The problem isn’t talking for us Millennial’s, I am sure that there are many people out there that are great communicators with their co-workers and can get across their intentions without a problem. Face-To-Face is relatively easy. However, when it comes to properly conducting ourselves behind our screen with emails and official documents in the workplace, we may not be quite as stellar.
But have no fear; because like the helpful hints we received for combating stereotypes about our generation, we can also become better writers in workplace documents through rhetorical awareness and user-centered design. Practice makes perfect, and we can become some of the best communicators around with just a few helpful hints. Writing well in the workplace is key if we want to climb the corporate ladder one day.
Lets begin with a little example, because personally I can see things a little more clearly when there is a real world application:
You have just sat down at your computer to write an email to a few co-workers at your office about an upcoming budget meeting that needs to be held. In the email you need to address a few things like the date, what needs to be done beforehand, and what should be tackled in this meeting. There are some people on the email list that absolutely need to come, and others not so much (it is okay for them to just be ‘present’ for the email process.)
My words of advise to anyone starting an email of importance is to first…plan it out. I know it may seem so simple and maybe a given to some of the “pros” out there, but pull up a word document or a blank sheet of paper and draft it up. Get down the things you know must be addressed. Figure out whom this directly applies to, the task you are trying to achieve, or maybe what your intended audience needs out of you, and anything else that you feel is important.
In our made up example (you have already addressed the when and you are trying to figure out how to word what needs to be done before the meeting) this is what you have come up with:
Before we host our meeting, a few things need to be tackled and other tasks delegated.
- We need a break down of all expenses for the year and have them presented at the meeting.
- And all of our financials for the year need to be drafted and ready for review.
Like Susan Adams said in 10 Tips for Better Business Writing, “Start by writing short, declarative sentences. Never use a long word where a short one will do. (No need to write “utilize” when “use” works just as well.) Be ruthless about self-editing; if you don’t need a word, cut it.” In our real world example we did just so; the sentences are short and get straight to the point. There is no need for fluff or the extra “verbage” in an official workplace document because we are not trying to meet a word requirement in a college essay here. All we are trying to do is to let our co-workers know what we want completed before the meeting we need to have.
And before you send it off, be sure that your entire document is bullet proof in regards to grammar and punctuation. In the article, Writing Skills: More Important Than Ever On The Job; Katherine Hansen says, “The College Board’s study noted that the most sought-after skills are accuracy clarity spelling punctuation grammar and conciseness.” If this doesn’t give you the evidence you need to PROOF READ PROOF READ and PROOF READ again…I don’t know what will. Having misspelled words and incorrect grammar discredits you as a writer/leader.
With that being said; don’t over think things too much when it comes to composing an email or writing something for work. There is a happy medium here. Just get down the basics; who, what, when, where, and why? Back to the kindergarten days we go! Once us Millennial’s get this nailed, we are one step closer to proving to older generations that we are ready for the workplace.