Presentation on theme: "Effective Business Writing. Introduction Why is business writing so important? One of the most important things in business today is communication. It."— Presentation transcript:
Why is business writing so important? One of the most important things in business today is communication. It sets your company image to others More often than not, the first impression is the last one and the way you communicate with your existing and prospective clients, employers, associates etc will determine your success. This makes it very important to have an effective style of business writing. Introduction
Business Writing Myths Myth 1: Writing requires talent. Talent can certainly help, but by no means is it a necessary ingredient in good business writing. Writing is a skill that can be learned, developed and honed.
Myth 2: Writing should be easy. Writing is often hard work—it requires concentration, physical effort, and a little tolerance for frustration This does not mean that because it takes work it should be avoided Over time it will get a little easier
Myth 3: The writing process must be right the first time There is a time to create and a time to evaluate. Both are legitimate parts of writing, but they really are best done at separate times. Otherwise, the normal writing process becomes an exercise in task overload When the thoughts are first put down, there really should be not limits imposed on what is to be put down
Myth 4: Bad writing really won’t cause any problems Bad writing is as damaging as bad customer service and bad products There have been some real horror stories Ineffective, embarrassing messages are sent to customers, clients, and other stakeholders. Time and money are squandered to rectify writing errors-- sometimes in court.
Writing Goals In simple terms, a goal for writing a business document is what you want your reader to do or believe (actions or persuasion). Your goals in writing your document suggest the effect you want your writing to have on your reader or audience.
Goals can either be text-based or reader-based goals. A text-based goal is a written text specifically describing your desired goals. I want to compose a thank-you letter to John Smith, the Vice President of Marketing, for speaking at our organization's annual fundraiser. A reader-based goal spells out why you want to do a specific task and it provides a clearer picture of the task at hand. As a result of reading my thank-you letter, I want John Smith’s organization to remember our annual fundraiser so that the organization will be compelled to make a charitable donation annually.
Business Letter. A formal business letter is preferred when presenting information to a professor, a superior, or when the communication will be seen by many.
Memo. A memo (memorandum) is a less formal style that is used when the information being communicated is of less importance, does not leave the office, and when communicating with subordinates.
E-mail. E-mail is the least formal of the styles presented here and should only be used for informal communication such as reminders, questions, or when preferred by the recipient. Remember: E-mail is public domain, anyone may read your messages.
Two factors contribute to the readability of a message: Length of the sentence. Difficulty of the words. Length of the sentence
The Fog Index score is the approximate grade level needed to understand written material. The desirable score for most business writing is in the 8 to 11 grade range. For quick easy reading (and listening), use small words and short sentences. If you have Microsoft Word, it can do the scoring for you. Use the spelling and grammar command and at the end of the scan it will give you the information
Write for your Reader In Business Writing it is imperative to know who will be reading your document (your audience). While usually one person initially reads your document, oftentimes the document will be shared with other individuals or groups, especially in decision making. Therefore having the mindset of writing for an audience may prove to be beneficial. The following questions are important to ask yourself before preparing an effective business document
What are the reader's attitudes toward the specific topic ? If your specific topic is favorable to your audience's attitude, then the task of writing a persuasive, compelling document will be less daunting. However, if the topic is less favorable, then preparing your document may require some more time and effort. Oftentimes it might be difficult to know the audience's attitude of the topic, therefore include all pertinent information in your document, while at the same time be concise.
What are the audience's attitudes toward you, the writer? Your reputation and rapport with your audience is important in a business environment. If you maintain a professional reputation and a good rapport with your audience, then chances are in your favor for your document to be better received
What prior knowledge or information does the audience possess about the topic? If the audience doesn't possess any knowledge or information about the specific topic, then you should consider including some background information or a summary of the topic so the audience can have a better understanding of the topic and your goals for writing Remember if your audience does possess knowledge about your topic; be careful not to overindulge with the obvious.
How will the reader need and want to utilize your document? It is important to know how the reader will receive your document, whether it is an e-mail, an attached document file, faxed or if the reader intends to receive a “hard copy” of your document. A printed copy of your document may be required for filing purposes, though in today's highly technological society paper trails are becoming somewhat obsolete.
Who will be reading your document? Usually you will know the addressee of your document, especially if it is someone inside your organization. However, if you do not know the recipient, Dear Sir or Madame, is acceptable. *Tip: To know who will be reading your documents helps in establishing the tone of the document.
