph is simply an expansion upon, or explanation of, the initial sentence. In other writing, the topic is given first in a summary form, and then successively repeated with greater detail each time. This is the pyramid structure favored by newspapers.
A really short and simple document is bound to be read. This has lead to the "memo culture" in which every communication is condensed to one side of A4. Longer documents need to justify themselves to their readers' attention.
Do you use correct English? As far as incorrect punctuation, awkward sentences and bad grammar, you need to examine your writing skills very carefully.
So by taking into consideration the above mentioned points, the quality of writing can be enhanced and so does the fate of a business. It will not be wrong to say that quality writing is an essential foundation stone for a successful business!!!!