Writer’s Checklist


When writing a technical report ask yourself following questions:

  • What is reader’s name and job title?
  • What are reader’s chief responsibilities on the job?
  • What is reader’s educational background?
  • What is your reader’s professional background (previous positions or work experience)?
  • What is reader’s attitude toward the subject of the document?
  • What will the reader do with the document: file it, skim it, read only a portion of it, study it carefully, modify it and submit it to another reader, attempt to implement recommendations?
  • What are the reader’s likes and dislikes that might affect his/her reaction to the document?
  • How will your reader’s physical environment affect how you write and package the document?
  • What is your purpose in writing?
  • What is the document intended to accomplish?
  • Is your purpose consistent with your audience’s needs?
  • How does your understanding of your audience and of your purpose determine your strategy: the scope, structure, organization, tone, and vocabulary of the document?
  • Are there any organizational constraints that you have to accommodate?
  • Are there any informational constraints that you have to accommodate?
  • Are there any time constraints?
  • Have you checked with your primary reader to see if he or she approves of your strategy for the document?

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Writing Tips


  • When writing consider the recipients. What do they know already? What can you tell them?
  • Outline your memos and letters before beginning to write.
  • When writing reports, summarize key points or conclusions on the first page and document them with more information on subsequent pages.
  • Write like you speak to make your writing as readable as possible.
  • Learn the writing style of your organization and follow it. Don’t use flowery language (many adjectives and verbs) when inappropriate.
  • Have your secretary or assistant edit and proofread your correspondence for sentence structure and grammatical errors.
  • Keep dictionary thesaurus on hand to check spelling and word usage.
  • Use variety of sentence structures—simple, complex, and compound—to add interest to your writing.
  • When writing for a non-ethical audience, have a non-technical person identify jargon. Then either eliminate it or include a glossary defining the terms.
  • Use charts and tables wherever possible to present numerical information.
  • Use “action verbs” to add punch to your message.
  • Eliminate weak words like “very,” “interesting,” “often,” and other bland adjectives or adverbs.
  • Keep paragraphs short. Make sure the content of a paragraph revolves around only one thought—the topic sentence.
  • If you do a large amount of routine correspondence, standardize it as much as possible.
  • If procrastination is a problem, start writing a rough draft early so you have time to reverse it at least once.
  • When allocating blocks of time for writing, set aside periods of one to one-and-a-half hours, rather than trying to do it in segments of 5 to 15 minutes.
  • Develop a flash card system to work in your own common misspellings.
  • Dictate correspondence, memos, and so forth, to save time.
  • Seek immediate and specific feedback on reports you write.
  • Take a second or third look at your memos before sending them.
  • Use a grammar checking software program on your computer to identify errors you frequently make, and use that feedback to focus your efforts to improve your writing.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Writing a Marketing Plan


  • Use a direct, professional writing style. Use appropriate business and marketing terms without jargon. Present and future tenses with active voice are generally better than past tense and passive voice.
  • Be positive and specific. At the same time, avoid superlatives (such as terrific, wonderful). Specifics are better than glittering generalities. Use numbers for impact, justifying computations and projections with facts or reasonable quantitative assumptions where possible.
  • Use bullet points for succinctness and emphasis. As with the list you are reading, bullets enable key points to be highlighted effectively and with great efficiency.
  • Use “A level” (the first level) and “B level” (the second level headings under major section headings to help readers make easy transitions from one topic to another. This also forces the writer to organize the plan more carefully. Use these headings liberally, at least once every 200 to 300 words.
  • Use visuals where appropriate. Illustrations, graphs, and charts enable large amounts of information to be presented succinctly.
  • Shoot for a plan 15 to 35 pages in length, not including financial projections and appendices. An uncomplicated small business may require only 15 pages, while a new business startup may require more than 35 pages.
  • Use care in layout, design, and presentation. Laser or ink-jet printers give a more professional look than  do dot matrix printers or typewriters. A bound report with a cover and clear title page adds professionalism.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Writing Useful Instructions


When you need to explain in writing how to do something, a set of step-by-step instructions is your best choice. By enumerating the steps, you make it easy for readers to perform the process in the correct sequence. Your goal is to provide a clear, self-sufficient explanation so that readers can perform the task independently.

