Technical Writing: Will They Get It?

womanTyping250Strictly speaking, the purpose of technical writing is to provide technical information in a totally objective way. This type of technical writing is frequently written for professionals in a specific field who already  “speak the language,” and understand the general concepts. So what may look like unintelligible “jargon” to the non-technical reader may well be a timesaving “insider language” for the technical reader in that specific field.

It is important to make the distinction between this type of technical writing, and a second type – the type of technical writing most of us will most often be called upon to write: technical writing that is, by most (short) definitions, good business writing dealing with technical information.

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Over last weekend, I’ll bet many of you, like me, were busy packing away ornaments, deciding which candles can be used again, and trying to find a youth organization to give our retired trees to for recycling. Or at least, again, like me – thinking about it!

And now it’s serious back-to-work time. Time to try something new. I’m not quite ready for 2014 yet – what happened to 2010, anyway? So, with a final salute, let’s wrap up 2013 with the Best of the Blog – a short collection of my top nineteen posts of that year, as judged by the number of “likes” each garnered. An “e-book” for want of a better name, and the first e-book I’ve ever done. Please email me (gail@gailtycer.com), and I’ll send you the free link.

I’d like to give this compilation to you as a thought-starter. A new way of thinking about your writing. Or maybe as a way to address a New Year’s resolution to strengthen your on-the-job writing, making it faster, easier, and more effective. Totally free. No advertising, no name collecting, no strings. Please email me (gail@gailtycer.com), and I’ll send you the free link.

We’ll talk about:

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How Important is a Thank You Note – Really?

Thank You Card

Take just a moment to think about that person in your life who always sends you a thank you note.  In our family, Cousin Harriet comes to mind. Her thank you notes are gifts in themselves. They make you feel good. Happy about whatever small service or gift, and eager to see her “next time.”

Can your thank you note do this for your friend or family member? Of course. And what a privilege it is to write that note, knowing you are brightening the day for Aunt Minnie or Uncle George, who spent hours online, or at the Mall, finding just the right thing to brighten your holiday.

A hand-written note – on paper and through the U.S. Mail – is often the best. A hand-written note, on paper, has a more lasting quality. In some cases, an email, a text message, or even a quick phone call of thanks may be more appropriate. What is important is to let that person who has done you a service, or sent you a gift, know that you sincerely appreciate his or her effort.

Is this equally true in business?

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We’ll be happy to bring a Gail Tycer workshop to your organization. To discuss a workshop for your people at your location or ours, or a shorter presentation for an upcoming meeting, call Gail at 503/292-9681, or email gail@gailtycer.com

Published in: on December 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Five Ways to Strengthen Your Email

WomanatComputer175

Have you ever had an email “send” before you were ready to turn it loose? Who hasn’t experienced this awkward moment and its subsequent follow-up? Today, let’s talk about the fail-safe way to avoid this situation, as one of our five ways to strengthen your email.

  1. A participant in one of my workshops came up with this tip: To avoid “sending” before you are ready, leave the “to” line blank until you are ready to send. Check your piece over for grammatical, usage, and strategic missteps, and then address and send it.
  2. Consistently reply promptly, and you will stand out in a very positive way. One of the most common questions asked is always, “How do I get people to respond to me?” At all. Let alone promptly. If you do not have the answer at your fingertips, or do not have time to provide a lengthy answer right then, answer that email with a reasonable expectation for the reader, e.g., “I will send that information later this afternoon.” Or, “I can have that report for you by Friday.” This is what our reader needs. This is what we need to do.

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Published in: on December 17, 2013 at 4:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Are You a Professional Writer?

WomanatComputer175Do you write on the job? Are you paid for writing on the job? If so, that makes you a professional writer.

A “professional writer” is someone who is being paid to write consistent, dependable numbers of words regularly – no matter how he or she feels, whether inspired or not. We are not always going to be positive, happy, and generally “up,” especially over the holidays when there is so much to get done, and we are often distracted.

Here are some ways you can “fall back on technique,” to write clearly and effectively, even when inspiration is on vacation:

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Published in: on November 26, 2013 at 9:54 pm  Comments Off on Are You a Professional Writer?  
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More About the Business Writing Trend: Short!

Last week, we said that “short” is not what we really want, when we are looking for clearer, faster communication; when we want the reader to “get it” and to act on it now.TwoBusinessPeople175

What we are looking for is “concise.” “Short” can cause you a lot of problems, cost you more time, and result in lost productivity. You need to anticipate the questions you must answer for your reader before he or she can do what you are asking him or her to do. “Concise” – providing the information your reader needs, in as short a space as possible – greatly increases the odds that you will get what you need at all, and probably much sooner.

The second part of this is to make your writing faster and easier to read.

We already talked about alternate formats, cover letters, and whether to pass along this information at all. See last week’s post here.

Here are three more things you can do:

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You May Be Good – But Why Take Your Word for It?

ShakingHands175One of the keys to writing less and saying more can be summed up in one word: specificity. Be specific.

There is too much communication at every level today, and on every subject. How can you stand out, help your reader “get it” quickly, and make every word count? Be specific. Become aware of the words and phrases that are vague, general, and mean nothing. Words and phrases that are used so often, that are so trite your reader reads right past them – or not at all. For example:

Read the full post here.

Published in: on September 30, 2013 at 2:36 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Cost-Effective Marketing Part 2: Words and Phrases

Last week, we said that your day-to-day business writing should be your most cost-effective marketing tool (see the post here), and promised you some words, phrases, and techniques that will help.

PileofWords180Whether you are actually writing to persuade, or just passing along some requested information, the overall tone – the “feeling” your reader gets about you, and subsequently the way he or she thinks about you, and about your organization, is absolutely critical to the success of the piece you are writing, and in a larger sense, to the success of your organization overall.

So here goes…

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Published in: on September 24, 2013 at 11:19 am  Leave a Comment  
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Your Most Cost-Effective Marketing Tool

Your day-to-day business writing could be – should be – your most cost-effective marketing tool, no matter what you’re writing. And you don’t have to be a marketing expert to use it this way!Pen and Paper

First, ask yourself why you are writing. To inform? To persuade? No, really. Think about it. Much of the regular, routine information you pass along has a job to do, in addition to providing that information. When you provide the information, how do you want your reader to think about your organization? About you? Isn’t there a bit of persuasion there?

If, after reading your written communication, your reader were asked, “What do you think about (your organization)?” what do you want him or her to say? Isn’t there a bit of persuasion there?

“They seem to know what they’re doing,” might be one desirable judgment. “They sound like they’re easy to work with,” another.

So how do you write so that you get those opinions?

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We’ll be happy to come to your organization. To discuss a workshop for your people at your location, or a shorter presentation for an upcoming meeting, email us at gail@gailtycer.com or give us a call at 503/292-9681.

Published in: on September 17, 2013 at 1:59 pm  Comments Off on Your Most Cost-Effective Marketing Tool  
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Shorter, Fewer Emails

Wow! Would that be great, or what? Not so many emails to save – or not. Not so many emails to plow through – most of them mislabeled – to find what you are looking for. Emails you can “get” at a glance and move on with your day’s work!WomanatComputer175

Your reader feels exactly the same way. No surprise there. So how do you write a faster, clearer email that your reader will get at a glance? And fewer of them?

Let’s begin with the basics:

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Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 11:35 am  Comments Off on Shorter, Fewer Emails  
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