Enhancing Your
Business Writing
Skills
September – October 2009
Presented by
Mosedimosi Business Training
1
The importance of written communication


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When should you be
writing in stead of talking?
Writing has the benefit of forcing us to
“think the matter through”.
Writing encourages us to gather the
facts before we communicate an idea,
instruction or message.
2
Writing requires (p6)
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a disciplined mind
taking responsibility
an attitude of “do it now”
being resourceful
understanding needs of the reader
proper planning
a good command of language
3
Think of the reader!
What
 When
 Why
 Who
 Where
 How
If your writing answers all these
questions, you have been successful
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4
Set the objective
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what does the reader need to know?
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what does the reader need to do?

what answers do I need from the reader?
5
Purpose and scope
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Purpose: “tip of the iceberg”
Compliance with legislation
Scope: width/depth of investigation
Templates: structure, topics, headings,
standard wording
Cohesion: purpose, content, form, frequency,
recipients
Planning the document
You will need to

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Define the purpose
Establish due date
Consider information sources
Evaluate info processing results
Consider alternatives
Prepare draft report
Refine and present final report
7
Consider your audience
Need (to make decisions)
 Education level
 Position in the organisation
 Knowledge of your topic or area
 Responsibility to act
 Biases
 Preferences
 Attitudes

8
Gather required information
Identify information resources
 Determine organisational procedures
 Conduct research:
primary
secondary
 Manage information

9
Analyse information
Make sense out of data
 Prevent personal bias
 Compare and contrast information
 Understand significance of facts and figures
 Develop fresh ideas

10
Determine the solutions
Conclusions must agree with findings
 Uphold integrity of the facts
 Generate several potential solutions
 Determine what is feasible
 Find the optimum solution

11
Mind Maps
Improve the way you take notes
 Show structure of subject
 Highlight linkages between points
 Display the raw facts logically
 Make concepts easier to remember
 Two-dimensional structure
 Help us make associations
 Easily integrate additional facts

12
Be organised in your approach
13
Mind map example
14
Drawing a mind map
Use single words or simple phrases for
information
 Print words
 Use colour to separate different ideas
 Use symbols and images
 Use cross-linkages
 Key points

15
Writers Block
Tactics to get rid of writer’s block
1.
Start brainstorming
2. Ease into your writing
3. Take some time out
4. Revisit the last few pages
5. Use the tried and true 'carrot' trick.
6. Pressure Cooker Tactics
7. Change the time and venue
8. Meditate or go walking
17
Writing skills system
A clear objective
Correct language
Proper structure
Attractive layout
Its foundations are
1.
Accuracy
2.
Brevity
3.
Clarity
the ABC of good writing
18
How many people speak English?
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isiZulu
 10 194 787
isiXhosa
 7 907 153
Afrikaans
 5 983 426
Sepedi
 4 208 980
Setswana
 3 677 016
Sesotho

3 555 186

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English
 3 673 203
Xitsonga

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Siswati
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1 194 430
Tshivenda

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1 992 207
1 021 757
isiNdebele

711 821
19
Correct language and words
WIST - Would I Say That?
 If not, do not write it!
 Do not use a long word if there is a short
word
 Do not write to impress, write to express

20
Tenses, dear old tenses
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Present
 Indefinite – he eats
 Perfect – he has eaten
 Continuous – he is eating
Past
 Indefinite – he ate
 Perfect – he had eaten
 Continuous – he was eating
Future
 Indefinite – he will eat
 Perfect – he will have eaten
 Continuous – he will be eating
21
After

I eat breakfast
I go to work
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Make this one sentence
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22
After
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I eat breakfast
I go to work
After I have eaten breakfast, I go to work
23
After

I ate breakfast
I went to work
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Make this one sentence
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24
After
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I ate breakfast
I went to work
After I had eaten breakfast, I went to work
25
After - had

I had breakfast
I went to work
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Make this one sentence
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26
After
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I had breakfast
I went to work
After I had had breakfast, I went to work
27
While

I ate breakfast
I received a telephone call

Make this one sentence
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28
While
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I ate breakfast
I received a telephone call
I received a telephone call while I
was eating breakfast
29
Present tense
To describe something that happens in the
present
 E-mail, letter, notices
 Use the indefinite form e.g. “Please submit
your reports before 11 October.”
 Advantage of present tense – document
looks recent and up to date.

