Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

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Barbara Gabogrecan
President

Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Barbara Gabogrecan » Mon Oct 29, 2012 6:39 am

I am delighted to once again welcome the popular Frances Cahill as our guest expert. Frances had well over 3,000 readers when she last wrote for this Forum.

Frances really does know what she is talking about – she is a genuine expert in her field. As well as having an academic background in Linguistics, she was accepted for a PhD candidature in Education at QUT. As well as her many Radio (2EA) and TV (SBS) involvements, Frances has now tailored her material on writing skills so that it is of interest and use to business owners.

This week she will cover such information as:-
• How to write ‘textspeak’ fluently.
• How business owners value quality writing skills and how you can improve your skills.
• How to write (or rather what NOT to write) for websites.
• Business emails are really just very short and fast letters.
• Writing is a very important communication skill; so what are the essential elements?

I am sure you will once again pick up some great tricks and tips and may even disagree with what Frances has to say. Consequently, I am really looking forward to some ‘colourful’ discussion on this topic, as you communicate your thoughts via your writing skills!
Cheers
Barb
Barbara Gabogrecan assists HBB's to market their business online
http://www.HomeBasedBusinessAustralia.org

Barbara is an artist specialising in silk painting; her video is on page one of You Tube http://youtu.be/1ZA9HObN_Go
http://www.SilkPaintingByGabogrecan.com/

Having survived a stroke and a brain tumour, Barbara wrote a book titled 'Thank God I Had a Stroke' to motivate and inspire others suffering from similar afflictions.
http://GabogrecanStrokeRecovery.com/
Barbara Gabogrecan
 
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Re: Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Frances Cahill » Mon Oct 29, 2012 8:59 am

This topic is capable of generating heated and lively discussion so I chose to present it as my first post to get the discussion juices flowing!

I have been invited to speak on the topic of textspeak on radio quite often and the audience response has been surprising; particularly when comparing it to other language forms - proper English being seen as the chief casualty. I could talk more about what constitutes ‘proper English’ but that is not the focus here.

What is textspeak? (I heard you say). It is the wonderful abbreviated word forms commonly used in text messaging. For me, textspeak commands its own place in the communication landscape.

As I mentioned in my blog on this topic:
‘Textspeak has its own set of grammar rules, functions perfectly in its own domain as an enduring and repeatable form of language’.

Email and texts form a significant role in much of our business communication. If you are using abbreviated word forms are you using them intelligently? Will your customer understand completely if your text reads: c u tomoz?

Are you using the standard form of date in Australia 11/9 – 11th September or have you adopted the American form of September 11 – 9/11 (9th November)? This would be make a big difference if you are scheduling appointments or quotes.

Do you match the level of textspeak that your customer uses? If they use more formal language do you take notice and respond to that level?

As I have said elsewhere, I firmly believe that textspeak is here to stay but it is up to us whether we make the use of it a market advantage or a client diverter.

It is very important to consider what impression your business communication emails leave with your customer.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

Cheers Frances
Frances Cahill
BA (Hons) 1st Cert IV TAA Cert IV Small Business Management
Business communication specialist, writer, trainer, author of LOL is not lots of love
http://www.askauntem.com.au
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aunt-Em/482360368464994
Frances Cahill
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Charly Leetham » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:17 am

Hi Frances,
I agree, our language is evolving and text speak is here to stay. I also think that the art of matching your writing style to your audience is as relevant to the Y gen, as much as it is to the X & Baby Boomer generations. It is something that I am teaching my trainee's - that they have to be able to respond to the client or supplier in a similar manner... it takes a reasonable amount of skill to do this.

I had to laugh the other day when I saw a Sit Com and someone actually used their SmartPhone to CALL someone - the comment was "how 80's" - but this really underscores just how much of our communications now rely on Text's, Messaging and Email - not the spoken word. Certainly, when texting the ability to use abbreviations is a MUST (if only to save the fingers!)...

