Loading
Notes
Study Reminders
Support
Text Version

Mechanics of Business Writing

Set your study reminders

We will email you at these times to remind you to study.
  • Monday

    -

    7am

    +

    Tuesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Wednesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Thursday

    -

    7am

    +

    Friday

    -

    7am

    +

    Saturday

    -

    7am

    +

    Sunday

    -

    7am

    +

In this lecture we shall be talking about the various mechanics of business writing when you are going to adapt to the audiences requirements you are actually aware of who your audience members are. You also know and if you do not know you have already anticipated about their background, their age, their qualification, their preferences, their likes, dislikes, their needs whatsoever. Now, since you have already made a proper planning now you are going to write your business message, hence we call it the mechanics of business writing. Since in business world we are writing for customers and not all customers are alike, there are differences in terms of age, in terms of gender, in terms of qualification, in terms of experience. So, they all vary and the level of their variation actually prompts us to draft business letters or business documents in a manner that all of them can understand. So, let us talk about some guiding principles and the very first guiding principle is make use of short and simple sentences. So, the very first thing that we should keep into consideration while drafting our business messages make use of short and simple sentences. You all know as we have already discussed that the best way to think about your audience is to put yourself in their shoes or to put yourself in their position. And, you will find that if any business document which is very long and which has got very lengthy sentence structures, you never think of reading them or you do not have the patients to read them. I have often seen many people not reading the entire document, it is not that they are not interested, but actually the length of the entire document actually irritates them. So, we use words which are difficult. So, the caution that wants to take is use specific words; when we talk about words, words have got different meanings in different contexts. We have been discussing the same in previous lectures as well and sometimes when you are discussing a very important issue, you actually do not take into consideration the reader’s inconvenience. And, if we have to take readers into confidence or if we think of reader’s convenience rather we shall be making use of small sentences, we shall be dividing sentences, we shall make use of transitions. Now, what are these transitions? These transitions actually are the changes; I mean, suppose you spoke one sentence and you want to speak again another sentence. So, there comes in and between one word which can bring a sort of transition. Suppose, somebody is going to write a report and as you know the report itself by its own definition and nature appears to be long. So, what will happen; imagine from the point of view of readers, the readers when they start reading, they actually have to kept intact. We have to allow readers a flow and this flow is at times broken when we are not in a position to bring an agreement in sentences. The sentence and the paragraphs they actually end up becoming incoherent, I mean no sequence is maintained. So, as a careful a writer writing business documents one has to see that there is a proper sequence in sentence and coherence in paragraphs. So, how can we do that; how can we win; how can we win our audience; I mean, one writer goes to the extent of saying that a spotlight on readers benefit. Spotlight on readers benefit meaning thereby we actually have to when we are writing you know all of you are clear that when you have made a lot of research and you are now going to write. So, focus on the benefits, and while focusing on the benefits you are not going to sacrifice with the facts because all sorts of business writing they are actually based on facts. So, focus on benefits that is one, I mean you will be talking about the advantages, suppose you are talking about a product, suppose you are writing a report, suppose you are writing through email and you are going to suggest some new devices or you are going to promote some new products in the market. So, in order to make it reader friendly what we need to do is you actually need to develop a sort of you attitude when you write, oh all of us; I mean, as a human beings we at times become very selfish. And, when you become selfish and you do not show your sincerity what you do is, you start writing in a language that you think is or perfect, but then you have to think it from the point of view of your receivers. And, in order to think from the point of view of receivers, you have to develop a sort of you attitude and this you attitude can be shown the way you draft your sentence. I mean, when you are having a you attitude what you do is, so most of us we are actually obsessed with the sort of I attitude or we attitude rather in a business world you will have to change it I and we into you attitude; I mean, it has to be focused on the readers it has to be focused on the customers. And then we also talked about maintaining a proper tone. Because, audience members also see to it that they are addressed properly, they are actually made to understand things unless and until they feel that something is of their benefit. They are not going to buy it or they are not going to read it either it is a product, either it is a letter or it is a proposal or something else. Now, when I say language what I mean is a person can use language in a number of ways you can show your anger also, you can also show your gratitude, you can also show your sincerity, you can also show your neutrality and you can also show your prejudice all through language. How is that possible? I mean, through the selection of the words and