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Effective Business Writing - Hints & Tips PREPARE Define the problem or purpose. What is wanted? How much? Why? When? Consider who will receive the document.

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Presentation on theme: "Effective Business Writing - Hints & Tips PREPARE Define the problem or purpose. What is wanted? How much? Why? When? Consider who will receive the document."— Presentation transcript:

1 Effective Business Writing - Hints & Tips PREPARE Define the problem or purpose. What is wanted? How much? Why? When? Consider who will receive the document (think about the reader). Who wants/needs this information? Who will read it? When will they read it? How much detail do they prefer? Will the report be passed on to secondary readers? What is the reader’s point of view? Experience? Knowledge? Prejudice? Responsibility? Is the recipient a manager? A subordinate? A client or customer? A potential client or customer? What are their needs and interests? Do they need to be persuaded / sold / influenced, or told / informed / instructed? Determine which areas to include. How much do they know and how much do we have to tell them? Collect needed material. Create a “dump” of al thoughts and information, using key words. HAVE A BREAK AT THIS STAGE SORT AND INTERPRET DATA Group them into themes. Some people find it helpful to list ideas on cards so they can be sorted into order. If necessary, use manilla folders to organise information and materials into topics. HAVE A BREAK ORDER – DO AN OUTLINE Sequence the material. This will be determined by your aim – is the material to be factual / instructive or persuasive (refer examples of Structure on next page). Use mind maps & fish bone plans to help. HAVE A BREAK WRITE Write as simply as you can. Remember your aim. Learn to transfer your thoughts directly into an electronic format – it is much faster than handwriting and then having to convert into an electronic file. Dictation is much faster again (if it is an option) and conserves energy whilst the ideas are flowing. Manage the drafts – use envelopes or some other version control system of knowing where the latest draft is. HAVE A BREAK PREPARE FINAL DRAFT AND EDIT Polish the writing style, and ensure that an appropriate tone is used: - Have a break before editing. - Read it ALL before changing. - Consider using a spell checker, a grammar checker and having someone check for you. Check to see the document is: - Clear (able to be easily understood at a first read). - Complete (does it answer all the reader’s questions and give all the information)? - Concise (as short as it can be consistent with getting all of the information across). - Correct (all facts are accurate and verifiable). - Courteous (where it is deemed appropriate). 1. THINK ABOUT THE READER Put yourself in the receiver’s place – have a “you” attitude. Who will read it? Who else? When will they read it? Why? Where? How much do they know and how much do I have to tell them? Always have a clear aim – what do you want the person to do? Begin by answering other person’s questions – put them in the picture. Make sure the reader knows who is writing, what the problem is and the solution. Decide on the impression you want to convey. What reaction will the document produce? Don’t put the other person to trouble to save yourself. Give answers and solutions – don’t just raise the problems. Use paragraphs – one to each theme. Use headings and topic sentences to help the reader. Keep the overall message structure simple. Ask yourself “What will the reader do with the document?” 2. BE CONCISE AND DIRECT Get to the point – don’t waffle. Keep to specifics. Use an outline or plan, and say only what is necessary. Avoid unnecessary words – edit. Keep sentences short – average of 17 words. Keep sentence structure simple. Use the active and not the passive voice, use direct verbs. Avoid verbal nouns. 3. USE SIMPLE, FAMILIAR LANGUAGE – PLAIN ENGLISH Always write as you would speak. Write to express – not impress. Always be clear in your meaning. Simplify technical terms. Try not to use non – English words. Avoid dry meaningless phrases and clichés. Use variety. Avoid overstatement. Be precise, not vague. Use the common, every day word – ‘use’ not ‘utilise’. Use terms your readers can picture – concrete rather than abstract examples, use imagery. 4. USE A FRIENDLY TONE AND BE POSITIVE Establish a friendly tone. Always be positive. Avoid formality at all costs. Always end by pointing to the future – positively. What do you want the reader to do? What is the first step? Consider a statement of goodwill. The Business Writing RulesHow To Approach (courtesy of “TOP Services”)

2 Effective Business Writing - Hints & Tips 1. THE SYPNOSIS OR EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The executive summary is a one page or less summary of the entire report. The purpose, findings, conclusions and recommendations are stated as briefly as possible. The synopsis gives a preview of the report. As a summary of the full report, it can only be prepared after the report is completed. 2. INTRODUCTION Explain the: - Background. - Purpose. - Scope/Limitations. - Assumptions. - Methodology/Approach. - Audience. Background provides the context & situation that has created the need for the work/study. Purpose gives the reasons for conducting the work/study and preparing the report. It establishes the objectives or problems to be solved. Scope/Limitations outlines the extent of coverage and areas not covered, or particular shortcomings of the report. It makes clear what factors were studied, and to what extent. Assumptions that were made, if any, are described so the reader has an understanding of the writer’s direction & reference point in preparing the report. Methodology/Approach refers to the steps that were followed in undertaking the work or collecting the data for the report. Audience indicates who the writer intended the report for and thereby pitched at. 3. BODY The Findings - After all of the information has been collected, combined and condensed, it is organised for easy interpretation by the reader. Tables and figures are placed appropriately throughout the material and must be cross referenced to the text. Options may be analysed, showing the advantages and disadvantages of each. 4. CONCLUSIONS The Conclusions are the logical deductions drawn from the findings section. They tell the reader what the facts mean. 5. RECOMMENDATIONS The Recommendations should emerge from the findings and conclusions. They are suggested solutions to the problem. As with the conclusions, the writer must be careful that the recommendations are not opinions. While based on human interpretations, they must represent what a logical, objective individual would suggest based on the evidence. They should consist of statements of action only. The Appendix - Questionnaires, tables, figures and other information of interest but not deemed necessary to include in the body of the report, should be placed as supplements. Table of Contents – If the report exceeds 5 pages, then consider a table of contents for easy reference & location of content. Structure No. 1 – Short Formal ReportStructure No. 2 – Persuasive Memo or Letter 1. INTEREST – PUT THE READER IN THE PICTURE Use a “grab” to get the audience’s attention – put them in the picture. Make a promise, tell a story, tell them “what’s new”, ask a question or otherwise arouse curiosity. If necessary, explain who you and your organization are. Explain what the problem is and what you can do to solve it. 2. DESIRE - BENEFITS Appeal to the readers emotions. The emotions are the springboard for action. You can appeal to: - Self interest (greed) – works most often with most people. - Self elevation – sense of civic or community spirit, pride. - Sense of fairness – “we’ve been fair with you, you’ll want to be fair with us.” - Fear – but always leave a way out. Use the approach “you can avoid this trouble if…” The major way of arousing desire is to outline the benefits – what is in it for the reader? There are three main steps to outlining a benefit. For example, for a frost free refrigerator: Feature So what? Advantage which means…. Benefit Has a fan So what? Doesn’t frost up, which means…. Don’t have to spend time defrosting. 3. CONVICTION - PROOF Convince the reader by offering evidence that your solution will work. Use statistics and examples of success to reinforce the reader’s impression of the service you offer. 4. ACTION – STIMULATE THE READER TO ACTION Make the call to action. Leave the reader in no doubt about what you want. Make your action step as easy as possible, and put a date on it. Don’t leave several alternatives. The last thing the reader sees is the first thing mentioned – so be positive. Don’t use clichés such as “hoping to hear from you soon”. The call to action is the first step of the solution; the first “bite of the elephant.” 5. SUGGESTED STRUCTURE Consider adopting a standard structure, such as: - To: - From: - Date: - Subject: - Background: - Proposal: - Benefits: - Recommended Action:


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