Consultant Janet Bateman is an expert in language communication, including Business Writing and Communication which she talks about here. Our highly qualified and experienced team can offer a wide range of bespoke Leadership and Management Training, Business Coaching and Learning and Development Consultancy services – simply email us or call us on 01273 590232 to discuss your requirements.
In summary: why is Business Writing Training beneficial?
- Much business and money are lost through poor communications.
- It’s wrong to think Business Writing Training is only for low levels; I’ve worked with senior management on writing board papers.
- Training gives people control of what they’re writing so it gives them much more power and confidence.
- One chief executive’s feedback was “it was the most worthwhile piece of training I’ve ever invested in”.
When Janet and LCP recently discussed her expertise in the field of language communication, she explained that it can be overlooked by managers or that it can be difficult to encourage them to invest in it. Unfortunately, she said, “people don’t realise how much business and money people actually lose through poor communications”. So why is written communication so important and how can training and development help organisations in both private and public sectors? Read on for our short interview with Janet.
Why is written communication important in business?
Ineffective written communication can affect confidence, marketing, message and communications. Bad written communication could include something like giving out a huge document, which could be so off-putting that no one wants to read it! Or writing a terse email, or even writing an email that may be very friendly and jolly but fails to get its message across and thus wastes time. All of us in business can only a read a small amount of the documents relative to those we receive, and much time can be wasted merely sifting through all this and deciding what’s important.
Why should organisations invest in writing skills?
There have been cases where organisations have redesigned bills and saved a fortune [for example 2009 research suggested over 15% of calls to utility companies resulted from customers who simply didn’t understand their bills]. Other contexts could include writing persuasively for tenders or project proposals, or effective team communications when writing reports to improve morale and job satisfaction, in turn improving staff turnover and productivity. One client I was working with thought about the letter they wrote to customers and the leaflets they designed because they wanted to get more customer engagement.
It all comes down to how your organisation is conveying its message both internally between colleagues and externally with your clients; good written communication in all contexts means the point gets across accurately and time is saved.
What kinds of organisations and sectors does it apply to?
All kinds. And all levels. Particularly anyone responsible for writing reports and proposals. Typically people will think that it’s only suitable for low levels. But that’s not the case; I’ve worked with chief executives and senior management on writing board papers. It’s helpful for everybody because most people don’t know the Plain English techniques, copy what’s been done before, and fall into this convoluted unclear language as soon as they start writing.
Can you give us an example of effective business writing training?
Recently I worked with a reluctant group of senior directors on writing papers for the board. These were individuals who were mostly aged between 40 and 60, who were highly skilled and very good at their jobs. Their chief executive had told – not asked – them to attend a writing workshop as she felt the papers were too long and wordy. In the end we had to run an extra session as word got around and people were actually requesting to attend! The chief executive’s feedback was “it was the most worthwhile piece of training I’ve ever invested in… and my board papers have shrunk”.
Although I recognise the initial resistance from the senior directors, in actual fact it gives people control of what they’re writing so it gives them much more power and confidence.
Are written communication skills something that can be taught with training rather than coaching?
Definitely, and you’ll find that people often lack a lot of confidence in grammar and punctuation, because they’ve never studied it before. Most people aren’t really sure so it’s just a question of clearing things up, such as why you’d use a semi-colon and not a comma. Training is about giving people confidence; giving them the tools to make such decisions and to control their own writing really.
I very much believe in experiential leaning – that you learn through doing. So I like to create a context where alongside the trainer’s input, people can learn to see what the issues are and how to solve them themselves. I’ve had feedback saying ‘wow I really understood why’; they’d been told something before but they didn’t understand why. It’s empowering to understand why.
Do organisations not expect these skills prior to employment?
Interestingly if you take law firms and the legal sector, they go for high qualifications and experience, I’m not sure they would check employees’ writing. They’ll look to your university major but won’t say ‘okay, can you write me a nice clear email now?’. It’s tricky as this is an area that really needs a lot of attention – like cross cultural communication – but many fail to recognise that it’s an area they need to invest in.
This short discussion is intended to give an idea of just some of what Learning Consultancy Partnership are able to offer if you would like to improve language and communication skills in your organisation. We provide a wide range of services throughout the UK in three key areas – leadership development and management training, business coaching and learning and development consultancy. We always offer bespoke solutions so call us on 01273 590232 or email to discuss your requirements.