The Lost Art of Business Writing

Why learn English? Want to learn about international leadership and being a better leader? a better manager? A better scientist? Then be a better English communicator.

I have been involved in international leadership training for over 20 years, and the key factor always comes to how well you can communicate, in English. English is now the language of business, science, and diplomacy. So I will offer a few hints on English communication each week in the areas of business writing, presentations, meeting skills, video conferencing skills, negotiations, or counseling.

Today will be on business writing, in particular, the business letter, and emails.

Why is the business letter more powerful than ever before?

Because almost no one writes letters anymore, and as a result, a letter has more impact. You have taken the time to compose, then print, then put the letter in an envelope, address it and mail it. Plus, most of the mail we receive nowadays is either junk, bills, or bad news. So imagine, going to your mailbox and receiving a letter from your boss. Immediately you think…bad news. When you open it, the letter is a letter of commendation, praising you for a job well done, complete with a copy included in your personnel file!

Here’s today’s hints on both letters and email.

One. “BCD” That means brief, clear, and direct.
There are 3 parts to a letter or a good email
1. The Opening
– answers the questions why am I writing and what am I writing about
2. The Body
– contains information and details
3. The Closing
– contains a thank you, future statement and deadline.

Two. Referring
Here are ways you can begin your correspondence:

I am/We are writing
concerning
in connection with
regarding
in regard to
referring to
in reference to
further to
as to
with respect to

Interestingly, you can then use one of the above “referrings” to begin a new paragraph in the body.

Speaking of paragraphs, there are 3 parts in a great paragraph:
1. The topic sentence = the topic of the paragraph and a controlling idea
There are 3 reasons why I love chocolate. Topic= why I love chocolate
Controlling idea = 3 ways.

2. Supporting Sentences
These provide evidence supporting the topic sentence, such as examples, lists, reasons, results, contrast, additional information, expert opinion and statistics.

3. Concluding Sentence
This is a recap/summary/paraphrase of/synopsis of the topic sentence.

Three. The Closing
It is simply courtesy to say thank you with a reason. For example:
Thank you for taking the time to consider my requests.
Thank you for reviewing this information.

The future statement and deadline
This combination helps the reader be successful in the reply.
If you have any questions or require further information, please feel free to contact me by Friday, 5 pm Tokyo time.

These hints work well for both a business letter or an email. Plus, you can also apply most of these hints for telephone communication or face-to-face.