This post is about the importance of putting your communication with other people in writing.
Do you dread these questions?
- ‘Do you have a record of it?’
- ‘Can you remember what was said?’
If you are asked these questions in a business (or any other) environment, can you answer ‘yes’?
If you can’t, you need to learn how to put your communications in writing. After every interaction in person or on the phone, follow it up with an email. If it is a formal meeting, make sure there are minutes.
We communicate in business in three ways:
- Face to face: in-person or via satellite.
- On the phone.
- In writing: emails, minutes, memos, business plans, proposals, reports, agendas, etc.
Many people prefer to talk to each other. It seems easier than putting the communication in black and white. There are times when you should do this: Talk to somebody when you need an immediate answer or when you need to make sure you are not misunderstood.
Then, follow it up with a written record of what happened. If you are writing on paper, make sure you have an electronic version as well.
Writing a record of an interaction does the following:
- It makes us think about what happened.
- It forces us to be logical.
- We can keep track of the facts and statistics.
- We can protect ourselves.
- Archives a permanent record of our interactions.
- Allows the record to be shared.
- Allows ideas to be implemented.
There is always a resistance to this, because writing is hard work. It requires time and discipline. We also need to take responsibility for what we are doing when we write things down. We are also sometimes not the best communicators in this format.
There are ways to improve your business writing skills:
- Read. Read everything you can get your hands. Newspapers, novels, non-fiction books, memoirs. You cannot write well if you don’t read.
- Read in your business writing language. More importantly, read in the language you use for business writing. If English is not your first language, but you need it for business, read books written in English.
- Take a business writing course. If you are in South Africa, we offer The Plain Language Programme.
- Practise every day. Take 10 minutes to write about anything and everything. Use our daily writing prompts to get started. If you are writing in English, complete the prompt in English.
- Check your readability statics. Use readability statistics to check that you are actually communicating. This means you need to write in plain language.
If you want to learn how to write for business, join us for The Plain Language Programme
If you enjoyed this post, read:
- 5 Storytelling Tips For Speech Writers To Remember
- A Step-By-Step Guide To Help You Write Memos
- The Passive Voice Explained
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