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Effective Business Writing

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  1. Effective Business Writing

  2. Course Objectives • Review the writing process. • Assess common grammar and style problem areas. • Enable studentto write more efficiently and powerfully. • Review the effective use of email and PowerPoint. 2

  3. Table of Contents 3

  4. Reflection Questions • What issues do you find with others’ writing? • What concerns do you have with your own writing? • What are troubles you have when writing? • How does business writing differ from academic writing? 4

  5. The Writing Process • Prepare to Write • Plan Your Document • Generate Ideas • Organize Your Information • Compose Your Document • Draft • Revise • Refine 5

  6. PLAN YOUR DOCUMENT • GENERATE IDEAS • ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION The Writing Process PREPARE TO WRITE 6

  7. Plan Your Document • Message • Audience • Purpose 7

  8. Message • What is the main topic to convey in your document? • Focus on one main topic. • What is the level of detail needed to communicate this topic? • This will help determine the format and program you will use. 8

  9. Understand Your Audience • What does the audience already know about the topic? • How does the audience feel about the topic? • How does the audience feel about you, your team, and/or your organization? • Knowing your audience helps determine: • Format • Organization • Flow of thought 9

  10. The Hidden Audience • Who could read this document? • Is this document ready for infinite distribution? • Should this document be written? 10

  11. Purpose • What do you want to accomplish with the document? • Does a decision need to be made? • Do you want action? • Are you trying to persuade the audience? • Is this to inform others of information you collected? • What is the end result/goal of your document? 11

  12. Understand Your Audience Exercise You are a member of a project team. • Review a sample project document of your choice. • Read the descriptions for Reader A and Reader B. • How would you write for different audiences? What is the purpose of each situation? Reader A (George) • What do you want to get from George? • What approach should you take with George? • Reader B (Marie) • How is Marie related to this? • What do you want to get from Marie? • How would you approach her? 12

  13. PLAN YOUR DOCUMENT • GENERATE IDEAS • ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION The Writing Process PREPARE TO WRITE 13

  14. Brainstorming Methods Graphic Method Draw an idea diagram Doodle Reading and Writing Method Research Take notes Outline Freewrite Spoken Method Speak aloud Ask questions reader might ask Imagine conversation with reader Record on tape or write Group Method Discuss with colleagues, friends Brainstorm with colleagues 14

  15. PLAN YOUR DOCUMENT • GENERATE IDEAS • ORGANIZE YOUR INFORMATION The Writing Process PREPARE TO WRITE 15

  16. Three Essential Components Introduction Hook Key Message Purpose Body Background and Details Major and Minor Points Organized Ideas Conclusion Summarize Restate Key Message Request Action 16

  17. Organizing Your Information • Sample Methods of Organization: • Sequence • Advantages and Disadvantages • Priority • Cause and Effect • Comparison and Contrast • Problem and Solution • Journalism • Analysis • Case Study • Spatial 17

  18. Organizational Patterns: Documentation • For the detail-oriented • Introduction > Body > Conclusions > Recommendations > Close • For the action-oriented • Introduction > Conclusions > Recommendations > Body > Close • To give recommendations • Introduction > Recommendations > Conclusions > Body > Close • To catch the reader’s attention • Introduction > Conclusions > Body > Recommendations > Close 18

  19. Reader’s Question: Why should I read this? What are you suggesting? What’s in it for me? How do you know? Let me make sure I understand. Persuasive Pattern: Global Benefit Ideas & Features Specific Benefits Rationale Summary Organizational Patterns: Persuasion 19

  20. DRAFT • REVISE • REFINE The Writing Process COMPOSE YOUR DOCUMENT 20

  21. Compose Your Document • Decide what information to include or exclude. • Organize your information. • Pre-determined organization • Flexible organization Focus on content, not mechanics. 21

