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Business Writing Level 1


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The first of many on how to write well on your job.

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Business Writing Level 1

  1. 1. Sharpen Your Business Writing Skills Instructor: Ron Macklin Session One
  2. 2. Instructor Qualifications <ul><li>Technical Writer/Illustrator </li></ul><ul><li>Published Author (2 books & 125 articles ) </li></ul><ul><li>Sound-View Summaries (3 years) </li></ul><ul><li>Director, Visual Communications & Distribution Services (Motorola, Inc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Communications Consultant to Motorola, IBM, Xerox, Weyco, Boeing, City of Los Angeles, City of Scottsdale, Mayo Clinic, Pennzoil, Sun Kist Growers, Giant Foods and many others. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Introductions <ul><li>Please tell us a little about yourself and your employer……… </li></ul>
  4. 4. George Orwell said, <ul><li>“ Good writing is like a windowpane.” </li></ul>
  5. 5. How do you feel about writing? <ul><li>Do you write just enough to hate it or do you write enough to really like doing it? </li></ul>
  6. 6. Remember <ul><li>It doesn’t matter how your writing starts out; what matters is how it ends up. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Remember This When Writing <ul><li>50% of the U.S. population reads below an 8 th grade level and about 90 million adults are functionally illiterate </li></ul><ul><li>Because of this problem, U.S. companies lose $60 billion annually in lost productivity </li></ul>
  8. 8. Your Reason for Attending? <ul><li>Have two questions for each of you…. </li></ul><ul><li>What motivated you to take this class? </li></ul><ul><li>What would you like to take away? </li></ul><ul><li>Please, don’t be bashful…… </li></ul>
  9. 9. Fact <ul><li>Over 60 million people, in this country, write as part of their jobs </li></ul>
  10. 10. What we are NOT going to do in this class….. <ul><li>Teach Rocket Science or Brain Surgery </li></ul><ul><li>Embarrass anyone. </li></ul><ul><li>Ask you do do anything you cannot do. </li></ul><ul><li>Send you away without something you can use everyday. </li></ul>
  11. 11. We are going to build on….. <ul><li>What you’ve already learned in other writing classes </li></ul><ul><li>Your life experience </li></ul><ul><li>Your considerable ability to adjust your thinking </li></ul><ul><li>Your established style of writing at this moment in time </li></ul>
  12. 12. What you learn today <ul><li>You will put to use tomorrow </li></ul><ul><li>You will adjust to any topic </li></ul><ul><li>Will help you write in a way that anyone can understand </li></ul><ul><li>Will help you deliver information to readers in a manner adapted to their needs, level of understanding, and background </li></ul>
  13. 13. Take a Look at some Materials Available to You…… <ul><li>The Elements of Style </li></ul><ul><li>The Elements of Grammar </li></ul><ul><li>The Elements of Editing </li></ul><ul><li>Can order on Amazon.Com or buy at Barnes and Noble </li></ul>
  14. 14. What we ARE going to do in this class….. <ul><li>Teach you to identify, evaluate and organize pertinent information. </li></ul><ul><li>Teach you to write like you speak. </li></ul><ul><li>Teach you to assemble pertinent data into meaningful communication. </li></ul><ul><li>Teach you to have confidence in your ability to communicate difficult concepts and ideas. </li></ul>
  15. 15. In Other Words…… <ul><li>We are going to use SKILLS , not FRILLS ! </li></ul>
  16. 16. The Skills Needed to…. <ul><li>Write energized documents that have the desired impact on your readers </li></ul><ul><li>Provide the strategy and resources to write clear, accurate, and logical documents </li></ul><ul><li>Show respect for your reader </li></ul><ul><li>To write with a positive attitude, not with arrogance </li></ul>