then because you never want to lose your audience what you need to do is, you actually need to include a positive expression. Because as I have been saying that every now and then you cannot agree, every now and then you cannot write a message, because if you are going to convince somebody some bad message, some message which is negative, messages which are unpleasant, messages which are not liked. But, then even though the need of the r is to express that or to tell that message please draft that message in such a manner that it becomes a bit light and the audience members becomes ready to accept that. How is that possible that I will show through certain examples that I have from certain business textbooks. And then words, when we are talking about words we have to see that words have to be used depending upon the background of our audience members. Of course, as I have been saying that you cannot know in totality who your audience members are, but then you can always anticipate, you can always think, you can imagine. And, when you imagine and rather if you even you do not want to struggle a lot because no reader would like to struggle with lengthy sentence constructions, lengthy sentences paragraphs which are breathless, paragraphs which never provide eye relief. So, actually audience members are not interested. So, it is always better to go for the use of familiar words. Of course, at times you will find that there are certain there are certain organizations and certain professions where you cannot or where you do not have a chance to make any other use, but then you can always go for a word which is a less difficult or which is more familiar. So, if you adapt to audience you have to take these things into consideration. Now, as I said that we have to when we are writing something, we have to see that we are pro audience. Pro-audience means maintaining a thought of you view. Here are some sentences where you will find if you have a look at these sentences carefully, You will find that earlier these sentences were written in a manner that appeared to be very stereotypical; no, having no interest at all very ordinarily.  Now, if we have a look at this sentence, the sentence is long, but at the same time the sentence is not crafted in a cause and effect manner, and the sentence does not say whether it is audience center or it is speaker center. So, we have to change it and a little bit of change, a little bit of consideration can make this sentence very effective because master schedule for summer vacation is being developed, please fill in. Now, see please fill in the enclosed questionnaire by making you so, please fill in you are actually addressing the audience and the audience members may feel that you are more informal. Even though we are maintaining a sort of formality, but then we are also a bit informal. We can also see the second sentence where the person or the speaker what he or she does is your request cannot be considered unless you have sent the signed agreement unless you have sent the signed agreement. Now, see in this sentence if so appears, you say your request cannot be considered. So, it appears that the sentence is negative because you have made use of the word cannot and also the sentence is a bit imposing. So, how can we lighten the sentence and how can we make it more you friendly, it is better to begin with we will be glad to consider your request. Now, it appears as if you have taken some amount of personal interest into it we will be glad to consider your request once you send us the signed agreement. And, then it appears that the writer has taken care about the audience and he appears to be a bit informal though for the sake of formality this is quite essential. We also had been saying that at times you may have to say things which are professionally correct, is not it, professionally correct. But then even when you are professionally correct, the tone has to be conversational because not every now and then you can go on or you can continue with the you attitude, if in a in a sentence you make a maximum use of you at times the sentence may also appear to be lopsided. So, there are situations where you can just relax it or just lighten it up by making the tone a bit conversational. Now, in such a situation when the sentence is not only longer but the sentence has also made a use of some words which may not be welcome. I mean, there are quite a number of ways apart from being grammatically correct, there are quite a number of ways where we require as writers where we require consideration for our audience because, in the world of business what is of utmost importance is the relationship. We have been saying that when you write something the reaction or the response to that depends upon what sort of relationship you maintain, if you are not having a good time with your readers or with your respondents naturally they will not react favourably. So, it is always better to maintain a good relationship and this good relationship can be maintained by taking into consideration certain things; not only about the use of words, but also about how what sort of arrangement you are going to make when you are writing a sentence. So, here are some ways, the first is emphasize the positive as we have been saying that our audience members are to be convinced that you are pro-audience. So, what we should do we should actually emphasize, but while when you are emphasizing sometimes it also may appear that this emphasis may not work. In such a situation you will find that you can do a bit with or without the use of a particular word in that case you also have to deemphasized certain words. So, emphasize the positive I mean you have to talk about the benefits just in the beginning so, that the audience members or the receivers feel delighted. And convince how your message will benefit, not only saying that you are being very favourable or pro, but you have to explain. You know, audience members also want that when you say something you are actually giving them