“Let me start by pointing out that we have actualized our goal of making sales 20 percent higher in the second quarter.”
You’ve probably read sentences just like this in countless business letters and emails. Let’s face it, you’ve probably written similar statements yourself. So what’s so bad about it?
Jack E. Appleman, an award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience as a trainer, professor, and PR/communications professional,
would probably say this sentence is “overstuffed” and unclear. On top of that, it includes the annoying buzzword “actualize.”
“Today, we’re all writers,” Appleman writes in his book “10 Steps to Successful Business Writing” (ASTD Press, 2008). “We generate more documents than ever before — but we don’t do it well. The latest studies reveal that employees who write poorly waste countless hours and, more important, countless dollars.”
Fortunately, Appleman says that anyone can learn how to write more effectively. “It doesn’t matter how extensive your vocabulary is or what grades you received in high school or college English. If you can learn to convey a message simply — so readers quickly get it — then you can become an effective business writer.”
In his easy-to-read, practical guide, Appleman shows you how to polish up your business writing skills — a move that could increase your productivity, demonstrate your leadership skills, and propel your business to the next level.
Make it crystal clear
“Despite our best intentions, our communication with others is often unclear,” Appleman writes. “If people would speak and write exactly what they mean, we could avoid so many problems and so much wasted time.”
According to Appleman, if you want your writing to be clear, you have to include all the pertinent details. “Never make readers guess what you’re saying — they’ll often guess wrong,” he explains.
For example, let’s say you write the following sentence in an email: “I need to speak with Rick before his meeting today with the sales force at 3:30.” Your reader probably isn’t sure what you’re trying to tell her. Are you saying that you need to talk to Rick at 3:30? Or do you need to speak with Rick before his meeting, which begins at 3:30?