Chapter 2 – Getting Started Planning and Writing Business Messages
Steps in the Writing Process
Prewriting – assessing the purpose, audience, and most appropriate channel for the communication
Organizing and Outlining – mapping out the most strategic and logical arrangement of ideas and
Drafting – composing the actual message by choosing the precise wording and the style of
organization that delivers information most strategically
Revising and Editing – evaluating your draft from the point of view of your readers to check for
completeness, coherence, accuracy, consistency, conciseness and appropriateness of language, and
organization. Revising and editing represent a last chance for improvement.
Helps simplify communication tasks and reduce the time it takes to complete them.
Effective writing involves the making of informed decisions
Planning and Preparation are forms of risk prevention
these steps ensure that your communication achieves its intended purpose and meets the
needs of its audience while conveying information clearly, accurately, and concisely.
Purpose-driven – effective business communication is carried out for a reason – to fulfill a specific
purpose – whether it be to convey information or to solve a problem.
Audience – focus – profile your audience and shape each message according to the needs, interests,
and knowledge of a particular individual or group. They know that relevance can depend on looking at
information or a problem from the audience's perspective rather than their own.
Concise – practice and understand that making a document or presentation longer will not necessarily
improve it. Should consist of only the number of words needed to present ideas clearly and courteously.
Prewriting – the process of gathering ideas and establishing the purpose, audience, and channel for a
Thinking a message through is the best thing you can do to simplify the communication
Thinking critically about your subject, the reason for your communication, and its intended
audience brings the greatest benefits to written correspondence and reports, and oral
Take a few seconds to analyze the context in which your message will be received by performing the
Identify the primary purpose of the document
Estimate the scope of the subject you must cover
Determine your receiver's needs
Select the channel that is most appropriate for your message
Collect the information you plan to change. Purpose
for every message you write you must first understand your reason for sending it and what it
is meant to achieve.
Forgetting the reason for writing increases the chance that a message will fail.
Most business communication has only one of two purposes;
to inform, common purpose
Also consider what you want your receiver to know and believe when they have read the
document or heard you speak.
Particular result you, as a sender, are looking for – a general response, specific action,
approval for an initiative, or a decision.
Scope – the breath or limitation of a document's coverage. Depth of detail in a document relative to the
subject that must be covered.
Helps you know exactly what you are talking about.
Make sure you have just enough detail
Before you start writing, consider how detailed or technical it must be to achieve its purpose,
answer readers' questions and concerns, and enable them to act on your message.
Carefully follow through on instructions and e mindful of corporate and industry standards
while taking into account the receiver’s expectations about length, format, and visual elements
It is useful to focus you message by thinking about the members of your audience beforehand
and evaluating their needs within context of their organizational culture and cultural
Audience analysis – the process of assessing the needs and knowledge of readers and listeners
and adapting messages accordingly.
Ask yourself these questions:
What are the receiver's responsibilities and position? – Can help you determine how
the information you give them will be used. Can also help you select the appropriate
level of formality and cultivate a tone that balances deference and authority.
What are the receiver’s attitudes, interests, and questions? – the level of importance
it is to the receiver. Lack of interest may require you to emphasize on key points of the
subject or by making the action the receiver is suppose to take much easier.
What is your experience with the receiver? Can predict possible areas of need or
conflict that you should take into account when shaping your message. If the receiver
has a negative impression of you or your company, it may require extra effort on your
How much does the receiver know about the subject? Level of knowledge will
determine the amount and type of detail included in the message. Refrain from using
vocabulary related to your area of business. Build on the knowledge the receiver may
already have by linking it with new facts.
What is the receiver's likely response? Anticipate the reader's reaction/response to
your message – neutral, receptive, or resistant. Be prepared with persuasive strategies.
What words define your relationship with the receiver? Be deliberate in your choice
of pronouns (I, you, we), these words can define or change your relationship with the
receiver. Can also make difference in your tone. Is there more than one receiver? Primary audience – the intended receiver of a
message – the person or persons who will use or act on a message's information.
Secondary audience – anyone, other than the primary audience, who will read a
document and be affected by the action or decision it calls for.Anyone else who may,
indirectly, happen to read or listen to your message.
Do you need to adapt your message for an international receiver? Take into account
the background, environment, and beliefs of your receiver.
Does the receiver have particular expectations? May intend to use the document in a
particular way, which will influence her expectations about the document's length and
This analysis can help you define reader benefits for informative and persuasive messages by
uncovering facts that will motivate readers.
Reader benefits – the advantages the reader gains by complying with what the writer proposes
in buying products, following policies or endorsing ideas.
Medium or Channel
Medium or Channel – the physical means by which an oral or written message is transmitted.
Accuracy of transmission required – eg. Cellphone reception, clear?
Speed of transmission required – need information sent quickly?
Cost of the channel – eg. Shipping costs? (Express vs economy)
Need for a permanent record – instructions, policies, and legal binding agreements
archived for future references.
Detail of the message – highly detailed? Written communication is better.
Importance of the message – formal business letters may communicate professionalism
Privacy required – confidential or private information is unsuitable with emails.
Size and location of the audience – emails, video conferencing can help people in large
parties or separated geographically.
Level of formality required – formal business letter vs phone. Depends on the
Immediacy of the feedback required – immediate feedback?
Level of control over how the message is composed – if you must word your message
carefully, best channel: letter, email, and voice mail. If over the phone, must be quick at
Richness of the channel – Richness – the different types of cues – verbal, visual – from
which meaning can be inferred. Rich medium is better for building rapport. If you have
to deliver bad news, use face-to-face, tone of voice and facial expression convey
empathy and sensitivity.
Preferences of your organization
Brainstorming – a method of generating content by listing ideas as they come to mind.