Gather Equipment

  1. Writing materials (pen and paper, typewriter, computer)
  2. Background materials (previous memos, policy manuals, manufacturer’s booklets, etc.)
  3. When necessary, the apparatus being explained (machine, software package, or other equipment)

Prepare

  1. Perform the task yourself, or ask experts to demonstrate it or describe it to you in detail.
  2. Analyze prospective readers’ familiarity with the process so that you can write instructions at their level of understanding.

Make your Instructions Clear

  1. Include four elements: an introduction, a list of equipment and materials, a description of the steps involved in the process, and a conclusion.
  2. Explain in the opening why the process is important and how it is related to a larger purpose.
  3. Divide the process into short, simple steps presented in order of occurrence.
  4. Present the steps in a numbered list, or if presenting them in paragraph format, use words indicating time or sequence, such as first and then.
  5. If the process involves more than ten steps, divide them into groups or stages identified with headings.
  6. Phrase each step as a command (“Do this” instead of “You should do this”); use active verbs; use precise, specific terms (“three weeks” instead of “several weeks”).
  7. When appropriate, describe how to tell whether a step has been performed correctly and how one step may influence another. Warn readers of possible damage or injury from a mistake in a step, but limit the number of warnings so that readers do not underestimate their importance.
  8. Include diagrams of complicated devices, and refer to them in appropriate steps.
  9. Summarize the importance of the process and the expected results.

Test your Instructions

  1. Review the instructions to be sure they are clear and complete. Also judge whether you have provided too much detail.
  2. Ask someone else to read the instructions and tell you whether they make sense and are easy to follow.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Direct Response


You should, if at all possible, engage in direct marketing. The value to you is enormous. You get to pinpoint your prospects with amazing accuracy. You can be selective in regard to age, race, sex, occupation, buying habits, money spent on past direct mail purchases, education, special interests, family composition, religion, marital status, and geographic location. The list should naturally start with your own customers. From there you can expand it to include people who have recently moved into your area, and people who have recently been married or divorced, or become parents. You can eliminate people who have moved away.

You might engage in a simple direct mailing of postcards to customers, informing them of a sale you will have the next week. They will very much appreciate the early notification and will show their gratitude by purchasing from you. You might also engage a full scale direct mailing, consisting of an outer envelop, a direct mail letter, a brochure, an order form, a postpaid return envelop, and even more.

Whatever you do, the process begins when you decide exactly what it is you wish to offer. How will you structure that offer? Then you must select your mailing list. If you haven’t got the names already, you can purchase them from a list broker. Be sure, you buy a clean, fresh list. You must be certain that you know all  the costs involved: postage printing, writing the mailing, artwork, paper, personalization (individualizing each letter by name and address, and repeat mailing costs. Your gross sales, minus these costs and your production, handling, and shipping costs, will contribute your profits. Be sure you make financial projections and know your break-even point.

In the old days, a direct mail campaign meant a letter. Today it means a letter, two, three or five follow-up letters, perhaps a follow-up phone call or two, and finally, one more direct mail letter. Many entrepreneurs engage in weekly or monthly direct mailings.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

 

Factors Impacting Customer Loyalty


Many factors will affect the relationship between you and your customers. Following are some of the most common:

  • Adaptiveness: Taking measures to adapt your own personality style to that of your customers in order to communicate with and serve them effectively.
  • Communication: Getting and giving information, listening, writing and speaking effectively, and dealing with emotional situations.
  • Decisiveness: Being able and willing to make a decision and take necessary actions to fulfill customer needs.
  • Enthusiasm: Attaining and maintaining level of excitement about your customers, product, service, organization, and job that says, “I am happy to help you.”
  • Ethics: Establishing and maintaining high level, social, and moral standards in all interactions with customers.
  • Initiative; Acting on issues that relate to your job or customer service without having to receive instructions from others.
  • Knowledge: Taking time to learn about policies, procedures, resources, products, services, and other information that can help in providing total customer satisfaction.
  • Perceptiveness: Recognizing the need to play close attention to verbal and nonverbal clues, cultural factors, and the feelings or concerns of others.
  • Planning: Taking the time to logically think about customer needs and develop strategies for satisfying them before customer interactions occur.
  • Problem solving: Gathering and analyzing information in order to help resolve a variety of customer concerns or satisfy needs.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Training for Global Business


Firms competing in a global marketplace often implement special global training programs. The reasons for doing so include avoiding lost business due to cultural insensitivity, improving job satisfaction and retention of overseas staff, and enabling a newly assigned employee to communicate with colleagues abroad.