30
Future tense
Still needs to happen
 Use the indefinite tense
 I shall go to town
 We use this when we set deadlines and
future expectations
 For proposals, recommendations,
resolutions, etc
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31
Past tense
Always use indefinite form
 Do not use “I was thinking”, use “I
thought”
 Do not use “it has been decided”, use
“The committee decided”
 For minutes, reports, letters and
e-mail
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32
Do and does
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Single – does
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She does her hair every day
Everybody does
Everyone does
Plural and I – do
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They do their hair every day
I do my hair every day
33
Plural or single?
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Staff?
Staff members have
Manchester United have won a game
The Manchester United team has
Management has or have?
Management has made a unanimous decision
Management have not decided on this yet
Management team has
Management members have
34
Apostrophy ‘s

Not for plural – tractor’s, bulldozer's for hire
(wrong) tractors and bulldozers

To indicate possession
 Mary’s lamb
 Supervisors’ meetings
 Visitors’ parking
To replace a missing letter
 don’t
 can’t
 won’t

35
Apostrophy ‘s
 The
dog wags its tail
 Possession (his, hers, its)
 It’s
a beautiful day
 It is a beautiful day
36
Would/could
Would – will (willing)
 Would you be so kind as to help me change
the tyre?

Could – can (competence)?
 Could you help me with Excel?

37
Wish
I wish I were a
rich man
 I wish she were rich
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38
The and a
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Wrong:
 “May I take the message?”
 “I take the taxi home.”
A – unspecified
The –specified
Correct:
 “May I take a message?”
 “I take a taxi home.”
39
Other problem areas
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She is still busy in the phone
He is on his desk
They held a conference in the hotel
She is still busy on the phone
He is at his desk
They held a conference at the hotel
40
C or s?
Licence
 License

Practice
 Practise

Advice
 Advise

41
C or s?
Licence – I am allowed to, driver’s
licence, tv licence (noun)
 License – I allow you to (verb)

Practice – perform – doctor’s practice
(noun)
 Practise - train/exercise, apply in
action (verb)

42
Borrow or lend?

If you need it, you borrow something from
someone
 May I borrow your dictionary?
 May I borrow R10?

If it belongs to you, you lend
 Think of a bank loan
 Certainly, you may lend my dictionary
43
Tautology
Round circle
 Have got
 Attached herewith please find
 Dated 10 October
 I personally believe
 Reverse backwards
 Free for nothing
 Always for me as well

44
Of, off, have got

The manager of the dept

Off course
The lights are switched off
End off
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I have got flu (wrong)
I have flu
Have you got the key (wrong)
Do you have the key?
45
Much
I am very much hungry
 I am very much tired
 I am very much happy
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I love you very much
 Thank you very much
 I am much happier than I was before

46
Abbreviations
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Is it Mr. or Mr? Mister
Prof. or Prof? Professor
etc. or etc? etcetera
When the abbreviation and the word ends
with the same letter, it doesn’t get a full
stop – mr
47
Too or to?
It’s too expensive
 Also
 Afrikaans – te veel


I am walking to the station

She is two years old
48
Too tired…
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I
I
I
I
am too tired….
am too hungry…
am too excited…
love you too much
I am too tired to drive home this afternoon
I am too hungry to wait another minute
He drinks too much beer
I love you too
The two of us are going to the factory too
49
American spelling XXXX
 Organization
- organisation
 Labor – labour
 Program – programme
 Liason –liaison
 Traveling - travelling
50
Dates
Never write numerical dates 06/10/2008
 6 October 2008
 The 6th of October 2008 (wrong)
 Monday 6 October 2008
 Do not add the word “dated”
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51
Me and myself
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Me and Johnny went to town (wrong)
Johnny and I went to town
I personally strongly believe …. (wrong)
I believe
Myself is going to town (wrong)
I taught myself to speak English
52
We should communicate clearly!

Son : Daddy, a Ferrari is that a red car with
a horse, right?

