Writing business messages is not an easy task. In any type of business environment, a message is expected to link the sender’s needs to the needs of audience. In this context, it is more than important to be able to identify the primary purpose, the appropriate medium, and the form of delivering message to the recipient. Planning, writing, and revising are the three essential stages in any business writing, and whether the sender is able to deliver the critical business information to the recipient will also depend on his ability to deliver essential information in accurate, concise, and comprehensive manner.
Writing business messages is not an easy task. In any type of business environment, a message is expected to link the sender’s needs to the needs of audience. In this context, it is more than important to be able to identify the primary purpose, the appropriate medium, and the form of delivering message to the recipient. Planning, writing, and revising are the three essential stages in any business writing, and whether the sender is able to deliver the critical business information to the recipient will also depend on his ability to deliver essential information in an accurate, concise, and comprehensive manner.
All business messages usually have a primary and a specific purpose. “A general purpose is to inform, to persuade, or to collaborate with your audience. This purpose helps define the overall approach you’ll need to take, from gathering information to organizing your message” (Bovee & Thill, 2007). The specific purpose will thus determine and identify what task the message is to accomplish.
Effective messages, however, are impossible without analyzing audience (its size, characteristics, anticipated reaction, and familiarity with the topic); moreover, it is the sender’s task to define, what information audience needs to know and what relevant information needs to be gathered to ensure that the recipients of the message are able to grasp its meaning and to respond to the message in due manner (Red River College, 2006).
As a result, determining the most appropriate medium (written, oral, or electronic) is no less important than writing the message itself; and in the process of collecting and categorizing ideas, as well as shaping the message, the sender is also responsible for choosing the most effective form of delivering information to the audience. To choose the best medium for delivering business messages means to choose between effective and ineffective communication (Cleland, 2003).
Although present day media categories are becoming increasingly blurred, and an effective combination of electronic and more traditional oral or written media may resolve the majority of communication complexities in business, oral, written, and electronic media have not lost their relevance but on the contrary, have turned into the critical elements of successful communication in business.
Despite the impact, which globalization tends to produce on communication techniques, oral media have not lost their relevance, and still provide the senders and recipients of the message with an opportunity to maintain face-to-face contacts. Oral communication is used to produce immediate feedback, and to analyze the audience’s reaction to a particular message; nonverbal cues and emotions are the essential components of oral communication in business (Bovee & Thill, 2007).
This type of business communication is particularly useful for group discussion, where receiving immediate feedback, asking questions, and reaching consensus are needed (Red River College, 2006). For example, where managers require announcing organizational changes to more than 100 employees, an oral presentation may become the best solution (Cleland, 2003).
Written media can take a variety of forms, including letters, memos, and reports (Bovee & Thill, 2007). From the viewpoint of the sender, written media are convenient in a sense that they minimize the distortion so characteristic of oral messages, and provide sufficient time for gathering and categorizing ideas. A written communication channel can be successfully utilized to promote a new product to customers (Red River College, 2006). Finally, electronic media (telephone calls, voice mails, e-mails, electronic documents and even teleconferencing) combine speed with the high quality of information and help connect the recipients, who are geographically dispersed.
This form of business messaging is used to respond to customer inquiries or may also connect different company’s departments into one single organizational system (Cleland, 2003). Regardless the purpose, the choice of the most appropriate medium requires considering several critical factors: (1) media richness (e.g., personal oral conversation is fairly regarded as the richest form of business communication); (2) formality of the message (the style and tone of the message to be conveyed): (3) media limitations (e.g., written communication does not always guarantee timely feedback); (4) sender intentions; (5) audience preferences; and (6) urgency and cost (Bovee & Thill, 2007). All these factors form a cluster of communicational issues, which need to be evaluated and resolved, before the most appropriate medium is chosen.
The choice of the most appropriate medium depends on the purpose of the message, the target audience’s preferences, the cost and urgency of the particular medium, as well as the formality and tone of the message. In any type of business environment, senders are expected to combine their communication skills with the audience’s expectations, to guarantee that oral, written, or electronic form of messaging will produce anticipated organizational outcomes.
Bovee, C.L. & Thill, J.V. (2007). Business communication essentials. 3rd edition. Prentice
Cleland, J.K. (2003). Business writing for results: How to create a sense of urgency and
increase response to all of your business communications.
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Red River College. (2006). The three step process for business writing. Retrieved March 7,
2009 from http://xnet.rrc.mb.ca/alannah/BizComm/3stepprocess.ppt