Category Archives: Business Writing

Your “Send” Button: First Place or No Place to your Reader?

First Place

Are your e-mails in first place or no place with your readers?

I know you’ve felt the elation of pressing the “send” button when you finished your proposal: Relief!  Your long-awaited article is ready: “send.” Your resume and cover letter are nurtured and massaged: “send.” Your report’s done: “send.” You press the “send” button dozens, sometimes hundreds, of times a day to get your messages across to your clients, co-workers, prospects, friends and family. That one button carries your message around the globe in minutes, and all is well with the world! You hope!

Computers and mobile devices are made for the “send” button. Both personal and professional missives convey your sentiment, concerns, information, questions and answers to others, and the recipients interpret them as they will.

What would you do without the “send” button?

Write like a winner: First place in your readers’ hearts and minds. Give them solid and salient information.

No Place

But alas, all of us have blushed with embarrassment when we press the “send” button and it has one or more of the following:

  1. Typos
  2. Sent to “all” unintentionally
  3. Not quite finished
  4. Sent to the wrong person

I know some companies have a “call back” tool for an e-mail when necessary, but only if the recipient hasn’t opened it. Not all companies have that luxury.

This morning I received a daily message from a spiritual leader that had a typo: “…Listen, be still. Car you hear?…” I’m certain that’s not what he wanted to convey!

I found out that I was unceremoniously taken off a project before the client informed me. How? The client sent a “reply all” e-mail with that information in it and I was in the “all.” Referring to me, “She doesn’t know yet….” Well, yes, I thought, I do now. How awkward! How embarrassing! How unprofessional!

My client sent a response to my feedback and the body of his e-mail was empty! He sent a second e-mail, “Sorry, I pressed the “send” button unintentionally.” I actually just did that about an hour ago!

Have you ever gotten an e-mail back from a person who politely says, “I think you mistakenly sent this to me”? How many times do you type in the name(s) of the recipients and don’t double check that the names and addresses are correct?

None of us is immune to sending e-mails before we’ve proofed, and we find out later about our mistakes. Some are minor errors, others….

Be a First Place Writing Winner

Obliterate your “no place” e-mails when you take these steps before you send:

  1. Proof, proof and re-proof
  2. Reread
  3. Rewrite
  4. Care about your reader
  5. Care about your message
  6. Clarify your information
  7. Make salient and concrete points

If you don’t have time to proof it, when will you have time to either re-do it or make amends for your mistakes?

Pause before hitting your “reply all” button– unless it’s intentional, and take time to check your subject line and recipients.

Your name is at the top of your e-mails.

Celebrate First Place! 

It feels good to send well-written and correct proposals, reports, resumes, letters and other information off to the right people. This highlights your e-mail in first place.

For better writing for your team, I’m here to help you. I conduct ½ and full-day writing workshops; they help your team and you!

Call – 303-753-1111 or e-mail Dee@DeeDukehart.com.

If you’d like a complementary “Quick Guide for Better E-Mails,” contact me at one of the above.

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Filed under Business Writing, Grammar

The Right Word

If your not on my free training webinar:...”  (Sent this morning from a webinar junkie.)  What’s wrong with this sentence?  If you say, “nothing,” then keep reading. Even if you do see the error, keep reading. 

Maybe it Christmas party hangovers, or too much sugar, or visions of Sugar Plums dancing on your brain, or not enough ho, ho, ho.  I don’t know what’s happening, but within five days I’ve received over a dozen e-mails that use the wrong word in a sentence.  It may not seem like much to you or the person who misuses the language, but to those of us who want and need to have good grammar, punctuation and syntax, it matters.

Here are my top-ten stocking-stuffers for you, not only for this holiday, but also throughout 2010 and beyond:

1.Affect/effect. Affect is usually a verb meaning: change or influence.  Effect is usually a noun meaning: result or consequence.  Think: Affect – “a” for change; Effect – “e” for result. 

 Her mood affects everyone on her team.  The effects of the research made them money. 

2. Assure/insure/ensure.  They mean “to make certain or to guarantee.”  Assure is limited to people.  Insure is only for insurance.  Ensure is to guarantee.

Their boss assured them their jobs were solid.  Each year you must insure your house, car, health and life.  The management team wants to ensure that there’s a smooth transition.

3. Farther/Further.  Farther is for actual distance. Further is for characterisation of distance; moreover; in addition.

They drove farther than they thought on the first day of their cross-country journey.  After further consideration, her parents let her move into her own apartment.

4.Fewer/less.  Fewer usually means items that can be countedLess refers to mass items that cannot be counted, like water, air, chaos.

The seminar had fewer participants in 2009 than 2008.  (You can count the participants.) There was less confusion about the Health Care Bill after it passed legislation. (You can’t quantify “confusion.”)

5. Lay/lie.  These are forms of the verb lie.   Lay means “to put” or “to place and requires an object to complete the meaning.  Lie means to “recline, rest or stay.”  (If confused, substitute the word place, placed or placing for the word in question.  If one of these works, use lay.)

Please lay (place) those presents under the tree.  I lie awake at night thinking about the economy.

6. Its/it’s.  Its is the possessive pronoun.  It’s is a contraction for it is or it has.

My car had its engine replaced. I know it’s (it is) time to take a vacation.  It’s (it has) been snowing for four days. 

7. Than/then.  Than is a conjunction used in comparisons.  Then is an adverb meaning “at that time.”  

This winter is colder than last year’s.  When it stops snowing then I’ll go to the store.

8. Toward/towards. Both are correct; toward is the  most common. 

9.  Would have.  Use have, not of.   I would have (not “would of“) taken a different job, if I’d known the company was for sale.

 10. Your/you’re.  (This mix-up is the most common mistake I see. Refer to my opening sentence example. )    Your is the third-person possessive pronoun.  You’re is a contraction for you are.

 “If your not on my free training webinar:...”   This needs to read, “If you’re not in….”  Use the contraction.  (“If you are not….”)    

I liked your training webinar.  When you’re available, I would like to go over the report.

 These are my top-ten word worries.  I hope you will look at them, study them, and then pass them along to everyone in your department, company and/or family.  Use the right word and you’ll stand above your competition; it’s a mark of excellence. 

Happy Friday. www.DeeDukehart.com  

 

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Some Favorite Frustrations in punctuation

The more e-mails that I see,the more pages from websites that I visit, and the more I read documents that come across my computer or desk, the more I notice that the comma and period use with quotation marks have been misused.

When you revisit your e-mails, webpages, and other documents, do you have this punctuation correct?   Anything with quotation marks around it: a name, a thought, an article, or a direct quotation needs to have the comma and/or period inside.   

Let’s get the “prize”. This is wrong.  The period stays inside the quotation marks; therefore, “prize.” It’s also the same for the comma:  it stays inside the quotation marks.

Browse your local newspaper and notice where the commas and periods are placed when the sentence contains quotation marks: they are always inside the punctuation…always.

Examples: He needs to get “a grip.” 

“I don’t know,” remarked Sarah. 

Remember to read, “To Blog or Not to Blog.”

Place your commas and periods where with the quotation marks?  That’s right, inside. (The one exception is when you use parentheses;  I’ll address this later.)

Enjoy,

Dee, Business Writing Coach

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Filed under Business Strategies Coaching, Business Writing, Presentation Skills, Punctuation, Uncategorized