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Written Communications


Does any one have useful tips for training a module entitled Written Communications?
I have been asked to focus on "professionalism"/ grammer/ spelling etc. but how does one train this to young professionals without causing offence?
Gillian o'Grady

3 Responses

  1. Grauniad anyone?
    The best thing you can do is demonstrate how lack of attention to detail in these areas can cause damage to an organisation even from experienced professionals.

    Highlight examples throughout your course – newspaper outtakes are good for this and should raise a smile or two (and you can get books full of these outtakes for 6 quid on Amazon saving you any real effort in collecting them) and journalists, editors etc. are of course considered to be the pinnacle of the writing profession.

    So showing that their mistakes can have unintended (and often hilarious) consequences you can soften the blow.

    Have fun.

  2. a basic bit

    I think Nik’s idea is a good ‘un and can easily be supplemented with some business communications as well as the press versions.

    Also worth considering the plain english issue, I’m sure that there must be plenty of examples of longwinded gobbledygook available. The Campaign for Plain English website has some good material.

    It might be worth testing their knowledge of the IT; can they put the spellchecker and grammar checker on, set to British/English?

    Also consider the question of “written” as opposed to “spoken” when spoken is recorded by audio or video. Dubya didn’t write his “Bushisms” down but because they were captured on video they haunt him just as much….this may be relevant to some of your audience who could find themselves on camera as spokespersons.

    PS I just got sent these and it might be fun to ask the delegates if they’d be sitting in front of you if they had put these comments in their CVs/application letters
    REAL CV and application letter extracts

    1.”I have lurnt Word Perfect 6.0 computor and spreasheet progroms.”
    > 2. “Am a perfectionist and rarely if if ever forget details.”
    > 3. “Received a plague for Salesperson of the Year.”
    > 4. “Wholly responsible for two (2) failed financial institutions.”
    > 5. “Reason for leaving last job: maturity leave.”
    > 6. “Failed bar exam with relatively high grades.”
    > 7. “It’s best for employers that I not work with people.”
    > 8. “Let’s meet, so you can ‘ooh’ and ‘aah’ over my experience.”
    > 9. “I was working for my mom until she decided to move.”
    > 10.”Marital status: single. Unmarried. Unengaged. Uninvolved. No
    > 11.”I have an excellent track record, although I am not a horse.”
    > 12.”I am loyal to my employer at all costs. Please feel free to respond
    >my resume on my office voice mail.”
    > 13.”My goal is to be a meteorologist. But since I possess no training in
    >meteorology, I suppose I should try stock brokerage.”
    > 14.”I procrastinate, especially when the task is unpleasant.”
    > 15.”Personal interests: donating blood. Fourteen gallons so far.”
    > 16.”Instrumental in ruining entire operation for a Midwest chainstore.”
    > 17.”Note: Please don’t misconstrue my 14 jobs as ‘job-hopping’. I have
    >never quit a job.”
    > 18.”Marital status: often. Children: various.”
    > 19.”The company made me a scapegoat, just like my three previous
    > 20.”Finished eighth in my class of ten.”
    > 21.”References: none. I’ve left a path of destruction behind me.”

  3. Keep it simple
    Hi Gillian

    In my experience, many young professionals these days are only too aware of their shortcomings when it comes to business writing (and what they weren’t taught at school!) and will welcome any help.

    Remind them that everything they write creates an impression, good or otherwise, on their clients. It is vitally important that not only is their writing grammatically correct but that it also contains an appropriate tone and style.If you are the trainer, you will be their role model so make sure your own writing skills are up to scratch (e.g. grammar not grammer, supplement not suppliment. Apologies but it needs to be right!)

    Check out for its free guides. Also for all kinds of help with writing and language.

    My own website also has some free articles you can download, including one on letter-writing.

    One final thought: don’t be too ambitious. Try to find out exactly what the training need is and keep to that.Is it awareness -raising or actual skill-building that is needed? You might be able to do more in another session at a later date.

    Do contact me if you need any further help. In the meantime, good luck!

    Pam Taylor
    [email protected]


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