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Written Communication

Definition
Written Communication is expressing oneself clearly in business writing.
Behaviors
An employee demonstrating this competency:
  • Expresses ideas clearly and concisely in writing
  • Organizes written ideas clearly and signals the organization to the reader (e.g., through an introductory paragraph or through use of headings)
  • Tailors written communications to effectively reach an audience
  • Uses graphics and other aids to clarify complex or technical information
  • Spells correctly
  • Writes using concrete, specific language
  • Uses punctuation correctly
  • Writes grammatically
  • Uses an appropriate business writing style
Importance of this Competency
Written Communication is used in business letters, instructions, technical manuals, proposals, contracts, and performance appraisals. When information is important enough to be documented, written communication is used. Only a minority of workers use this competency extensively, but most workers must be able to use it effectively for selected situations.
General Considerations in Developing this Competency
Like Oral Communication, Written Communication is best developed through deliberate instruction, feedback and coaching. This kind of instruction is available in courses on business writing and may also be provided by managers or coworkers willing to work with someone to develop his/her writing skills.

If your writing skills need refinement, rather than significant development, you may benefit from reviewing books on business writing and from applying some of the practice ideas suggested below.
Practicing this Competency
  • Prepare and revise an outline of your ideas, before writing an initial draft.
  • Use formats that clearly convey the organization of your ideas (e.g., different levels of headings, bulleting or numbering of key points).
  • For documents longer than one page, set forth the broad organization in an initial paragraph or section.
  • Review and revise your initial draft, until you are satisfied with it. Look for ways to simplify your communications and make them more concise.
  • Consider the level and experience of your audience and select examples accordingly.
  • Consider adding graphics to make your written communications more interesting.
  • Use the spell checker and grammar checker on your word processor.
  • For effective formatting of presentations, use a template in one of the many excellent presentation software programs.
Obtaining Feedback
Have someone whose judgment you trust review your written communications and suggest revisions before you send them out. Distribute a copy of a presentation you plan to deliver and ask for feedback and suggestions.
Learning from Experts
Look for opportunities to work with skilled writers to co-author written communications. Find and study good examples of the kind of written communications you need to prepare (e.g., business letters, contracts, proposals, presentations). Note the organization and format.
Coaching Suggestions for Managers
If you are coaching someone who is trying to develop the compentency, you can:
  • Provide assignments that require preparing written communications.
  • Work with this person to plan and outline a written communication. Discuss the reasons for a particular organization, format and content.
  • Carefully review and suggest revisions on written communications. Have the person implement the revisions.
  • Provide assignments requiring this person to work closely with a skilled writer to help prepare written communications.
  • Steer this person to a course on business writing.
Sample Development Goals
By March 30, I will prepare a written proposal to develop a video on team participation skills.

By March 10, I will meet with Sally Reimer to outline the proposal’s contents.

By March 17, I will prepare a first draft.

By March 20, I will meet with Jim Deedan to get feedback and suggestions.

By March 30, I will complete the final revised draft.

By April 30, I will complete a course on business writing skills
Resources

BOOKS

Effective Proposal Writing, by Vasudev Murthy. New Delhi, IN: Response Books, 2006.

How to Write Better Business Letters, by Andrea B. Geffner. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 2007.

How to Write Reports and Proposals (Creating Success), 2nd Edition, by Patrick Forsyth. London, UK: Kogan Page, 2010.

Persuasive Business Proposals: Writing to Win Customers, Clients, and Contracts, 3rd Edition, by Tom Sant. New York, NY: AMACOM, 2012.

Scrolling Forward: Making Sense of Documents in the Digital Age, by David M. Levy. New York, NY: Arcade Publishing, 2003.

The Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication, by Margaret Shepherd. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 2002.

The Business Style Handbook: An A-to-Z Guide for Writing on the Job with Tips from Communications  Experts at the Fortune 500, by Helen Cunningham & Brenda Greene. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill/Contemporary Books, 2002.

Write to the Top: Writing for Corporate Success, by Deborah Dumaine. New York, NY: Random House Inc., 2004.

Writing Effective Letters, Memos, and E-mail, by Arthur H. Bell. Hauppauge, NY: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 2004.

 

SELF STUDY COURSES

Fundamentals of Business Writing. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. www.amanet.org/selfstudy/b13716.htm  

How to Sharpen Your Business Writing Skills.  American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. www.amanet.org/selfstudy/b13856.htm

The Grammar and Proofreading course. American Management Association. Tel. 800 250-5308. www.amanet.org/selfstudy/b14135.htm 

 

EXTERNAL COURSES

Business Writing and Grammar Skills Made Easy and Fun! Two days. SkillPath Seminars. Tel. 800 873-7545. www.skillpath.com/seminfo.html/st/BWG2

Business Writing: Writing E-mails, Memos, and Letters that Work. One day. Cypress Media Group, Inc. Tel. 770 640-9918. www.cypressmedia.net/pages/class7.htm

How to Sharpen Your Business Writing Skills. Four days. American Management Association Course. Tel. 877 566-9441. www.amanet.org/seminars/seminar.cfm?basesemno=2516

Strategic Writing. Two days. Booher Consultants. Tel. 817 318-6000. www.booherconsultants.com/programs/written/strategic_writing.html

Writing to Get Things Done. One day. Berry Writing Group. Tel. 612 578-1487.  http://www.berrywritinggroup.com/seminars/writing/index.html


EXTERNAL RESOURCES

See Appendix

 


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