Many firms opt for prepackaged training programs. A sampling helps illustrate the wide range of programs available, as well as, what global training programs actually involve:

  • Executive Etiquette for Global Transitions: This program prepares managers for conducting business globally by training them in business etiquette in other cultures.
  • Cross-Cultural Technology Transfer: This program shows how cultural values affect perceptions of technology and technical learning.
  • International Protocol and Presentation: This program shows the correct way to handle people with tact and diplomacy in countries around the world.
  • Business Basics for the Foreign Executive: This program covers negotiating cross-culturally, working with clients, making presentations, writing, and using the phone.
  • Language Training: Language training delivered by certified instructors, usually determined by the learner’s needs rather than by the requirements of a predetermined curriculum or textbook.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

The Manager


The manager describes what a person does rather than what a person knows. A manager makes sure an organization operates smoothly and efficiently. Upper-level managers, known as executives, address longer-range concerns. They foresee problems years ahead by considering questions such as the following:

  1. Is current technology at the company becoming obsolete?
  2. How expensive are the newest technologies?
  3. How much would they disrupt operations if they were adopted?
  4. What other plans would have to be postponed or dropped altogether?
  5. When would the new technologies start to pay for themselves?
  6. What has been the experience of other companies that have adopted these new technologies?

Executives are concerned with these and dozens of other broad questions that go beyond day-to-day managerial concerns.

Managers want to know the bottom line. They have to get a job done on schedule they don’t have time to consider theory in the way an expert does. Rather, managers must judge constraints—financial, personnel, time, and informational—and make logical and reasonable decisions quickly. And they have to communicate with their own supervisors.

In writing to a manager, try to determine his or her technical background and then choose an appropriate vocabulary and sentence length. Focus on practical information. If you think that your reader will take your information and use it in a document addressed to executives, make your reader’s job easier. Include an executive summary and use frequent headings to highlight your major points. Ask your reader if there is an organizational pattern or format, or a strategy for writing the document that will help him or her use your document as source material.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Writing Business Summaries


Businesspeople are bombardedwith masses of information, and at one time or another, everyone in business relies on someone else’s summary of a situation, publication, or document. To write a summary, gather the information (whether by reading, talking with others, or observing circumstances), organize that information, and then present it in your own words. Although many pople assume that summarizing is a simple skill, it’s actually more complex than it appears. A well written summary has at least three characteristics..

First, as in writing any business document, be sure the content is accurate. If you’re summarizing a report or a group of reports, make sure you present the information without error. Check your references, and then check for typos.

Second, make your summary comprehensive and balanced. The purpose of writing your summary is usually to help colleagues or supervisors make a decision, so include all the information necessary for your readers to understand the situation, problem, or proposal. If the issue you’re summarizing has more than one side, present all sides fairly and equitably. Make sure you include all the information necessary. Even though summaries are intended to be as brief as possible, your readers need a minimum amount of information to grasp the issue being presented.

Third, make your sentence structure clear, and include good transitions. The only way your summary will save anyone’s time is if your sentences are uncluttered, use well-chosen words, and proceed logically. Then, to help your readers move from one point to the next, your transitions must be just as clear and logical. Basically, when writing your summary be sure to cut through the clutter. Identify those ideas that belong together, and organize them in a way that’s easy to understand.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

Memos and Letters


When people have accomplished something extraordinary, put your praise in writing. Words are easy to say but it takes time and effort to write them down. Even if it is a two- or three-liner, people will appreciate it.

Letters on your personal stationery should be reserved for those special occasions when a person has worked exceptionally hard and has accomplished something truly outstanding.

Memos and letters can also be effective when a person has made a major error or has made the same error on numerous occasions.. when you want a person to think long and hard about what he has done wrong, put it in writing. This should only be done on rare occasions.

There are two rules that should never be violated when giving people feedback via memos and letters:

  1. Make sure the memo or letter is sent very close to the time of the event or accomplishment. A thank-you note or a note of raprimand sent two or three weeks after the fact defeats the purpose of the memo in the first place. In either case, the memo or letter ahould be marked “Confidential.”
  2. Always personalize the memo or letter. If a group of people has worked exceptionally hard, don’t send the individuals a memo addressed to the group. Sending an individual a memo addressed to the group is like throwing a crumb to a hungry person. When a person has given his all to a project he needs to be recognized as an individual, regardless of how many people were involved in making it happen.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Lectures, Line of Sight

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