Effective Writing in the Workplace

As we talked about in our last blog post, millennials are often under scrutiny for just about everything in the workplace, and writing is no different.  We are a generation that is known for communicating as if we are on Facebook or Twitter, and not in a clear and concise professional manner.  While these mediums may not promote the most technical writing, at least they promote communication. While we receive all of these negative stereotypes, there is no reason an inability to professionally communicate should be included.  By writing ineffectively, we are doing nothing but supporting those mantras.  There are very simple fixes that can increase ones ability to write effectively significantly.  By writing effectively and using rhetorical awareness and user-centered design, we can continue to drop these stereotypes and prove our worth in the work-place.  Both Rhetorical awareness and user-centered design are effective in not only resumes, but cover letters, reports, memos, and just about anything else you can think of.

As DigitalWriting puts it, rhetorical awareness is simply “any act of communication you engage in has an audience and a purpose, and that the success or failure of your communication is based almost entirely on how well it meets the needs of that audience and fulfills that purpose.”  If any one point is taken from this post, I want this quote to be it.  While that one sentence may seem like the be-all and end-all, there are many different elements.  By doing things such as looking at our audience and selecting the correct medium to reach them or understanding our audiences needs and wants, we can all become much more effective writers. I believe knowing either way your audience knows, or doesn’t know is predominant when writing a memo or business report.  By being too technical you can confuse your audience, while being too casual and explaining information they already know will bore them.

User-Centered design is exactly what it sounds like, knowing your user and basing the design on them.  It is important to understand that you want to optimize the product for the users wants, rather than forcing them to accommodate their behaviors.  According to Purdue Owl, there are five main take-aways to use user-centered design effectively.  You need to consider your readers expectations, characteristics, goals, context, and how the document will be used rather than read.  I believe user-centered design is most important when writing cover letters.  Cover letters generally include many specifications about the job you are applying to, such as city, job title, job requirements and useful skills.  By not understanding these specifications and using a user-centered design, it is very unlikely that an interview will even be given.  Cover letter’s are your way in the door, and by not communicating your value effectively you may never make it in the door.


Professional communication is now absolutely vital to ones success in getting a job, and later in the workplace.  Many employees send/receive hundreds of emails, business reports and memos a day, and actually understanding how to get your points across to your readers is often over-looked.  In an age where time is money, fluffy and unnecessary information can often push the reader away immediately.  This Article states that we should “put lengthy words on a diet” and “avoid unnecessary inflated words.”  You should tell them what you’re going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them.  Readers often want a “why am I reading this”, and “what can I do with it.”  If these questions are easily answered, you are on the fast track to success.




5 thoughts on “Effective Writing in the Workplace

  1. I really like the picture you included with this post. It is actually very informal and something that someone should do. In another post it was mentioned that it is good to tell the reader why what they are reading is important. I think this ties in nicely with that picture, and should be included in telling them what you are going to tell them, in telling them it, and also telling them what you just told them. I know you mentioned people want to know why they are reading something, so I would say explicitly tell them why it is important! If one can incorporate user-centered design and rhetorical awareness into their work they will be very successful with their writing!

  2. Caleb,
    First of all, great picture! That’s really what simple, strong writing is; every word and sentence is telling the reader to do something or persuading them to change something. I agree that a big challenge for millennials today is transitioning from writing on social medias to writing in a professional environment. I love your advice at the end to think about how your reader will ask him/herself those questions about why am I reading this and what can I do with it. This is great advice to a millennial transitioning into adult life!

  3. Suhdude
    I like the little picture you put on your post, it really ties it all together. I think its a funny little play on how thick people can be sometimes. If you really want something to stick you have to tell them multiple times, just like when I tell you to go to hell. I think the end is a good and concise summation of what this whole user-centered design business is all about. It is necessary to basically force the reader to understand what and why they are reading it.

  4. Caleb,
    I really enjoy reading your posts, you do a great job of bringing a new perspective that we may not have thought of. I think we can become some of the best professional writers due to the technology that we have had access to throughout our lives. We are tech savvy, and use this to our advantage.

    -Aaron Berns

  5. Caleb,

    I like your blog title, I used a similar one. Great minds think alike I suppose haha. Anyways, great post. The picture you chose really conveys a major idea of user-centered design: Tell Them. It is important layout your work, and explain what you are going to say, and then say it. Let them know.


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