  22. DRAFT • REVISE • REFINE The Writing Process COMPOSE YOUR DOCUMENT 22

  23. Revise Your Document • Is the message stated clearly? • Is the document appropriate for its audience? • Does the document achieve its purpose? • Is the document well-organized? • Tips: • Put your document aside for a few hours (or days) before revising it. This helps you look at it with fresh eyes. • Print your document. Some problems are difficult to identify on a computer screen. 23

  24. DRAFT • REVISE • REFINE The Writing Process COMPOSE YOUR DOCUMENT 24

  25. Refine Your Document • Confirm factual accuracy. • Enforce stylistic consistency. • Correct mechanical errors. • Reduce wordiness. • Utilize appropriate tools. 25

  26. Confirm Factual Accuracy Figures Confirm the accuracy of figures by checking them against your original source. Calculations Confirm the accuracy of calculations by performing them at least twice. Pay attention to decimals, rounding, and percentages. Other Facts Confirm the accuracy of other facts by checking reliable records and sources. 26

  27. Enforce Stylistic Consistency • Utilize a writing style guide. • The Chicago Manual of Style • American Psychological Association • The Associated Press Stylebook • Create a document style sheet (for documents longer than 2 pages). Capitalization, hyphenation, abbreviation, and use of italics and boldface 27

  28. The Chicago Manual of Style 28

  29. Document Style Sheet Example 29

  30. Correct Mechanical Errors • Read carefully. • Perform word processor spelling and grammar checks. • Use a checklist of common mechanical errors. • Refer to a dictionary, writing style guide, etc. Spelling, usage, grammar, and punctuation 30

  31. Mechanics: Subject-Verb Agreement • Subject = a noun or noun phrase performing the action or being in the state expressed by the verb • Verb = a word or group of words showing the action or state of being • State of being: am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been 31

  32. Mechanics: Subject-Verb Agreement Exercise • Each of the reports (contains/contain) useful information. • Neither the Smith twins nor Samantha (was/were) informed of the changes made in the club bylaws. • Her purse, along with her checkbook and all her credit cards (was/were) stolen. • Neither of the experiments (appears/appear) to confirm the hypothesis. • Acoustics (is/are) a science to which architects pay heed when they design theater halls. • Three hours (is/are) a long time to wait in line. 32

  33. Mechanics: Subject-Verb Agreement Exercise • Each of the reports (contains/contain) useful information. • Neither the Smith twins nor Samantha (was/were) informed of the changes made in the club bylaws. • Her purse, along with her checkbook and all her credit cards (was/were) stolen. • Neither of the experiments (appears/appear) to confirm the hypothesis. • Acoustics (is/are) a science to which architects pay heed when they design theater halls. • Three hours (is/are) a long time to wait in line. 33

  34. Mechanics: Verb Tense • Tense shows the time in which an act, state, or condition occurs or occurred. • 3 major divisions of time: • Past • Present • Future • Be consistent with verb tense throughout your document. 34

  35. Mechanics: Sentence Fragments • A sentence fragment is an incomplete thought. • There must be a subject and verb in every sentence. • The baseball went into the neighbor’s backyard. Which is why I climbed the fence. • Caleb cooks delicious food. Like tortellini and tiramisu. • Because not reading the email from her boss made Alice miss the meeting. 35

  36. Mechanics: Run-on Sentences • Run-on sentence: two or more independent clauses joined with no punctuation or conjunction • I went to the store yesterday I bought eggs, milk, and flour. • Gina presented her proposal to the managers they approved it. • Comma splice: two independent clauses joined with a comma • I went to the store yesterday, I bought eggs, milk, and flour. • Gina presented her proposal to the managers, they approved it. 36

  37. Mechanics: Run-on Sentences It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities 37

  38. Mechanics: Pronouns • Pronoun: a substitute for a noun or noun phrase 38

  39. Mechanics: Who vs. Whom • Who/Whom wrote the letter? • He wrote the letter. • For who/whom should I vote? • Should I vote for him? • We all know who/whom pulled that prank. • Who/Whom pulled that prank? He pulled that prank. • We want to know on who/whom the prank was pulled. • The prank was pulled on who/whom? The prank was pulled on him. He = Who (Subjective) Him = Whom (Objective) 39

