The Components Of an Effective Business Letter – The secret of company good business communications is to the plan language, as if you are having a ‘conversation in writing’. Simply it means putting across you message in a natural way, using a courteous style. General business practice is to use an informal style of writing rather than being too formal.
In all communications it is essential to ensure correct grammar spelling and punctuation. However, you need more than an ability to structure sentence correctly. Your aim is to transfer thoughts and ideas form one person to another, so you must always remember that you are dealing with a person as well as a situation. The document chosen as well as the approach and the tone used will all be determined by the person who will receive the message.
Put yourself in the place of the recipient and imagine how they will accept what is written in the tone used. Anticipate the recipient’s needs, wishes, interests, problems, Consider the best way of dealing with the specific situation.
Whether you choose to write a business letter, a fax, a memo or an email, remember the following points.
- Choose the method of communication carefully
- Create the document thoughtfully
- Present the document so that it looks good and gives an impression of efficiency and reliability.
- Use a format that is neat, easy to read and structured logically.
- Use appropriate tone, considering the circumstances, the situation and the recipient
- Ensure your message is accurate in terms of grammar, spelling and punctuation.
1. So many young people with so many old-fashioned expressions
When we people realize that business language has changed? Expressions like ‘Please be informed’, ‘Kindly be advised;, ‘I would like to bring to your attention’ and ‘ I ‘am writing to advise you’ should have been relegated to the recycle bin way before the turn of the new millennium. Unfortunately today’s writing is still full of centuries-old expressions like these, not to mention even worse such as ‘Enclosed herewith please find our catalogue for your reference and perusal’, ‘with reference to your above mentioned order’, ‘Further to the telecom today between your good self and the under signed’.
This type writing is BORING! People are using these standard clichés simply because everyone else uses them, and because they have been used for centuries. Please ! Put some thought and your personality some feeling into your writing.
Table 1. Style of writing in effective business letter
|We refer to your letter of 21st October 2004.||Thank you for your letter of 21 October|
|As spoken in our telecom today.||Thank you for calling me this morning|
|Please revert to me soonest possible.||I hope to hear from you soon|
|Should you require any further clarification please do not hesitate to contact the undersigned||Please give me a call on 2874722 if you have any questions|
2. So many long-winded expressions
Long word and long expressions, long sentences and long paragraphs will impress no one the will only confuse. Later in this section I will talk about the KISS principle – Keep. It short and simple! Instead of ‘I should be very grateful’, why not simply say ‘Pleas’ (definitely not Kindly!) Use short words like boy, try, start and end instead of purchase, endeavor, commence and terminate. Remember to KISS in your business writing – use short words, simple expressions, short sentences and short paragraph that are clear concise.
3. Active sentences
Our great-grandfathers used passive voice in writing because they didn’t want to show was responsible for anything. They preferred to use long sentences that beat about the bush but never revealed what was really happening and who was really responsible. Today’s business writers should use active voice, which is more alive, more focused, more personalized and much more interesting and clear.
Table 2. examples of active sentences in effective business letters
|Arrangements have been made for a repeat order to be despatched to you immediately.||I have arranged for a repeat order to be sent to you today|
|The cause of your complaint has been investigated||I have looked into this matter.|
|The seminar will be conducted by Adrian Chan.||Adrian Chan will conduct the seminar.|
|Sales of the X101 have exceeded all expectations.||X101 sales have gone sky high.|
Why is I that many people have to put a line of colons in any list? It looks so cluttered and messy. Let’s get rid of all the clutter in our business writing, and make it look neat, clean and well organized.
|Date : 29 November 2003 (Thursday) |
Time : 9.00am to 5.00pm
Venue : Sheraton Towers Hotel
|Date : Thursday 29 November 2003 |
Time : 9.00 am to 5.00 pm
Venue : Sheraton Towers Hotel
Our great-grandfathers invented the attention line (and they were not lazy-they wrote it in full, ‘For the attention of …’) because they were merely directing the letter to the desk of a real person, not writing personally to that person. In those days, even with the attention line, letters still began ‘Dear Sirs’ and the wording was formal and passive, as If talking to the company as a whole, not to a real individual person.
Over the years the attention line has been very much misused and lazy writers have abbreviated it to ‘Attention’ or even ‘Atm’ Attentions lines today are being incorporated (wrongly) in personal letters with personal salutations such as ‘Dear John;, ‘Dear Mr Tan’. Let’s put the attention line in the recycle bin and relegate it firmly to the last century where it belongs. We rarely need it today.
If you know the person to whom you are writing, and if you want to use a personal salutation, incorporate the addressee’s name and title into the address section of good business letter.
|Attn : Lesline Lim Boon Hup STP Distributors Pte Ltd (Books) 30 Old Toh Tuck Road #05-02 Singapore 597654||wrong|
|Mr Lesline Lim Boon Hup Product and Sales Manager STP Distributors Pte Ltd (Books) 30 Old Toh Tuck Road #05-02 Singapore 597654||correct|
6. Do you really need a line to sing your name on?
I thought it was only children who needed a line on which to write. Would managers really go into a fit if there was no line on which to sign their name? would they really sit there and wonder where to put their signature? I really doubt it. Surely the space between “Yours sincerely” and the writer’s name/title is indication enough that this is where the signature goes? Again, this is something that we simply don’t need. Get rid of the line and let’s get rid of even more clutter in our writing.
7. Thank You!
Why do so many people need to say ‘Thank You’ at the end of a message? Thank You for what? For reading my letter? Please! Stop wasting time and printer ink. If you have been courteous throughout your communication (and let’s face it, no matter what the circumstances, your writing should always be courteous) there should be no need to keep saying ‘Thank You’ over and over again just because someone read your letter or e-mail.
In today’s fast-paced business world, there should be no room for yesterday’s old-fashioned, long-winded jargon. Ditch the boring clichés that have been around for decades. Put some life into your business writing by using a natural, relaxed, friendly style. Put some zip into your presentation by using a style that is more proactive, stimulating and interesting – writing that reflects your personality. This is 2021, not 1921!
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