Merge's Blog

Three new rules for business writing

Shirley Taylor is one of my professional colleagues based in Singapore who is well known for her business writing training courses.  Given that it’s so important for leaders to be able to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing, I asked Shirley if she would share some key ideas on the Turning Managers into Leaders blog.  As you can see, she obliged.  Thank you Shirley!

People who write effectively and powerfully are more likely to get listened to, more likely to persuade or convince others, and even more likely to get promoted.   More and more of our work today is undertaken through writing rather than in person or on the phone. As we are writing so much more, we depend on our writing skills to influence, persuade, encourage, collaborate, and to lead. But how often do you notice people talking about the importance of good writing in their day-to-day work? They don’t, right? Most people don’t really notice the quality of the writing they read – they simply react positively, negatively, or not at all. If you have ever wondered if there’s a better way to write your messages so they get better results, there is!

Here are three new rules for written communication:

  • If you can say it, you can write it. We connect with the world today largely through e-mail, web sites, blogs, texting and social media. With all these channels we have only bare facts, without tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, or pauses. Therefore, it makes sense to use writing that’s as close as possible to spoken language. When you do this, you gain yourself a great advantage – you put your personality and individuality into your message. This will help you to stand out more and make a greater connection with your reader.
  • Write for today, not yesterday.

Yesterday: Please be advised that a meeting of the Annual Convention Committee will be held on 24 February (Thursday) at 9.30 am. Approximately 2 hours will be required for the meeting and you are required to attend to report on progress made since the last meeting. Kindly advise me of your availability at your soonest.

Today: I’d like to hold another meeting of the Annual Convention Committee on Tuesday 24 February from 9.30 to 11.30 am. I hope you can attend to report on the great ideas you brought up at the last meeting. Please confirm that you can join us.

Yesterday’s writing is passive and wordy. It puts a distance between you and the reader. It also slows down understanding. Today’s writing sounds more conversational. It’s crisp, clear, transparent, and the personal context makes it more positive and interesting.

  • Aim to build relationships. In writing, as readers can’t see or hear you, people will judge you based on what you write and how you write it. In today’s fast-paced, communication-crazy world, it’s essential to come across as a human being. If you insist on using old fashioned or redundant jargon (Please be reminded, Kindly be advised, Please find attached herewith, above-mentioned, etc) you will obscure the real meaning and will not be adding your own personality. Add some feeling and a personal touch to help people get to know the real person behind the message.

Good writing is receiving increasing recognition as an essential business skill, and it will give you a huge advantage in today’s business world. Good writing can help you work more efficiently, build credibility, improve relationships, influence other people, win more clients and achieve your goals. Give yourself an edge in this very competitive world by getting to grips with effective writing now, before it’s too late!

Shirley says “Most people don’t really notice the quality of the writing they read – they simply react positively, negatively, or not at all.” True … I have seen many situations where people not only react, but they make judgments about other people based on what they have written.  Intelligence, competence, dedication, attention to detail … all come into question when you don’t write well!  So … have you made judgments about others based on their written word?  Please … share your examples by adding to the Comments below!

Speaker, trainer and author, Shirley Taylor has established herself as a leading authority on business writing skills, having written 12 successful books. The seventh edition of her international bestselling book Model Business Letters, Emails and Other Business Documents has sold half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into several languages.  Find out more about Shirley at


  • What I love about writing is that its like a puzzle. The challenge is to put the right words in the right places to create the desired message.

  • I agree Laverne! And don’t you just love it when your completed sentences start creating the overall picture that goes on the outside of the box?


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