Business Writing Skills

What is Business Communication?

Communication is transferring information and understanding from one to one or one to many. It could take place in a verbal or a written mode and could use forms such as face-to-face meetings, group discussions, e-mail writing, and even non verbal modes like gestures, body language, etc.

Business Communication is any communication that involves communicating for business / official purpose to achieve a predetermined objective. This may include:

  • CVs, Resumes
  • Email, Web site, FAQs
  • Letters, Newsletters, Brochures, Articles, Catalogs
  • Advertisements, Notice Board, Pamphlets, Signs, Press Releases
  • Presentations, multimedia, talks
  • Reports, Manuals, Proposals, Books

 

Types of Communication – 

    Verbal Communication

  • Provides instant feedback
  • Opportunity to check forunderstanding
  • Involves Questioning &
    Paraphrasing
  • Faster closure on open items
  • No record unless minutes of the meeting recorded
  • Usually unstructured
  • Increases speed of communication

 

   Written Communication

  • Provides record for future reference
  • More structured
  • Tools to gain attention – like bullets, bold, etc.
  • Ability to provide details
  • Can be sent to multiple people at the same time
  • More Formal
  • It mainly consists of diagrams, pictures, graphs, reports, policies, rules, orders, instructions,
    agreements, etc.
  • Comprehensive & Accurate

 

   Non Verbal Communication

  • Constitutes of Physical, Aesthetic, Signs, Symbolic
  • Complements Verbal Communication – It may accent or underline a verbal message.
    Pounding the table, for example, can underline a message.
  • Gestures talk more than words
  • Could be Positive / Negative
  • Indicative of a person’s personality

 

 

 

  1. Analyze the Purpose

Before you begin writing:

  • What is the purpose of writing the mail / letter / memo / etc.?
  • What information do you wish to exchange?
  • What does your reader want to know?
  • What action do you want the reader to take?
  • What relationship do you have with the reader?

If you can’t answer these questions, then you should wonder, whether you should even send the communication.

Subject of the Mail

  • Subject should convey the purpose
  • Subject field is the first thing reader will see before opening the communication sent
  • Subject field of your message should be meaningful
  • Subject field [when you use the ‘reply’ option in case of e-mails] should accurately reflect the content of the message
  • Subject should be brief – Does not need to be a complete sentence

 

 

  1. Consider the Audience

Recipients & Gender Bias

  • Write the name of the person that you are writing to, in the ‘To’ field
  • Write the name of the person / persons you want to be informed about the contents of the mail in the ‘Cc’ field
  • Do not write names in the ‘Bcc’ field
  • Avoid using he / she repeatedly.
  • Write sentences in the plural

 

For example, “A vendor should give all his details for setting up the database.” can be changed to “Vendors should give all their details for setting up the database.”

 

 

  1. Build the Structure

Salutation

  • Write to the reader as you would talk to him / her naturally – If you address John Smith as John in person, do not address him as Mr. Smith in your email, however, memos / circulars are more formal and hence require Mr. / Miss.
  • Use first names – Hi Chris …
  • Avoid “Good Morning” or “Good Afternoon” as your communication might reach late / different time zone

Do’s

Mention any specific information that is requested by the reader – If you cannot answer a question or provide definite information:

  • state when you can send the information.
  • explain why you won’t be able to answer the query.
  • tell as much as you know / offer additional information when available.
  • Use Positive statements

For e.g. “This report discusses each step briefly.”

  • Content should be accurate & crisp

 

Don’ts

  • Don’t tell the reader what you or they can’t do.. tell them what can be done
  • Negative statements – Don’t tell them something negative unless it is important that
    they have the information

For e.g. “ This report never goes into any phase of the matter in detail, but covers each
part briefly.”

  • Don’t use casual language – Business communication is always formal & organized

 

Closing

  • The final paragraph of a written business communication states what you want the person to do
  • Give timelines
  • Signoff with your name and contact details in case of any questions / clarifications
  • Do not say ‘thanks in advance/ anticipation. If you would like to thank someone for their help. Do it after the job. Say ‘I appreciate your help’. Or ‘Thanks for the quick response’
  • Close on a pleasant note

 

 

4 . Detail & Design Approach

 More on Punctuation

  • A Period marks the end of a sentence. For e.g.

I believe the changes have been made. Have we tested them to see if the data is following the assignment rules?

  • A period is used in abbreviations of words.

Company – Co. or miscellaneous – misc.

  • Use a Comma to separate a phrase which precedes the main sentence.
  • I will come for the party, however, I shall leave early.
  • Use a comma to set off linking words.
  • Request the client for the check number. Then, go to the fleet window and get the copies.
  • Examples of linking words – However, Moreover, Therefore, Nevertheless, Thereby.
  • The Colon “announces” that a list is about to follow; it is the gateway to that list. It means : ‘As follows’
  • The Apostrophe is used to:
    • Show possession

E.g.: Anu’s case studies

  • Show contractions [not acceptable in formal writing]

E.g.: It’ll [It will]

 

 

5. Execute with Confidence

  • Never write when you are upset
  • Write quickly; Write the easy parts First
  • Write like you talk: You’ll fix it later
  • Imagine explaining the subject in person.
  • Do a spell check before sending
  • Read the message a one more time before sending

Communication across Cultures

  • English is frequently the language used in global business even though it is not the language spoken / written by the majority of people in the world.
  • Here’s how you can ensure you do not go wrong while communicating across cultures.

Hope this gives some insight into fearless Business Writing Skills.

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