Day 3: On writing

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

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Business writing to be precise.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the art of business writing is dead. Well, if not buried, then certainly terminal. Too many typos, too much poor grammar, and just too many words. Period. It seems that the people behind business communications don’t write to communicate; they write to impress. But typos and overly inflated paragraphs produce just the opposite effect. What’s the old saw: the first impression is the only impression?

When browsing local business consultants’ websites, I came across a research consultant’s home page. I began reading but ended up totally stymied by the use of the word “evaluate” and its myriad permutations. The effect was mind-boggling. The copy smacked of wannabe impressive. Too many words, too little meaning, or what my English professor would have described as “a cloud of rhetoric.” I’ve found that when people don’t know exactly what they want to communicate, they just “use” words, and lots of them.

Then there are those annoying (and often unbelievable) typos. No one should rely on spell check as their sole proofing tool. Check this out:

A direct mail postcard invite for “Music, Wine & Orderves. Hmmm. Well, phonetically that was probably okay. But didn’t the graphics person have a dictionary? If you want to bring prospects to your door, your message should at least be SPELLED CORRECTLY. What would you think of a business that invited you for “orderves” (aka hors d’oeuvres)? I suppose I should have attended the event just to see what they were serving . . .

Business writing is a skill, an art. It combines a knowledge of words with an intuitive feel for the message and its recipient. I don’t care what you’re writing – a letter, a speech, or a handbook on workplace safety – you must know what message you want to communicate and you must know your audience.  Select the perfect tone. Employ effective punctuation. Spell every word correctly. The sentences will sing, and your reader will thank you.

I’ve written many newsletter articles, but this one stands out as the most fun. The newsletter’s audience was the company’s investors, and the article about an important company accomplishment was front page news. No one wanted to write it. So I wrote it, complete with quotes that I created and attributed to the major players. When those quoted read the draft, they were speechless. “How did you do that?” they wondered. “Well you did say that, didn’t you?” I quipped.

Today I celebrate the art of writing and and those wordsmiths, wordcrafters, and spin-doctors who wield the mighty pen! Thanks for letting me blather — C

This entry was posted in September 2010 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Day 3: On writing

  1. mickeymurphy says:

    This certainly is not blather. It is right-on prose.

  2. Bea Elliott says:

    I agree totally with the previous poster – not blather at all… Very eloquent, insightful and thought provoking subjects – all written in a unique perspective. Very enjoyable indeed.

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