What Is Effective Business Writing? • Sense of Audience: Anticipates reader’s needs • Right Tone: Is even-tempered • Informative Content: Has substance – says something • Movement: Goes somewhere and has a sense of order • Helpful Format: Looks good on the page, is easy to read, scan, and retrieve information from
Effective Business Writing(Continued) • Detail: Uses concrete, selective, precise words • Voice: Sounds like one human beingtalking toanother • Originality: Says something new or something old in a fresh way • Rhythm: Sounds effortless, natural • Goods Mechanics: Observes conventions of spelling, punctuation, and usage; uses enlightened control by knowingly and occasionally bending the rules Book: p. 8-11
Three Step Approach to Effective Business Writing 1. Determine objective and get ideas on Paper • Brainstorming/mind mapping • Writing “Zero Draft” 2. Organize effectively • “Bottom-lining” • Logically support bottom-line 3. Edit ruthlessly • Editing for Style • Editing for Tone • Editing for Grammar
Step 1: Getting Your Thoughts on Paper • Don’t worry about it, just get it on paper • Good writing is rewriting
Determine Your Objective • What is your purpose? • Who will read it? • What do you want to say?
Getting Your Thoughts on Paper • Brainstorming • Mind mapping • Loose outline (be flexible)
Loose Outline • Main point • Key words in sequence following the main point. • Not too rigid. Allow for fresh ideas in the writing of the “Zero Draft”
“Zero Draft” • Deadline writing • Time limit • Bogus first sentence • “What I’m trying to say is that…” • I’m writing to persuade you to…” • *Let new ideas come out in the process • Don’t worry about order or brevity Book: p.221
Step 2: Organizing Your Message • “Bottom-lining” • Summarize your major point or points at the outset • “If you have something important to say–please–start at the end.”
Present most important information early, Then spend the rest of the time supporting It. Journalism’s Inverted Pyramid
Common “Bottom Lines” • Summarize: • The department agreed to allocate an additional $50,000 to the new project and to meet vendors who can support the 3Q due date. Here are the details of the meeting.
Move a reader to action: • My visit on June 28 to the San Diego market revealed back-order problems needing your immediate response.
Announce Policy: • To Accommodate those of you on flextime, the cafeteria will now be open from 6 A.M. to 3 P.M.
In Summary: • A bottom-line statement summarizes the main points of the message to get it out as clearly and quickly as possible • It may explain the action you advise taking • Or what action/response you hope the reader will take • Bottom-line statements never tell the purpose of the communication
Purpose Statements VS. Bottom-line • “The followingare comments heard from retailers and consumers, and my observations of industry and competitive performance.” • “The following is a summary of my recent market visit.”
Purpose Statements (Continued) • “This represents a response to your letter regarding the expansion of our promotion in Sacramento.” • “This report will recommend the action we should take against the competition.” • “John, this is a recap of the sales meeting on 4 April.”
Omit the first line for a more powerful opening statement • The enclosed data compare our status against the competition. Through the week of 28 June we have lost share in retail sales while our three major competitors have gained. A close look at the data will show our downward slide.
Enclosed please find attached Draft #3 of our Chug-a-lug™ National Relaunch Implementation Manual. We need your help to ensure that the information in the attached draft is one hundred percent accurate and up to date.
What I’m trying to say is that I’ve been working hard lately and I would like to take some time off.
To write a strong bottom-line, ask yourself: • “What is the most important point I need to make?” Book: p. 26-27, Book: p. 35
When not to “Bottom-line” • When writing a reader with a strong negative bias toward your recommendation or request Book: p.41
Review: Getting Started/Organizing • Step 1 • Determine your objective • Determine reader’s needs • Get thoughts on paper • Brainstorming/mind-mapping • “Zero Draft” • Step 2 • Organizing your message • Bottom-line statement instead of purpose statement • Journalism’s inverted pyramid • When not to bottom-line Book: p. 225-227
What is Business Style? • “Basically to be, or, not to be, that, undoubtedly, is actually the vital question one has to consider for certain.”
Sentence Clutter vs. Brevity Omit each and every single word for which you do not have a use. or Omit useless words.
10 Ways to Cut Sentence Clutter • Eliminate heavy sentence starters • Eliminate clutter from sentence midsections • Omit overloaded nouns • Get rid of lifeless verbs • Delete dull intensifiers • Eliminate prepositional fillers • Get rid of imprecise and ambiguous language • Get rid of pretentious language • Reduce redundancy • Cut out clichéd openings and closings
1. Eliminate Heavy Sentence Starters • Sentences that begin with “It ” • Much of the clutter hangs in front of the sentence in common phrases that begin with it • It should be noted thatmy budget for next year is a 22 percent decrease from… • It was found thatthe observed increase in sales was due to… *Helpful in first draft. Should be edited out later
More Examples • It is worthy of note… • It must be remembered that… • It has come to my attention that… • It is important to note… • It is imperative that…
Eliminate Heavy Sentence Starters • Sentences that begin with “there ” • Much of the clutter hangs in front of the sentence in common phrases that begin with there • There were eight divisions that underwent audit. • There are two options available for us to consider.
