In this rapidly moving and exigent business industry all of the business related actions whether it is a mission statement, company’s vision, core ethics, annual reports or memorandums presented for either the inside or outside communication is being carried out on several paper forms. The business activities could not win through effectively and successfully without the written business communication. In today’s world regardless of the type of organization whether it be a commercial, industrial or even non-profit organizations require 70% of their employees to be a part of written communication.
Writing is essential to communicate vital information on business plans and strategies both internally and externally. The quality of the content you write exhibits your skills, proficiency and expertise and leave an everlasting impression on the readers. An effective writing skill distinguishes you in your discipline. The art of writing could bring a million of dollars to your business or could even make you beg for a penny. It is not only important but it is a decisive and crucial part of business industry. (Franko 1)
Strong writing skills make ways for business to prosper and flourish. However writing is not a very intricate task it is a skill that could be
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- Why do you want to write?
- Whom do you want to write to?
- What do you want to communicate?
- How do you want to communicate?
This makes you realize the basic aim of writing.
Before writing anything you need to be aware of whom your readers are that is for whom you are writing a specific document or content. This is the most significant part of writing. Your readers could have different preferences and priorities so you could not impose the same document towards all your different readers. Some of them might want you to be direct to the point; some of them may find this style an offence. Some may be interested in only knowing the facts and statistics while some of them may be interested in knowing the whole background story. (Thomas and Carl 88)
Knowing your reader will make you able to write the message in a way that would appeal him/her and would prove to be profitable for your business.
As it is very well said that you must think before you speak, I firmly believe the same goes for when you put in writing a message. So before writing you must think strategically about the aftermaths and follow certain steps before finalizing a document. Writing encompasses certain steps which include:
- Think and prepare yourself.
- Establish the main idea or purpose of the document.
- Set an outline of the approach to be used in the content.
- Get the knowledge on hand through research before writing.
- Put in order and systemize the material gathered.
- Sketch the document.
- Review, refine and trim any unnecessary details. (Franko 1)
A company that correspond clear and concise messages to its internal and external customers gains a viable advantage over one without these skills. While finalizing your document one must be careful about the following things.
The content to be sent should be free of errors. The field of computers has now made it really feasible through the systematic spell and grammar check. Checking and editing of the same should be done before hand.
The content written should be short, clear and concise. In today’s high-speed industry people doesn’t have time to read prolonged messages. So beating about the bush wouldn’t work. Also the content should be simple. The language should be understandable by your reader. People think that using difficult words would create an impressive impression on the reader. While this is not the case, the usage of such words would create confusion and might sometime result in misunderstanding the message to be conveyed. The formula of keeping the text simple works and would certainly result in a constructive outcome. (Helen and Brenda 88)
The key information in the content should be highlighted using bullet points. Using bullet points make the information more clear and relevant.
The content should be in line that is there should be separation of ideas by using white spaces and paragraphs. So in order to make the content more understandable and appealing give spaces and transitions within the content.
Providing a value added service is always appreciated in every field of knowledge and services but while writing too much of other details dilute the significance of the message to be conveyed to the audience.
The style of writing also should be updated and not too formal. Usage of direct speech in business creates more warmth in your message. (Dr. Virginia Chappell 4)
The talent to write is not a gift but it could be learnt through self determination, patience and practice. In the perspective of writing it is not only the correct grammar and spelling but also the style that captures your reader’s mind towards your business plan. It is not that someone could teach you but you could learn it. The fact is that irrespective of the level of organization you work for from top level management to the lower level staff, irrespective of the department you work for whether being marketing or management, the art of writing better becomes a key frame of our success.
Being able to write well makes it easier to sell ideas to others whether it is our external customer, internal or either one who are new to us. Delivering the ideas or business proposals in the correct written form enhances the likelihood of adoptability. If you are not a good writer you can be one by following certain ideas with full devotion and attention:
- Read – as reading is important for correct writing. Read whatever is of your interest as reading familiarizes you with the knowledge of language and helps you to become a better player of words.
- Listen – Listen to your colleagues, friends or any other person around you whom you believe has the power of words. Listening to him would help you improve.
- Write – It is practice and practice that makes a fine writer. On regular basis start writing journals or write any thing that is of your concern. Writing more and more would eventually bring you to being a good writer.