Will the addressee of your document pass it on to someone else in the organization? Remember to send your document to the appropriate person within your organization; Following the organization's chain of command will save the company valuable time and resources. Always remember to include appropriate titles and correct contact information.
Will your document go outside the organization? If you think there is a chance your document will be sent to someone outside of the organization, again be sure to utilize appropriate titles, names and correct contact information
Will all your readers comprehend the specific details, technical terms and/or any possible abbreviations used? Be careful not to overindulge your document with too many technical terms or abbreviations your reader may not understand. If abbreviations are used, consider spelling the word out completely when first introducing the term.
Four Steps to Effective Messages What do I want to communicate? What key points do I want the listeners to remember? What do I expect them to do with the message? What do I expect them to pass on to others?
Who are the people receiving the message? The words, examples, how, and when you send the message should be determined largely by your intended audience You have to send a message the audience members will understand
Why should they listen? What addresses their needs and will help them solve their problems. If you want to get your message across, you have to demonstrate that your message is relevant to your audience Ask yourself, “How can I present my message in a way that relates to a problem, need, or concern they have?”
Use only words, phrases, and illustrations you are sure will be understood Constantly ask yourself, “How can I simplify this point and make it more direct?” If the content of your message is technical, ask yourself, “How can I present the same information in a non-technical way?”
Four Types of Outlines Although there are many, many types of outlines, we are going to look at four that are used most of the time They are Mind Map Conventional Checklist Variations
Mind Map A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making.
Conventional Outline Lists topics and subtopics to show how, in a hierarchical fashion, how the paper is to be organized. I.Introduction – How the sales are doing at this point II.First topic – current sales discussion A.Information - Sales in the toy area B.information – Sales in the electronic game are III.Second Topic – potential corrective actions A.Information – How we will improve the sales in toys IV.Third Topic – Future projections V.Conclusions
Checklist Outline Uses a standard checklist style to ensure all topics are covered Introduction - How the sales are doing at this point Discuss ….. current and future sales Make sure I cover …. corrective actions for off sales Summary … Summarize what it all means Closing statement
Inverted Pyramid Approach It states the main idea and then provides supporting material. The detail gets more and more specific concerning the main point Initially used in the news media and telegraphs. It gets to the point immediately. It's also an extremely useful tool for thinking and organizing because it forces the writer to sum up the point of the report in a single paragraph. It allows those who are not interested in the detail to understand the intent of the report without having to deal with all the detail of the body of the report.
First it starts with a concise summing up of the report in a single paragraph 'Who,' 'when', 'where', 'what' and 'how' are addressed in this first paragraph Secondly it must give the additional information that belongs in the report -- and in what order – to provide the necessary details for those who want to understand it more.
Building-block Approach Write a two- or three-sentence theme statement that focuses on the main point of your report. The theme must include only one main point. After a focused theme is conceived, start to write the story in blocks, grouping related information in each block.
Imagine that each block of information is a department in the supermarket. When you shop in the supermarket, you go through the departments one by one and select all the things that you need. Then you go on to the next department. As a business writer, you should take your reader through a report paragraph by paragraph, each giving the reader interesting new information.
Classification type paragraphs In a classification report, we organize things into categories and give examples of things that fit into each category. For example, if you choose to write about types of computers (PCs and servers) your are considering buying, each of your developmental paragraphs will define the characteristics of a different computer type.
Before writing, it is necessary to decide on the classification criteria. We should think according to what properties we are going to classify things. The criteria must be discriminating and the emerging classes should be non-overlapping. In the example above about types of computers, the computers could be classified according to their functions and capabilities, as:
3 types of computerscriteria: their functionsand capabilities 2. PC general use by a single person desktop: permanent laptop: portable 3. Workstation used for 3D graphics, game development powerful microprocessor, additional memory and enhanced capabilities 4. Server used to provide services to other computers have powerful processors, lots of memory and large hard drives 5. Main frame used in businessenables hundreds of people to work together 1. Laptop used by single person and mobile Used as a desktop or for traveling
Cause/effect paragraphs Generally follow basic paragraph format. That is, they begin with a topic sentence and this sentence is followed by specific supporting details. For example, if the topic sentence introduces an effect, the supporting sentences all describe causes. Here is an example:
EFFECT (Topic Sentence) CAUSES (Supporting Sentences) The steel industry has been moving out of Pittsburgh. [There are several reasons for this.] World competition has dramatically increased (Steel industry has been moving out.) Environmental issues have created expensive solutions. (Steel industry has been moving out.) Costs to continue making steel have skyrocketed.
