Vcom writing1planning workbook


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Vcom writing1planning workbook

  1. 1. VETALI the human side of business EFFECTIVE BUSINESS WRITING Module I: planning effective communication course designed by Anne Watkins available only at © - all rights reserved p. 1
  2. 2. HOW MUCH TIME TO SPEND ON PLANNING? Enter here the percentage of the total time spent on the document for each activity: Planning: % Drafting: % Editing: % Proofreading: % Here is a rough guideline: Planning: 25% Drafting: 25% Editing: 45% Proofreading: 5% For complex topics the planning time will be greatly increased, often to 60 or 70% of the total time spent on producing the document. AN EFFECTIVE PROCESS Here is a process for working effectively: » First think through your plan for your document » Decide on your communication objective » Produce a plan showing central idea and main points » Write your first draft from the plan » Stick to your plan » Write your first draft without stopping to edit » Edit to clarify and strengthen your message » Proofread the document p. 2 © - all rights reserved
  3. 3. SOME TIPS ON PLANNING » Don’t start to write until you have made a plan If you write before you have a plan, you will waste your time. You can halve your writing time by planning first. » Identify your reader(s) If you have multiple readers, identify the primary reader. Rank your readers by type and in priority order, for example, managerial, technical and sales. You may need to satisfy each group with a different angle: » Managerial: Summary of high points » Technical people: Technical attachments » Sales people: Statement of benefits » Identify what your reader needs to know Look at the situation from your reader’s point of view. What considerations are most important to your reader? Are there any barriers to your reader’s understanding of your message? » Write your communication objective My purpose is to _____________________________ so that my reader will do/thi nk______________________________________________________ » Make a note of the central idea: State your central idea in one word or in a few words. Use only key words, no detail. © - all rights reserved p. 3
  4. 4. » Write the main points that support the central point: Describe each main point in one word or in a few words. » Select information that will help you to make each point Don’t be afraid to throw out interesting but irrelevant or superfluous material. Focus on facts that add strength to the point you wish to make. » Resist adding too much detail: When you add too much detail you lose sight of the overall picture. “You can’t see the wood for the trees.” Resist adding details that will obscure the overall structure of your communication. » In your plan, evaluate the information provided to ensure it meets your communication goal: Make sure that you have fully met the needs of your reader(s). Make sure the information is specific, not vague. » Review your plan to ensure there are no superfluous details: Resist adding background information that is unnecessary. It slows the reader down and makes him or her lose sight of the overall message. If the information does not help you to make your point, leave it out. p. 4 © - all rights reserved
  5. 5. HOW TO USE MIND MAPS These are especially useful if you have difficulty getting started. STEP 1 » Start with the central idea -write it in the middle of the box. » Use one to five words ONLY. » Think about your reader. » Ask, “What do I want the reader gain from this communication?” Explain the effect you want to have on the reader. Your answers become your communication objective(s). EXAMPLE For this central idea, your communication objectives might be as follows: 1. The client will understand where the project is now. 2. The client will feel confident and reassured by our progress. In the middle of the page write your central idea: status report for client © - all rights reserved p. 5
  6. 6. STEP 2 » Ask what your reader must know for you to achieve your communication objectives for your central idea. » Write down your main ideas. » Place the first and second main ideas close to the central idea. » Draw a line from the central idea to each main idea. Add any ideas of your own to the below getting building permits ordering construction materials status report for client p. 6 © - all rights reserved
  7. 7. STEP 3 » Now add the detail to each main idea. » Write the details your reader must know in order for you to achieve the communication objectives. » As you write you may think of other main ideas. Write these on your mind map. » Allow yourself to think freely. » Feel free to write any new main ideas on your map. GETTING BUILDING PERMITS ORDERING CONSTRUCTION MATERIALS 1. Building permit for occupancy 1. Structural beams arrived last week 2. Electrical permit due next week 2. Wood arrives this week 3. Plumbing permit obtained 3. Plumbing materials arrive this week status report for client FINANCIAL REPORT 1. Current status: under/over budget 2. Financial projections This mind map is incomplete. You may decide to add main points about scheduling, staffing, or any other topic you feel is important for the client to know. © - all rights reserved p. 7
  8. 8. NEXT STEPS: » Place your main points into priority order by numbering them. » Write your draft business document following your plan. » Each paragraph should explain one main idea. » Each sentence should contain one clear thought. » As you write your draft, keep referring to your communication objectives. p. 8 © - all rights reserved
  9. 9. AN EXERCISE IN PLANNING AN E-MAIL Bill Bolton has just started work at Betterman Industries. He telephones the IT department and at their request, sends an e-mail to the Manager of the IT department asking for copies of the company’s software evaluation forms. As he has never used these forms before he asks for help in completing them. Jo Weston, IT Department Manager, sends the following e-mail reply: Subject: (None) Attachments: (None) Hi Bill! Please find attached a copy of our software evaluation forms. When you start to use them you will see that there are a number of criteria we use for selecting software. We have been using these forms for six months and no one has had any difficulty with them so far. I have confidence in you. Good luck! Jo EXERCISE State what is wrong with the above e-mail. Imagine that you are Jo Weston, and prepare a mind-mapped plan for your revised reply. © - all rights reserved p. 9
  10. 10. ANSWERS Your mind-mapped plan should look something like this: Attach forms – blank and completed(1) Explain evaluation criteria (3) HELP BILL Suggest meeting(4) Welcome to the organization(2) Communication objective: As a result of this e-mail Bill will understand how to use the forms. p. 10 © - all rights reserved
  11. 11. REVISED E-MAIL Subject: Use of software comparison evaluation forms Attachments: 1. Software evaluation form templates 2. Five completed evaluation forms Dear Bill, First let me welcome you to Betterman Industries. I’m sure you’ll find it an interesting place to work. Please find attached the software comparison evaluation forms that you requested. Since you haven’t used these forms before, let me explain the process. We use three major evaluation criteria: » Functionality » Performance » Cost. You may need to modify these three criteria to fit the company’s specific needs. I attach several completed evaluation forms to illustrate how the criteria may be modified. I suggest we have a short meeting to discuss this further. How about Thursday, March 22 at 2:15pm? Best regards, Jo © - all rights reserved p. 11