business writing ideas from Word Constructions      

 

 

welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

Hello {name}! Welcome to the November edition of business writing ideas from Word Constructions!

October has just flown by, helped by travelling interstate to meet with clients and participating in a small business research group which (hopefully!) will result in better banking options for business owners. I have meet a number of SMB operators recently and it is always interesting to realise we have many things in common despite such a variety of products and services being offered.

One thing I am very aware of for small businesses, and even for staff in many larger companies, is the need to 'wear many hats' as each person (or THE person!) does many tasks instead of specialising in the way staff can in large companies. This means people often have to work hard to manage tasks that are not in their skill set and/or need to learn delegating and outsourcing. How do you manage the multitasking and the need to understand many roles?

In other instances, certain tasks become everyone's role so there is no clear branding style or leadership. I often notice this with communications where a company has no central responsibility for marketing and product materials, and usually no style guide, so a consistent message is not presented. Placing an order recently for some banners I found a number of errors (such as two different sizes listed on the same page and a lack of clarity about invoicing) and an email that was obviously a list of important ideas rather than one message with a number of points. My tips below refer to checking for errors and clarity, although not in response to the banner supplier.

Until next month, I wish you well in your Christmas/end of year preparations, and hope you use your words wisely!

Tash

Recent blog posts you may find useful:

Risk acknowledgement
Intranet for fun
Enough naming but not too much
Newsletter subject lines

Love Santa Personalised letters for Australian children 
Why not consider Love Santa letters as an unusual gift for clients and suppliers this year?


Good communication does not mean that you have to speak in perfectly formed sentences and paragraphs. It isn't about slickness. Simple and clear go a long way.
~John Kotter


latest article

Standardising text
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

There are a number of advantages to having certain chunks of text standardised (i.e. being exactly the same each time you use that text), including:

  • saving time in not having to write the same information each time

  • being consistent to help build your brand

  • ensuring all important details are included every time (it's easy to forget a little detail or make a typo)

  • maintaining your business style

And the advantages are greater if more than one person is writing material for your business.

Given that such chunks will be used many times, it is worth spending the time to make the text as good as possible. Remember to check spelling, grammar, flow of ideas and clarity of your message as priorities.


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don't forget the basics

Check and check again
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Proofing reading isn't fun for most people, and its easy to skip it or do it quickly when you're in a hurry, but checking your communication materials thoroughly is important.

Getting the details right shows care and attention to detail, which inspires confidence and trust. More importantly, avoiding errors prevents you looking silly and/or needing to make costly corrections. Imagine writing '112 months warranty' instead of '12 months' or sale price is $5 instead of $50...

It isn't just the facts you need to check either. If you have edited and changed the text a few times it is very easy to miss words that should have been deleted or realise that the text no longer flows very well.A word on the the page text example

For particularly important documents and those you have worked on many times, the best option is often to get someone else to read the text for you as they will read it without making some of the assumptions you will. Read the text in the image to the right as an example of assumptions when you read...

Another idea is to read it backwards, either word by word or sentence by sentence.


Studiotime
 One tool to help you get organised with to do lists, scheduling, time tracking AND even invoicing!


poor examples

Sometimes, the easiest way to learn the correct way to do something is to see it done poorly so in this section of my newsletter, I show you some real-life examples of writing that need a little help.

We all make mistakes, but I find it difficult to respect anyone writing about good writing making basic writing errors! This example is from an article giving tips on how to improve your writing – maybe they were trying to teach by showing what not to do!

Example:

Write down your method – ie short introduction (1st par), main idea/s (2nd and 3rd pars) and close (4th par) and keep it this in your desk drawer as a model for all written communications.

Issues with this example:

There are quite a few issues with this example so I will write them as a list:

  • a method is how to do something; a template is an outline of what to include. This author has confused the two

  • what is a ‘par’? Not everyone will recognise that abbreviation for paragraph so it should be explained; depending on the target audience, ‘paragraph’ may also need to be defined

  • ‘keep it this’ - obviously only it or this should be there

  • who is this aimed at? If it is a high level summary, you probably don’t need to explain which paragraphs are the introduction and closer; if it is a beginner audience, a lot more explanation is required

  • not all written communications would have that format (and the article started with discussing writing letters and emails) so this model wouldn’t always work.

  • the sentence is disjointed. Whether you use commas, brackets or dashes, if you make a separate section in a sentence it must be finished before you go back to the main sentence – the idea is that removing the separate section will leave a complete sentence. So “The accountants, both experienced and new graduates, all agreed with John’s suggestion” still makes sense without the extra phrase as it becomes “The accountants all agreed with John’s suggestion”

 An improved version would be: (without changing the meaning)

Write down your template (i.e. a short introduction, the main idea(s) and a close) and keep it in your desk drawer as a model.

A better version would be: (without changing the meaning)

Having a template makes it easier each time you write a letter. The general outline is an introduction, then a paragraph per main idea, and then a closer.


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