Bringing back the preposition

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With the invention of social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, formal business writing has taken a back seat. Alusani Skills and Training Network aims to put the professional back in business communication through their latest Business English course.

The technological environment in which we operate led to the birth of "sms language' says communication specialist Sharon Lefkowitz. Instant messaging has eliminated the preposition. As a result of this shift in communication "individuals entering the market don?t have the ability to write clearly'.

In addition English is recognised as the global business language and individuals who speak English as a second language often get their messages lost in translation.

For this reason the Business English course presented by Lefkowitz is aimed "at any professional who is not an English speaking native?. The course is designed to help business professionals improve their verbal and written communication.

Effective business writing starts with; "planning, identifying the objective, pitching at the level that is appropriate for the audience and telling the reader what is in it for them'. It is good to bear in mind other basic principles such as tone, professionalism and selecting the right medium to reach your target audience, says Sharon.

While a casual approach to communication has almost become acceptable, Sharon says that "the message is likely to get lost? in a more formal business setting.

During the Business English course Lefkowitz highlights the three primary models of communication; assertive, non-assertive and aggressive. Recognising individual writing styles begins with knowing and understanding the various models, she says.

Words such as "Always, must, have to, problem' are examples of an aggressive style. Individuals who fall into this category often select words with a negative connotation.

Reverting the emphasis from "you? to "I? in communication and using accompanying words such as , "positive? or "success? are examples of an assertive writing style.

Lefkowitz recommends that writers refrain from using jargon "so as not to leave anyone out?. Jargon should only be used in very particular cases, "when you are familiar with wording and certain that the audience is on the same page'.

Other no-go areas include cliche?s, superfluous phrases, repetition and the use of long words. For example replacing "terminated? with "ended? makes the communication more conversational. A useful guideline in business writing is remembering to "write like we speak', advises Lefkowitz.

Layout and presentation are just as important as sentence structure. The use of white space, margin space, paragraphs, bullets and numbering all play a role in delivering the message effectively.

In fact, according to the Mehrabian Communication Study actual words make up a surprisingly small part of the way we communicate. An investigation into oral communication revealed that 55% of communication is visual, 38% is vocal and only 7% is verbal.

In a sense these statistics can be applied to both verbal and written communication says Lefkowitz. It is the writer?s responsibility to use tone and layout as the vocal and visual elements of written communication to convey the message effectively.

The Business English training course hosted by Alusani Skills and Training Network
will run on the 23rd, 24th, 25th May 2012 in Johannesburg, for more information call 011 447 7470, email faith@alusani.co.za or visit Alusani Skills and Training Network

By Cindy Payle

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