- Proof Read – Read whatever you have written at least twice and remove unnecessary details. Reading your text once it is done would make you realize the flaws and would actually generate an idea as to how your message on the whole would be perceived by the reader.
Repeat this exercise again and again. Also try to be your own critic and if feel let someone proof read your text. Always welcome criticism and learn from it. Some of the very important forms of written business documents include:
Internal Operations include reports, memos, bulletins, notices, employee appointment letters and job descriptions, office manuals and electronic mails etc.
External Operations include letters, proposals, electronic mail, faxes, advertisements, brochures, press releases, internet, websites etc.
It is the means of an employee to submit reports, comments and suggestions to the upper level of the organization or senior management. (Jill Salahub 1)
Business writing can be best defined as a group of words and sentences that express ideas and thoughts. A group of sentences that does not do so is nothing but a fragment. An effective style of business writing also lays stress on using parallel structures in a series. In all ways of writing in business equally significant ideas should be expressed in similar grammatical sequence as it improves clarity in the sentences. Unnecessary and unrelated ideas make the document or content difficult to understand and create confusion in the mind of reader. An excellent idea of writing is based on the basic rules of avoiding repetition and unnecessary use of words.
The business document should be written in a way so that the focus should remain on the main idea and the meaning of the sentences should remain intact. Also the choices of words and phrases are another skill. Only knowing thousands of words are not enough the main skill or expertise lies in understanding the different meanings of the words and usage of correct word at the correct time and in the correct context in order to express various views. The slightest misuse of word can change the complete meaning and idea of the writer. Also in business writing flowery expressions and bombastic style of writing should not be adopted. (Helen and Brenda 181)
Business writing if executed in its proper form with all the writing principles followed represents the organization and projects its view point. When writing a business proposal for the first time it is very much important to cast the best first impression as it is very well said that the first impression is the last impression. The business document also renders a thorough impression of the company or organization in many a ways which would include presentation, tone, language and structure as the written words as they are read speak about skill set of company’s employees. The basic principles of business writing proposals would include the following:
- Introducing the organization by providing a detailed background and ethics of the organization. This paragraph should also include the reason for communication. It can refer to a previous correspondence, meeting or reference through someone. Also should include the matter to be discussed in the body of the content.
- Detailed report of company’s statistics in a logical flow of information required.
- You need to then state what are the necessary steps need to be taken the the reciever while also stating the actions that would be taken by the sender so that both the sender and receiver could mutually agree and reach a conclusion.
- Closing of the document is mandatory but should be simple and relevant.
Good business communication should take place in plain language as if in a conversational style. One should try to put across the message in a very natural way. Your business document should also follow the common rules of courtesy.
In all forms of written communication, it is important to ensure correct structuring of sentences to make it more appealing and interesting to reader. Whether you are writing a busines letter, memo, fax or email you should keep in mind the following basic principles:
- The document has to be created with care.
- The document should ensure and give the impression of efficiency and reliability.
- The choice of words and phrases should be done after due consideration.
- Neat, readable and logically structured format should be used.
- The message should be accurate in terms of facts, figures, spelling and grammar. ( Virginia Chappell 5)
The most crucial points to be followed include the following:
- Accuracy: All facts and figures are to be checked carefully.
All details relevant to the document should be included.
Proofreading is essential part of the documentation.
- Brief: Sentences should be short and relevant.
Simplicity should be there in the document.
- Clarity: Simple words and phrases should be used.
Style should be easy and neutral. (Helen and Brenda 182)
In business communication one should be courteous and considerate. One should be courteous and considerate towards the person to be addressed. Courtesy include prompt reply, creating goodwill, understanding and respecting the recipient’s point of view. One should not be offensive towards the customer or addressee. It should never be rude but should be in a natural way and written with sincerity. Using short and simple sentences give your writing more meaning, save your and reader’s time and help you to put your message in a more efficient and effective manner. All required information should be included with the message while maintaining the consistency.
