Tone in business writing
I’m sure we’ve all experienced struggling with the tone of a business document or email. We know something doesn’t sound right but are not sure how to fix it.
My latest two blogs look at tone:
- Use the right tone in business writing – writing techniques that create tone.
- Check your tone in emails – common email tone mistakes.
50% off all my online courses until the end of May
I usually only offer discounts for new courses but these are ‘crazy’ and ‘unprecedented’ times. To help those of you who wish to improve your grammar and writing skills during COVID-19, all my online courses have 50% off until the end of May.
Use the following coupon code:
My courses are:
- Grammar, Punctuation and Usage
- Business Writing
- Writing and Grammar Bundle (Grammar, Punctuation and Usage plus Business Writing)
- Write to Govern
- Grammar Basics
The following short courses are extracts from the larger courses:
Benefits of well-structured board papers
Q: I’ve always struggled to state to colleagues the benefits of a well-structured board paper. Can you please summarise the benefits for me.
A: In brief, from the board’s point of view:
- When writers get to the point upfront, directors know immediately what the paper is about and why it matters.
- When information is grouped under subheadings, the messages stand out and are easy to remember.
- Well-structured papers are visually attractive, which helps make them easy to read.
From the writer’s point of view:
- Structuring a paper well helps you clarify your ideas, so you lead with the most important information.
- You can easily see if you have covered all the important points and check if you have left anything out.
First person plural in board papers
Q: What’s your opinion about using the first person plural in board papers?
A: This is a style question so there is no right or wrong.
I might start a paper using the company’s name (Company X’s risk policy) to set the tone and then use the first person plural (we, us, our) when it feels appropriate. It must be clear who we, us, our refer to (e.g. management, team).
Interesting articles about writing
if semicolons interest, infuriate or puzzle you, you may wish to read:
- World semicolon day – Grammar Girl’s interview with Cecilia Watson, author of Semicolon
- Semicolons in fiction – Fiction writers use semicolons more creatively than business writers
A brief history of word games
I’ve read that people are doing more jigsaws while stuck at home. I wonder if they’re also doing more crossword puzzles. Did you know that crosswords weren’t invented until 1913? Read more.
Novelists pick books to inspire, uplift and offer escape
What books are you reading at the moment? Read some suggestions.
What our contagion fables are really about
This New Yorker article states that all plague novels are parables. It will be interesting to see what novels emerge from COVID-19. Read more.
Writing about business (without being a bore)
Read this Harvard Business Review article about the importance of clear, relevant writing.
Quote of the month
Have you seen the following punctuation joke that’s gone viral?
I’m giving up eating chocolate for a month.
Sorry, wrong punctuation.
I’m giving up. Eating chocolate for a month.
For many of us, COVID-19 has been a time for reflection. For me, it’s been a time of sorting out and releasing old stuff (financial records, photos) and thinking about my future work priorities. At this stage, I want to focus on my board reporting work.
As part of this reflection, I’ve decided this is my last newsletter.
Thank you for reading my words – you’re the reason I have written this newsletter for so many years. A special thanks to long-term subscribers.