business writing ideas from Word Constructions

 

      

 

 

welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter

Hello and welcome to another (or your first!) edition of Business writing ideas.

The start of November – in some ways it feels like more than a month since my last newsletter as it has been a busy and stimulating month for me. I went to the Problogger event during October which was a great experience for me. About 300 bloggers came together in Melbourne for two days of speakers and networking – everyone was very generous with the information and stories they shared. 

All sessions of the event were recorded, too, which means I’ve been able to hear the sessions I missed. You can still get a ‘virtual ticket’ to the event if you would like to hear the sessions – not the same as being there but certainly convenient to listen at home!

One thing Darren Rowse shared was that “small may be big enough”. A blog doesn’t have to be huge to be successful – if you have an audience enjoying your blog and you are achieving your goals, that is more important than having a huge subscriber base. Being small is certainly cheaper to run, gives you more opportunities to interact with individuals and can still bring in an income.

His message was to aim at having a big impact on your readers rather than trying to be big. What do you think – are you focussing on caring for your current readers (clients) or chasing a bigger audience? Is that the right focus for your business right now?

Use your words wisely,

Tash                             Tash & Word Constructions on Twitter         Word Constructions on LinkedIn          Tash & Word Constructions on Facebook           Word Constructions eBooks

Recent blog posts you may find useful:

Little PB Event tips to create big things for you
Accepting feedback graciously
An amazing conference is worth the effort
Why reject people, not ignore them
Choosing a side of the story


Have a willingness to say yes – not always filtering things can be rewarding.
— Chris Guillebeau, October 2012


business communications article by Tash Hughes

Project Management
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

Over the last few months, I had a role in a major project another supplier was conducting for my client.

I provided a designer’s mock of how the materials should look and then was to provide feedback at specified milestone dates to ensure the final results suited the need and brand for my client.

Tom, the relevant manager at the supplier, started the project well but two major issues came up – issues involving my client but not related to the project I was working on. Tom decided to manage those issues, rather than hand them to more experienced people, so he could learn from those issues.

Learning from issues is a valuable activity, but it takes time and effort especially as both issues were quite detailed. Thus milestones for the big project came and went without drafts for me to review.

Weeks before the deadline I knew the materials would not be ready in time, but Tom insisted lost time could be made up and I wasn’t in the position to insist on responses.

The day after production was due to start, I saw the ‘final draft’ for approvals. And sent it back with two pages of errors to be fixed (including not spelling my client’s name properly!)

With production pending, the changes were whittled down to those that were critical and those that could be done quickly. An acceptable result was achieved instead of the great result hoped for.

Tom had options earlier on but backed himself into a corner. Managing three major projects at the same time was too hard – his learning should not have come at his client’s cost.

Part of good management is recognising your limitations and getting help – from staff, by outsourcing or other means. I know that even taking a small task off your load can make a huge difference to your productivity and mental health.


Personalised Santa letters for Aussie kids
These make an unusual and fun gift for clients and suppliers, too

don't forget the basics of good writing and communications

Use consistent pronouns
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

It sounds simple - use pronouns consistently within a sentence or paragraph.

It is surprisingly easy to get it wrong and use incorrect pronouns. To be sure you have been consistent, go back and just look at the nouns and their related pronouns (ie forget the words in between). I’ve used colour in the following examples so you can clearly see the nouns and pronouns to check.

Incorrect: The Board decides on campaigns in March when they meet with our team.
Correct: The Board decides on campaigns in March when it meets with our team.
  {A Board may consist of many Directors but it is one board so has singular pronouns.}

Incorrect: A writer must be able to proof read their own work.
  {Becoming acceptable, it is still wrong to mix a singular writer with a plural pronoun}
Incorrect: A writer must be able to proof read its own work.
  {"It" refers to non-human items so cannot replace a person as a pronoun}
Correct: A writer must be able to proof read her own work.
   {Correct but potentially annoying because of the gender bias.}
Correct: A writer must be able to proof read his or her own work.
Correct:  Writers must be able to proofread their own work.
   {Correct and avoids the ‘his or her’ issue}


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poor writing examples

Theory has its place, but an example often makes learning something much easier. In many areas, an example of a mistake or poor quality is an even more effective teacher than examples of the correct technique so here is such an example to learn from…

Today’s example came from a webpage I found via Twitter. The basic idea was pay $100 for a series of emails full of information to help grow your business.

Today’s example is from an article on a health and safety website.

Example:

No referral is necessary in Australia to see an optometrist or if needed with an ophthalmologist (you’ll need a referral from an optometrist or from your doctor for this)

Issues:

It isn’t very clear and could easily confuse or mislead people.

The statement is very clearly stating that referrals aren’t necessary – but ends with saying they are in some cases.

Better punctuation would also make the sentence easier to read – additional phrases, such as ‘if needed’, need to be separated from the main ideas in some way. You can use commas, parenthesis or em dashes in different circumstances but they need to be visibly distinct. Then, the sentence should make sense with or without the additional information.

For example, both of the following work:

  • The sales assistant, smiling sweetly, offered the customer a chair.
  • The sales assistant offered the client a chair.

In our referral example, we should be able to read it as ‘to see an optometrist or an ophthalmologist’ but we can’t as ‘if needed with an ophthalmologist’ is written as one thing.

Better:

In Australia, you don’t need a referral to see an optometrist but will need one for an ophthalmologist.

OR

In Australia, you don’t need a referral to see an optometrist but will need a doctor or optometrist referral to see an ophthalmologist.


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© 2012, Tash Hughes