Creating the required financial statements to be included in a business plan can be a daunting task for any entrepreneur hoping to obtain financial backing for a great business idea.

Do you want to have more influence in your workplace? Become a better writer. A poorly written memo, letter, email, report, or instruction makes readers confused and unresponsive. Four simple writing techniques can help you write more effectively, adding value to your company and boosting your career.

Emphasize "You"

"Speak" to your reader by emphasizing "you," either directly or indirectly. Why is this so important? Readers pay more attention to what you are communicating if you emphasize them in your message. A "you" attitude also conveys respect and focuses on your reader's perspective. If your message stresses "I" or "we", instead of "you", your reader subconsciously feels you are uninterested in his/her needs.

Instead of "We will provide a full refund," write "You will receive a full refund." Instead of "I can schedule you Monday morning," write "You can schedule a time Monday morning." If you focus on your readers as often as possible, they tend to respond to your message more positively. Of course, in correcting a mistake or communicating bad news, you may want to deemphasize "you" to minimize blame. For example, instead of "You must get permission to leave," use "Employees must obtain permission to leave."

Be Positive

If you must convey a negative message to your reader, try to create a positive tone using positive instead of negative words. Also, focus on what the reader can do, instead of cannot do. Readers tend to respond more constructively to a request that uses positive words instead of negative words.

Instead of "Do not open the safe when the manager is not here," write "Open the safe only when the manager is here." Instead of "If you have any problems, don't hesitate to call," write "If you have any questions, please call." Instead of, "The service won't be available until noon," write "The service will be available at noon."

Be Fair

Maintain an unbiased tone in your workplace writing to avoid alienating your diverse readers. Use language that is free of bias in gender, race/ethnicity, disability, and age.

Instead of "manpower," use "resources" or "personnel;" instead of "waiter/waitress," use "server." Avoid mentioning a person's race or ethnicity unless it directly relates to the topic discussed. Avoid terms such as "crippled" or "retarded." Avoid reference to the ages of employees; instead of "Mark has more energy than many of the younger employees," write "Mark is a very energetic employee."

Be Concise

Just as your organization efficiently produces its products or services, you can produce an efficiently written product. Convey your message clearly and concisely. To ease understanding, keep sentence length, on average, 15-20 words. Write in as few words as possible without losing the meaning.

Avoid beginning sentences with unnecessary words, such as "There is" or "It is." Instead of "There are six items in each package," write "Six items are in each package." Remove extra phrasing. Instead of "due to the fact that," write "because"; instead of "prior to the start of," write "before."

Construct a list of two or more items in a grammatically parallel style. This builds "rhythm" in your writing, and your readers subconsciously interpret your message more easily. Instead of "The job requirements are a college degree, communication skills, and knowledge of how to use a computer," write "The job requirements are a college degree, communication skills, and computer knowledge."

Benefits

As an effective writer, you help your organization be more productive by eliminating wasted time, and therefore, wasted money, from the communication process. Your readers spend less time trying to understand your instructions, memos, emails, and reports. Practice these four tips daily to start on the path to becoming a better workplace writer.

- Courtesy of Jane Campanizzi, Ph.D.JCM-TECH, Inc.