Dad: Yes, son

Son: Then I guess I saw a Ferrari this
morning
53
Useless words
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Actually
Hopefully
Carefully
Quite sure
Real
Somewhat
Slightly
In fact
Basically
Definitely
Fortunately
Pretty sure
Rather
Really
Very
Extremely
Due to the fact that
54
Do not use the following
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

Very
Nice
Find 5 words to describe the following on p 33:
 Nice food
 Nice house
 Nice woman
 Nice man
 Nice flowers
 Nice holiday
55
Nice words
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Food - tasty, spicy,
delicious, healthy,
marvelous, fantastic,
scrumptious, divine
House – spacious,
enormous, luxurious,
fancy, magnificent,
big, habitable,
grand, cosy,
comfortable
Woman – pretty,
loving, beautiful,
gracious, kind,
slender, lovely
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Man – handsome,
strong, hot, sexy,
gorgeous, cute,
prominent, romantic,
gentleman
Flowers – colourful,
aromatic, exotic,
exquisite, precious,
lovely, fresh, fragrant
Holiday – relaxing,
romantic, joyous,
exotic, blissful,
fun, interesting,
56
Positive and negative words
A positive tone encourages a
favourable, desirable association
with a product or service. A
negative tone is a “red flag” word.
It plants seeds of doubt, or conveys
an image that is unfavourable,
undesirable, unattractive, or even
frightening. However, too positive a
tone will lead to accusations of
“pushy”.
57
Do not use BIG words!
Except when it is:
Simpler
Unique
Rich
Economical
58
Pompous writing


This is old fashioned writing and tries to
impress
Pompous phrases:
 You are cordially invited
 We would like to/wish to inform you
 The above refers; your letter refers
 Hope you find the above in order
 I trust this will meet with your approval
 Your attendance will be highly appreciated
 Ensuring you of our best attention at all times
 It would be highly appreciated if you …
59
Pompous writing (1)
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I confirm
Apparently, clearly
We have received
With regards to your enquiry/regarding your
concern
We will try
Nothing!!!!
For
Nothing!!!!
I refer to your letter of …… (date)
60
Pompous writing (2)
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Please let us know
Please arrange
We made a decision
I hope this information will help you solve the
problem
The Committee considered the proposals
We are investigating the causes
Please note:
61
Eliminate redundant words
1.
Back
6.
On
2.
Together
7.
Together
3.
Which add
8.
Now
nothing
4.
Of opinion
5.
In shape
currently
9.
Along
10.
together
62
Active and passive writing
 Thabo
A
writes a lease
lease is written by Thabo
63
Appropriate passive writing
To avoid the impression of being critical of people.
e.g.: The accounts have not been completed.
To emphasise the object of the sentence rather than
the subject.
e.g.: Standards of safety have been allowed to
deteriorate.
To soften a passage which is predominantly active,
particularly in scientific reports where “by whom” will
be self-evident.
e.g.: The computer was installed to mechanise the
accounts.
64
Active writing
Rewrite phrases on p 43 in
active form
Note that a sentence is
shorter when writing in the
active form
65
Active writing p41
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
We received your letter
Take the following action when processing a
report
I sent the customers a cheque for R1987,00
We completed the job within two days
The research team interviewed 47 people
Legal experts are advising the firm
We will have to consider several factors
66
Sentences
The ideal sentence is not
longer than 24 words
1 idea = 1 sentence!
67
Paragraphs
With each new topic start a
paragraph
The topic sentence should
always be first!
Re-write paragraph on p 45
68
Re-write paragraph
I have decided to accept the transfer
to Cape Town. This is partly because
of the educational opportunities for
my children and also because of the
promotional prospects the transfer will
offer me. The Personnel Officer was
helpful and instrumental in my choice.
69
Punctuation
A woman, without her
man, is nothing
70
Punctuation
A woman, without
her, man is nothing
71
Punctuation
Please punctuate the
paragraph on p 52.
Please note that there are
no mistakes on that
page!
72
Ambiguity
 Be
careful what you say
 What does bi-monthly or bi-annually
mean?
73
Business writing blunders (1)

