What does it mean to be an “effective communicator”? Effectively communicating determines how you are viewed by your colleagues and friends. Since the business world relies heavily on email, your written skills should be polished and professional. Follow these tips to sharpen your written communication:
Limit sentences to 17 words or less.
A journalism professor once taught me to “keep it simple,” a phrase that still resonates in my writings. He advised me to limit sentences to 17 words or less. When I adhered to his recommendation, my finished essay was the clearest and most concise of any of my writings. I continue to use this skill today. By limiting your words, your writing will be more efficient and ultimately, more effective.
Be aware of your audience.
Remember who you are writing to when choosing your document’s language and style. Ask yourself: Is this an informal or formal document? Often, it is necessary to distinguish between your verbal tendencies and your written style. For personal e-mails, it is acceptable to write in a relaxed manner. However, for more business focused messages, remember your recipient – is this a friend or an executive of an organization? Is this a co-worker you work with every day or a partner in your firm? Are you writing on behalf of your boss and/or coworkers? Keep in mind how your correspondence will reflect on the entire team and be sure to match your writing style to the necessary formality of the document. Lastly, be sure to proofread and edit.
Ask a co-worker to give important documents a fresh set of eyes before distributing them. It is never more embarrassing to include a typo in a cover letter or to misspell a company’s name in a presentation. Your writings are personal reflections and an important part of developing your professional reputation. You want to appear as dynamic on paper (and email!) as you would in person. So, take the extra time to transform your writing from mediocre to remarkable.