The Importance of Writing Clearly for Business

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.

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. 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 The result is business documents are often filled with buzzwords, cryptic dialogue and outdated phrases.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. 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 cliches. Buzzwords are trendy terms and expressions that sometimes mean nothing, but seem impressive. "Like fertilizer, buzzwords are spread generously over documents in hope that brilliant ideas will miraculously take root. Unfortunately, ideas don't grow in manure," describes Will Stockdell, a professional Internet writer. 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The last thing you want to do is to give the impression that your writing is too formal or outdated.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. Perhaps, because we are a telephone-oriented society, the keyboard simply becomes an extension of our phone voice and frequently incomplete phrases dominate a message. Readers may think that this writing also indicates your incomplete logic and business services.

Do you use correct English? As far as incorrect punctuation, awkward sentences and bad grammar, you need to examine your writing skills and take these steps to improve them:

1. Audit your business writing yourself and try to learn from your mistakes. Use your computer grammar tools, but double-check with a dictionary or grammar book.

2. Find someone who can edit your material.

3. Hire employees for writing skills. In this way, you will have someone around to edit or write material for you.

4. Read. Reading will improve your writing skills. Keep on hand business documents that you admire.

5. Practice. Don't just pick up the phone to communicate; get in the habit of expressing your ideas in letters or e-mail.

6. Seek professional resources. Consult books like Gloria Pincu's Bull's Eye Business Writing: 10 Easy Guides for Getting to Your Writing Target. Search the Internet. Seek training courses.

See my web site for information about my online courses at: www.basic-learning.com)

Gloria Pincu is founder of Basic Learning Systems, Inc., a management training and consulting organization. As a consultant/trainer, Ms. Pincu has drawn heavily on her own business experience as well as from the academic world. She has been an entrepreneur, a sales manager, a computer salesperson, a teacher of writing, communication skills and English, and a consultant /training specialist to corporations, hospitals, government, and educational organizations.

Since founding Basic Learning Systems, Inc., a Certified Minority Business Enterprise, in 1980, Gloria has facilitated many hundreds of training programs. She has designed and conducted programs on topics covering customer service, total quality management, supervisory skills, business and technical writing, managing change, interpersonal skills, team building, creative thinking, stress management, and professional secretary techniques for numerous organizations including Pratt & Whitney Aircraft, IBM Corporation, American Express, National Council on Compensation Insurance, Ryder Truck Rental, Inc., the Florida Department o

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