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E-Writing: 21st-Century Tools for Effective Communication Kindle Edition
From the Back Cover
In an era when written communication in the workplace is more crucial than ever, at a time when many professionals all but completely eschew face-to-face dealings, E-WRITING is poised to become the new bible of business writing. Accessible and inviting, this Web-savvy "how-to" book promises to transform anxious e-mail hacks and mediocre memo writers into eloquent electronic scribes in no time at all.
Inside, you will learn how to:
-- combat counterproductive e-mail habits
-- write authoritatively and persuasively, with a clear message that generates quick action
-- handle e-mail and letter correspondence efficiently and effectively
-- select an appropriate style for the audience you're addressing
-- heighten your professional image, self-confidence, and career prospects.
Practicing what she preaches, award-winning communicator and bestselling author Dianna Booher writes in a refreshingly straightforward style and has organized E-WRITING to make on-the-spot referencing a snap. Keep it handy; refer to it often -- and your online mailbox will never be the same again. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
We began the last millennium in unity and ended it in isolation. At the turn of the twentieth century, people gathered in town halls to talk politics, went to the theater to watch silent movies, heard news from the same few radio broadcasts, bought gifts and tools at the general store, read about new trends from the same monthly magazines, and studied all subjects in the same classroom.
At the dawn of the twenty-first century, we talk politics in virtual chat rooms, select our movies for home viewing from any of 500 television stations or the corner video-rental shop, buy our gifts and tools from the paper or online catalog, hear our news on television while in the bathroom, read about new trends while in Latvia with our laptop connection to the Internet, and study our online courses at home alone at midnight.
In such a world of emotional disconnection, there's a growing sense of discontent. Customers and coworkers long to be treated as special, important individuals. An automated tracking system that responds to our log-on with "Hi, Bob. Welcome back. The last time you visited, you ordered X" does not exactly leave us with a warm, fuzzy feeling. It has been a long time since having our name inserted in the middle of a direct-marketing letter impressed us.
In an age of impersonal "customization," customers and clients want personal communication. They want a live person to send them an individual e-mail with an answer to their specific question or a suggestion for their specific problem. To confirm the phenomenon, you have only to take a look at your mailbox to see how many chain letters, jokes, and inspirational stories and poems get forwarded to you by friends, coworkers, and customers. These are attempts to say "Let's connect. Let's share a laugh or a tear. Is anybody out there? Do you remember me?"
The e-mail, letter, or proposal writers who can make a positive emotional connection with their writing will win coworkers' and customers' attention, business, goodwill, and loyalty.
Know When to Send an E-Mail, Fax, or Formal Letter or Report
Impact, reference, speed, and distribution are the key criteria. Let's take them one at a time:
Impact: It's an image decision: tux or blue jeans. Protocol may demand a formal report or letter. When introducing yourself, your product, or your service to a new organization or to a new individual within the organization, most people still expect a formal letter, proposal, or other literature to arrive in hard copy, to be read at their leisure. In other words, if you're writing to the CEO, he or she will generally consider an e-mail a breach of etiquette as a first-time communication from an outsider.
Protocol aside, consider the look. Prefer to prepare a formal report or letter if the content requires editing and formatting capabilities not available on your e-mail software or that of the reader's.
Finally, consider the formality or informality: Because e-mail is commonly used for routine day-to-day business, the recipient doesn't attach as much importance to an e-mail message as to a formal report, letter, or proposal.
Reference: Will the recipient need to find your information three years from now? With most software programs, you can easily delete all e-mail older than a preset date with a few keystrokes -- or routinely during the archiving process. Although e-mails can be kept indefinitely, most users don't bother to make an exception with their file command on a document-by-document basis.
Speed: Yes, you can send a report across town or cross-country by courier in a few hours. But e-mail takes mere seconds. (Of course, when the e-mail may get read is an altogether different matter.)
Distribution: Yes, you can make 50 copies of a 20-page report and distribute it around the building or fax it cross-country. But that's definitely more expensive and more trouble than hitting a few keys. Second, consider the ease of a recipient forwarding your information to others. That's easier done (with you controlling the quality of the "reprint") by e-mail.
Impact, reference, speed, distribution. Consider each in making your decision about which medium to use e-mail for a specific message.
Know When to Phone Instead of Writing E-Mail or Letters
Prefer to phone when:
- You need an immediate response. (You can't guarantee when someone will answer e-mail, but if you catch him or her answering the phone, you may get an immediate response.)
- You want to hear someone's voice tone to "read between the lines" about the message, information, personal commitment, and so forth. People are typically less on guard when speaking than when writing.