evidence. So, what can be done is you have to convince I mean, the next sentence that you write you have to convince to the sentence how this message is going to benefit them. At times you will find at times you will find you actually have make meaningful euphemisms. What are these euphemisms, I mean you actually have to use language in such a manner that because your purpose is to convey the message. Sometimes you can conveys the message straight, sometimes you also have to convey the message in a very indirect manner because the message has to be conveyed and the information is very important, use a language that is free from bias use a language that is free from bias. Now, what exactly do we mean do we as writers of business messages, also are suffering from certain biases yes, there can be biases like sometimes you may use the language, where you may seem to dissociate others. But, if you can give it a better name like a resale cars; I mean, people will be attracted towards it. When you call somebody that elderly person, it is always better to say the senior citizen, the senior citizen is not it and then sometimes you may also when you are supposed you are going to write a sales letter and you make use of high calorie food many people may not like it. So, it is always better to say high energy food, there are other examples also given you can have a look at them seriously. Moreover when you find that there are some people who are having some sort of physical element or whatsoever and you are directing your letter at them, it is always better to take a precaution and not to make a very specific. You need to be specific, but you do not need to be so specific that it can hurt, otherwise what will is you are actually segregating people on the basis of certain criteria. Here is a sentence which ought to be removed which ought not to be used crippled workers face many hardships on the job. I mean, if you make a use of such a sentence, I think this is not appropriate, you can always change this in a different way; so, that it can be effective. We have also been talking about the use of positive expressions; you will find that in a business world negativity does not have much space. So, whenever you are going to write something which is negative say for example, you are going to give somebody a bad message or you are going to convey something bad. I have to change that to positive expressions and in many sentences you will find where you find that negative wordings are there, it is always better to change here are some examples given. I mean, your objective is are to tell them that construction cannot begin until the building plans are approved, make the sentence affirmative, make the sentence affirmative and delete the word which is negative. Construction will begin soon after the building plans are approved, just you have to reverse it. So, that the message that you are going to give becomes positive. Again, we can also have the last sentence. We will withhold payment even though the word appears to be quite appropriate from the business point of view, but nobody would like to listen to the comment like we would withhold your payment until you complete the job satisfactorily. It appears as if you are not giving any attention to the relationship and the business world relationship is what matters most. So, it is always better to make it in a very general manner in say satisfactory job completion qualifies for the fast release of payment. Every now and then people want to receive positive messages and positive messages can be received only when they have been crafted very positively. When it comes to the use of language, language has to be very inclusive and here as I was talking about making use of language based on gender. it is always better to change this pronoun his and to say there, all employees are entitled to see their personal file at times it has so happened because you never know when can things take a different turn. And, in a modern day world we have become very sensitive and we do not want to make anyone hurt we do not want to insult anyone. It is always better that we make use of a language that is inclusive, you can also have a look at the second sentence where again all conference participants and their wives. Now, imagine if there are some people, there are some ladies who are actually an employee or participant, then in that case what will happen the sentence will appear not only meaningless, but then inappropriate. So, it is all of this better in place of wives or husbands we use the word spouses, all conference participants and their spouses are invited to the banquet. It has always been seen that we do not have too much time to carry a dictionary and a thesaurus even though all of us are carrying the cell phones having these facilities. But, then nobody would like to stop when somebody is reading something stop and see the meaning of particular word. So, it is always preferable to write or to make use of plain English to make use of language that is plain, sometimes unnecessarily people make a sentence cumbersome and make an expression very difficult and people are not in a position to understand that. Even though many people might know the meaning of these words, for general people because as I have been saying that business world involves people of all categories, all qualifications, all ages, all genders, all I mean knowledge. So, it is better to go for a language that is plain that is familiar. So, the word is stipulate and perpetuate can be substituted, and when you are substituting situate that the meaning is not a compromised. The contract, actually the contract requires that the management must continue the retirement plan the sentence appears to be very fresh, this sentence appears to be very rigorous. The second sentence also we have the same problem, problem of difficulty because we cannot monitor all cash payments we are going to terminate the contract. It is always better that you know that you have got a very good vocabulary, but then you