Cause and Effect Conjunctions Here are some common conjunctions that can be used to express cause and effect: sinceas a resultbecause of + noun phrase becausethereforedue to + noun phrase consequentlyfor this reasonso
Multiple Causes and Effects Several causes may produce a single effect One cause may have several effects Related events or phenomena may have both multiple causes and multiple effects. Chain of Events In some cases, a series of events forms a chain in which each event is both the effect of what happened before and the cause of the next event. Or a simple event can produce a chain of consequences.
Process Analysis paragraphs Sandwiched between your introductory paragraph and the concluding paragraphs are the major stages for the process that you are describing. These major stages make up the paragraphs in your main body. So, each stage will have at least one paragraph devoted to it. If the stage is really broad, then two paragraphs might be required to develop it.
Once you figure out the major stages in your process, next you will need to sketch out the steps within each stage. These steps are equivalent to the details that make up different kinds of report paragraphs. You just have to remember to be very specific, to not omit any essential steps, and to present the steps in sequence. So the more planning that goes into this report, the more successful your end result will be.
Comparison and Contrast Paragraphs A comparison paragraph is one where the paragraph discusses the similarities between two subtopics. As usual, the topic sentence is at the beginning of the paragraph After that, the paragraph will discuss one point of similarity between the two subtopics. Specific details are given to support the statement Following this, the paragraph might briefly discuss a second point of similarity between the two subtopics, again with specific details
Short ConjunctionsLonger Expressions Similarly, Likewise,...the same......the same as......also......, too. both In the same way, X is similar to Y in that (they)... X and Y are similar in that (they)... Like X, Y [verb]... In like manner, One way in which X is similar to Y is (that)... Another way in which X is similar to Y is (that)... Conjunctions that can be used in comparison paragraphs
A contrast paragraph discusses the differences between (at least) two things. You can organize contrast paragraphs in much the same way that you can organize comparison paragraphs. That is, you can organize them either according to points of dissimilarity or according to subtopic.
Short ConjunctionsSubordinating Conjunctions However, In contrast, By contrast,..., but..., yet On the other hand, even though + [sentence] although + [sentence] whereas + [sentence] unlike + [sentence] while + [sentence] nevertheless, Conjunctions that can be used with contrast paragraphs
Using special format techniques help to make the report more interesting Breaks up the monotony of just words Create a physically attractive document Invites the audience to read it
Instructive and topical subheadings Subheadings can be either Instructive The subheading will be more of an informative type heading, typically in a sentence typ form I.E. “How to Develop Your Outline” Topical Will just name the topic that will be discussed and is usually just one or two words
Bullet points or lists Bullets are typographical symbols (boxes, circles, asterisks, dashes) that draw attention to a particular piece of text. These are excellent for lists, which are wonderful signposts themselves. Any information that you can boil down into an easy-to- grasp listing boosts the readability of your writing. Bulleted lists work well for outlining the steps in a process.
Indentation can be used to indicate organization by visually showing which information (indented) is subordinate to other information (not indented). Indenting sections of text can also be used to separate different types of information. For example, instructions (procedures) can be isolated from expository information (explanatory information), so that users do not have to sort out instructions
Effective formatting uses appropriate highlighting techniques Highlighting is a visual way of directing attention to some part of a document. It emphasizes information, such as that found in cautions/ warnings and troubleshooting charts It can be used to make sure readers do not miss important information. It also can be used for new technical terms the first time the terms appear.
Such techniques can also be overused, and produces instructions in which nothing seems important or distinct Too many different techniques produces documents that look cluttered and may even confuse readers.
Using ALL CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis is effective only if limited to three or four words. Moreover, text in all caps is not easy to read because the uniform shape of the words gives no typographical cues
Underlining, boldface, and italics can be used to emphasize important words and phrases, but long passages presented with these highlighting techniques are difficult to read Italics do not jump out at the reader as much as bold or underlined words do Italics are regularly used to indicate book titles, movies, etc. Too much underlining or boldface use throughout a report will also lessen the impact intended.