In business communication basically there are two kinds of messages that are needed to be conveyed through different methods and sources. Firstly the positive favorable and goodwill messages which help in creating a friendly, congenial atmosphere and understanding. Secondly, there are negative, unfavorable messages passing on some bad news. Such messages are transmitted either directly or indirectly. Then also there are some messages for special occasions. (Thomas and Carl 110)
Goodwill, favorable messages carry good wishes, warm feelings and sincere thoughts to employees and customers. Greeting cards and commercial thank you letters should include personal thoughts which are always more expressive and more meaningful for the reader. Most of the business concerns make a lot of effort to develop and maintain good relationship with customers, clients, employees and the general public. Goodwill messages have a positive effect on business, because people prefer to deal with organizations that are warm and human and are not just interested in making profit on financial transactions. (Edward P. Bailey 101)
Business communication for financial services becomes difficult when you need to say NO to your customer. However breaking bad news or passing negative messages is a fact of business life. If you are writing a refusal letter to the customer maintaining goodwill is extremely important. You should make the refusal letter as positive as you can. The actual refusal and reasons should be mentioned one and very brief. The remaining part of the letter should be customer-oriented and very friendly. (Ginny Simmons 1) If you are refusing, your customer has every right to know the reason for refusal. The reasons should be stated in terms of facts and figures and not based on emotions. This would include four main parts:
A buffer is a device that is used to reduce the shock or pain of the bad news to be stated. A buffer opens a bad news letter with a neutral, concise, relevant and meaningful statement. Below stated are some possibilities for opening unfavorable message:
- Best news – start with the best part of the message that represents the best news.
- Compliment – praise the receiver’s accomplishments, organization, or efforts, but do so with honesty and sincerity.
- Appreciation – convey thanks to the reader for doing business, for sending something, for showing confidence in your organization.
- Agreement – make a relevant statement with which both sender and receiver can agree.
- Facts – provide objective information that introduces the bad news.
- Understanding – show how much you care about the reader. In announcing a product defect for example the writer can still manage to express his concern for the customer.
- Apology – most of the letters responding to customer complaints carry an apology of some sort. If you do apologize, do it briefly and sincerely. (Thomas and Carl 109)
Another crucial part of handling your business clients appear when you have an angry customer. When a client is not satisfied with either the services or the products of the company he informs the company about the problem through a complaint letter. Businesses that feel accountability towards Corporate Social Responsibility and Customer Relationship Management answer such letters gracefully and tactfully. The reply towards such letters should not be defensive rather more courteous and concerned. The letter should encompass explanation and suggest remedies that are being followed. It definitely should extend and include an apology. (Edward P. Bailey 103)
Also an important part of business letters includes sales promotion letters. These letters convey enthusiasm for the product and employ evocative language. They demonstrate the writer’s knowledge of both product and customer. (Ginny Simmons 3)
They demonstrate principles of advertising known as AIDA:
Begin every persuasive message with an attention.
- Getting statement that is personalized.
- “You” oriented.
- Straight forward.
- Continue the opening theme in greater detail.
- Relate the benefits specifically.
- Provide evidence to prove your claim.
- Draw attention to any enclosures.
- Suggest a specific action that the audience can take.
- Restating how the audience will benefit by acting as you wish.
- Restating how the audience will benefit by acting.
- Making action easy.
These were some of the crucial business letters. (Edward P. Bailey, 110)
Business documents serve many a purposes which include:
- To obtain agreement to a course of action.
- To explain specific events.
- Serves as a basis for discussion.
- To convey certain information.
Presenting your document is also very important. Certain tips to develop and adopt an effective and impressive style for presenting your document are explained below:
- Analyze your audience – Avoid overly, flashy type, colors and borders for conservative business documents. Listing and heading help those readers who are in a hurry.
- Choose an appropriate type size – For most business letters, memos and reports, the body text should be of about 10 to 12 points. Larger fonts look amateurish and smaller fonts are hard to read.
- Use a consistent type font – Although there may be a variety of fonts but one should stay with a single family type within one document. For emphasis and contrast, you may vary the font size and weight with bold, italic, bold italic, and other selections.
- Separate paragraphs and sentences appropriately
- Design readable headline – use upper and lower case letters for the most readable headlines. All caps is generally discouraged because solid blocks of capital letters interfere with recognition of word patterns.
- Strive for an attractive page layout – In designing the title page or visual aids, provide for a balance between print and white spaces.
- Use graphic images – use them only when they are required, well-drawn and appropriately sized.
