Writing Skills

Communicating Out: Technical to Non-Technical

 

 

Jody Bruner from Wavelength and David Donaldson from TidalShift, experts in project management, team up to discuss one of our most asked about topics: communicating to non-technical people.

 

Transcription: Read more

Managers: How to Help Make the Learning Stick

by Rachel Eidan

Acquiring new skills, tools and processes happens in the classroom, but making sure that learning is retained depends on changing habits back on the job. And it’s tough to change. Learners are more likely to successfully improve their skills long term when they have a manager who provides the right kind of support. Here are some ways managers can help:

Ask for a one-minute essay describing the main points learned in the course as soon as possible following its completion. Learning retention is time-sensitive, so be sure you ask for this promptly. Writing helps consolidate key points and clarify the learning. Learners should post a printout of this somewhere for a few days and give it a quick re-read whenever they have a moment. 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

Is Your Social Media Persona Professional?

professionalism on social mediaThis is a guest blog written by Kim McLaughlin from Lyra Communications. Lyra is a social media company, that provides strategy, execution and consulting services for both consumer and professional service firms to help them retain existing clients and acquire new ones.

 

Emojis, exclamation marks, acronyms and kittens – the world of social media has turned the traditional rules of business writing on their heads.

Back in the day, the rules of writing were clearly defined given a company’s industry, target market and the preferences of its executives. But today those rules are blurred and there is often little difference between the kind of copy we see from a bank and an online jewelry store for teens.
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:

Read more

Tips for Learning Homophones 

confused by homophones

by Jody Bruner

Lots of good writers have difficulty with homophones—words that sound alike, but have different meanings and spelling. Hear and here is one example—there are lots more.

Spelling and grammar checkers have come a long way but are still fallible, especially when it comes to homophones. The  Spell Checker poem, which has been circulating since 1991, illustrates how a spell checker can be fooled. Go ahead and give it a try, your spell checker will only pick up two or three errors. Here are the first three stanzas: Read more

How Yoga Can Improve Your Writing Skills

by Lesley Nevills

When I first started practicing yoga, I had a lot of preconceived notions about what I could do physically. One teacher introduced me to a concept called beginner’s mind where you let go of assumptions and open yourself up to learning new ways of doing things. For example, the first time I tried to do a handstand, I worried that I didn’t have enough upper body strength to hold the pose. When I approached the handstand with a beginner’s mind, I let go of my fear and followed my teacher’s instructions step by step. Before I knew it, I was doing a handstand.

We can learn a lot by adopting a similar approach to our writing. By questioning assumptions about what you can say and what your readers need, your writing is more likely to be clear, concise and persuasive.

Here are some tips to help you apply the beginner’s mind to your writing: Read more

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.

Read more

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.

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!

Page 1 of 212