Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Save A Life

"If writing seems hard, it’s because it is hard. It’s one of the hardest things people do."   --- William Zinsser

Writing in business is not easy.  Whether it is communicating via email, submitting a bid proposal, reprimanding an employee, or sending a newsletter to clients, writing is a chore, and doing it correctly can be a burden.

Delegating this task is probably the easiest way to handle it, but some correspondence requires your style and your voice.  Some freelancers can provide the communication materials that you need and that may be another option.

I've learned over the years of proofing and re-writing for various business leaders that there are some common recurring mistakes.  Until you sub it out to someone else, here are three common mistakes that you can eliminate to better communicate in the written form:

1.) Too many words.  Emails, letters, and memorandums can lose the effect of the communication if too many words get in the way.  There is no reason to state,"The implementation of the project should begin as early as next week, assuming we don't run into too many obstacles."

Revised: "The project will begin on Wednesday."

Or, "I am writing you to say thank you for your participation in the project."

Revised: "Thank you for your participation in the project."

After writing the letter, make a conscious effort to cut out as many words as possible without losing the intended message.

2.) Not seeing it from the receiving end.  Would you want a message that stated,"I requested that my team work on finding a solution to your issue..."?

Revised: "We will be on your property Thursday morning to fix the problem."

After you've constructed a letter, read it from the standpoint of the recipient.  In fact, get out of your chair and sit in another chair and read the letter as if you've just received it.  How would you feel?  What changes can you make to it?

3.) Using too many buzz words.  The bottom line.  At the end of the day.  24/7.  At this point and time. Awesome.  These are some of the overused terms that most annoy people.  Don't use them!  Stick to straight, sensible talk that communicates nicely.  Don't add additional flavors.  You are writing for business purposes and not for social media or to win a poetry contest.

I've uncovered many more mistakes in my freelance work, but these three are the most common.  Above all else, proofread before sending and have someone else proof it as well.  It takes a quick effort to ensure the recipient does not focus on your grammar and instead hears what you have to say loud and clear.  

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