Help stimulate the mind to creative thinking, unlocking ideas, and revealing hidden
Mapping or Clustering – a method of generating content by visualizing the main topic
and its subcategories. Useful for defining the relationship between ideas.
Asking questions – Journalistic questions – the essential questions (5 W's) that frame
journalist's inquires as they focus and prepare their stories. Organizing and Outlining
the process of arranging information for clarity and impact.
Sequential method of development – a method of organization describing the
arrangement of steps in a process
Chronological method of development – a method of organization that describes
events in order in which they occur.
General to specific method of development
Cause-and-effect method of development – a method of organization that links events
with the reasons for them.
Outline – a framework for a document, showing its divisions and elements. Recommended for
important, complex documents. Can help you detect errors in logic and coherence.
Once you begin to write, the work of deciding how to organize your document will have
already been done, leaving you to concentrate on tone, word choice, sentence structure, and the
accuracy of your content.
Surveys and questionnaires
Secondary research (classification)
Books, article, and reports
Research strategies (sequential)
Conducting library and online searches
Drafting – the preliminary writing of a document
Overcoming Writer's Block
Writer's block – a psychological state of being unable to begin the process of composition out of fear
or anxiety over the communication task.
Work on a computer
Talk it out – “what am I trying to say here?”
Take a break
Practice free writing – free writing – a method of generating content based on
unstructured writing and the recording of ideas as they come to mind.
Adapt a positive attitude to writing – ask for feedback
Writing Under Pressure
Allocate your time – mental timetable to keep finish writing tasks.
Keep distractions to a minimum
Get the most from word processing software
Take a few seconds to plan the structure
Remember your reader Go with the flow
Leave refinements for revision
Revising and Editing
Revising or Revision – the process of reviewing and making changes in a draft document –
adding, deleting, reorganizing, or substituting – to transform it into a finished document
Editing – the process of checking a writing draft to ensure it conforms to standards of good
English style, and accepted business-writing practice.
Accuracy – must be able to verify the accuracy of the information you present. Free from distortion.
Completeness – achieves purpose, meets reader's needs.Adequate information, no information
Structure and coherence – organized logically to the purpose you want to achieve. Related ideas
linked with appropriate transitional devices.
Sentence and paragraph construction – any awkwardness in sentences? Give impact and directness
into writing by using active voice.
Consistency and format – use of language, style of visuals, and overall design should be consistent.
Readability, word choice, and ethics – level of difficulty appropriate for readers? Use specific and
familiar words. Keep the reader/receiver in mind.
Grammar, spelling, and punctuation –can undermine professionalism and readability of your
Typographical errors – inadvertent errors, misplaced punctuation.
Collaborative Writing – the process of writers working together to create finished reports, proposals,
and other important documents.
Practice active listening – be open-minded, make sure you understand what is being
said before you respond.
Designate a team coordinator – keeps track of process on the document and
consolidates draft segments of the document to a master copy.
Do up-front planning – meet to discuss the document before anyone begins to write.
Brainstorm...etc. Schedule to accommodate the meetings
Agree on writing-style standards – help diminish difference in individual writing
Use technology to overcome constraints of physical location – instant messaging...etc.
Determine who is responsible for each segment of the document – Equalize. Put
strengths with strengths or where they will learn as much as possible.
Foster a spirit of co-operation – allow everyone to be heard
Harmonize writing styles – exchange and review writing segments while remaining
diplomatic in your criticism of others. Person with the best writing should edit, if
Final copy should read in one voice, have continuous style, and not look as though
sections have simply been pasted together. Make sure it is error-free.
Chapter 3 – Business Style: Word Choice, Conciseness, and Tone
Good writing is a matter of how well you reach your readers and how well you get your
message across in the way you intend. Good business style, involves thinking about how words “sound” and how your readers are
affected by the words you use.
Plain style or plain language – a style of writing that places value on simplicity, directness, and
One of the aims is to banish dead and empty words and replace them with more lively and
expressive ones that readers connect with immediately and remember easily.
puts readers first
makes ideas and information meaningful
international plain-language movement, dedicated to presenting information so it makes sense
to most people and can be acted upon after a single reading.
Use common, everyday words, except for necessary technical terms
Use reasonable sentence lengths
Use active-voice verbs and phrasal verbs – show who or what performs an
action. Voice – a term that describes a verb's ability to show whether the subject
of a sentence acts or is acted upon. Phrasal verb – a verb that combines with one
or more prepositions to deliver its meaning.
Use personal pronouns: I, you and we. Except in formal reports. Gives you a
fluency to say what you need to say with as little awkwardness as possible.
Pronoun – words that replace or refer to nouns.
Use unambiguous language – Ambiguity – a term that describes an obscure or
inexact meaning. Open to interpretation. Try your best to prevent ambiguity from
creeping into your writing.
Place the subject as close as possible to the verb – meaning of a sentence relies
on the clear relationship of its subject and verb. Tangled sentences result when
long modifying phrases separate these all-important elements.
Use Familiar Words
Curb your use of words ending in -ize and -ization – can lead to an inflated, heavy-handed
style that grinds comprehension to a frustrating halt.
Use words derived from French sparingly – when overused, it can sound contrived and
affected when compared with simpler english alternatives.
Avoid foreign words and phrases – eg. Ad hoc (for a particular purpose), and pro bono (for
free) use in legal documents and formal writings.
Use only job-related jargon – Jargon – a term that describes (1) the specialized terminology
of a technical field or (2) outdated, unnecessary words used in a business context. Size your
audience first and define any special terms you may have used.
Bypass buzzwords – Buzzwords – fashionable, technical, or computer jargon.
Use Language that is Fresh and Current
Replace clichés – Clichés – overused tired expressions that have lost their ability to
Retire outdated business expressions
Eliminate slang – Slang – coine