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Top Ten Tips for E-Writing 

by Dianna Booher

excerpted from E-Writing: 21st-Century Tools for Effective Communication [Pocket Books]

Strive For a Style Somewhere Between Stuffed-Shirt Writing and T-Shirt Writing: Just as the business casual dress code has some people stumped, so has the business causal writing style. Some writers confuse the screen for a t-shirt slogan.

Avoid Knee-Jerk Responses:  E-mail's greatest benefit can also be its greatest drawback:  speed.  We open. We read. We reply. Then we think-or don't, as the case may be.

If You Don't Have Something To Say, Don't Say It: On the street, when someone you know speaks to you, etiquette requires that you return the greeting. Not so with e-mail. 

Check It, But Don't Be Chained To It: Instead of being constantly distracted, let the e-mails pile up and check them only once or twice a day.

Use The "So What?" Prompt To Turn Information into Communication: Imagine your reader asking, "So what?"  Then add the answer:  Draw conclusions. State the action you want.

Avoid Stream-Of-Consciousness Rambling: Just as the penny is the basis for our monetary system, the sentence is our basic unit of thought. If your e-mail wasn't all that interesting to read the first time, imagine forcing people to slog through it a second time to catch your meaning.

Tune into the Tone of Directives:  Brief is good.  Blunt is not. 

Guard Against A Trigger-Happy 'Send' Finger: As a safety measure, don't enter the recipient's e-mail address until you have the e-mail ready to go-with all attachments. Then if your trigger finger goes off, your e-mail is still safely in your hands.

Make Sure "Anytime, Anywhere" Doesn't Mean "No Time, Nowhere": Many organizations advertise that they're available anytime anywhere.  But the reality is that that expectation disappoints all too often.  Email goes unanswered for days and weeks.

Know When To Phone Instead of Writing E-Mail or Letters:  People are typically less guarded when speaking than writing. Choose according to your purpose. 

Be Wary of Humor or Sarcasm:  Comedy writers earn big bucks.  Either make sure your humor works or don't try it. 

Understand Your Liability for Personal E-Mails on Company Systems:  Inexpensive software packages can scan up to 50,000 e-mails an hour for objectionable words (unfair, performance review, copyright, breast, resume, angry) and forward those messages to a designated person. Consider that your e-mail may be retrieved for any number of things that keep people awake at night. 

Author/speaker Dianna Booher is CEO of Booher Consultants, a Dallas-based communications training firm.  Her programs include communication (writing, oral presentations, interpersonal, customer service communications, gender, listening, meetings, conflict) and life balance/productivity.  She has published 40 books, including E-Writing: 21st-Century Tools for Effective Communication (Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books), Communicate with Confidence! (McGraw-Hill), and 67 Presentation Secrets to Wow Any Audience (HRD Press).  Several have been major Book Club selections. 
For information about her speaking and training programs call 352-438-0261 email [email protected] or visit www.ExpertSpeaker.com/Speakers/booher.htm 

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