are not writing for yourself; you are actually writing for others and when you are writing for you have to see that you make use of familiar words, words which are easier. How can we do that we can always see and this can be done when you are going to revise, when you are going to revise just have a look if you can change certain words. I mean, words have so many meanings and you know you must understand that when you are using either functional word or a content word. First is you must understand the difference between the two. Functional words are words which are some parts of speech namely conjunction, preposition, articles and pronouns. I mean these words do not pose much difficulty, these words are also very easy to be understood, but the problem lies with the content words. The content words are nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs and these words depending upon their context they can change their meanings. So, while you are making use of words in a sentence or in a paragraph one in writing, see to it that you go for words, but remember you have to be considerate about your audience members. So, when you are making use of words so, please see to it that you understand the difference between functional words and contain words. Words can have two meaning as I have said sometimes in some other lecture as well. Words may have a denotative meaning; words may have a connotative meaning. Denotative meanings always remain unchanged. So, you cannot do anything with that, but connotative meanings always are associative meanings. Avoid using expressions of intimacy, humour and preaching, you are writing for others to understand you are actually writing for your clients, customers, but then you must not so any intimacy. I mean, at times people show their intimacy, but then this is not proper, sometimes all the other people also make a humorous remarks, sometimes the way you write you also seem to be very imposing or preaching. You are not hear to preach nor to impose, you are actually hear to convey and you can convey in the best possible manner. You can convey in the best possible manner by adopting an approach that is neutral, by adopting an approach that is free from all biases. Here is a table and that will help you I have given some examples how unnecessarily people sometimes make a writing very difficult. When you are going to when you think of using a word like terminate it is always better to use word like end, when you think of writing a word like reciprocate it is always better to write return because these words, the words which are on the right hand side they are easier to be understood. Hence we will go with the words which are familiar make use of specific words and do not go for words which can pose difficulty to the readers. Always prefer familiar to general words, suppose somebody says somebody uses the word like bad mouth, it is always better to use criticize then to use bad mouth. If somebody uses the word like guts appear to be not only a bit informal word. So, it is always better to use nerve or to use courage. And moreover when you are drafting a business document see to it that you make a proper selection not only of words, but also be careful that flabby fridges do not come in and between while we shall be discussing further in the coming lectures, how we can maintain a sort of readability and that will be discussed when we talk about reports. So, in order to maintain readability sometimes what people do they actually make use of flabby fridges. These flabby phrases do not have any room in an effective writing, these flabby phrases at times are repetitions, these are clichés; we shall discuss in detail in the coming lectures. And, if you can convey meaning without the use of super flow of words, it is always better to avoid the use of super flow of works otherwise; it will pose difficulty my dear friends. Now, there can also be words which are strong and which are weak words. So, go for strong words, go for strong words do not use words which are very weak. So, focus on action verbs, what are these action verbs the accident verbs are identify, discover fine, accumulate these are verbs of action, these are streamline, these are verbs of action, conduct fine, and also a wide overuse of adjectives and adverbs. Sometimes when you are writing a recommendation letter it has always been seen that sometimes when people write recommendation letter. They actually filled their recommendation letter with lots of adjectives and adverbs, and you know my dear friends this is considered bad because it appears that you are biased, you are prejudice. So, it is always better to maintain the neutral tone and avoid the overuse of prepositions and prepositional phrases. So, my difference in order to have a sort of efficacy and effectiveness in terms of writing business documents, care has to be taken. And, we have to see that when we make use of words not only are we concerned about our receivers, but we are also concerned about our aim and our aim is to convince our aim is to convey. So, when we know all this, what actually appears to us is that we are now in a position to organize the data. So, already we have seen that when you are going to organize the data; what you are going to do you are making topics subtopics and then you are making divisions. But, see to it that when you are making divisions do not make so many divisions, any division are more than third stage appears to be very boring. Hence, we shall try to restrict ourselves to making less divisions, but when you are making divisions see to it that a proper head gets the proper supporting evidences or proper supporting sentences or pieces of information, otherwise the data as I have been saying will become very lopsided. Next to that what when sued, there are two actually plans that also we should take into consideration. The first is a direct plan and the second is an indirect plan. In a business world you are not only saying things which are positive we are also saying things which are