For Your Staff/Communications
The Write Stuff
Hone your writing skills for professional success
The advertising copy that makes you want the product, the sales letter you cant put down or the résumé that prompts an immediate call to the job candidate are examples of exceptional business writing.
Writing skills have taken a backseat to other corporate development in recent years. But the rise of Web sites and e-mail as sales and marketing tools makes good writing more important than ever.
Your prospects, clients and even the news media judge you and your business based on your written communications. Boring advertising copy, sales letters riddled with errors or rambling press releases send the message you lack creativity, dont care and cant deliver quality work. Your writing is the perfect opportunity to showcase your professionalism and win the deal.
You dont have to be a professional editor or journalist to write effectively. Use some of the tricks of the writers trade to catch potentially embarrassing errors. Use these tips to improve your writing.
After a silent once-over, read your document out loud and listen to the words. If your tongue stumbles or a sentence runs so long you gasp for breath or get sleepy reading your own words, it needs some tweaking. You not only see missing commas, incorrect words or subject-verb disagreements, but you hear when something sounds out of place. When you see and hear what youve written, you can catch more errors and produce a compelling document.
Dont Rely on Spell-Check
While spell-check corrects blatantly misspelled words, it cant catch words spelled correctly but used incorrectly. Theyre called homonyms and include right/write, meet/meat, youre/your, there/their/theyre, no/know and a host of others. Homonyms can undermine all the other work youve done. Break up contractions when you read. If your text reads, Please know which word youre supposed to use, proofread it as Please know which word you are supposed to use.
Start at the End
As you reread a piece, your brain becomes too familiar with it though your 50th read-through confirms your document is error-free, your reader will quickly spot something you missed. Mix things up. Read the last sentence of your document first to check for sentence structure, grammar and spelling. Read the sentence above that the same way. Pull random sentences out of the text and check for errors. Youll catch more errors when you look at the individual elements of your document.
Get a Guide
You may have a dictionary on your office bookshelf and perhaps even a thesaurus. Add a grammar guide. Some guides focus specifically on grammar issues, while others include writing tone and style. Choose a guide youre comfortable with, refer to it often and watch your writing improve.
by Dawn Josephson
Dawn Josephson is president and founder of Cameo Publications, an editorial and publishing services company. Contact her at (866) 37-CAMEO, Dawn@CameoPublications.com, www.CameoPublications.com.