Plain Words
Training Bulletin
issue 37

Web Site Home

Back issues

Subscribe to this training bulletin

Update Me! Service

Interested in a course but unsure when you can attend?

We’ll email you the date and venue when we schedule it

Update me!

Training Bulletin Issue 37

Who wants a double dip? Great if you’re talking about chocolate ice cream, but not if the subject is the recession. Opinions vary on how well the economy is likely to do this year, but there are enough doomsayers around to make many organisations think twice about training they consider non-essential. This year’s coming election also adds to the uncertainty.

Now, our business is to provide training in business writing, so you can predict what we’re going to say about how essential it is. Read on for some hints and tips that you can apply to your writing straight away, and for information on our low cost webinars.

The most common problems in business writing – and some quick fixes

In our recent Business Writing Essentials webinar we asked participants what they thought were the most common problems in business writing, and this is what they told us. Unless our participants all coincidentally dialled in from another planet, there’s a good chance you might be seeing similar problems where you work.

Equal first were:

Equal second were:

In third place:

Here are a few quick fixes you can share with staff.

Not getting to the point

The writer needs to be clear on what the point is. If you’re a bit fuzzy on what you’re trying to say, you’re never going to get it across quickly and cleanly. Before you start writing, answer these questions:

  1. What are the most important things I want the reader to know when they’ve read this?
  2. What do I want the reader to do after they’ve read this?

When you are clear on what the reader needs to do after reading your document, tell them:

Say please and thank you, and that you’ll be grateful by all means, but say this after you’ve made the request.

Too much padding

The one best way to tackle this is to go back over your document after you’ve finished it and make yourself cut at least one word from every paragraph. You’ll probably find that you can actually cut several, once you start with this mindset.

For example, here is the previous paragraph, with some words taken out: Go back over your document after you’ve finished and cut at least one word from every paragraph. You’ll find that you can cut several, once you start with this mindset.

Is any meaning lost? No. But the word count went from 44 down to 30. Easy!

Inappropriate content for the reader

Decide who your reader is, or clarify that you are writing for more than one reader. What are you trying to achieve in writing for each reader? What do they already know about the subject? What do they need to know, for you to achieve your objective? If your objective is unclear in the first place, that becomes much harder to answer. Refer back to the bit at the beginning, about being clear on what your point is.

Sentences that are too long

This one is pretty easy to fix. Check the readability statistics for your document to see what is the average number of words per sentence. Click here to learn how to set up and use the readability statistics on your computer.

Now look at Words per Sentence, right in the middle of the dialogue box and if your average sentence length is much above 20, go back through your text, find the longer sentences and cut them into shorter ones.

If everyone does only these things, your organisation’s writing will be better

If you’re worried about how poor writing reflects badly on your organisation and you want to encourage your staff to implement these ideas, consider signing them up for our next webinar. It’s called Business Writing Essentials and it’s on March 25. It’s just one hour, costs only £35 per participant, and gives you plenty of opportunity to interact through polls and questions.

We cover eight ways that you can improve your business writing, with examples and quick fixes you can take away to get rid of the most common problems. You also get a free guide with valuable information to help you apply what you have learnt to your writing, and exercises complete with model answers to inspire you. Email to find out more.

Public course schedule

Follow this link for the dates of our public courses.

The price is £495 + VAT per person for a one-day course and £850 + VAT for a two-day course. Half day courses are £295 + VAT per person. One-hour webinars cost £35 per person.

Consultancies cost £850 + VAT for one day or £500 + VAT for half a day, held at your premises.

We also offer private courses at your premises. Please call us for details.

How to book

To book, call Abi on +44(0)844 445 7743 ext 20, or use the booking form.

Kind Regards
The Plain Words Training Team

Valid XHTML 1.0!. Valid CSS!

©2010 Plain Words Ltd : HTML by Hairydog