negative, you will have at times to refuse. Refuse the credit, you have a times to disapprove off an hour off a project or whatsoever, but then they cannot be done directly. The direct method is the method when you say things are straight; I mean, recommendation comes first no, routine requests then responses, orders, acknowledgements they come under the category of direct requests, direct a pattern or direct method, but when you have to say something very unpleasant something like a bad message you have to go with the indirect method. Indirect method not only saves the audience because when you say somebody in a very direct manner and the message is hurtful it will not be liked. So, it is always better to go for the indirect method, and this indirect method will actually reduce the negative reaction and that is why it is said that if you have a negative message. Please put that negative message not then the beginning, but then either in the middle or towards the end, but before that bring the evidence it will actually orient the readers to a fair hearing. And in most of the cases when you have to draft letters of denial, refusal or disapproval what you do is you are all going to convey bad news, and when you convey these bad news, you are not going to convey it just in the first instance as you can do in the direct method. In the direct method you start with the recommendation and the very first sentence maybe acknowledgement or recommendation you are actually loading everything just in the beginning that is why direct method is also called front loading. So, it is always better that when you have some unpleasant piece of news, you actually relegate it either towards the middle or towards the end, but before that give the evidence. So, that you are actually going to prepare the reader to receive the message that is going to come and the message is unpleasant. My dear friends in a business world retaining the customer is very important and much depends upon how you write. Because you may always not be expected to convey only good news, you may at times have to do an unpleasant task of conveying bad news also. And, when you are conveying bad news as I said you have to open the sentence with a neutral statement, evidence will come first and the idea will come later, and bad news should also always have a because as there will be some evidence. So, bad news has to depend on a dependent clause. So, conveying bad news is more challenging than conveying good news, hence you have to be quite careful and you have to make use of your discussion when you are doing that. My dear friends, messages good or bad, messages pleasant or unpleasant have to be conveyed if we are to work in an organization and to succeed. But then, we do not want that the receivers should be hurt and that is why when we think of appropriating them keeping into consideration an organization and keeping into consideration. The grammatical nuances, we also are to see that we do not overburden the mind of our readers and that is why one of the key elements of grammatical correctness, and also grammatical ease is parallelism and which we must all know and understand. What actually is parallelism? Parallelism though is a literary device where we are saying things alongside; saying things alongside, but a structurally when we make use of parallelism. What we do is, we are actually saying things which are similar, but in a in a sentence we are making with a structure a bit tender making it structure a bit a soft how can we do that. Readers always appreciate easy to understand and balanced parts of sentence, sometimes when you are going to convey something and the sentence is longer the readers feel troubled. So, it is always better to take some caution and make use of similar structure to express similar idea. Ideas, even though ideas are great many they can also be written in a very precise manner and for that a parallel structure is very important. Parallelism can be maintained not only through use of verbs, but also through nouns. Let us have a look at the sentence. The application for a grant asks for this information funds required for employee salaries, how much we expect to spend on equipment and what is the length of the project. Now see, when the writer wants to convey three things, but then when he has conveyed it he has maintained different structures. Say, it could have been better had he maintained the same structure, the sentence could not have been only easier, but the sentence also could have been more effective. So, let us revise the sentence and say, the application for a grant asks for expenses on employee salaries on equipment and also on tenure of the project. So, what we have done, we have chosen this same sort of phrasing, the same sort of units, the same sort of structure and that not only eases the readers understanding, but also makes the sentence very effective. My dear friends, writing is the challenging task and the world is full of troubles why should we give our readers more troubles by loading our sentences with unnecessary frills. We can also have a look at these two sentences; we will go for a last sentence where to lease an automobile is more expensive than buying one. Now, here we begin the sentence with to lease and then on the other hand we say then buying one. This sentence can be converted into very you know into a structure which can be not only easy, but can be satisfactory, leasing an automobile is more expensive than buying one. So, leasing and then buying so, we are maintaining a sort of structure parallel structure. In the in the sentence before that also you can again see that three things they want people to know or to understand or the requirement, we need more laboratory space, additional personnel is required. So, while in the first instance it is laboratory space, in the second you are putting a sentence. So, that actually breaks that violates the rule of parallelism, hence we should always say we need more laboratory space, additional personnel and more capital.