The Communications Factors: Biz Writing
I got an email this morning regarding the tips on writing for business. I agree with the majority of the article. The main point was that in order to write an effective business letter or email, the writer needs to keep it short and sweet. I will never forget what one of my journalism professors said: “Words are expensive.” He was referring to the importance of being able to take a story of 1000 words and edit it down to 800 without losing any of the meaning. I guess that’s why I strive for concise words which convey a powerful meaning.
The first point of the article was that the writer should abstain from “unfamiliar” words. The examples given were ascertain, consummate, and peruse. Certainly one should shy away from those words in a business letter, but I don’t think they are necessarily “unfamiliar.” Remember, when writing to a group of businessmen or women, just because you don’t pull out all the stops of your command of the English language doesn’t mean that you are writing as though your audience is composed of idiots. In fact, my mentor, Jay Deragon, has a powerful presence in the Relationship Economy and is probably smarter than I am, but reading his blog posts is sometimes painful. My strength is being able to write clear and concise text; Jay’s strength is having the ability to grasp complex, abstract strategies and implement them into the emerging technologies of this world.
Many of those who commented on the article disagree. They said to refrain from “unfamiliar” and long words was to “dumb down” the English language. However, I believe there is a time and place for the display of your inherent sesquipedalian qualities. There is nothing which loses readers, thereby decreasing your “stickiness” on the ‘net, faster than having to find a dictionary to look up an unfamiliar word. The time to employ erudite, tedious loquacity is college entrance essays, not in business correspondence. Many of the MBAs of the world have excellent vocabularies but don’t use them because they are not out to impress anyone. It does, however, impress people when you are able to convey a complex subject without unnecessary use of commas, or words which might give pause to the reader.
If the writer doesn’t restrain himself from utilizing grandiose verbiage and punctuation, then, he is drawing attention to his inexperience or his over-elevated sense of self-importance. The most dire consequence is for the reader to think, “What a pompous ass!”
I will continue on this vein in future posts.
How ’bout it?
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