  17. 17. Some Interesting Facts <ul><li>Most of us spend 14% of our business day writing </li></ul><ul><li>20% of our message content is misunderstood by the receiver </li></ul><ul><li>20% of what we write shouldn’t have been written at all </li></ul><ul><li>We should write to express, not to impress </li></ul>
  18. 18. John Dryden said, <ul><li>“ Learn to write well, or not to write at all.” </li></ul><ul><li>English Poet (1631-1700) </li></ul>
  19. 19. A Formula for Success <ul><li>E x Kh = R </li></ul><ul><li>Energy times Know -How equals Results </li></ul>
  20. 20. A Good Place to Begin… <ul><li>In any class that requires one to arrange and evaluate information…(Outlining) </li></ul><ul><li>We like to start with a sure-fire, easy-to-remember, way of doing that… </li></ul><ul><li>It is a useful and easy to remember analogy…..(for those of you who play cards) </li></ul>
  21. 21. Poker Chip Analogy <ul><li>During this Class please think in values …(A simple form of outlining) </li></ul><ul><li>Blue Chips </li></ul><ul><li>Red Chips </li></ul><ul><li>White Chips </li></ul>
  22. 22. BLUE CHIPS <ul><li>The Blue Chip ideas are of the highest in value they will represent….. </li></ul><ul><li>MAJOR POINTS OR IDEAS </li></ul><ul><li>Usually the first sentence in every paragraph </li></ul>
  23. 23. RED CHIPS <ul><li>The Red Chips are Secondary in value they will represent…… </li></ul><ul><li>SUBORDINATE POINTS OR IDEAS </li></ul><ul><li>Sentences directly supporting the main thought in the first sentence </li></ul>
  24. 24. WHITE CHIPS <ul><li>The White Chips are Tertiary in value they will represent…… </li></ul><ul><li>Reinforcing Points or Ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Additional sentences reinforcing the main and subordinate thoughts </li></ul>
  25. 25. IN ALL YOUR COMMUNICATION <ul><li>Categorize the material to be presented in these values: </li></ul><ul><li>BLUE , Major points </li></ul><ul><li>RED , Subordinate points </li></ul><ul><li>WHITE , Supporting points </li></ul>
  26. 26. EXAMPLE IN COMMUNICATION <ul><li>When communicating we must deal with PEOPLE </li></ul><ul><li>THIS WILL BE OUR BLUE CHIP </li></ul>
  27. 27. BLUE CHIP is When communicating we must deal with PEOPLE <ul><li>SUBORDINATE IDEAS </li></ul><ul><li>When dealing with people there are two basic steps to be used: </li></ul><ul><li>Step 1 is to Ask the Three People Questions. </li></ul><ul><li>Step 2 is to Use Motivators. </li></ul><ul><li>THESE TWO BASIC STEPS ARE RED CHIPS </li></ul>
  28. 28. RED CHIPS are The two basic steps to be used <ul><li>SUPPORTING MATERIAL </li></ul><ul><li>In step One, The Three People Questions are: </li></ul><ul><li>What is your purpose? </li></ul><ul><li>Who is involved? </li></ul><ul><li>What do they want? </li></ul><ul><li>THESE POINTS ARE WHITE CHIPS </li></ul>
  29. 29. WHITE CHIPS CONTINUED <ul><li>ADDITIONAL SUPPORTING MATERIAL </li></ul><ul><li>In step Two, The Motivators are: </li></ul><ul><li>Catch and Hold Their Attention </li></ul><ul><li>Show Them the Way </li></ul><ul><li>THESE POINTS ARE WHITE CHIPS </li></ul>
  30. 30. Review <ul><li>Blue Chip = Main thought. First sentence in paragraph </li></ul><ul><li>Red Chip = Sentences supporting the main thought or sentence </li></ul><ul><li>White Chip = Additional reinforcing sentences needed in the development of the main thought </li></ul><ul><li>All these make up a paragraph </li></ul>
  31. 31. Remember The Poker Chips <ul><li>They will serve you well in your efforts to evaluate the data used to communicate with other people; whether you are writing or speaking. </li></ul>
  32. 32. The Principles of Business Writing <ul><li>Organizing Ideas </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate and Organize Data </li></ul><ul><li>Generating Content </li></ul><ul><li>Organizing and Presenting Data to fit the Needs of Your Audience </li></ul>
  33. 33. What’s involved? <ul><li>Thinking logically (creating a ‘block’ of ideas) </li></ul><ul><li>Turning the ‘block’ into a document </li></ul><ul><li>Being clear , concise, & understandable in a way that’s appropriate for a specific audience </li></ul><ul><li>Reviewing Written Communications and their formats to ensure accuracy </li></ul><ul><li>Creating a Rapport with Words & Phrases (clarity and precision) </li></ul><ul><li>Developing the ability to “translate” information for non-specialists </li></ul>
