Want Faster, Easier Business Writing? Talk on Paper!

Article excerpt

Most people get bogged down when they start a letter or report. They worry about the form they should use, and whether their thoughts will look foolish on paper. If you've ever felt like this, there's an easier way to get your ideas down on paper--and with better results: learn to talk on paper.

Outline Your Ideas

To do this, first jot down a brief outline of what you want to say. Choose no more than three or four key points and the supporting ideas or facts that fall under each point. Keep it simple--don't take more than a minute or two.

Now, imagine that the reader is sitting right next to you, listening to you explain your ideas. Start talking to that person--on paper. Just use the words you would use in a normal conversation.

For example, you wouldn't start your conversation by saying, "Enclosed for your review are the production figures. Please be advised that...." You'd probably say something like, "Jack, here are the production figures you wanted. You can see that machine 406 is running about 15 percent below capacity...." So just talk to your reader, following the short outline you wrote.

Keep doing this until your first draft is complete. Don't worry about punctuation, spelling, or grammar. Just let the words flow. Get your ideas down on paper as easily and quickly as you can. Then revise your first draft, checking for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

The First Draft

To review your first draft, follow these simple guidelines:

Cut extra words. Get rid of any words you don't need. For example, instead of saying, "In order to review...," just say, "To review...."

Use simple words. Don't say "approximately"; say, "about. …