Spotted in a toilet of a London office:
TOILET OUT OF ORDER. PLEASE USE FLOOR BELOW
In a Laundromat:
AUTOMATIC WASHING MACHINES: PLEASE REMOVE
ALL YOUR CLOTHES WHEN THE LIGHT GOES OUT
In a London department store:
BARGAIN BASEMENT UPSTAIRS
In an office:
WOULD THE PERSON WHO TOOK THE STEP LADDER
YESTERDAY PLEASE BRING IT BACK OR FURTHER
STEPS WILL BE TAKEN
74
Business writing blunders (2)

In an office:
AFTER TEA BREAK STAFF SHOULD EMPTY THE
TEAPOT AND STAND UPSIDE DOWN ON THE
DRAINING BOARD
Outside a second-hand shop:
WE EXCHANGE ANYTHING - BICYCLES, WASHING
MACHINES, ETC. WHY NOT BRING YOUR HUSBAND
ALONG AND GET A WONDERFUL BARGAIN?
Notice in health food shop window:
CLOSED DUE TO ILLNESS
75
Business writing blunders (3)

Spotted in a game reserve:
ELEPHANTS PLEASE STAY IN YOUR CAR
Seen during a conference:
FOR ANYONE WHO HAS CHILDREN AND DOESN'T KNOW IT,
THERE IS A DAY CARE ON THE 1ST FLOOR
Notice in a farmer's field:
THE FARMER ALLOWS WALKERS TO CROSS THE FIELD FOR
FREE, BUT THE BULL CHARGES.
Message on a leaflet:
IF YOU CANNOT READ, THIS LEAFLET WILL TELL YOU HOW
TO GET LESSONS
On a repair shop door:
WE CAN REPAIR ANYTHING. (PLEASE KNOCK HARD ON THE
DOOR - THE BELL DOESN'T WORK)
76
Notice to all residents
Please note that the water supply will be
interrupted on
Monday 29 June 2009
from 8:00 to 16:00.
Close all taps to avoid
air surges.
Direct any queries to
Mr Mokoena at (011) 716 2323.
77
Notice to all residents
Kindly note that the water
supply will be interrupted
on Monday 29 June 2009
from 8:00 to 16:00. We
need to repair water pipes
in your area to improve our
service delivery to you.
Please close all taps to
avoid air surges and
remember to fill buckets in
advance
Should you have any
queries, you may contact
Mr Mokoena on 011 716
78
2323
Dear Colleagues
Unfortunately we have had instances where
company and personal possessions were removed
from several offices. To avoid this, you are
requested to lock your office each time you go
out. Please do not leave valuables unattended.
Please let me know of any similar occurrences as
we would like to get to the root of the problem.
Regards
Bethuel
79
Style in business writing
Style is your personal stamp

Word choice
Sentence construction
 Asking questions
 Using imperative
 Active/passive
 Paragraphing
 Imagery
 tone
80
Principles for effective writing (1)
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Use variety in your writing.
Sentences should be short; 18 - 24
Paragraphs should contain 5 – 7 sentences.
Avoid weak language (rather, very, little, pretty,
bad, sorry)
Avoid clichés, buzzwords, and jargon.
Avoid unnecessary words (padding) such as
“the, that, I think, I feel, I believe, in fact, wish
to”.
Use active not passive sentences
81
Principles for effective writing (2)





Write as you would talk
Don’t nominalise by adding “tion” or “ment”
to verbs
Don’t dangle. For example: “The document
was filed by the employee who had been
working on it in the wrong drawer”
Use active verbs. Stay away from forms of
the verb “to be, to make, to do, to have”
Write to express not to impress
82
Writing for a specific readership
Checklist: Inter-office memos
 Define your topic and state it accurately
 Consider your reader; use a friendly informal style
 Put the main point of your memo in the first
sentence
 Use the body of the memo to provide necessary
details and background information
 Memos should be specific, to the point, and
contain simple, direct language
83
Checklist: Inter-office memos

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
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

