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Business Writing for Results Prep

1. Five Ways to Improve Your Writing – Bryan Garner from HBR – Duration 2:38

Bryan A. Garner, author of the HBR Guide to Better Business Writing, outlines how to win people over with your writing.

He encourages business writers to:

  1. Use personal pronouns skillfully
  2. Use contractions
  3. Avoid passive voice
  4. Vary the length and structure of sentences
  5. Avoid jargon and acronyms

Think about it:
1- What voice should be your default in business writing?
2- Garner says that contractions counteract what in business writing?
3- What’s the potential downside of using jargon and acronyms in business writing?


2. Business writing advice from Bryan College – Duration 6:15

Bryan College in the USA provides some advice on writing business proposals and reports. Although the advice they share is from an academic perspective, most of the points they make can apply to any business form of writing.

The talk challenges you to:
1- Think about why you are writing a business report;
2- Use correct grammar;
3- Use a writing style appropriate for the workplace;
4- Be logical as you lay out your argument;
5- Include good design and readable formatting

Think about it:

1- What are the most important tips suggested by Bryan College?
2- What is APA style and is it relevant to business writing in your organization?
3- What other styles can you use to cite a source in your report in Canada?
4- What are your thoughts about using Times New Roman font?
5- What are your thoughts about always writing in the 3rd person?

Identify one suggestion that you can incorporate into your own report writing


3. The key forms of business writing – Duration 9:30

The presenter outlines 4 stages for writing reports that get to the point and are reader-friendly.
Note – The voice-over on this video tends to be slightly monotone. This might cause you to miss some interesting and important points.
If you experience difficulty viewing this video, here is the video on Youtube.com

Think about it:
1- What are the 4 main steps suggested for writing effective reports?
2- What does the presenter suggest one can use to make report writing easier?
3- If you don’t need to start writing with the opening, where could you start?
4- What do you think is the most important action mentioned in stage 1 of report writing?
5- What do you think is the most important element to include in your conclusion?

Identify one suggestion that you can incorporate into your own report writing


4. Writing effective emails – Duration 2:30

This presenter covers a lot of information in 2½ minutes about subject lines in emails.
Note – The presenter speaks quickly and this might cause you to miss some interesting and important points.
If you experience difficulty viewing this video, here is the video on Youtube.com

Think about it:
1- What should the subject line describe?
2- What should you never do with your subject line?
3- What should you take advantage of?
4- What is the one common element in the subject lines of spam emails?
5- What do you need to do more of so that your subject line stands out?

Identify one suggestion that you can incorporate into your own email communication


5. Work emails – Duration 3:08

Now for some light entertainment on the subject of emails: this CBC video is from the Baroness Von Sketch Show.
Using manipulation and power dynamics, the boss tries to persuade her direct report to adopt sloppy, folksy and unprofessional email practices.

Think about it:
1- What are three bad practices that the boss encourages her employee to follow?
2- What other email practices drive you nuts at work?


Once you have watched the videos and completed the reading that was sent to you, please do the
Business Writing Quiz

I look forward to meeting you on the program.
~Dene Rossouw

After you have completed the Business Writing for Results Program

Apart from the tips below, here are additional useful business writing resources that will help you sharpen your business writing skills and improve your grammar.


More Business Writing Tips

These tips are not part of the pre-work – only for enthusiasts and grammar geeks.

We do find that most people view them anyway and find them very useful.


5. The nit-picking glory of The New Yorker’s Comma Queen

“Copy editing for The New Yorker is like playing shortstop for a Major League Baseball team — every little movement gets picked over by the critics,” says Mary Norris, who has played the position for more than thirty years. In that time, she’s gotten a reputation for sternness and for being a “comma maniac,” but this is unfounded, she says. Above all, her work is aimed at one thing: making authors look good. Explore The New Yorker’s distinctive style with the person who knows it best in this charming talk.


6. When to use apostrophes – Laura McClure

It’s possessive. It’s often followed by S’s. And it’s sometimes tricky when it comes to its usage. It’s the apostrophe. Laura McClure gives a refresher on when to use apostrophes in writing.


7. When to use “me”, “myself” and “I” – Emma Bryce

Me, myself, and I. You may be tempted to use these words interchangeably, because they all refer to the same thing. But in fact, each one has a specific role in a sentence: ‘I’ is a subject pronoun, ‘me’ is an object pronoun, and ‘myself’ is a reflexive or intensive pronoun. Emma Bryce explains what each role reveals about where each word belongs.


8. How to use a semicolon – Emma Bryce

It may seem like the semicolon is struggling with an identity crisis. It looks like a comma crossed with a period. Maybe that’s why we toss these punctuation marks around like grammatical confetti; we’re confused about how to use them properly. Emma Bryce clarifies best practices for the semi-confusing semicolon.


9. Where did English come from? – Claire Bowern

When we talk about ‘English’, we often think of it as a single language. But what do the dialects spoken in dozens of countries around the world have in common with each other, or with the writings of Chaucer? Claire Bowern traces the language from the present day back to its ancient roots, showing how English has evolved through generations of speakers.


10. Five comma types that can make or break a sentence – Arika Okrent

They’re just tiny marks on the page, but a lot can depend on them


11. Horrible Jargon We Got Used To – Arika Okrent

Everybody hates management-speak and corporate jargon, but here are some terms that people used to think of as horrible jargon that we all got used to. Maybe one day we’ll all be leveraging deliverables without a second thought.


12. How British and American Spelling Parted Ways – Arika Okrent

These days, when we want to know how to spell a word, we have an accepted authority to look to: the dictionary. But that wasn’t always the case. Here’s how Brits and Americans came to look to two different authorities.


13. Dilbert rescues Asok from the Jargon Matrix – Scott Adams


Once you have watched the videos and completed the reading that was sent to you, please do the
Business Writing Quiz

I look forward to meeting you on the program.
~Dene Rossouw


Business Writing Resources

Once you have completed the program, here are useful business writing resources that will help you sharpen your business writing skills and improve your grammar.


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