Shirley's Articles / Business Writing

If You Wouldn’t Say It, Don’t Write It

I am always amazed at some of the emails I receive using language like: Please kindly peruse the above-mentioned document, Kindly revert to me at your soonest, Appreciate your kind assistance in this matter, or The said report is attached herewith for your reference and perusal.

When my workshop participants ask me if they can use such language, my answer is always: “Would you say it if you were speaking to someone?” They always laugh and say, “No!” And there lies the golden rule of writing: If you wouldn’t say it, don’t write it!

Check out these sentences that we often see in emails, and consider their modern equivalent:

X – We refer to your email message.

– Thanks for your email.

X – The above-mentioned workshop will be held next Tuesday, 4 may

– This workshop will be held next Tuesday, 4 May.

X – The below-mentioned goods will be dispatched to you next Monday.

– The goods will be sent to you next Monday.

X – Please furnish me with this information at your soonest.

– Please let me have this information soon.

X – Kindly revert to me asap.

– I hope to hear from you soon.

X – Please find attached herewith a copy of our latest catalogue for your reference and perusal.

– I am attaching our latest catalogue, and I hope you find it interesting.

Put It Into Practice

With email messages, we have only bare facts, without tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, or pauses. It makes sense to use writing that is as close as possible to spoken language. When you do this, you will put your personality and individuality into your message. This will help you to stand out and make a greater connections.

Myth Buster

Many of my workshop participants say to me, “Shirley, I use a very informal style when I’m speaking to people, but when I’m writing I have to use a more formal style, right?”

Wrong! It’s the 21st century. We need to write in a natural way, not in a false, fake way that takes too much effort and sounds insincere. We should all be aiming to develop great relationships today, and our writing plays an important part in achieving this.

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* Credit line: © Shirley Taylor. Shirley is an international bestselling author. She has established herself as a leading authority in email and business writing skills. Her international bestseller Model Business Letters, Emails & Other Business Documents 7th edition sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into 17 languages. Her book Email Essentials reached #2 in the USA for publishers Marshall Cavendish International. Find out more about Shirley at shirleytaylor.com.
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