They must evoke response and action
Keep copies; they are often useful for future
reference
Do not use a salutation nor a complimentary close
Keep your paragraphs short and crisp. If
necessary number them
Only write a memo when a telephone call is not
sufficient, a written record is needed, or when you
have to reach many people
Be sure your terminology, sentence length,
structure, and paragraph length make for quick,
clear, easy reading. Itemise and tabulate
84
Memorandums
Write a memo inviting staff to
attend a lunch-hour presentation
by a speaker on employee
wellness. You want as many
people as possible to attend as
you will sit with egg on your face
if only two staff members arrive!
Make your memo short and use
exciting language!
85
Letters
Structure and templates
86
Address and salutation
340 Walker Street
SUNNYSIDE
0002
15 September 2009
The Commissioner
South African Revenue Service
Private Bag X923
Pretoria
0001
Dear Sir/Madam
Interest on VAT
87
Address and salutation
ABC Training
P O Box 234
SUNNYSIDE
0002
27 July 2009
Mr P Smith
The Customer Service Manager
Hollywood Hotel
P O Box 4312
MARSHALLTOWN
2107
Dear Mr Smith
COMPLAINT ABOUT SERVICE DURING CONFERENCE
88
Heading
Indicates what the letter is about
 Use bold type
 Do not use “Re”
 There is no full stop
 A line is left open after the salutation and the
content reference

89
The first paragraph

Write business letters in the 1st person – I
and we, not the 3rd person i.e. the
organisation.

Thank you for your letter of

State the objective
90
The body of the letter






It must be clear, concise and easy to read
Be sure of your facts and do not contradict
yourself
Plan carefully
State your business concisely, clearly and simply
Write only what is absolutely relevant
Each new paragraph is a new theme
91
Ending your letter





The way you finish your letter is important
indicate future expectations from the reader
leave your reader in no doubt as to the purpose of
the letter
Never finish with such outmoded phrases as
‘Assuring you of our best attention at all times’
Supply your contact details
92
Good way of ending a letter
Should you have any further enquiries,
you are welcome to contact me on 011
664 7574 or [email protected]
93
Letter of decline

Decline letter
Design a letter that can be used
by HR to inform a candidate that
he (s)has been unsuccessful in
her/his application for a position
94
Letters of complaint p72
If you are in the wrong
 If you are in the right – but will give way
 If you are in the right – and cannot give
way

95
Deal with angry e-mails carefully!
Write an e-mail message
 Invite
your team to a
lunch next Friday to
celebrate your last
success
97
Invitation e-mail
Dear Team
Congratulations and celebrations!
We exceeded our target by 50% in August. We
would like to celebrate with a lunch. Please join us!
Date : Friday 1 September 2009
Time : 13:00 – 15:00
Venue : Lapa
Dress : Casual
RSVP Corry on 011 664 7574 by Tuesday
Regards
98
When using e-mail
1.
Be careful using e-mail at work
2.
Short e-mails communicate better
3.
Use a clear and descriptive subject line
4.
Spelling and grammar still applies
5.
Limit the number of recipients
6.
Use a signature
7.
Respect the privacy of e-mail addresses
99
Report

All the principles about writing content
apply to your report!

A report is a structured way of reporting on
a project, findings or proposal and getting
decision makers to approve
100
Objectives and characteristics
Investigative or persuasive?
 Formal or informal?
 A report usually aims to dig under the
surface to find the real problem – the Ice
Berg principle
 A report needs to present solutions and
recommendations – it’s not just a moaning
process!

101
The reporting process (Recap)







Understand why the report is required
Know and respect the due date
Plan how you will proceed to gather information
Plan how you will meet the deadline
Proceed with your information gathering
Record the results of your information gathering
Consider the information. You need to plan some
time to evaluate your conclusions
102
The reporting process 2 (Recap)
Consider what can be done about the
problem
 Draft the report
 Redraft the report (Good reports are not
written - they are re-written)
 Type it or have it typed. Proof-read it and
check the presentation

