We send and receive innumerable emails and letters. Gone are the days when we would take time to sit down and write a letter. Besides phones; emails, text messages, social media, etc., are some of the quick ways of communication that have replaced the letters. Still, there are instances when you need to draft a letter or an official email. In today's modern world, where people don't have time, we use shortcuts. However, we cannot take these shortcuts all the time, at least when writing official letters. It could cost us our jobs. Hence, the nervousness while drafting a letter.
Letter writing is one of the various forms of communication that you use. For whatever reasons letters or emails are written, the purpose is to either provide some information, to document a fact, or to request something. If the reader does not understand the reason of your letter, there will be no effective communication. The purpose of communication will be lost. Many times you write a letter to a person, like a prospective customer, whom you want to close a deal with and have not yet met. It is very important that you write it well so as to make a positive first impression. There are certain points that you need to remember and mentioned below is a guide which will definitely help you in writing.
The audience is the person(s) to whom the letter is written. It could be your manager, friend, client, or a prospective client. Depending on who will read the letter, you will need to decide its tone. With your manager and your clients, prospective or existing, you will use a formal tone. If you are writing to your friend or family, naturally you will use a relaxed and friendly tone. The format will be formal for official letters and casual for unofficial ones. It is very important that you use the correct language for official letters. You should also use the appropriate greetings and sign-offs.
Remember that it is only you who knows the reason for writing the letter. The audience may not know why you have written it, until they read it. Hence, it is essential that you be very clear about the topic. One of the essential good communication skills is clarity. Write it in a simple language and in simple words. Just because you know big words and jargons, don't use them as they might confuse the reader. Keep it simple and easy to understand. Avoid alliteration and using vague words and loose sentences. Also, do not include quotations in a formal letter.
It makes sense to write a letter that makes sense. But you will be surprised to know that when we start writing, we often go off the track and the reader gets confused. Logic is one of those skills, that you cannot compromise on. It is of vital importance that there be a logical flow in a letter. Whatever the subject, maintain a logical flow of ideas in the corresponding paragraphs. You will find that writing logically also helps you to think logically and you may remember points that you missed out on earlier.
One of the best written communication tip is that less is more. Writing a letter to the point is not very difficult. It is easily achieved by sticking to the main subject and avoiding fillers. There is also no need to write long sentences. If a short letter can convey your ideas, avoid complicating it by beating around the bush. Cover all the facts related to your subject in as small and simple sentences as possible. One of the business communication skills is to never combine two ideas in a single sentence.
Concrete and Correct
The information that you intend to pass on or the subject matter meant to be conveyed to the reader, needs to be concrete and correct. You can't put across wrong or incorrect information. If you write a letter based on assumptions, it leads to miscommunication. Use specific words and don't exaggerate. Also be careful and double-check any statistical data that you might want to add. Credibility of the information is necessary.
Complete the sentences in the letter. One of the effective communication skills in business is not to keep the reader guessing about what you want to say. He needs to understand the subject of the letter. Avoid using vague sentences. Follow the subject - verb - object rule. Do not use rhetorical questions in your letter. Use effective sentences and punctuate them wherever necessary.
Considerate and Courteous
Give respect to the reader by applying a human touch to the letter. The tone of the letter should also match the occasion, e.g., if you are congratulating the reader, sound cheerful and vice versa while writing a condolence letter. Never write a letter when you are in angry mood; you may not realize this but your anger can be reflected in the letter through its tone. Use appropriate greetings and sign offs.
For communicating effectively, concentrate on what you are writing. Don't drift off the subject. Read all the previous correspondence before writing the email or letter. Anticipate obvious questions and answer them.
Never send the letter before proofreading it. Check for spelling mistakes, punctuation errors, and grammatical errors. Re-read it from the reader's perspective. Correct the tone if required. Read it aloud so that the mistakes can be spotted easily. Read one sentence at a time. One of the secrets is to read the letter or a document from the last sentence, gradually going upwards. This helps to concentrate on the errors and not on the content. You can even ask someone else to read it for you.
Another written communication instruction is to practice it more. Use templates if needed to begin with. Graduate to own techniques as time passes. Understanding the content first and then forming the method to be used is a good strategy to follow. Consider the above tips and you can write good and effective letters.