- Get very clear in your own mind what message(s) you are trying to convey. Write them down and separate them so messages don't get mixed up. If you have several messages to deliver then make a call about whether they should all be in one communication, or several communications. If you expect some action from the communication, then be clear about that too. A rant or a bunch of facts without a "call to action" is not very productive.
- Organize the structure of your communication. It should have an introduction with the main message, a separate section (paragraph perhaps) for each sub-message and a summary paragraph that ties it all together. (Tell them what you are going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you told them, which is the same structure for presentations). If you are writing a tough letter/email, try "mapping it out" on paper first.
- If it is an emotional subject then be VERY careful to take the emotion out of your writing. It should be very factual.
- Keep it brief. Most people don't read long messages but rather scan texts and the more you "drone on" the less impact your message will have.
- For the tough, or more important, correspondence, get someone else to read it before you send it. They can vet it to ensure it is clear, professional and "hangs together" in addition to spotting typos.
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The rise of social media and other forms of electronic media has radically changed the way that people communicate on an everyday basis. It is not just the young who text each other using the abbreviated "language of texting", Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become mainstream ways to communicate and certainly email has unseated the traditional letter as the preferred communication method.
Along the way, the "art of writing" has become a casualty. All too often, we see jumbled thoughts, poor grammar and spelling errors throughout business communications. The good news is that this presents an opportunity for you to stand out as a contractor. You'll gain a competitive advantage and enhance your personal brand, simply by ensuring that your communication is professional, sentences are constructed properly, spelling is checked and thoughts are presented in a clear and concise way -- EVERYWHERE including your resume, client reports, and emails to colleagues.
There are lots of great sources out there that can help you improve your business writing. Here are a few tips we practice at Eagle and want to share with you: