Compared to speakers, writers must pay more attention to the nuance and possible double meanings that their words might convey. That’s because speakers get immediate feedback from their audience and can tell if something they said was taken the wrong way and then correct the problem on the spot. Claudette Roche, who teaches verbal communication to executives, expounds on the differences between writing and speaking in her article, “The Importance of Clear Written Communication in Business.” Here is a condensed version of her article.
In business, written communication is one of the most often used means of communicating with other people. It’s important to educate staff on the basics of providing clear written information.
The Difference Between Written and Verbal Communication
The goal of all communication is the same: to present information or an idea to someone else. However, the methods vary, and often, so do the results. With verbal communication, you can use body language, vocal tone, and even sometimes facial expressions to relay your meaning. When you write or email someone, you only have your words to use which convey your message.
Sarcasm, humor and even anger may not be relayed as easily with the written word. Though popular tags, such as LOL, make it easier to clarify the meaning behind your words, misunderstandings are far more prevalent using this method than with clear verbal communication. You also don’t get immediate feedback as you do when speaking over the phone or in person. Even silence conveys the idea that someone either doesn’t understand what you said or doesn’t agree.
How to Write Clearly
When you want to learn how to speak to someone clearly in person or over the phone, you can hire a speech coach to teach you how to speak clearly. To communicate clearly with the written word, you must learn through other means. Here are a few tips to help you in creating written communication with customers, employees and outside vendors:
- Know what you want to say before you begin writing
- Keep your message simple and as short as possible
- Break up text into short sentences and paragraphs; use bullet points
- Keep the focus on the person you are writing to
- Summarize what you want the other person to do at the end of your message
- Edit your message before sending it
- Avoid using slang terms or language the other person may not be familiar with
As with verbal communication, you should think about the other person when you write your message. Imagine how they will understand what you are saying. You have to think about every word you write. If English isn’t your audience’s native language, they may mistake words you use for a different meaning. Avoid using large words or complicated terms.
From handwritten notes to emails to online chats and even to formal business letters, written communication is still one of the primary ways people speak to each other in the business world. This is a skill that must not be overlooked, especially as more companies work globally with customers and staff.
- It is possible to lead a cow upstairs but not downstairs.
- The Hawaiian alphabet has 12 letters: 5 vowels (a,e,i,o,u) and 7 consonants (h,k,l,m,n,p,w).
- The percentage of American men who say they would marry the same woman if they had it to do all over again: 80%.
- The percentage of American women who say they’d marry the same man: 50%.
- Nikita Khrushchev credited which American food product with saving his army from starvation in World War II: hamburgers, fried chicken, chocolate bars, spam?
(Trivia Answer: bottom of page)(Fun Facts Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
Word of the Month
aggregate | AG-rih-gut | noun
• the whole sum or amount; a whole formed by combining several elements
“Keith’s management team spent an aggregate of $1 million on advertising last year.”
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SATisfy Your Curiosity
SAT Exam practice question: Select the pair that best expresses a relationship similar to that expressed in the original pair.
OPALESCENT : IRIDESCENCE
- magnetic : repulsion
- garish : drabness
- flushed : ruddiness
- effervescent : stagnation
- fluorescent : darkness
(SAT Answer: Scroll to the bottom.)
The phrase jump on the bandwagon was first used in the 19th century in America. A bandwagon is exactly what it sounds like, a wagon, usually horse-drawn, which carries a musical band. Bandwagons were used in circuses, to lead parades, and at political rallies. Hence, to join or jump on the bandwagon was to follow the crowd. When used in a political context, it means that people attended a political event (they “jumped on the bandwagon”) simply for the entertainment and excitement of the event, rather than from deep or firm political convictions. The first known use of the phrase is from 1855 in P.T. Barnum’s Life: “At Vicksburg we sold all our land conveyances excepting four horses and the ‘band wagon.’”
Dr. Kevin Ryan's business-writing book is available on Amazon.com and qualifies for free shipping.
Something that is opalescent is characterized by iridescence just as something flushed is characterized by ruddiness.
Fun Facts Answer
Spam. In his book, Khrushchev Remembers (1970), he wrote, “We had lost our most fertile, food-bearing lands [to the Germans]. Without Spam, we wouldn’t have been able to feed our army.”
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