103
What makes a good report?

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Must lead to action
Gets to the point
Is user friendly
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a descriptive title
a table of contents
identifiable chapters
headlines
spacious presentation
logical sequence of arguments
clear findings
simple language
correct grammar
104
Informal reports
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It is often necessary, within a company, to put
information on paper. It can be to update other
members of staff , report back to a departmental
head or other manager, explain situations, record
information, etc.
The matters are usually fairly simple and do not
justify carefully impersonal language, conventional
headings, etc.
Such reports are usually done in a flexible format
similar to that of a memorandum.
105
Structure of draft report
Terms of reference
 Introduction
 Procedures for investigation
 Findings
 Conclusions
 Financial implications
 Recommendations
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106
Structure of an informal report
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To
From
Date
Subject
First paragraph: terms of reference,
introduction, background
Middle paragraph(s): information and findings
Final paragraph(s): conclusion and
recommendation
107
Maintain high standard in informal
reports:
 Logical
 Neutral
tone
 Attractive layout
 Clear language and
sentences
108
Structure of final report
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Title
Contents page
The main point
Executive summary
Terms of reference
Data gathering
Discussion
Conclusion
Recommendation
List appendices
List references
109
Executive summary
a time-saving short paper
 a way of focusing attention on the main
information
 an aid to remembering the paper
 Make sure your summaries are as
informative as possible. Often this is the
only part that people read

110
Business Plan

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Makes an idea measurable
Helps convey the concepts to stakeholders
Gives insight into all the aspects of the proposed
project
Is an exercise to assess the viability of the idea
Helps the originators and stakeholders to
familiarise themselves with potential problems
Provides a step by step approach towards
reaching a decision
Becomes a working manual in the execution of the
project
Provides the means to measure progress during
implementation.
111
Structure of business plan
Executive summary
 Introduction and background
 Business outline
 Data gathering
 Operations
 Financial
 Risk/reward assessment

112
Interpret the numbers for your
reader
Comparison – the key to understanding
 Present in table format
 Consistency
 Diagrams
 Colours
113
Précis writing
Summarising a document to extract the
maximum amount of information in the
minimum number of words.
 Reduces the report to approx one third of
the original
 Paraphrasing means expressing ideas from
original document in your own words
 Be careful not to lose or distort the original
meaning.
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114
Précis writing
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Identify the reader and purpose of the précis
Read the original document
Underline the key ideas and concepts
Prepare a draft summary
Write the précis
Review and edit
115
Persuasive reports (1)
What will it take to persuade your audience
to agree with you
 What is the purpose of your persuasion?
 What is the issue that needs an answer?
 Distinguish between facts and opinion
 Don’t claim more than you can prove
 Explore subject in sufficient depth

Persuasive reports (2)
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Supply sufficient evidence from credible sources
Appeal to the feelings of your audience
Provide a logical organisation of your arguments
Apply logic to convince
Prevent fallacies in logic
Study arguments of accomplished writers
117
Meetings and Minutes
“The two biggest problems in life are
making ends meet and making meetings
end”
 “Business meetings are one way of
demonstrating how many people the
organisation can operate without”
 “Business meetings are cul de sacs down
which ideas are lured and then quietly
strangled”

118
Definition of a meeting
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
“An assembly of persons, a coming together
for a common lawful purpose of two or more
persons.”
Requirements for a gathering to be regarded
as a lawful meeting are:
 at least two persons must be coming
together
 there is common purpose
119
Cycle of a meeting (1)
First draft of minutes – one day after the
meeting
 Chairperson’s approval – two to three days
after meeting
 minutes dispatched – five days after
meeting
 Routine administration
 Deadline for agenda items – around eight
days before next meeting

120
Cycle of a meeting (2)
Draft agenda – seven days before next
meeting
 Agenda dispatched – one week before
next meeting
 Briefing – one or two days before next
meeting
 The meeting
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121
Notice of a meeting
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
If there is not adequate notice, the meeting is
invalid
Every member is entitled to a personal notice of
the meeting.
The notice of a meeting should include:
day, date, time and venue
 type of meeting and details
 date of the notice and the name of the
convenor of the meeting
 Invite items for the agenda
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122
Agenda (1)
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Type of meeting, day, date time, venue
Welcome
Apologies
Declaration: meeting duly constituted
Set the agenda
Adopt minutes of previous meeting
Matters arising
Matters outstanding from previous
meeting
123
Agenda (2)
Reports
 Specific agenda items
 Any other business
 Date of
next meeting
 Closure

124
Note taking skills

Get the complete picture
 Develop your ways in which you record your
information.
 It’s not a "shopping list" of points with no
apparent relationships between the ideas
noted.
 Summarise
 Prepare beforehand
 Ask questions
125
The steps in note taking


