“Not again,” you mutter to yourself after your boss asks you to put together a memo to the rest of the staff about a new product, an office policy or an upcoming meeting.
So you sip your latté. Check your Facebook account. You do anything to avoid the job duty you hate the most: writing.
But turning around an effective business memo -- or letter, email or anything your job demands -- isn’t as tough as you think. We have the following tips to help you get started.
1. Write in an active voice. Stay away from the “to be” form of verbs: is, am, are, was, were. Those words lead to uninteresting writing that the reader will need to read more than once to absorb. The passive voice also creates unnecessary wordiness.
2. Along a similar line, avoid the use of prepositions. Prepositions show how a noun or a pronoun relates to another word or a sentence. Example: “I spent the money on a new bike.” In many sentences, prepositional phrases just contribute to the passive voice. In our example about the staff meeting, for instance, the phrases “in Mr. Johnson’s office” and “about how we can expand our product line” just add words. Remember one of the golden rules of writing: less is more. Keep the writing business-like. Use professional words, and stay away from exclamation points. Words you might say in casual office conversation don’t translate well to writing.
3. Stay away from jargon, which is words or expressions specific to an industry. Keep it out of memos and leave it only in technical papers written for those in the industry. Readers will read right over those words and will miss your message.
4. Use simple words rather than words that make you try to sound smarter than others.
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