BUSINESS WRITING SKILLS. The quality of your relationships and results will be determined by the quality and quantity of your communication with other people. Ronnie Morris Central Area Vice President Coca-Cola Bottling Company of North Texas. ELECTRONIC WRITING. Blessing Faster Simpler
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The quality of your relationships and results will be determined by the quality and quantity of your communication with other people. • Ronnie Morris • Central Area Vice President • Coca-Cola Bottling Company of North Texas
ELECTRONIC WRITING • Blessing • Faster • Simpler • Spelling/grammar checkers • Curse • Faster • Simpler • Spelling/grammar checkers
ELECTRONIC WRITING • Americans becoming dependent on computers for literacy • Working vocabulary of average 14-year-old dropped from 25,000 to 10,000 words over past 50 years
ELECTRONIC WRITING "As technology improves and expands, literacy declines. With e-mail, writing just keeps deteriorating. People say, 'Get computers in schools,' [but] we have children who can't read and write and speak." Lynn Agress Founder of Business Writing at Its Best
IT’S A MATCHING GAME • Avoid impersonal writing, such as e-mail and notes, for “heavy” messages. • Deliver “bombs” in person, if possible. Otherwise, use formal communications such as letters.
In emotional situations ... REMEMBER • The more emotional the message, the more personal the medium • High emotion: In person (assess & adapt) • Medium emotion: Handwritten letter (careful choice of words, paper, ink) • Low emotion: Typed letter (careful choice of words, paper, formatting) • STOP and THINK before communicating
Concerning office e-mail... REMEMBER • Informal/impersonal • Research says: Visit or phone call often is better for your image • Spell-check, edit, proofread • Avoid anything nearing “off-color” • E-mail belongs to your employer!
Regarding the last word ... REMEMBER • You don’t always have to have it. • It can do your career more harm than good. • Pick your communication medium carefully.
TRIVIA QUIZ What report gets better reaction: 3-page or 10-page? ANSWER It depends.
ANSWER Accuracy Organization Maximum meat/Minimum fat Attention to detail TRIVIA QUIZ What’s preferred in business writing?
TRIVIA QUIZ What’s the key to effective document organization and meat/fat ratio? ANSWER Effective editing
TRIVIA QUIZ What’s the key to detail-oriented writing? ANSWER Effective proofreading
WHY IS WRITING SO HARD? Language idiosyncrasies: • The bandage was wound around the wound. • The farm was used to produce produce. • The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse. • We must polish the Polish furniture. • He could lead if he would get the lead out. • The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert. • Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
WHY IS WRITING SO HARD? • A bass was painted on the head of the bass drum. • When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes. • I did not object to the object. • The insurance was invalid for the invalid. • There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row. • They were too close to the door to close it. • The buck does funny things when the does are present.
WHY IS WRITING SO HARD? • A seamstress and a sewer fell down into a sewer line. • To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow. • The wind was too strong to wind the sail. • After a number of injections my jaw got number. • Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear. • I had to subject the subject to a series of tests. • How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
LET'S FACE IT “English is a crazy language! English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race (which, of course, isn't a race at all). That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.” Author Unknown
COMMON WEAKNESSES • Wordiness • Technical jargon • Basic language problems
REMEMBER On the written page, being clear and concise is more important than being impressive, brilliant, literary, or academic.
BUSINESS WRITING TIPS • Know audiences’ preferences • Be adaptable • Use reference materials
BUSINESS WRITING STYLE Recommended for Neeley students Franklin Covey’s Style Guide For Business and Technical Communication
WORD TO THE WISE • Memorize most troublesome rules • For most people, those include … • Apostrophes • Hyphenated words • Semi-colons • Dashes • Rule-breaker rules
PRACTICAL MATTERS • Professors/boss preferences • Time issues • Stress issues
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY • Most important part of document • Last piece of document created • VERY short • Introduction/body/conclusion • Enough detail to reflect content • Concise and complete enough (even if full document never is read)
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY • Comprehensive restatement of … • Purpose • Scope • Conclusions • Results • Recommendations
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY • No new information • Use transitional words/phrases • Follow organization of document • Do not refer to document’s … • Tables • Figures • Appendices • References • Other explanatory materials
EFFECTIVE WRITING • Determine best uses of technology • Software skills • Attachments to be shared via e-mail • How far to trust technology
WRITING SCHEDULE • Establish absolute deadlines • Meet deadlines on schedule • Work backwards from project due-date to set working due-dates
THINK IN REVERSE • Finalized document due on ________ • Proofreading due on ________ • Final draft due on ________ • Editing #2 due on ________ • Revision due on ________ • Editing #1 due on ________ • Rewrite due on ________ • First draft due on ________
WHY IS DRAFTING SO HARD? We don’t write the way we speak.
FIRST DRAFT • Center on subject and substance • DON’T worry about editing and proofing—yet • BUT, don’t neglect editing and proofing or you get the OOPS factor …
“OOPS!” FACTOR Fyrst, lern ta spel!
“OOPS!” FACTOR Suppose attendance will drop?
“OOPS!” FACTOR So much for the secret.
“OOPS!” FACTOR New product offering?
“OOPS!” FACTOR Talk about oxymorons!
“OOPS!” FACTOR Care to check in?
PICTURE LESSONS Writing should be this clear.
PICTURE LESSONS • Consider readers’ perspectives • Plan ahead • Edit carefully • Proofread carefully • Have someone else read it
EDITING RULES (& PRACTICE) Verbs has to agree with their subjects. Avoid clichés like the plague. (They're old hat.) Prepositions are not words to end sentences with. Proofread carefully to see if you any words out. Don't use no double negatives. It is wrong to ever split an infinitive. No sentence fragments. Be more or less specific. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are (usually) unnecessary. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction.
EDITING • Split Infinitives • A split infinitive consists of the function word to, followed by an adverb (usually an -ly adverb), followed by an infinitive: to happily conclude, to weakly demur, to needlessly suffer. • The driver is instructed to periodically check the oil level. (split infinitive) • The driver is instructed periodically to check the oil level. • The driver is instructed to check the oil level periodically.
Star Trek: • "to boldly go where no man has gone before.“ • Here, the presence of the adverb boldly between the parts of the infinitive, to and go, creates a split infinitive. The construction can often be avoided by placing the intervening words after the verb or before the to marker: • "to go boldly where no man has gone before" • "boldly to go where no man has gone before."
EDITING • Spell out all… • Uncommon symbols • Abbreviations • Acronyms
EDITING • Focus on content and meaning • Facts/analysis/recommendations • Numbers and charts • Structure and organization • Sentence/phrase interpretation • Consistency
EDITING TIPS Be kind to your reader Be confident of your analysis and recommendations Be direct Focus on economy, precision, and directness Practice! Use active voice Be straightforward with wording Use present tense whenever possible
ACTIVE VOICE • In sentences written in active voice, the subject performs the action expressed in the verb; the subject acts.
PASSIVE VOICE • In sentences written in passive voice, the subject receives the action expressed in the verb; the subject is acted upon. The agent performing the action may appear in a "by the . . ."
WHY IS EDITING SO HARD? • We don’t write the way we speak. • Most business writing is too verbose. • Active voice helps • Style Guide—“Wordy Phrases” (p. 348 in Covey’s Style Guide)