business writing ideas from Word Constructions
 
  welcome to the Word Constructions business ideas newsletter
 
 

Welcome to the November edition of Business writing ideas.

Thank you to those who sent some lovely messages after my last newsletter. I really appreciated your kindness during a tough time.

Do you have processes in your business? I recently saw some examples of where processes failed, resulting in poor communications to clients. It essentially related to one manager not passing on the process to one group so they were creating their own documents which were not meeting the company style and standards. I updated the communication materials for them and they have clarified the process for all involved so clients should now get appropriate communications.

But it makes the point that a process, no matter how good, is not very helpful if the appropriate people don’t know about it or it isn’t enforced. Thus I believe it is worth reviewing processes every so often and do spot checks that processes are working as expected.

We all know processes aren’t very exciting, but used well they can make life much easier. To help ensure your processes are at their best, I’m offering 10% off the writing/editing of processes to newsletter subscribers between now and Christmas.

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:

Annual report inclusions
Why add to an annual report
What do you know about blogging?
How to use important points…
A rose by any other name

 

Communication is the key that unlocks and frees the heart.
Mel Cooper, Budha in the bedroom


 
  business communications article by Tash Hughes
 
 

Debriefing after business activites (events)
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

I think it started as an army term, but debrief has become a common word now. It simply means getting information and reactions out of your head and passing them to someone else.

A debrief can help ease the pain after a traumatic event, but in business, it is more about sharing knowledge and ideas – and paving the way to improvements.

I wrote the annual report and some supporting materials for a client recently. Unfortunately, various issues got in the way and the report was mailed late.

A friend recently ran a charity event to raise money for Heartkids. Some people who attended had ideas for how to make it better next year, including mor epromotion ideas.

In both cases, the process is not going to be repeated for 12 months, and a certain relief comes from knowing it can be left alone for a while. However, just after the event is usually the best time to debrief people involved to learn for next time (and for similar events).

By getting people’s responses now, my client was able to assess the delays and establish new procedures and a different supplier for next year so things will run smoother. Likewise, by providing feedback to my friend now, ideas for a better charity event are not lost and anything that will take time to implement can be factored into new timelines.

In any business, making time for a debrief after any major business activity is more efficient than trying to capture that knowledge a year later when it is no longer fresh.

Personalised Santa letters for Aussie kids
These make an unusual and fun gift for clients and suppliers, too, whether Australian or not!
 
  don't forget the basics of good writing and communications
 

Be careful of shorthand
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

When communicating with team mates, it’s easy to fall into shorthand in both talking and writing. You may abbreviate a client to initials or refer to a product by a number instead of its full name.

We all do it and it saves time and energy. The danger, however, is forgetting and using it when talking to clients or suppliers. Apart from the fact it may confuse others who don’t know your shorthand, it may be perceived as disrespectful and even rude.

One way to avoid it is to use standard written communications and templates as much as possible – even if it is only introductory and closing paragraphs that can be the same in some circumstances, part sentences or sample sentences for the rest can reduce embarrassing errors.
 

Adding an image can make a huge difference to a document or website - iStockphoto offers many...
 
 
  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.

This I found on a website as their description of what they do – it took a few sentences to get any idea of what they do and even then it was hard to translate. Acme is not their real name…

Example:

Acme is a high conviction asset manager comfortable with maintaining overweight and underweight positions relative to industry benchmarks. … provides a niche service to wealthy investors and institutions seeking to diversify away from the generic passive investment space. Through the employment of its proprietary investment and risk management models, Acme advises clients at a broader strategic level…[and was founded with the] purpose of offering a uniquely distinct service in the area of investment advice and risk management, a value offering centred around a proprietary timing and risk management model.

Issues:

Were you impressed by their long words and up-to-the-minute-catchphrase usage? Nor was I. It really feels like they are trying hard to impress people rather than give a genuine message, and it left me feeling their service would be impressive rather than of substance, too. Or maybe they have to impress with empty words as they have nothing else...

To me, the message is ‘we don’t follow normal trends for managing your money and are only interested if you are rich [and foolishly impressed by big words]’. Nowhere is there any reason to trust them or their approach to investments so it has no appeal to me.

A better introduction would focus on how the investor is helped by this company – something more like ‘you will get better returns without a higher risk factor by using our strategies that generic passive investment approaches’ or ‘we give you strategies to help you build your wealth through diversification’.

It is long and full of words that many people would have to think about. If you are spending time thinking about each word, you are not getting the overall message so the power of the message is diminished or lost completely. This could be improved by

  • Use commonly understood words and your message is understood quickly - ‘Move away’ is much simpler than ‘diversify away’.
  • Use a word instead of a phrase if there is no need of the phrase – ‘purpose of offering a … service’ works better as ‘to offer a … service’
  • Avoid tautology – unique and distinct both indicate something different so why use both words together?
  • Minimise the use of jargon, especially jargon that has a different meaning for most people – overweight and underweight refer to kilograms for most people, not an investment balancing strategy.
  • Use real terms instead of meaningless catch phrases – ‘the generic passive investment space’ probably means ‘a generic passive investment approach’ or ‘generic passive investments’.

It leaves too many questions in my mind. For example, “advices at a broader strategic level’ so do they just give advice or manage my investments? Do they give broad strategies and let me figure out my own specific strategies and actions?

Normally I would rewrite this example to read better, but there is so much I don’t know from this example it’s a bit hard to write a good introduction for ‘Acme’!

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