  34. 34. What’s involved (continued) <ul><li>Define unfamiliar terms </li></ul><ul><li>Avoid jargon and acronyms (where possible) </li></ul><ul><li>Use the proper voice in writing </li></ul><ul><li>Be as specific and simple as possible </li></ul><ul><li>Use present tense most of the time </li></ul><ul><li>Condense , condense, condense </li></ul>
  35. 35. What is involved (continued) <ul><li>Use past tense only to describe things already done </li></ul><ul><li>Be quantitative (avoid using “a lot”, “very”, “much”, and “significantly” </li></ul>
  36. 36. Have Clarity & Precision When Writing: <ul><li>Definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Descriptions </li></ul><ul><li>Narratives </li></ul><ul><li>Instructions </li></ul><ul><li>Procedures </li></ul><ul><li>Letters </li></ul><ul><li>E-mail </li></ul>
  37. 37. What is a Definition? <ul><li>Explanations or Meanings </li></ul><ul><li>An act of Determining </li></ul><ul><li>Statement Expressing the Essential Nature of Something </li></ul><ul><li>Describing, Explaining, or Making Definite & Clear </li></ul>
  38. 38. What is a Description? <ul><li>To Give a Mental Image of Something Experienced </li></ul><ul><li>A Descriptive Statement or Account </li></ul><ul><li>Description means the presentation of physical, quantifiable details about some object (those you can count or measure) </li></ul>
  39. 39. Physical Details Include: <ul><li>Color, Shape, Size, Texture, Materials of construction, Ingredients, Weight, Height, Width, Depth, and so on </li></ul><ul><li>The best way to present this physical, quantifiable detail is the Part-by-Part Approach </li></ul>
  40. 40. What is a Narrative? <ul><li>A Story </li></ul><ul><li>Something That is Narrated </li></ul>
  41. 41. What are Instructions? <ul><li>A Precept </li></ul><ul><li>A Direction Calling for Compliance </li></ul><ul><li>An Outline or Manual of Technical Procedure </li></ul><ul><li>Directions </li></ul><ul><li>The Action, Practice, or Profession of Teaching </li></ul>
  42. 42. What is a Procedure? <ul><li>A Particular Way of Accomplishing Something or of Acting </li></ul><ul><li>A Protocol </li></ul><ul><li>A Series of Steps Followed in a Regular Definite Order </li></ul>
  43. 43. What is a Business Letter? <ul><li>Simply stated, “A Business Letter is a written message.” </li></ul><ul><li>Its purpose is to communicate with or for an institution or company </li></ul><ul><li>Or to establish a record of some transaction </li></ul>
  44. 44. What is a Business E-Mail? <ul><li>An electronic Letter or Memo </li></ul><ul><li>They should be written with as much concern as a business letter </li></ul><ul><li>They should reflect good Grammar and Spelling </li></ul><ul><li>They are a reflection of your ability and attention to detail </li></ul>
  45. 45. What’s Good and What’s Bad? <ul><li>Good or Bad? </li></ul><ul><li>The manager and myself conducted the meeting. </li></ul><ul><li>Bad! </li></ul><ul><li>Should be: </li></ul><ul><li>My manager and I conducted the meeting. </li></ul><ul><li>Or, My manager and I myself conducted the meeting. </li></ul>
  46. 46. What’s Good and What’s Bad? <ul><li>Good or Bad? </li></ul><ul><li>Between you and I, the profitability looks good. </li></ul><ul><li>Bad! </li></ul><ul><li>Should be: </li></ul><ul><li>Between you and me, the profitability looks good. </li></ul>
  47. 47. What’s Good and What’s Bad? <ul><li>Good or Bad? </li></ul><ul><li>All employee’s raises will be announced at the end of the month. </li></ul><ul><li>Bad! (Incorrect) </li></ul><ul><li>Should be: </li></ul><ul><li>All employees’ raises will be announced at the end of the month. </li></ul>
  48. 48. What’s Good and What’s Bad? <ul><li>Good or Bad? </li></ul><ul><li>The company will lose some of its work force this year and will conduct meetings to discuss retirement. This is due to normal attrition. </li></ul><ul><li>Bad! (Incorrect) </li></ul><ul><li>Second sentence should be: </li></ul><ul><li>The loss of employees is due to normal attrition. </li></ul>
