Thursday, January 27, 2011

Six Tips for More Effective Business Communication

The Internet has made it both easier and more difficult for people to communicate. It is now easier than ever to send written correspondence; all it takes is the click of a button. But many people would rather send off a quick email than pick up the phone, which means more people than ever are putting even their quick, casual business communication in writing. If writing is not your strong point, you may not be communicating with coworkers, clients, and partners as effectively as you could be. Here are six tips to make your business communication skills better.

Never hit the send button right after writing. Even if you are not writing an emotionally charged email, hitting send too fast can hurt you. You might have sounded a little more harsh than you meant to, or you might not have written as clearly as you could have. Either way, give it an hour or two and come back to it with fresh eyes before sending. Often you are too close to the material just after you have written it to spot flaws in your communication.

Tone it down. You may not mean to come off harshly, but people are always taking your emails and memos the wrong way. If this happens to you, you may not realize how harsh you sound in your writing. Sometimes when people read something negative, it blocks them from absorbing your entire message. Before sending out your email, read it over carefully to make sure your message is not too negative.

Write in Microsoft Word first. Microsoft Word has the Spell Check feature, and your email probably does not. The feature does not catch every mistake, but it may help you spot some typos that you otherwise would have missed. If you have difficulty with spelling, write your communications in Microsoft Word first to take advantage of its Spell Check feature.

Break it up. People have difficulty absorbing long unbroken blocks of text. To make your emails and other communications more reader-friendly, break them up into shorter paragraphs, each containing a single main idea. This will make it easier for readers to understand your point.

Don't be too casual. The Internet has given rise to a lot of casual acronyms and shortenings of words, such as your for your and u for you. Avoid these at all costs in business communications. They are too casual for a business environment.

Consider your audience. Are you writing to a marketing exec, a programmer or other technical employee, or the company president? Are you writing to one specific person or to a large audience with different levels of technical understanding? You should always tailor your communications to your audience. If you are writing to employees who are not technical, avoid specialized technical words and break concepts down so that laypeople can understand.

Every email and communication you send does not have to be a work of genius. But it does need to be easily understood. Use these tips, and your business communication is sure to improve.

by Jennifer Williamson

Jennifer Williamson runs a successful article writing business as a freelance writer in southern Pennsylvania.

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