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Why Written Communication Matters More than Ever (And How to Write Well Even If You Weren't an English Major)
Guest articles > Why Written Communication Matters More than Ever (And How to Write Well Even If You Weren't an English Major)
by: Glenn Friesen
Make no mistake about it—writing matters. A lot. How you and your employees communicate in email, live chat, and internal and external business communications projects an image about your company’s professionalism, credibility, and thought leadership.
Yet, interestingly, many companies that invest in customer service and sales training neglect to teach basic writing skills, even though their employees rely on writing to build and nurture customer relationships.
Poor righting can lead to mis-understandings that could lead to a potential of an impression where what was attempted—to be put forth, is instead interpreted, and this in turn can be a situation where a mistake sets forth to damage; and the company is put at risk.
Just kidding on that last paragraph. Point made.
If You Issue a Computer to Your Employees, Include a Primer on Business Communications
Everyone in your company whose job description involves communicating via a computer could benefit from a course on best business writing practices and an overview of chat and email etiquette.
You don’t need to study English as an undergraduate to master clear, concise business writing. Some basic tips go a long way for people who struggle to put their message forth concisely.
The following three initial steps, taken from Richard Lanham’s book, Revising Prose, offer a useful method to make your writing more concise, persuasive, and user-centered.
Eliminate unnecessary prepositions
To make your point, don’t fluff your sentences with superfluous prepositions. For example, compare the following examples:
In this paragraph is a demonstration of the use of good style in the writing of a report.
This paragraph demonstrates good style in report writing.
Do you see what’s happening here? The first sentence relies on prepositions, but the action (or doer) gets lost among the propositions.
So step 1? Circle all of the prepositions in the sentence.
Find the “to be” verbs
Writing without forms of the verb “to be” is tricky. See what we mean? Is, are, was, were—all of the various forms of “to be” appear frequently in sentences, but people tend to rely on this handy little verb a little too much. “To be,” unfortunately, doesn’t give your sentence a lot of action, and concise writing needs action to get the point across.
Step 2: Put a box around any conjugation of “to be” in your sentence.
Find out where the action is
Every sentence should serve a purpose and communicate a point. Don’t bury the action toward the end or in-between strings of prepositions and descriptions that don’t have uumph. For example:
It was decided that company policy be changed to allow employee selection of personal leave days.
The personnel committee decided to change company policy and allow employees to select their own personal leave days.
Step 3: By eliminating the passive voice and putting your subject in the lead, your sentence conveys action and is easier to follow.
Put it all together
Write out your sentence, circling the prepositions, putting squares around the “to be” verbs, and pinpointing the action. Can you improve the sentence and make it more user-friendly? Chances are, you can. Take this sentence:
The point I wish to make is that the employees working at this company are in need of a much better manager of their money.
The point I wish to make is that the employees working at this company are in need of a much better manager of their money. Subject—don’t hide the doer
Rewrite and ta-da!
Employees at this company need a better money manager.
The missing piece in training
Teaching writing skills—both concise writing and persuasive writing—are essential skills to include in customer service and sales training programs for your company. After all, if you invest in teaching your employees how to build rapport and nurture relationships with your customers, why wouldn’t you include instruction on how to transfer that same professionalism to one of the most common forms of communication—writing?
If you’re in the market for a customer service or sales training program, look for a company that also offers writing instruction—the extra effort will be well worth it.
Glenn Friesen works at Impact Learning Systems and can be found here:
Contributor: Glenn Friesen
Published here on: 21-Aug-11