Written Communication – It’s Not Going Away

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On an average day, I receive anywhere from 75 to 150 emails per day. I write at least that many. Throw in a couple of memos and a few letters and that adds up to a lot of writing! In our information age, writing is essential. Use these tips to ensure you use written communication to your advantage.

Do you need to be there? If the reader of your written communication needs immediate feedback or if the reader needs immediate additional information for what's written, the subject would be best handled in person (or email if you check it regularly). Try using a written piece in a meeting for those communications that need immediate answers and are lengthy to verbally communicate.

You need it when? Ever put a very important memo in each partner's mailbox just to find out that they still had not read it a week later? If your written communication needs immediate action, use another format or follow up your communication with a voice mail.

Right written format, right time. Email is great because you can use it to prompt people when you don't need an immediate response. If you want to convey information and don't need to speak with the person, memos work just fine. If you can make a phone call instead of writing a memo or email, do it. It could save you time in the long run – especially if you agonize over your writing.

Do what you do best. If you know your writing skills are weak, take a class to develop this critical business skill. A well-written communication can make you look like a superstar or it can decrease your credibility. Stick with what you know and learn what you don't.

Do it right the first time. To ensure you have all the critical information needed for your written communication, outline key points before you send the final. Keep in mind that, at the very least, your reader needs to know who, what, when, where, how and why.

Proof and edit. Do what the pros do. Proof your final document before sending it out the door. Also, cross out any word that does not add to your message. Verbally, you can get away with ambiguous statements. In a written communication, these statements muddy your clear message. Finally, for complex memos or letters, ask another person to read it.

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