Instructor-led training - business writing course london

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Effective business writing is a critical and much overlooked skill. A carefully crafted letter, email, or memo can make all the difference between a successfully delivered message and one that creates confusion and raises queries.

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Below are some extracts from our Business Writing manual.

Business Writing

 Introduction

There is much more to business writing than typing an email and pressing send, or to writing and disseminating a report.

The task of writing business documents can be challenging. Poor communication can lead to major misunderstandings causing problems for business. Having said this, it is possible to put over a clear message to your audience if you are careful, considerate and use a few effective tools, techniques and strategies.

 

What do your messages reveal about you and your company?

In the context of business writing, there is pressure to communicate with a clear, concise message and a style that considers the reader. When you are writing a business letter, you want to enhance your company’s image as well as your own. Writing that is sloppy, full of errors and/or unstructured may leave your audience with a negative impression of you and your employers.

 

Intention

The purpose of writing

The purpose of writing is to deliver a message and be understood. Whether we are sending emails, reports, letters, tweeting or working on a digital platform, our current working world runs on writing.

There are a range of reasons why documents are written. For example, you may wish to:

      Inform

      Explain

      Stimulate ideas

      Be humorous

      Motivate

      Create dialogue

      Change opinion

      Repair relationship

      Persuade

      Prompt debate

      Build on previous contact

 

Response

There are many considerations when defining the objective for writing. Start with the end in mind:

·     Do you want your audience to THINK or FEEL something?

·     Would you like them to DO, DECIDE or KNOW something as a result?

·     Is it clear how they should respond?

·     What next steps do you want them to take?

Spelling out your goals keeps you aligned with the situation as a whole. Good planning will enable you to achieve the outcome you want from your writing.

Analyse your audience

To get your message across, you need to understand your audience. This is more challenging when writing, as the usual clues available during face-to-face communication are missing.

You can build a profile of your audience by asking the following or similar questions:

Name?

Job title?

Us and them - what’s our relationship?

How receptive are they?

What is their prior knowledge?

What questions might they have?

What are their priorities?

What’s in It for Them? (WIIFT)

Knowing, or anticipating information about your audience will help you to connect with them.

 

7 C’s of Writing

Your writing should be:

Clear        Be clear about your goal or message.

Concise    Stick to the point and be brief.

Concrete   Make sure the audience has a clear picture of what you're telling them.

Correct     Ensure your correspondence fits your audience and is error-free.

Coherent  All points should be logical, connected and relevant to the main topic. The tone and flow of the text should be consistent.

Complete  Make sure your audience has everything they need to be informed. Take action and include all the relevant information.

Courteous Your writing should be friendly, open, and honest. Avoid hidden insults or passive-aggressive tones.

 

Structuring documents

It is important to plan your business communication, whether this means ordering and structuring complex content, or fleshing out content from brief instructions. A simple way to do this is to follow the classic story structure, with a clear beginning, middle and end.

The opening can be quite short, just a heading and a couple of sentences, or maybe even paragraphs, should be enough.

The start should:

Grab and command attention

Gain the reader’s interests

Lead easily to the main text

The body of the writing

The body of the writing runs immediately from the opening and must consider the reader’s needs, problem or situation from their point of view. It must interest them and get them nodding in agreement.

Connect directly with the reader’s personal interests by taking into account Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The lower down the hierarchy you focus on, the more compelling and direct your call for interest.

The end

This is the time to ensure action from the reader with a firm close. It involves securing agreement and prompting the next step.

Consider your final words in prompting the reader to act

Summarise the benefits of the proposition (briefly)

Make it crystal clear what action you wish them to take

Avoid ambiguity and any opportunity for misinterpretation

 

Avoiding common writing mistakes

Poor spelling, punctuation and grammar

It is important to be aware of your personal ‘mistakes’, as writing problems can be corrected and prevented. Develop skills and techniques to improve your spelling. Try to avoid common pitfalls in punctuation and grammar.

We use punctuation and grammar to communicate our ideas clearly to the reader and allow them to focus on what we are communicating in a way they recognise and understand.

Check your grammar and punctuation towards the end of the writing process to polish your draft. Reading (aloud, if possible) is an easy and effective way to improve your grammar.

When reading, pay attention to grammatical conventions such as:

·     where you place your commas

·     how you use punctuation to separate sentences, phrases or ideas

·     how you format lists, quotations and long sentences

Refer to online resources if you are unsure of grammar and punctuation conventions. A grammar and punctuation reference book is always useful as a reference when writing.

Punctuation marks such as commas, full stops, question marks and exclamation marks tell the audience how to read your writing. They often substitute for the tone of voice, inflection, gestures and body language frequently used in face-to-face communications.

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