A to Z of people skills – Writing

January 7th, 2013

What sort of writing do you do these days? I don’t mean the quality of your hand-writing, although there’s probably a paragraph or two could be written on that subject and I’m still firmly wedded to my filofax and fountain pen. I mean the different styles of written communication and what’s acceptable in each.

Texts – the busy person who tells a member of his team that, the best way to let him know the message is urgent, is to send him a text. Funny that this particular team member doesn’t much like text as a form of communication himself. And how grammatically correct should the text be? Do you bother with punctuation? What if it runs on to more than a few lines?

Emails – do they need to be grammatcially correct and full sentences, or can they more easily be brief bullet points? Do they then look terse and, potentially, rude? Or just more focused? What about the person who needs to see, or feels the need to relate, lots of detail – should that be in a looooonger email, or as an attachment? How do you make the important, urgent, different information ones stand out? What about emails written on your mobile – do they, or should they, look more like a brief text?

Letters – do you write or receive many letters? The only ones I see regularly are from accountants and lawyers (and that’s not for all communications) and mailshots. I have to say some of the mailshots get more attention from me, as they are now the rarity. What letters do you have to write and are they different in style to the emails?

Reports and proposals – there is still a need for many businesses to write reports and proposals. The style of presentation has evolved and many are delivered online, although still as a word-processed document. Some are delivered as presentation documents – slide shows or published documents – and the visual presentation may be quite different. However, the content is still important and needs to be rigorously checked. These are often the most critical documents as they are what wins you the next job or the summary of everything you’ve done …. and yet, whilst many hours of work go into their preparation, they are not always given the checking time needed.

Where are your challenges with the written word? What do you do to address them for you and your colleagues?

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