- Use effective headings – Capitalize and underline carefully. Keep it short and clean. (Thomas and Carl 129; Virginia Chappell 5)
For any business document a reader and a writer is involved having certain needs that are required to be fulfilled.
The Writer’s Needs:
- To define the purpose of the documentation.
- To define the scope and limitations.
- To know the facts and figures.
The Reader’s Needs:
- Information and evidence.
- An analysis of the information.
Communication has barriers. What you send is not received by the receiver in the same sense as you indented. The following principles are required to be followed in order to improve the written communication. (Mary Munter, 27)
A basic general principle of communication is that the words, symbols which the sender uses in sending the message must have the same meaning in the mind of the receiver, so that the message that is being sent and the message that is received are identical. If the symbols of communication are not correctly understood the basic objective or aim of the content will be foiled or there will be miscommunication. The following are the main issues that are identified in written communication:
- When the sender and the receiver of the communication attribute different meanings to the same words bypassing occurs. English language has many words, which have over 100 of meanings. So identifying the correct meaning as intended to be sent by the sender is crucial step in effective communication.
- Denotation refers to expression by marks, symbols or signs. It gives primary meaning. Connotation means expression in addition to the primary meaning of the text. When a word having both primary and secondary meaning is used it may create misunderstanding.
- Reality is always changing. Everyone’s sensory perceptions are limited, and his mental filters are unique. The meanings of the words are not in the words; they are in us or according to our perception. People perceive reality in different ways and not alike. Lack of comprehension of reality in your text would create major problems.
- Abstracting refers to filtering of information received. When we abstract, we actually concentrate on some details and omit others. Abstracting creates distortion and twisting in the message. If trimming in communication is essential it should be done honestly rather than at the cost of spirit of the message. When we advertise our product in business we only include the special features and omit unimportant details. This type of abstracting becomes acceptable and essential.
- Slanting refers to judging the whole by a part. Just by going through a part of the business message we cannot and should not establish an opinion of the whole or it will be erroneous. It is premature evaluation and another very significant barrier in written communication.
- It refers to drawing conclusions on the basis of assumptions. Inferring is a common barrier. Drawing conclusions without directly seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, smelling or deciding without gathering facts will be unwarranted and erroneous.
- Emotional condition of the communicator is of vital importance when he receives or sends a business message. Undesirable emotions like anger, fear, hatred and worry adversely affect any kind of information.
- A person with close mind refuses to consider new facts. Such people have limited or incorrect knowledge. They don’t open their mind to welcome new ideas or facts. (Mary Munter, 54)
Writing holds its importance in every field of life but in business this skill of writing well is critical. It is very much important that your business messages should be such that the reader could understand it completely and the main idea of communication should be conveyed in the manner you want it to be conveyed. A weakly written business message would certainly result in an unfavorable response. Writing is an essential business skill. It is the way of transmitting information, ideas, opinions and strategies throughout the organization. It is as crucial for small business groups as it is for multinational firms and organizations. (Ginny Simmons 4)
Dr. Virginia Chappell (2007) http://www.marquette.edu/wac/WhatMakesWritingSoImportant.shtml Accessed April 23, 2009
Edward P. Bailey, A practical guide for business communication, 2007, (Published by Prentice Hall)
Franko, Amy “Practical Writing Tips – 5 Keys to Creating Written Communication With Impact.” Practical Writing Tips – 5 Keys to Creating Written Communication With Impact. 21 Apr. 2009. EzineArticles.com. 23 Apr 2009 <http://ezinearticles.com/?Practical-Writing-Tips—5-Keys-to-Creating-Written-Communication-With-Impact&id=2207072>.
Ginny Simmons (2004)
http://www.syntaxtraining.com/articles.html, Accessed April 23, 2009
Helen Cunningham, Brenda Greene, Business Style handbook, 2002, (Published by McGraw-Hill Professional)
Jill Salahub (2006)
http://writing.colostate.edu/guides/documents/business_writing/business_intro/ Accessed April 23, 2009
Thomas S. Bateman and Carl P. Zeithaml, Management: Function and Strategy, 2002, (Published by Richard d Irwin)
Mary Munter, Guide to Managerial Communication: Effective Business Writing and Speaking Edition: 7, 2005, (Published by Pearson/Prentice Hall)