Eliminate Heavy Sentence Starters • Other sentence starters • Enclosed please find… • Please be advised that… • As you are aware… • Attached please find… *All possibly helpful in first draft. Should be edited out later • Book p. 86-92, exercises p. 91-92
2. Eliminate Wordy Sentence Midsections • “Who”, “which”, and “that” • When edited from sentence midsections many other lazy words go with them • Wordy: John Jameson is a manager who is held in high regard by the chairman of the board. • Revised: John Jameson is a manager highly regarded by the chairman of the board. *Helpful in first draft. Should be edited out later
More Examples with “Who” • Wordy: Karen Strong is the type of a woman who always arrives on time. • Revised: Karen Strong always arrives on time. • Wordy: Fred Jones, who is our choice for the position, arrives on Friday. • Revised: Fred Jones, our choice for the position, arrives on Friday.
Examples with “Which” • Wordy: Old Navy, which is a subsidiary of Gap Inc., handles its own marketing. • Revised: Old Navy, a Gap Inc. subsidiary, handles its own marketing. • Wordy: An e-mail, which is an electronic piece of business writing less formal than a business letter, serves to speed communication. • Revised: E-mail, less formal than a business letter, speeds communication.
Examples with “That” • Wordy: All I can say is that he admitted to being late three times last week. • Revised: He admitted to being late three times last week. • Wordy: ....agreed to write all advertising that will go into the program. • Revised: ....agreed to write all program advertising. Book p. 94-96, exercise p.96
3. Omit Overloaded Nouns • Avoid using nouns as adjectives and piling them up in front of one another • Her job involves fault analysis systems troubleshooting manual preparation. vs. • Her job involves preparing manuals to help troubleshoot fault-analysis systems.
Stan is an integrated third-generation software engineer. vs. • Stan, develops integrated third-generation software.
More Examples • Global Positioning Interface Module Communications Processor Hardware Design Specification vs. • Global Positioning Interface Module: The Hardware Design Specification for the Communications Processor Book: Systematic Buzz-Phrase Projector p.98
4. Get Rid of Lifeless Verbs • Reduce lifeless verbs which add wordiness • Be • Make • Have • Go • Get • Come • Wordy: According to a recent poll it was revealed... vs. • Improved: a recent poll revealed...
More Examples • Wordy: The manager will make a decision next week. • Improved: The manager will decide next week. • Wordy: I have a suspicion that the VP will resign. • Improved : I suspect that the VP will resign. • Wordy: The product manager will go to meet the marketing consultant next Tuesday. • Improved : The product manager will meet the marketing consultant next Tuesday.
More Examples • Wordy: The Sales Rep of the Year will get to have a meeting with the CEO. • Improved: The sales Rep of the Year will have a meeting with the CEO. • Wordy: The division manager came to the conclusion the incentive would work. • Improved : The division manager concluded the incentive would work. Book: p.101
5. Delete Dull Intensifiers • Dull intensifiers may weaken rather than intensify business writing • These words basically add very little to really distinguish your writing from other rather poor examples. If you cannot utterly reject these words before they hit paper, strike them out as you revise. Instead of somewhat intensifying your meaning, these words sort of bloat your sentences, probably diluting the essence of the word that follows each intensifier.
Very More Rather Really Utterly Somewhat Mostly Totally Extremely Slightly Basically Probably Sort of/kind of Quite Dull Intensifiers Basically, taxes are figured in the same manner. The manager was really concerned when John was so extremely late this morning.
Dull Intensifiers (continued) • Often intensifiers are used as a substitute for using the “right word”. • Try removing the intensifier to see if the word can stand on its own. If not turn to a thesaurus. • Very hard = Strenuous, difficult • Very loud = Thunderous, deafening, emphatic Book: p.109
6. Eliminate Prepositional Fillers • Look for prepositions and the phrases they’re attached to and eliminate them if possible • Prepositions: with, on, under, over, by, in, at, near, etc. • …a copy of your check in the amount of $338.00. vs. • …a copy of your check for $338.00
Too Many Words …on an annual basis in the course of for the purpose of in many cases Improved annually while to often Eliminate Prepositional Fillers (Continued) Book: p.110
Imprecise We have your recent letter. Please send us a supply of pamphlets for distribution. You can count on our quick turn around. The sampling was a huge success. Specific We have your May 2 letter. Please send us 500 pamphletsto distribute. You can count on our 24-hour turnaround. The sampling served more than 3,000 people. 7. Eliminate Imprecise and Ambiguous Language Strive to be precise. Your writing will reflect confidence and knowledge. Book p.112-116
Jargon Viable alternatives Commensurate Facilitate Scenario Optimize Plain Language Alternatives, possibilities Equal to Help Possibility Enhance, improve 8. Banish Pretentious Language Avoid the temptation to pad your writing with language of jargon, foreign phrases, Multi-syllabic words, legalese, and vogue words.