Category Archives: 3 Professional Writing Skills

Concrete tips and tools to improve your professional writing in English.

Effective Professional Writing: Clarity of Message


By David Rose – Director, LACS Training Brussels

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Unclear or straightforward text?

Question: What is the primary flaw with a significant quantity of professional texts, whether briefings, position papers, reports, emails or otherwise?

Answer: A lack of consistent clarity – the messages they outline don’t always come across to their target audience(s) in the way the writer actually intended

As I’m sure you already know, clear and audience-focused messages form the cornerstone of effective communication.

But what really happens if your key points are not consistently crystal clear for your intended audience?

Results of lack of consistent clarity

Perhaps at this stage you’re thinking “Yes, but I already know this…” – acknowledged. However, there is very often a significant gap between theoretical awareness and its consistent application in practice…

…which explains why two common problems with clarity keep regularly appearing in the government, institutional and corporate documents, I work with:

1) ‘Buried gold’

2) ‘Sentence breakdown’

So, let’s get straight down to business – by having a look both at concrete examples of these problems and the techniques you can employ to avoid them… Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing: How to Be Concise (in 6 steps)


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

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Definition of Conciseness in writing

Is the quote above from the latest best-selling book on effective professional writing skills?

Perhaps surprisingly, no.

It’s actually from a memo a British Prime Minister sent his cabinet of ministers about 70 years ago.

This quote serves to clearly illustrate one crucial point: conciseness or economy of words is – and has for a long time been – a central feature of professionally effective written English.

A longer, more ‘wordy’ construction is not more formal or professional.

It is, unfortunately, simply clumsy and often unclear: counterproductive to clearly communicating your intended messages and with little or no impact.

“Ah” you might say, “I work in an international environment where most of my audience is made up of capable but non-native speakers of English. Isn’t that quote only relevant to exclusively English native-speaking audiences?”

In a nutshell, no.

Bearing in mind the majority of your audience might well have English as a second (or perhaps third?) language… it is even more important your text communicates your intended messages as clearly as possible, while of course still respecting the required level of formality and diplomacy.

You have to avoid unnecessarily overcomplicated or overloaded phrases that need to be re-read to be fully understood.

Equally – and self-evidently – if your text is representing your organisation to an external audience, it’s also essential it projects a suitably positive, professional image.

On its own, however, this ‘what and why of conciseness’ doesn’t actually help you in practical terms to be more concise in your writing, does it?

You also need the ‘how’.

Recognising English favours a more concise style, how can you achieve an improved level of conciseness in your writing?

Well, here are six practical principles you can apply to help you produce consistently more concise – and consequently clear and influential – text: Continue reading

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LACS Training Blog: So Far…


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

Link to LACS Training Services

 

…Summer’s here…

So why not take the opportunity to review the 18 articles on presentations and public speaking, professional writing, meeting skills and language support currently waiting for you on the LACS Training Blog?

I wish you all a good summer break and look forward to helping you and your organisation with your training needs in September 2012.

I’d also invite you to take a look at our 2012 training catalogues to see the full range of services we offer.

Presentations and Public Speaking Structuring your messages
Signposts and transitions
Pausing and emphasis
Body language
Effective PowerPoint design
Dealing with nerves
Good examples of public speakers 1
Good examples of public speakers 2
Professional Writing Core skills 1: audience, organisation and conciseness
Core skills 2: precision, tone and language
Linking words
Effective proofreading and editing
Meeting Facilitation Dealing with different personality types
Chairing meetings: 5 tips to do it better
Language Support Tense map
Prepositions map
Fixed verb patterns
Links to consolidate your skills

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Professional Writing Part 3: Efficient Proofreading and Editing


By David Rose

As some of you will already know, I published a two-part series earlier this year outlining the six key principles of ‘Effective Professional Writing’.

Containing a framework of ready-to-use tools to immediately boost the quality of your professional documents, I urge you to read them now if you haven’t done so yet:

Part 1 – Audience, organisation and conciseness

Part 2 – Precision, tone and language

These two articles focus on the before and during of an effective, time-efficient writing process.

Now, logically, it’s time to focus on what follows after you have produced your draft document proofreading and editing.

1. How do most people proofread/edit?

Through absolutely no lack of effort or professionalism, most people’s proofreading and editing is unfortunately time-inefficient and frankly not as comprehensive as it could be.

Consider your own experience…

In all honesty, how many times have you proofread/edited a document, only to discover some errors and inconsistencies of style and clarity after it’s been submitted/published/ sent… i.e. when it’s too late…?

I have a 14-year experience of providing drafting training in the institutional and corporate sectors, as well as providing editing support for ‘key’ external documents e.g. position papers, marketing materials and annual reports.

Throughout these years, I have continued to see a pattern of avoidable errors, inconsistencies of style and lack of clarity in what are intended to be final documents…

Why? Because like consistently high-level writing, consistently comprehensive and time-efficient proofreading and editing is a schematic process rather than a linear, often (slightly) disorganised act, regardless of time constraints.

In a moment, I’m going to present a concrete, schematic procedure for the day-to-day proofreading and editing of your own and/or others’ texts.

First, though, I’d like you to consider a few key questions: Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing: Linking Words


Effective Professional Writing: Linking Words

By David Rose

As some of you will already know, I published a two-part series earlier this year outlining the key principles of ‘Effective Professional Writing’ with a series of practical guidelines and immediately applicable tools

If you haven’t read them yet, then I suggest you go first to part one.

Since then, I’ve received quite a number of requests for a ready-to-use ‘map’ or ‘menu’ of one of the key ingredients for writing clearly and concisely in Professional English – linking words.

Frankly, these requests came as no surprise… linking words are, after all, a 3-dimensional puzzle.

A 3-D puzzle, you ask?  Yes – using them effectively means being fully aware of three specific aspects: use, level of formality and grammar.

1. Use

What exactly do we use each one for – e.g. what’s the basic difference in meaning between ‘however’, ‘consequently’, ‘additionally’ and ‘although’? Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing in English – Practical Principles and Tools to Raise Your Game (Part 2 of 2)


Effective Professional Writing in English – Practical Principles and Tools to Raise Your Game (Part 2 of 2)

By David Rose

So, here we are again with the second part of ‘Effective Professional Writing’.

As outlined in the first part, there are six interrelated principles to consistently apply to your writing: audience, organisation, conciseness, precision, tone and language.

Having already covered the first three of these, it’s now time to turn to the remaining three… Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing in English – Practical Principles and Tools to Raise Your Game (Part 1 of 2)


Effective Professional Writing in English – Practical Principles and Tools to Raise Your Game (Part 1 of 2)

By David Rose

If you’re reading this, it’s likely to be because your everyday work involves writing any given combination of the diverse range of common professional documents: reports, position papers, press releases, marketing materials, meeting minutes or any of the others out there. What’s the one thing you probably all have in common? More than likely, it’s that achieving a consistently clear and effective writing style under time pressure in your second (or perhaps third?) language is challenging at the best of times. Continue reading

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