learn better business writing skills
Business Writing Skills

Are Your Emails as Bad as This? Learn 4 Better Business Writing Skills as We Look at What NOT to Do

As someone who wants to help people develop better business writing skills, I have no shortage of raw material to work with to point out how to write better!

As proof, this email showed up today. At first glance, you might think, “Now this reads fine! Why is she going to pick this apart??” Well, I’ll tell you, after I let you read it through…

Dear____,

I hope your year is off to a great start.

I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself. My name is [employee name] and I will be your primary point of contact here at [Company Name].

As a valued member of the [Company Name] family, I want to ensure you have the support and resources to help you get the most out of your access to [Company Name].

To do so, I would like to have a brief conversation with you to be sure you have everything you need from us.

Please keep my information close at hand and don’t hesitate to call or email should you have any needs, questions, or concerns.

I look forward to meeting with you and working with you.

Before I pick apart this email, let’s be clear that this is an email from a sales person, so some of my fault-finding is from that perspective. That said, isn’t almost everything we write in some way meant to be persuasive? We’re not all sales people or marketers, but we are all writing emails, messages and documents because we have a goal to achieve. And the errors we’ll point out here are errors that are common in all kinds of emails, not just those written by sales folks. I point them out because you want to avoid them if you want better business writing skills!

Now on to the mistakes…

The first mistake: the warm-up
This email includes a warm-up: “I hope your year is off to a great start.” As polite as this might be, people are in a hurry and the writer should probably get to the point. For better business writing skills, consider deleting your warm-up sentence or paragraph when you go back to re-read your email before sending (because we have a tendency to write one regardless, while we are “warming up”).

The second mistake: this email is all about “I”
There are six paragraphs/sentences in this email. Every single one is about the writer of the email. How engaging is that? Not very! I hope, I wanted, I will, I would like, my information, I look forward… I, I, I argh!! This is a poor approach to any kind of email, because people don’t want to read about you as the writer. They want to read about themselves. For better business writing skills, try to use “you” more than “I” and see if your writing is more engaging that way. Even the third paragraph is about the writer, but in an unintended way, which is our next mistake…

The third mistake: a misrelated construction
You might argue that the third paragraph is about the recipient, and indeed, it is supposed to be. However, it’s written wrong. Read it again:

As a valued member of the [Company Name] family, I want to ensure you have the support and resources to help you get the most out of your access to [Company Name].

Who is a valued member of the family? It’s supposed to be the recipient, but as written, it’s the writer. This, my friends, is what we call a misrelated construction. (Read more about misrelated constructions and why better business writing skills require you to avoid them.)

The fourth mistake: don’t
Try to avoid a negative word use when you want a positive reaction. In this case, the writer said “don’t hesitate to call or email” when they could have said “please call or email” instead. Using a word like “don’t” can cause the brain to think “OK, don’t do that” when that’s the opposite of the reaction you want. (Learn about the power of changing just one word.)

Better business writing skills will save you time, increase your credibility, and improve your chances for promotion. That sounds like a fair trade-off for learning to be a better, faster writer, right?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.