Writing for work

I’m preparing to conduct my first business writing seminar, and I’m a little nervous. Sure, I’ve taught business writing for a while, but I’ve been focusing my teaching efforts on college students for so long that what I’m nervous about is tailoring the material to people who actually know what writing for work is like.

To tap into their experience, one of the first things I want to ask my seminar participants to consider is what they want their work writing to look like. When they open up their email at the beginning of the day, what do they hope each message looks like? What qualities should it have in their perfect world?

I think that we want our business messages to be short. We get so much email that it’s easy to be overwhelmed by it all.

I also think they’ll say that they want their business messages to be direct. They don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what the message is about or what they are supposed to do about it. These aspects should be clear at a glance, maybe even in the subject line.

I think they’ll also say that they want their messages to be correct. Even if they aren’t that great at grammar, most people notice mistakes here and there. Mistakes bother us because they point to carelessness and lack of knowledge. We don’t trust people who make mistakes.

I’m sure there will be other qualities, but I’d say these are the top three. When we are inundated with all kinds of messages about so many things we just hope the messages we read are 1) clear 2) concise and 3) correct.