The Write Stuff (Christine Harmon)[1]
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The Write Stuff (Christine Harmon)[1]



10 Keys to Effective Business Writing from City of Chicago Small Business Expo Workshop July 16, 2010

10 Keys to Effective Business Writing from City of Chicago Small Business Expo Workshop July 16, 2010



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The Write Stuff (Christine Harmon)[1] The Write Stuff (Christine Harmon)[1] Presentation Transcript

  • “ The Write Stuff”: Ten Keys to Effective Business Writing Christine Harmon, Strategic Communications 2010 Small Business Expo
  • Key # 1: Keep it simple
    • Get to the point within the first sentence or two.
    • Don’t make the reader guess about the purpose of your communication.
    • End with a recap and request for action, if appropriate.
  • Key #2: Keep your reader’s interest
    • Don’t wander from subject to subject.
    • Stay organized.
    • Address one topic at a time.
  • Key #3: Don’t make “alphabet soup”
    • An acronym is an abbreviation using the first letters of words (like ATM).
    • Commonly used in business, but can be confusing even to your business peers.
    • For example, do you know what these mean?
      • POV
      • PPM
      • PSF
    • When in doubt, spell it out.
  • Key #4: Use pictures to tell the story
    • Charts and graphs can be inserted or attached.
    • Be sure that your text indicates clearly what is contained in the graphics.
    • Graphics should supplement your words, not replace them.
  • Key #5: Be natural
    • Some types of writing are more “formal” (such as business plans) and others are informal (emails to co-workers).
    • However, even formal writing benefits from addressing the reader directly.
    • Think about how you’d talk to someone and then put it in writing.
  • Key # 6: Use complete sentences
    • Setting up a beginning, middle and end makes your information understandable.
    • Sometimes, sentence fragments can work, as in bullet points, but otherwise stick with the “tried and true.”
  • Key #7: Make short “copy blocks”
    • Run-on sentences and long paragraphs are hard to read (and understand).
    • What’s easiest to read?
      • A newspaper article
      • A web page
      • A real estate contract
  • Key #8: Email counts as “writing”
    • You don’t need to be overly formal but it often helps to show some courtesies (especially if you’re sending non-US business emails).
    • Begin with “hello” “hi” or any other words you like before you jump into your message.
    • Sign off with something before your name, like “regards” or anything that you feel is appropriate.
  • Key #9: Build “color”
    • Use examples to illustrate what you’re explaining.
    • Use quotes from experts or other people.
    • Keep your text lively with anecdotes or other real-life experiences to reinforce your key points.
  • Key #10: Spell check EVERYTHING
    • For writing, the most important button on your toolbar is “Spell Check.”
    • Ideally, have someone else look at what you’ve written but in every situation:
      • SPELL CHECK EVERYTHING (yes, even emails).
  • Wrapping Up
    • Keep it simple
    • Keep your reader’s interest
    • Don’t make “alphabet soup”
    • Use pictures to tell the story
    • Be natural
    • Use complete sentences
    • Make short copy blocks
    • Email counts as “writing”
    • Build “color”
    • Spell check EVERYTHING