  40. Mechanics: Pronoun Exercise • Michael Jordan is taller than (I/me). • Everyone should improve (his/their) writing skills. • Between you and (I/me), the form of a pronoun is important. • I’ll pledge my support to (whoever/whomever) promises to protect the environment. • Mom, Dad, Rosie, and (me/I) made plans to attend the chili cook-off. • I am going with (whoever/whomever) I wish. • (Who/Whom) is responsible for the mistake? 40

  41. Mechanics: Pronoun Exercise • Michael Jordan is taller than (I/me). • Everyone should improve (his/their) writing skills. • Between you and (I/me), the form of a pronoun is important. • I’ll pledge my support to (whoever/whomever) promises to protect the environment. • Mom, Dad, Rosie, and (me/I) made plans to attend the chili cook-off. • I am going with (whoever/whomever) I wish. • (Who/Whom) is responsible for the mistake? 41

  42. Mechanics: Unclear Pronouns • Remove the desk from the carton and leave it on the loading dock. • The bird landed on the wire and it fell. • From his table, Gary saw Steve walk into the pizza shop. Bill was carrying his pizza to the table. Soon, he was sharing his pizza. 42

  43. Mechanics: Modifiers • Modifier: a word or phrase that helps clarify or limit the extent of the meaning of another word, phrase, or clause • Adjectives (modify nouns and pronouns) • Adverbs (modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs) • Dangling modifier: a misplaced modifier, attaching itself to a word other than the word to which it was meant to be attached “One morning, I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas, I don’t know.” -Groucho Marx, Animal Crackers 43

  44. Mechanics: Modifier Exercise • Walking down Main Street, the trees were beautiful. • The sheriff heard that the prisoner had escaped from the messenger. • Dr. Stillwell will discuss methods of growing giant firs in the Carson Building conference room. • I saw the car peeking through a window. • I was told that the copier was broken by Joey. • She is picking up the materials for the other instructor we had sent. 44

  45. Mechanics: Parallel Structures • Parallel structure: the balance of two or more similar words, phrases, or clauses • Correlative conjunction: a paired conjunction that links balanced words, phrases, and clauses • Both…and • Either…or • Just as…so • Neither…nor • Not only…but also • Whether…or 45

  46. Mechanics: Parallel Structures Activity 1 • Sue likes cooking, jogging, and to read. • Please complete this form, sign it, and then it should be sent to me. • Patsy not only wrote the proposal but also to present it to the board. • Peyton both conducted research and will write the report. • Our goals are to: • Write powerful documents. • Edit more thoroughly. • Thinking from the reader’s perspective. 46

  47. Mechanics: Parallel Structures Activity 2 • Phone, email • VP of Operations, CEO • Analyze, survey • Execute, deploy • Collaborate, resolve 47

  48. Mechanics: Tone • Tone: the writer’s implied attitude toward the subject or toward the audience • Using an appropriate tone will result in: • A positive reader response • No unintentionally offensive language • Appropriate tone reflects your attitude toward the subject and audience by considering the level of: • Formality: Who will read this? • Urgency: How urgent is this message? • Objectivity: How objective do I need to be? 48

  49. Mechanics: Tone Activity 1 • Review Ashley’s impressive resume and let me know your thoughts. • It would behoove all employees to refrain from making personal calls during work. • Please send this document out today if you can. • Write a report discussing your research and turn it in to me next week. 49

  50. Confident Use: Will, Can Avoid: I think, if you agree Conversational Use: everyday vocabulary, contractions Avoid: corporate jargon, formal vocabulary Positive Use: can, benefit Avoid: cannot, unable to Courteous Use: please, thank you Avoid: rude language, pointing blame Mechanics: Tone 50