As you are well aware by now there was a memo circulated recently that was a very poor reflection on our company. Unfortunately the memo was seen by a client and those on the sales force has been suffering from very low morale. I’m requesting your support in starting a workshop on improving individual writing skills. At this point in time I don’t think that there is a more important project. It is extremely clear that we need to help our coworkers learn how to communicate more effectively. As unfair as it may seem, we are judged by the way we communicate, the words that we use, and the way we use them.
I plan on breaking the workshop into three main categories; Content in Context, Back to Basics, and Making the Most of Your Tools. These categories will be able to give each person a very strong foundation in written communication. They’ll be able to walk out of the program and feel very confident with their newly honed writing skills. With that renewed sense of confidence morale through out the company will once again be at an all time high.
Additionally, this will have a drastic impact with our clients and partners. Upon completion of the course these collaborators will notice a drastic difference in they way we are communicating. They’ll feel more comfortable working with us just knowing that we, as a company, care enough about ourselves to correct our own short comings. Not to mention that we are an organization that is willing to go the extra step for personal growth.
Content in Context:
Simply put, know what you are talking about! It’s not enough to know what a couple of buzzwords. You need to understand what they mean and why those buzz words are creating a stir in the marketplace. When you care enough to educate yourself it projects outward. People will see that you are the type of person that will go the extra step to make sure you are in the know. If it takes a little time to research your topic before writing about it, than do it. It’s worth it in the end. Nothing sounds more foolish then someone writing about a topic that they don’t understand. It will come across in your writing.
Know your audience. This is a major first step in the writing process. You will write very differently for the CEO then you would for the guys in the IT department. The type of audience will dictate if the tone, the type of information, and the way it’s presented, not to mention the terminology. It has an affect on all aspects of your memo. Once you know the audience the tone will start to present itself.
Make sure you are using the proper terminology. As I stated earlier, it’s not enough just to pick up a couple of buzz words out of a trade magazine. When you are talking to someone that lives and breaths their work, they’ll know very quickly if you really understand what you are talking about. Many times small departments use their own taxonomy in dealing with a certain projects. Take the time to talk to those departments and find out why they are referring to those items in that manner. It will go a long way in gaining respect from your peers. Plus it could very well impress those potential clients when they see how effectively the company communicates.
Lastly, keep it simple. Unfortunately people don’t like reading when they don’t have to. Stick to the topic at hand. When you know the subject at hand quality beats out quantity. “Short, sweet and to the point” never meant as much as it does today.
Back to the Basics:
Punctuation; make sure you know what you are doing. Believe it or not, there are actually rules to punctuation. The correct punctuation will help set the appropriate tone. Not to mention that it will help you from looking like a fool. I know it has been a long time since we actually had a class on punctuation, so this should be a welcomed refresher. Here are just some of the rules;
Rule: Use an apostrophe and an -s to form the plural of an
abbreviation that contains periods.
Example: R.N.’s who wish to further their education will like our
Rule: Use a semicolon to show a close relationship between two complete
statements when a period would be too much of an interruption.
Example: We should go shopping today; Macy’s has a sale.
Rule: Underline or place in italics the titles of movies, videos, plays, television
and radio programs, operas, long poems, long musical works, works of
art, and published speeches.
Example: Saving Private Ryan was a popular 1998 movie.
We all know how to write in complete sentences, yet we all fail to do it consistently. We have fallen complacent in reducing ourselves to accepting “emailese”. The following is the description of a sentence as taken from University of Phoenix’s What’s The Rule database:
“A complete sentence contains a subject and a verb and can stand alone. The subject names something and consists of one or more nouns or pronouns. The verb expresses action or a state of being. A sentence fragment lacks a subject or a verb. Sentence fragments are sometimes used in informal writing (what now?) (what a chore!), but they are unacceptable in business and academic writing.”
Unfortunately, today this is easier said than done. We need to get back to the basics and start writing complete sentences.
Using good grammar is where most of us fall short. We know good grammar when we see it, but yet we have trouble putting it in place. Whether it’s confusing words, forming improper conjunctions, or misusing and adverb, we just don’t seem to get it right. Below are a couple of many rules of grammar that we’ll get back in touch with in the workshop:
Rule: Use an adjective after a linking verb such as seem, appear, become, grow,
remain, stay, prove, feel, look, smell, sound, and taste. DO NOT use an
adjective after an action verb; use an adverb instead.
Example: I feel bad about all the trouble I caused.
Rule: Use either/or and as/as for positive statements; use neither/nor
and so/as for negative statements.
Example: The movie was not so good as others I have seen this year.
Proper formatting is essential. Your paper should always be formatted to suite the tone and purpose your writing. Don’t outline just to avoid having to write complete sentences.
Make the Most of Your Tools:
Each day more tools are coming out to make our work much easier, (so they say). But no matter how you look at it, word editors of today make typewriters look archaic. Most teenagers today have probably never seen a typewriter up close. I’m pretty sure they couldn’t even explain why the keyboard is laid out like it is. To the matter at hand; our friends at Microsoft and Corel have packed more features in to our word editors than we realize are there. This workshop will teach our employees the benefits of tools such as Thesaurus, Hyphenation, and the all mighty Spellcheck. And yet we’ll just have scratched the surface of what’s available in these applications.
If you know where to look the web you can find enough resources to make you dizzy. The web is teaming with dictionaries. From the traditional Oxford English Dictionary to the Collins Business Dictionary there are resources to suite what ever need you can dream up. But more importantly the workshop will teach you how and when to use them.
Bring it Together:
To close out the workshop we’ll show the employees how to utilize all these tools in harmony to gain the maximum effort. It will help to illustrate how just taking more care in our writing, using the basics of grammar in conjunction with the tools available can make a world of difference in how we present ourselves and the company to the outside world through written communication.