Writing Effective Business Letters -
How to Organize Your Thoughts
Before You Write

By Alan Sharpe

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Henry David Thoreau once apologized to a friend: "Please excuse me for having written such a long letter, but I did not have time to write a short one."

Your business letters, to be effective, must be organized, clear, direct and short. Writing letters with these qualities takes time (at first) and effort. Before you begin writing the letter, organize what you want to say. The simplest way to organize your thoughts is to arrange them around three characteristics:

  1. One or two main points arranged with the most important point first;
  2. Several examples to support each point; and
  3. One or two comments on each example.

EXAMPLE:

"Dear Tom,

"We need to make three major investments: computers, software and training.

"COMPUTERS: Three more computers will increase our productivity. We need two more computers in accounting and one more in personnel. These computers will free up staff for more important work. We can also use these computers for word processing, since they come bundled with WordPerfect and other productivity software. Prices for computers have never been better than right now. If you buy within the next month, we'll save up to $1,500.

"SOFTWARE: The second major investment we need to make is software . . . [writer gives examples to support this second point].

"TRAINING: The third major investment we need to make is training . . . [writer gives examples to support this third point]."

The writer would then conclude the letter by describing the next steps that need to be taken.

Once you limit yourself to making only two or three points per letter, and backing up those points with a sentence or two, you discover that writing effective business letters gets easier, and faster. Your readers find them easier and faster to read as well.

If you need help making your business writing more effective, give me a call, at 877 742-7732. On-site, online and over the phone, I teach executives and managers how to express themselves clearly, concisely and convincingly using the spoken and written word.

About the author

Alan Sharpe, executive speech coach and business writing trainer, is author of Speak Like a Leader: 101 Tips for Mastering Your Public Speaking Skills. On-site, online and over the phone, Alan teaches executives and managers how to express themselves clearly, concisely and convincingly using the written and spoken word. Receive a free tip like this each week by subscribing to his public speaking [http://www.alansharpeconsulting.com] and business writing [http://www.alansharpeconsulting.com] column, The Confident Communicator.

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