Writing at Work: A Guide to Better Writing in Administration, Business and Management

By Robert Barrass | Go to book overview

2

Do it this way

Your purpose in any communication is, first, to be understood. Depending on your audience and the occasion, you should also try, for example, to amuse, to convince, to inform, to instruct, to persuade, or to sympathise. That is to say, your intention should always be both to be understood and to affect other people in a chosen way.


Essential characteristics of business communications

As you prepare any letter, memorandum, or longer communication, in administration, business or management, consider the needs of your readers. Who are they? Why are you writing? What do you hope to achieve?

Many business communications are concerned with ensuring efficiency, quality, and cost effectiveness - with a view to making a profit so that those who devote time to the business (employees and owners) or invest money (owners or shareholders) can be paid. Such communications include not only letters and memoranda, and reports of various kinds, but also manuals, plans, specifications, guidelines, procedures - including instructions and drawings - and records of activities performed and results achieved.

Any communications that are, for example, inaccurate, inappropriate, unclear, verbose, inconsistent, incomplete or imprecise are likely to be ignored, or may confuse, or may result in inappropriate actions, wrong decisions, accidents, costly mistakes, and wasted effort.

Napley (1975), in The Technique of Persuasion, advised those advocates who would best serve their clients to present their case in order, with integrity, clarity, simplicity, brevity, interest, and with no trace of pomposity. To help you decide how you should write at work, consider the characteristics listed here - in alphabetical order - as being essential in business communications.

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