Although color can be an effective highlighting techniques, it too must be used carefully. Similar to the use of indentation, using two colors can differentiate information
The term "white space" refers to the places on a page that are without words or illustrations (the white background as opposed to the printed information). White space indicates to users Where ideas begin and end The organization or text At the same time it allows users to rest their eyes and their brains. It also provides a place for readers to write if they wish to take notes or draw sketches.
If white space is not used consistently, all its benefits are lost Generous amounts of white space are more pleasing visually and easier to understand and use By long tradition, published text has been set with both left and right margins justified However, many now argue for using unjustified text unless the appearance given by justified text is important
Paragraph and section length (as consideration related to chunking) can be influential in whether readers are intimidated or motivated to read the text Chunking helps the reader locate text quickly and easily. It visually organizes information by grouping it in short blocks, instead of burying it in long paragraphs and sections
White space created within the content portion of a document indicates organization The spacing between paragraphs (or sections) and headings and sub-headings are important. This type of white space, which is sometimes called line spacing, can cause users to want to read a text and can increase the speed with which they access information Margins should be wide, again to help indicate organization and excite the reader.
d d SerifSans serif Serif or Sans Serif … That is the Question!
Reports that are to be typewritten or printed should be done in serif type A serif is a style of letters that have a little piece sticking out of the vertical part of the letter The serif helps tie the letters together and make reading easier Electronic reports, meant to be seen only on a computer, should be done sans serif because the resolution tends to deform the serif and make the reading more difficult
Parallel columns Parallel columns should not be used unless listing things in a tabular form Example topic sentences Example headings The new brochures are full of major printing errors.Printing Errors in Brochure. Three causes contributed to the problem at Plant X.Causes of Plant X problems.
Know the Basics Here is a list of online basics that everyone should be aware of if they use the email system DO NOT TYPE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS This is considered yelling or screaming online. It is meant only to emphasize. Those who write only in caps are considered lazy and inconsiderate of those who will read the email. There have been studies that present evidence that it takes longer, and is more difficult, to read text that is typed in all capitals If sending to someone who is visually challenged, use larger fonts
Do not leave the “Subject” field blank You should always fill in the subject field with a very brief, and concise, description of the content of your email Be conservative in your font colors, backgrounds and background images in your day to day emails. It may look “cutesy”, but this is for professional communications, and sometimes the objects/background interferes with the text making it hard to read.
There are times when it is necessary to send to a group of people. In respect to persons that would like to be copied, but not have their email broadcast to everyone, please use the BCC field (Blind Carbon Copy) The recipient will get the email, but their email address will remain invisible Never expose your contact’s address to strangers!!!! Long lists of email addresses at the beginning of any email is an immediate sign that the sender is a “Newnettie” and not a “Netizen” and does not care about other peoples privacy
Do not forward any dumb jokes, chain letters or other ridiculous and unimportant email to anyone without their prior permission or if it against company policy. This fills up mail boxes, uses resources unnecessarily and may cause other important emails to bounce. Many people find these emails tiresome, annoying and repetitive It certainly is unprofessional and may encroach into the realm of harassment It may offend people, embarrass people or otherwise compromise their professionalism
Never give out phone numbers or personal information This, of course, is only if you haven’t received prior permission to do so Make a reasonable search effort on a Web site before you email the web site for information. Use the FAQ’s and other sections to ensure the answer is not readily available
Do not use the “Return Receipt Requested” for every email you send What an absolutely annoying habit. And it is very intrusive. Think of all other types of communication. How you like it if every time you opened a letter, listened to your phone mail or answering machine it was reported back to the sender??? The recipient should have the privacy to decide whether they would like to open the email or not. RR’s should be reserved for those times when it is imperative to know that a person received the email.
You are always in a learning mode, so be patient. People may sometimes fire back at you for something you innocently did. Accept it, learn from it, and change. If you receive a nasty email – do not respond immediately. It is very easy to be critical over the electronic mail system – they do not have to face the person when they criticize. Most times, they are trying to get your goat (called trolling) Other times they are trying to feel important or self- knowledgeable The rest are jerks
Keep in mind that all private email is considered to be copyrighted by the original author. If you post a private email to a public board, or forward it to an outside party in whole or in part, you must include the authors permission to post the material publicly. To not do so could get you in trouble legally, or at the least in trouble with your associates
Always compress or “zip” large files before sending. Too many large files in the inbox may make the next important mail bounce. Rule of thumb … compress anything over 250K Do not forward virus warnings Typically the virus warnings are hoaxes!