As a freelance writer and editor I spend a lot of time making sure that my clients look absolutely fabulous on the communication front. In our tech heavy society, the importance of a good letter isn’t completely lost. Unfortunately a lot of opportunities and business partnerships are missed out on because of simple mistakes. So today I’m going to share some common things that I see in my line of work. Good thing for my clients that I’m here to get rid of those pesky blemishes!
Back in the day business letters were super boring with an emphasis on being overly proper or old fashioned.
“We are honored in the highest to submit this letter.”
“I am writing this memorandum to request your presence at the conference.”
“I have been informed of your departure and am sore with sorrow.”
No. Just…no. There’s nothing wrong with this style of writing and it’s still seen – rarely, because it’s outdated. An informal writing style is now widely accepted even in business letters. Characteristics of informal language include contractions, shorter words and ellipsis (leaving out words that aren’t needed in order for a phrase to be understood). For example: instead of saying “She delivered a baby last week. They named him Jack” you can say “She had Jack last week!”
Sure, formal letters still have their place but you should use your own judgement on that. Or you can get help.
TOO MUCH EMPHASIS
I am SOOO EXCITED to share these tips to help your write better letters. Hopefully it helps!!!!!!!!!
You definitely don’t have to write like this to get your point across. It can be confusing and annoying to the reader, or worse – misinterpreted. Are you yelling at them? Are you super excited? All of that will become subjective based on who’s reading the letter. It’s not an absolute ‘no’ to use these options but again you must choose tastefully.
Say it, then stop. If you can get your point across in one page then why should the letter be two pages long? You run the risk of not having your letter read at all. Even if the recipient tries to read it they may not make it through the entire letter and walk away asking themselves “what was the point of that thing?”
BEING A COPYCAT
I can’t stress this enough…do NOT use online templates for your entire letter. It’s OK to use them for ideas only. Any letters you write should be authentic and in your own ‘voice.’ If you need help understanding what your voice is or how to establish it, I can help with that.
This is the biggest mistake of all as far as I’m concerned. Never ever send a letter to the wrong person. When this happens it’s usually because the same letter is going to multiple people: for example, companies send these letters to request donations or other things. Attention to detail doesn’t stop when you finish writing the letter. It carries over into the name and address too!
While we’re on the topic, click here to check out my post about mistakes to avoid making on your resume. I know that writing is tedious. I understand that it can be frustrating and time consuming to get the words out that will make the most impact. That’s just one of the reasons why I started my business! It’s my passion to take the confusion away and help you make the best impact.
What’s your biggest hurdle when it comes to writing? I’d love to help you soar over it!
PS: Next week I’ll be looking at resumes for FREE! Space is limited so stay tuned and have those resumes ready to send to me!
Until next time…