- You need to ask questions and negotiate issues, and the answers to the questions determine your immediate direction in the negotiations.
- You are concerned about the privacy of your comments.
Prefer e-mail to the phone when:
- The information is complex and will warrant repeating (rereading).
- A written copy will be more convenient for later reference.
Nothing makes another person as angry about the wrong choice of media as the following situations: 1) when someone leaves a voice mail with detailed information that needs to be transcribed almost in its entirety; or 2) when someone e-mails about a situation that has too many discussion points, requiring either an ongoing saga or an extended, time-consuming response.
Understand the Dangers of E-Mail Misunderstandings and Major Faux Pas
For all its convenience, e-mail has a few drawbacks. Consider them carefully. First, humor doesn't travel well in typical e-mails -- unless authored by skilled comedy writers. In the absence of tone of voice, facial expression, and body language, readers may interpret your flippant or witty remark as literal and stupid.
Second, you risk losing control of what you've written. Yes, others should not forward your sensitive messages without your permission. But they often do. Forwarding other people's e-mail tempts people of even the highest integrity.
Two good questions to ask yourself before putting anything in e-mail: 1) What might happen if this e-mail were forwarded to everyone in the company? 2) What might happen if a client or supplier sued us, and all our e-mail records were subpoenaed for court?
Commit your information and opinions to e-mail accordingly.
Copyright © 2000 by Dianna Booher --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B0030MQIZG
- Publisher : Pocket Books; Original ed. edition (19 July 2001)
- Language : English
- File size : 10323 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 400 pages
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- If you don't have something to say, don't say it - not all e-mails deserve responses;
- Use internationally recognizable dates, and measurements when appropriate. (Is 3/9 meant to be read as March 9 or September 3?);
- Don't post "Action or Else" messages if action is irreversible;
- Use "For Your Information Only" tags (to the messages that require no action) to help others manage their e-mail volume;
- Don't forward messages without adding your own note to tell the recipient why;
- Keep one topic in each e-mail
However, some of the author's suggestions seem to fit only dumb e-mail clients. Such suggestions are "highlight responses in colour to aid reading" or "cut and paste rather than big Reply on long, continuing e-mails". The e-mail clients like "The Bat!" that naturally support quoting have these problems already solved, the quotes there are automatically highlighted and you can type your reply paragraphs between the original text without being afraid of messing the lines.
The author encourages composing clear, to-the-point messages. She proposes to highlight the readers' action, to not be cryptic, and to not remove the actors. By examples she helps to create informative subject lines that get quick responses and help readers prioritize.
Seven pages of the book will tell you how to manage high-volume e-mail effectively. "Use last-in-first-out, group read later emails into a file and out of sight". I would recommend the book "Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity" by David Allen who addresses the issue of stress-free e-mail management much better than Dianna Booher.
In the chapters about writing on the paper or online, she proposes so-called "Descending Outline" and the MADE format (Message-Action-Detail-Evidence).
She also mentions the "idea wheel" outlining method to arrange your thoughts, which is a simplified technique of Tony Buzan's "mind maps". I would like to recommend you "The Mind Map Book" Tony Buzan and the other books by this author to maximize your brain's untapped potential.
A major chapter of this book is devoted to English grammar. You have probably learnt this at school, but a good repetition should still be helpful. The other big chapters are devoted to layout, clarity, conciseness and style, own chapter per each of the points. I will be working further on these grammar, clarity, conciseness and style chapters, and will be for sure re-reading them in future.
Chapter 14: Edit for Grammar provides a brief and useful guide on the common pitfalls. Referring to the contents is easy due to the layout.
Chapter 15: Edit for clarity, Chapter 16: Editing for Conciseness, Chapter 17: Edit for Style are comprehensive but limited use to writers who have already read on these topics.
Chapter 18: Guidelines for document variations on the MADE(trademark)format and Chapter 19: Meeting Minutes have high practical use. The examples used will save the writer blushes and score high on impact.
Chapter 20 to Chapter 24 provides the reader a glimpse of points to note when writing in various scenarios.
Easy of reading: 5 star. Take me less than 2 weeks to finish
Usefulness: 3 star. Usefulness as listed above
Value for money: 3 star. I measured this by the number of useful chapters to me against the amount I paid for the book
Ease of reference: 4 star. Well organised layout that provide ease of reference
if you like details about writing anything and everything, this book is for you.
Tho it is aimed at 'e' mail correspondence in the Corporate environment the application also applies to those of us working independantly, and just wanting to improve our day-to-day 'e' mail correspondence efficiency, and quality.