-
-
-
First Step – PREPARATION
Use a large, loose-leaf notebook
Second Step - DURING THE MEETING
Don’t record notes in paragraph form
Capture general ideas
Skip lines to show end of ideas or thoughts
Using abbreviations will save time
Write legibly
126
Top minute taking tips
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Listen actively
Don't get behind – start when new sentence/idea
starts
Be open minded about points you disagree on
Ask questions if appropriate
Develop and use a standard method of notetaking including punctuation, abbreviations,
margins, etc
Leave a few spaces blank so that you can fill in
additional points later if necessary
127
Top minute taking tips

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Your objective is to take helpful notes, not to
save paper
Do not try to take down everything
Listen for cues as to important points
Speakers present a few major points and several
minor points in a discussion.
Be alert to cues about what the speaker thinks is
important
128
Top minute taking tips
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Make your original notes legible
If a motion is complex it should be reduced to
writing
Have two pens, the minutes of the previous
meeting for amending/signing etc.
If you are tape recording, set it up
Sit in the correct chair sit at the right hand side
of the chairperson.
REFUSE to sit in a corner
129
Top minute taking tips
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Concentrate on the discussion: ask yourself: what
is the main point that Person X is making?
Take GOOD, full notes
Take down all motions and resolutions verbatim
Assertiveness is a key skill when taking minutes.
Type up minutes ASAP after a meeting.
NEVER put them away for another day
Get help wherever possible
130
Top minute taking tips
Don’t fuss over minutes.
You are not
writing a nation’s constitution.
 Get them done and get them distributed
quickly.
 People like short, clear minutes which are
easy to read and easy to work from.
 Full but short sentences are best, and clear
layout will make your minutes “user
friendly.”
 Like any business writing, minutes can only

Streamline your notes

Eliminate small connecting words such as:
is, are, was, were, a, an, the, would, this,
of.

Eliminate pronouns such as: they, these,
his, that, them. However, be careful NOT
to eliminate these three words: and,
in, on.
132
Streamline your notes
+, &
=
#
x
>
<
w/
w/o
w/in
---->
<---/
for
for
for
for
for
for
for
for
for
for
for
for
and, plus
equals
minus
number
times
greater than, more, larger
less than, smaller, fewer than
with
for without
within
leads to, produces, results in
comes from
per
133
What are minutes?


Minutes may be defined as ‘the official record
of the proceedings and business transacted at
a meeting’.
They may be divided into two categories,
namely:

minutes of narration

minutes of resolutions
134
Minutes of narration: examples

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Nature of the meeting
Date, time and place at which it was held
How the meeting was constituted
Apologies for absence that have been received by
the chairperson or the secretary
Names of persons attending ex officio
A statement that the chairperson declared the
meeting duly constituted
A record of the approval of the minutes of the
previous meeting, if indeed they were approved at
the meeting
135
Minutes of resolution
Decisions: “it was resolved that…”
 Record full details of contracts, matters
of financial nature, appointments
 Main terms of agreement must be stated
 Attach copy of agreements to minutes
 Record the exact intention of the
meeting

136
Resolutions



Minutes are a record of resolutions
Resolutions are drafted by the secretary
consultation with the chairperson.
A well-formulated resolution is
 concise and clear
 single sentence
 worded in the positive
 If lengthy, broken down in components
 Start with “that”
in
137
Proof-reading
Use your spell checker
 Check grammar, tenses,
concord, punctuation, spelling
 Check layout
 Check for completion of revisions
and editing

138
Editing: check for
The purpose
 Information
 Accuracy
 Images
 Format
 Language
 Presentation
 Relevancy

139
Smarten the layout
Plenty of white space
 The right fonts
 Page numbering
 Headers and footers
 Right hand margin justification
 Tables
 Numbering

140
Report polishing check list
 Objective
 Structure
 Language
 Layout
141
Gunnings readability index p 48
Select 100 words
 Count the number of sentences
 Divide
 Add number of words with
3 and more syllables
 Multiply by 0,4

142
Where to now? (1)
Implement immediately
 Practise every day
 Don’t postpone
 Write and edit all the time
 Learn from others
 Allow creativity and be flexible
 Pass on what you know

143
Where to now? (2)
Review own writing
– ask an expert
 Attend more courses
 Be a confident writer
 Read, read, read!

144
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