Resources – Shirley’s Articles For Reprint
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.
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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© 2013 Shirley Taylor.
Shirley Taylor is a recognised leading authority on business writing and communication skills. For almost 30 years she has presented keynotes and training programmes that help people and organisations boost communication skills and develop great relationships both orally and in writing. Shirley is bestselling author of 12 books, including Model Business Letters, Emails and Other Business Documents, which has sold half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into many languages. If you would like Shirley to speak at your next event, visit shirleytaylor.com.
** The above website link to shirleytaylor.com must be clickable to receive permission to reprint the article.