Business Letter Basics (TWDP-003)

COMING SOON! In this forthcoming episode, I will outline the eight key elements of a business letter, as well as seven optional components and a handful of tricks and suggestions to give your professional writing polish and sophistication. Whether you’re a parent contacting your child’s elementary school, a consumer reaching out to a business about a product or service, or an actual business professional contacting clients or associates, knowing how to draft a business letter is a valuable skill that will help you communicate more effectively and persuasively.

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Understanding Your Writing Context

Many factors influence the kind of document you compose— what you write and how you express your ideas. Your writing context is an essential consideration for effective communication, and taking a few moments to reflect on the situation you find yourself in as a writer can save you time and help you draft more effective documents. The context in which you need to write or speak—that is to say, the reason you have to communicate in the first place—impacts factors such as the style, formality, organization, formatting, and tone of your speech or document. Should you write an email… or a memo? Send a letter… or a text message? Use sophisticated vocabulary… or conversational language? RELATED PODCAST: The Importance of Context (TWDP-001) Understanding the writing context can help you answer those questions—and failing to consider it may lead to awkwardness or misunderstanding. Context is a fairly broad concept that will be explored over the course of several articles. This post concerns one particular contextual consideration: how the context you find yourself in as a writer dictates what and how you write. It will examine the RAFT model—an acronym for four key factors shaped by the context of a communication—and explore document conventions, house styles, and why you should reflect on your purpose for writing in the first place. Considering Your Own Writing Situation Before you begin to outline your document, you should think about the reason you’re writing in the first place and who will be reading it. The answers to these questions will help you decide, among other matters, what kind of style to adopt. While this might be a simple task in some situations—a legally-binding contract would naturally employ precise, formal language, while a letter to your grandma would likely be more friendly and colloquial—it is often beneficial…

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The Importance of Context (TWDP-001)

Whether it’s thinking about how your purpose for writing influences the kind of document you write — and what and how you express your ideas — or how you can better introduce your subject to your own audience to provide them with the background information essential to getting your point across—context is an essential consideration for effective communication. In this episode, I’ll introduce you to the RAFT model—an acronym for four key factors shaped by the context of a communication—and I’ll talk about how you can use the “person-in-the-hallway” test to make sure you’ve properly introduced your subject. When we’re done here, you’ll have a couple of techniques that can help you not only better evaluate what kind of document to write and what style and level of formality to use in doing so but also proofread through the eyes of a stranger to determine whether you’ve done so effectively.

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