  49. 49. What’s Good and What’s Bad? <ul><li>Good or Bad? </li></ul><ul><li>The procedures manual is written in a passive style. </li></ul><ul><li>Good! </li></ul>
  50. 50. What’s Good and What’s Bad? <ul><li>Good or Bad? </li></ul><ul><li>Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. </li></ul><ul><li>Bad! </li></ul><ul><li>Should be: </li></ul><ul><li>Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. Or, All persons are entitled to their own opinions. </li></ul>
  51. 51. Let’s talk about…. Brevity and Conciseness (Review Manual)
  52. 52. I Have a Question for You….. <ul><li>Can you tell me the shortest complete sentence in the English Language? </li></ul><ul><li>“ GO” </li></ul>
  53. 53. Another Question for You…. <ul><li>What three parts make up every presentation written or otherwise? </li></ul><ul><li>1. Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>2. Body </li></ul><ul><li>3. Conclusion </li></ul>
  54. 54. Another Question for You…. <ul><li>Is it permissible to use other people’s ideas in your writing? </li></ul><ul><li>Think about it…. </li></ul><ul><li>Yes! If you give them appropriate credit </li></ul>
  55. 55. John Burke said <ul><li>“ If you steal from one author, it’s plagiarism. If you steal from two, it’s research.” </li></ul>
  56. 56. What is Plagiarism? <ul><li>Plagiarism is defined in the Ohio University Student Handbook as “presenting the ideas or writing of someone else as one’s own”. </li></ul><ul><li>It’s a form of theft and could be punishable by law </li></ul>
  57. 57. Let’s Move on to a more pleasant subject………
  58. 58. An Example of Clarity in Writing…….. <ul><li>Which would you prefer? This: </li></ul><ul><li>Objective consideration of contemporary phenomena compels the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must inevitably be taken into account. </li></ul><ul><li>(George Orwell’s translation into bureaucratic fuzz) </li></ul>
  59. 59. Or This: <ul><li>I returned to see under the Sun that the swift do not have the race, nor the mighty ones the battle, nor do the wise also have the food, nor the understanding ones also have the riches, nor do even those having knowledge have the favor; because time and unforseen occurance befall them all. </li></ul><ul><li>(The actual scripture at Ecclesiastes 9:11) </li></ul>
  60. 60. Or What about this…… <ul><li>It doesn’t matter if you’re fast, mighty, rich, or smart, we’re all victims of time and chance. </li></ul>
  62. 62. Check This Out…… <ul><li>This unequivocal expostulation stated herein is an extremity on my behalf, warranted by an incessant lackadaisical attitude on the part of a specific second party herewith being addressed, concerning the issue of insufficient, irregular, erratic, and unresponsive correspondence extenuatingly condoned on the part of the same aforementioned party. </li></ul>
  63. 63. In Brief….. <ul><li>Write </li></ul>
  64. 64. Clarity in Writing….. <ul><li>Will help to get your document read </li></ul>
  65. 65. Different Words have Different Meanings <ul><li>Strike </li></ul><ul><li>To a baseball player…….. </li></ul>
  66. 66. Different Words have Different Meanings <ul><li>Strike </li></ul><ul><li>To a fisherman……. </li></ul>
  67. 67. Different Words have Different Meanings <ul><li>Strike </li></ul><ul><li>To a union worker…… </li></ul>
  68. 68. Different Words have Different Meanings <ul><li>Strike </li></ul><ul><li>To a bowler……. </li></ul>
  69. 69. Different Words have Different Meanings <ul><li>Strike </li></ul><ul><li>To a miner…….. </li></ul>
  70. 70. Let’s Go Further…….. <ul><li>Using the principles we have covered so far </li></ul><ul><li>Let’s get a little more detailed </li></ul>
  71. 71. Let’s Get a Little More Involved <ul><li>Do another exercise with a little more detail than the previous two </li></ul>
  72. 72. Aristotle said this: “ We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”