Email Writing

How to make important information stand out

by Jody Bruner

Business readers are impatient and often scan when they read, so writers need strategies to make important information leap off the page. Read more

Flipping the Scientific Method

by Brittany Moor

I studied science in university, and I had to write a lot. My university experience was filled with lab reports, research papers, formal and informal scientific presentations, proposals, essay questions… the list goes on. To achieve top marks, I was taught that my writing method should mimic the scientific method: present my conclusions and recommendations at the very end of my document. When I started working in the real world, I began to realize this method didn’t work as well as I thought, and I struggled to present myself as a credible professional. Read more

Plain Language for Better Written Communication

written communication skillsby Lesley Nevills

Have you ever had to read a message several times just to understand it? We’ve all been on the receiving end of emails like that, and our impulse is to hit delete. But what if that email includes information you need, or it comes from someone you can’t ignore?

Many writers fall into the trap of writing in a vague and bureaucratic style because they think it makes them sound more formal or professional, but it confuses and challenges the reader. So, if you don’t want your readers to hit delete, use a modern written communication style that engages your reader with a friendly, conversational tone. To be effective, let your human voice come through.

Who would you prefer to work with – Writer A or Writer B? Read more

How to Create Your Own Email Protocol

email protocolby Rachel Eidan

Are your team’s email practices inconsistent, causing confusion and miscommunication? This is an issue we hear about often from our clients. Although we teach teams to write effective emails, improve etiquette, and communicate strategically, some groups still need help with fundamental conventions. If this sounds like your team, try creating your own company email protocol. Here’s a quick how-to: Read more

How to Create Perfect Documents Every Time

proofreading tips

by Jody Bruner

No matter how good you are at what you do, documents with grammar mistakes will erode your corporate and personal credibility.

Proofreading is challenging for a couple of reasons. First, the mind tends to substitute correct words, “seeing” what was intended or what should be there instead of what is actually there. This tendency accounts for errors such as “She’s form Britain.”

Second, most of us tend to read far too quickly to spot all errors on a line of text. When we read at a normal pace, we fixate on a line of text in three or four places. We can only really see about six characters with each fixation, and everything else is picked up with our peripheral vision, which gets less and less accurate the further it is from the center. Read more

Email Writing Tips That Save Time

email writingby Leigh Geraghty

Email is arguably the biggest success story of the Internet, and it’s no wonder! Consider its many benefits: email is fast, easy to use, convenient and inexpensive. However, all this convenience can backfire on us if we end up spending too much time writing, reading and managing emails.

Here are some writing tips that will save time for both you and your readers:

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Communication Tips for Change Management

by guest blogger Siobhan Brown, Program Director at TidalShift Inc.

 

According to renowned change guru, John Kotter (2012), 70% of change initiatives in organizations and businesses fail. One of the major obstacles that hinder the overall success of change management programs is ineffective communications. This is partially due to lack of communication. When you are leading a change, you live, breathe and may even dream about the change. You are so engrossed by the change that you may feel it is not necessary to keep repeating it. However, the reality is, you cannot “over communicate” the change. When people don’t know what’s happening, what’s expected, or even why the change is occurring in the first place, they will likely make up the reasons—and their stories are usually far worse than the truth.

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Positive Tone: It’s How You Say It

positive tone

by Leigh Geraghty

When asked about their business writing challenges, many of our workshop participants say they have trouble with the tone of their message. Tone is how you describe the emotional quality of writing. It reflects the writer’s attitude towards the reader, and affects how the reader will respond. Writers tend to put a lot of effort into sounding competent and professional, but aren’t always sure how to create a positive tone.

Three choices for tone

When it comes to tone, you have three choices: positive, negative or neutral.

Read more

Crafting a Helpful Out of Office Message

email auto-responder

by Jody Bruner

Holiday season is about to begin, and we will all soon be enjoying some vacation time. But with the exception of statutory holidays, business carries on, and your business associates need to know if and when you’re available. In our Email Essentials workshop, we teach you how to use your out of office notification effectively to communicate your absence any time you’re away. This helps you manage expectations and helps your clients and colleagues avoid the frustration of expecting a quick response while you’re away. If your autoresponder is clear, complete, and gives your readers the information they need, they will be grateful. The system can also be used to prevent building a toxic work environment from unauthorised absences and the disciplinarys that often follow.

What information should you include in your out of office email? This depends on your role in the company and the industry you’re in. Consider these ideas when you think about what your network needs to know:

  • The dates of your absence, and especially the date of your return. I always appreciate it if the writer spells out the dates (I’ll return Tuesday, January 3rd instead of 01/03/17). Be precise—avoid saying you’ll be gone for two weeks or returning next Monday. Instead, say you’ll return on January 3rd.
  • Who to contact for an urgent matter. An out of office message might offer contact information for someone who can handle an emergency in your absence. This gives a sender with an urgent issue the ability to move forward. If you work in a large company and have a few staff members on your team handling different areas, include a list of relevant names, email addresses and phone numbers.
  • If you’ll be checking your inbox. Let people know if and how frequently you’ll be checking email (once a week, once a day, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, etc.) and when they can expect a response to urgent requests. Of course, this means you have to follow through as promised.
  • The reason for your absence. This isn’t always necessary, but it might be a good idea to let people know if you’re on vacation or on a business trip. If you’re at a conference or taking a course to improve yourself by building skills or knowledge, explaining this in your out of office message only builds your credibility.
  • Make sure your message is complete, concise and correct. Use white space and bullets if needed. I always appreciate being able to quickly scan a message to find the information I’m looking for.

Here are some examples:

Example 1

Vacation Alert!

I will be away until Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017.

I’ll be checking email occasionally and will have limited ability to respond. If this is an urgent matter, please contact Jane Smith at jane.smith@company.com (222 333-4445)

Have a wonderful holiday season.

Sandra Johnson

Example 2

Thanks for your note.

I’m away at a plain language conference from Monday, November 28th to Friday, December 2nd. I will respond to your email when I’m back on Monday, December 5th.

If you’d like to speak to someone right away, please contact Francine Melody at 222 333-4444.

While we’re on the topic of vacation alerts, our office is gearing up to slow down for the holidays. Wavelength offices will be closing on Tuesday, December 27th and opening again on Tuesday, January 3rd.

Have a great holiday season and a happy New Year!

10 Tips for New Grads: How to Succeed at Your First Job

communicating first job

by Jody Bruner

Last post we discussed how high impact writing can help land your dream job. Here, we are going to focus in on newly graduated millennials. While an astonishing 87% of new graduates see themselves as prepared to enter the workforce with the skills they gained from their education, hiring managers don’t agree.

A recently released study from PayScale (an on-demand compensation data and software company) and Future Workplace (an executive development firm) shows that 44% of managers feel writing proficiency is the hard skill most lacking among college graduates, and 39% feel presentation skills is the second most lacking.

Communicating on the job is different from the communicating you did at school. You’re not writing or speaking to show your understanding or that you can argue a position in the same way you did while you were in school. Still, once you are working, you’ll find your day is full of communicating: writing emails, having conversations and thinking critically to move projects forward. Mastering these skills is what we teach.

Here’s some advice to pass on to any new grads you know.

Read more

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