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Establishing the Write Image
By Jane Watson   Printer Friendly Version

How is your organization's "written image?" You know, the image of your organization that your staff create every time they send out a letter, report or proposal on company letterhead.

Does your company come across as service-oriented and highly-motivated or does it convey a vague, indecisive image?

So many companies spend weeks working on mission statements and goals and then overlook an essential tool that helps or hinders their delivery-the written communications of the employees.

Whether it is a letter, memo, report or proposal, poor writing-writing that is vague or disorganized-can lose you valuable customers, clients and contracts.

What is the point in spending hours preparing a proposal only to have it land on the potential client's desk riddled with misused words, grammar and spelling errors! What sort of an image does it built in the reader's mind with regard to the writer's and his company's attention to detail and quality.

Unfortunately, many organizations assume a university education guarantees the ability to write well. Wrong!

People who have attended university have either ended up in courses that teach academic writing (wrong for the business world) or in courses that involve fill-in-the blank testing.

Another fallacy is that business writing is static. However, business writing is constantly changing, and words and phrases appropriate several years ago are now outdated and convey that image to the reader.

How can you tell if your staff is using an up-to-date writing style? Take a look at some of the material going out.

1. Do letters and reports carry old-fashioned words such as, "ascertain," "as per," or "pursuant to"?

2. Are these worn-out clichés frequently used: "please find enclosed," "thanking you in advance," "upon receipt of," or "If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me"?

3. Are letters signed off with "Yours truly" or carry a "c.c." at the bottom?

These are only a few of the obvious examples of an outmoded writing style.

Also check documents for tone and clarity. Ask yourself if you would want to be the recipient of this document? Can you read the material quickly and know precisely what the reader is to do next?

Remember written communications carry not only the intended message but also an subconscious message about the professionalism of the writer and the organization.

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