Posts Tagged ‘Quick Tips’

How to Get the Email Responses You Want

Have you ever written a detailed email to a colleague, only to receive a reply that ignored most or all of what you covered? Or have you waited weeks for a response from a client before giving up hope of hearing back? Chances are you have plenty of stories related to these frustrating situations.

Miscommunication, or a lack of communication altogether, is a problem faced every day in the business world. It not only wastes time, but it can also cause missed opportunities and lost profits. So how can you avoid this common problem?

Is Cyber-English Appropriate on the Job?

Have you ever found yourself typing “LOL” when writing to a client or employee and then decided against it? Are you unsure about using emoticons, abbreviations, or truncated sentences when sending emails or texts from your phone?

With today’s high speed messaging—email, status updates, instant messages, texts—many people are asking whether there’s now a place for breaking traditional grammar rules in business communication. Are emoticons, abbreviations, and truncated sentences ever appropriate at work?

How to Develop a Great Presentation

by Hannah Comerford, Scribe Contributor

Have you ever sat through a poor PowerPoint presentation? Chances are you grew bored and distracted, your eyes strained from trying to read the slides, or you gave up on note-taking after your hand started cramping.

Can you remember sitting through a great presentation? If it was particularly well prepared, you probably still remember the key points, and you may even implement the information in your daily life. You left the presentation feeling connected to the speaker, whether you agreed with all the points or not.

Which category do your presentations fall into? Are they lackluster or brilliant? Whether you’re a pastor, a nonprofit coordinator, or a businesswoman, you want your presentations to deliver an impactful message. Take a look at the following steps to boost your presentation’s impact.

Once Upon A Time: Using Story in Your Business Writing

by Hannah Comerford, Scribe Contributor

February 26 is Tell a Fairy Tale Day. You probably don’t have any celebrations lined up. In fact, you may even be wondering why we’re talking about fairy tales on a business writing blog. Are fairy tales, or storytelling in general, relevant to the modern business writer?

To answer these questions, let’s first discuss why fairy tales are popular in the first place. While fairy tales are usually associated with children, the popularity of prime time television shows that celebrate fairy tale characters suggests that maybe adults still enjoy hearing new spins on their childhood stories.

Here are just a few reasons why stories and fairy tales are so popular:

How Technical Writing Can Benefit Your Business

If you are a small business owner and sell a product requiring a user manual, you probably recognize the value of good technical writing. You know that if your customers don’t understand how to use your product, they aren’t likely to buy from you again in the future. A good product or user manual can also reduce the time you spend responding to customer queries.

Perhaps your business doesn’t have a need for product manuals or user guides. Even if that’s the case, you may still want to develop proper documentation of your company’s internal processes and procedures. Providing well-written operations manuals or employee guides can help improve efficiency and minimize errors and downtime.

Technical Writing Tips

While it’s one thing to understand the importance of good technical writing, it’s another to actually know how to do it. What are the elements of good technical writing? What information does a user manual need to have to guarantee a customer will know how to use your product properly? How should an operations or employee manual be organized? And how do you best relay complex technical information in everyday language?

10 Word Slipups to Avoid

by Ashley Smith, Scribe Contributor

“How often misused words generate misleading thoughts.”   – Herbert Spencer, English philosopher (1820-1903)

As much as I’d like to think I have a way with words, I admit to the occasional slipup. Just the other day I sent an email to someone asking if I could “site” something she had said, rather than “cite” it. It wasn’t until after I’d sent the email that I recognized my error.

Sometimes our writing mistakes are things we would catch with closer review. Other times, we may not know or remember the correct usage or spelling. Add to this the fact that so much of what we read on the Internet is not formally edited, and we are also in danger of perpetuating the mistakes made by others.

Thankfully, my communication with this person was not business related. Had it been, my credibility likely would have been damaged. Although it is sometimes acceptable to intentionally misuse a word for the sake of great copy, careless mistakes or errors of ignorance can, as Herbert Spencer put it, “generate misleading thoughts.” Or worse yet, they can cost you a client.

Below are ten examples of commonly misused words. Are you guilty of misusing any of them?

Should Your Small Business Marketing Have a Sense of Humor?

 

Let’s face it, humor makes a lasting impression. That’s why so many big companies use it in their advertising. Unfortunately, most small businesses avoid incorporating funny copy in their marketing.

Why? Perhaps some small business owners believe that to gain customer awareness and trust they must first be taken seriously. They could also be afraid of getting it wrong and offending potential customers. Or maybe because they’re wearing so many hats, like Dave from the Staples commercials, they just don’t have time to be funny.

Can you relate? If so, relax, let your hair down, and get creative! Adding a smile and a wink to your copy can increase your conversion rate and humanize your company.

A good way to start is to consider the type of humor you want to use. It should suit the product or service you offer and the type of customer you’re targeting.

Below are some types of humor that are widely used in advertising along with hypothetical examples.

Enjoy More Daylight: How to Streamline Your Email Communications

by Ashley Smith, Scribe Contributor

On Sunday, we sprang into spring by setting our clocks ahead one hour. This first day or two of Daylight Saving Time can bring mixed emotions—distress for having lost an hour of sleep, yet also excitement for having gained an extra hour of daylight (which for those of us living in the Pacific Northwest is a much-anticipated event).

I don’t know about you, but when springtime rolls around, I’d rather not squander the extra daylight sitting in front of a computer, writing and checking email. And let’s face it, between the personal and business email we send and receive every day, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. So what can you do to keep your email burden light?

Add Flavor and Creativity to Your Business Writing

“Why is business writing so awful?” Jason Fried, I ask this same question all the time.

At Scribe, we’re doing all we can to make the business world a better place to read, one document at a time. Jason Fried, founder of 37signals and co-author of Rework, is doing his part with this article at Inc.com:

What’s bad, boring, and barely read all over? Business writing. If you could taste words, most corporate websites, brochures, and sales materials would remind you of stale, soggy rice cakes: nearly calorie free, devoid of nutrition, and completely unsatisfying.

One of my favorite phrases in the business world is full-service solutions provider. A quick search on Google finds at least 47,000 companies using that one. That’s full-service generic. There’s more. Cost effective end-to-end solutions brings you about 95,000 results. Provider of value-added services nets you more than 600,000 matches. Exactly which services are sold as not adding value?

Who writes this stuff? Worse, who reads it and approves it? What does it say when tens of thousands of companies are saying the same things about themselves?

This article gets a loud hallelujah and amen from me.  Read the whole thing, folks.

Generic business writing tells people you have generic ideas. Add some flavor and creativity to your writing, and your ideas will be noticed for how creative they really are.

So, check your business writing for any full-service, end-to-end, cost-effective blather. Then think about how to communicate your ideas in a way that taps into the unique attributes that distinguish you from the rest of the crowd.  Add some of your personality to your writing and reinforce the message behind your brand.

And drop us a line if you need some of our special Scribe spice.

Lifting the Block on Creativity

How can you get writer’s block if you aren’t even a writer?

In the information age, anybody’s job description can include some kind of writing. That means anybody can suffer from writer’s block or any other kind of creative block.

Deadline is approaching. You have to be cunning, creative, even brilliant. But after a half hour of staring at the screen, the ideas just aren’t coming. What can you do?

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