One thing I heard 18 months ago on the evolution of our language is that it will continue to evolve - and textspeak is part of that evolution. For the purists who want to challenge that, go back in time a mere 100 years and listen (or read) the language they used then. Now, go back to Shakespearean England and think about how they spoke ... if we were to be dumped in Shakespearean England, they wouldn't understand the majority of what we were saying - yet we are speaking English!!! Language evolves....

I will admit though, I revert to the standard British English dictionary when writing. I use 's', not 'z'. I put 'u's into words where the American Dictionary omits them. However, when quoting or writing to an overseas entity, I am more explicit in the use of dates - ie. 9 Sept. 2012, as opposed to 11/9 or 9/11 - to ensure there is no ambiguity.
Charly Leetham
Your Online Business Implementation Expert and Virtual IT Support Team
http://www.AskCharlyLeetham.com
Free Reports: Back It Up – Save Your Online Business
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Charly Leetham
 
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Location: Canberra, Australia

Re: Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Frances Cahill » Mon Oct 29, 2012 9:20 am

Hello Charly,
I am a Macquarie Dictionary user (same principle as yours) and I am a determined 'u' user for humour and colour as well.
The evolution of language is a fascinating topic in itself.
Even more interesting is a person's attitude to change - whether all change is seen as destruction or, as you have so rightly said, an evolution.
Frances Cahill
BA (Hons) 1st Cert IV TAA Cert IV Small Business Management
Business communication specialist, writer, trainer, author of LOL is not lots of love
http://www.askauntem.com.au
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aunt-Em/482360368464994
Frances Cahill
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:49 am

Do business owners value writing skills?

Postby Frances Cahill » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:16 am

Early last week, I asked a question in an on-line forum. In hindsight, I’d have to admit there was a smuggish smile on my face. EVERYONE values good writing skills and especially those operating in the small business sector – don’t they?

Well my smugness was soon washed away. It was admittedly a dodgy survey; no control for diversity other than it was a small business owners’ forum. But the answers these lively people gave me were a challenge to my thinking.

I had always considered good quality writing skills would be valued even if people didn’t necesssarily have those skills themselves. I was forced to realize that my idea was not universally accepted!

There were some who agreed with me that these skills were essential. There were others who said it wasn’t important and that spelling mistakes didn’t matter.
So I was now facing the the prospect that, as a small business owner who specialises in training people to improve their writing skills, I may have a serious problem with my marketing strategy!

A rough analysis of the responses led me to mark these factors as relevant:
• Age – a rough estimate of 35+ seemed to mark an increase in value of the skill
• Formal/informal contexts – less distinction made in digital communication streams
• Educational exposure – how grammar was addressed at school for the individual

I would be very interested to see what this forum of business owners have to say about this topic.

It is a simple question as follows:
Do you value quality writing skills? Is it important for your business?

I will be excited to see whether a rough comparison can be made across states.

My dodgy survey is meant to open the issue for discussion – not just as a means to save my marketing strategies but to bring the issue to the front of your minds – if only for a moment.

My conviction that good writing skills deserve their own permanent place in business skill sets will never change but it certainly has been a revelation to hear others’ opinions.

I look forward to hearing your views.
Frances Cahill
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Barbara Gabogrecan » Tue Oct 30, 2012 10:32 am

Even though Art was my main teaching skill, English was my second subject. I only had to teach English in my first year to a group of year 7 kids - and it was grammar (which I was not good at knowing the rules anyway). I just managed to keep one week ahead of them and the text book.

But my Art students always had to do history of art and therefore had to write essays (especially in the higher classes) - so English has always been one of my favourite communication skills. It saddened me when my kids were at school and the teachers of the time said it was more important for them to write down thoughts than it was for them to get the grammar or spelling correct.

In business I believe it is absolutely essential to have your English correct (including capital letters and no slang). Business people need to be seen as professional and the way they communicate can be closely alligned to the way they look after their clients and present their product or service. If you are lazy and unprofessional in one area, you are likely to be the same in all aspects of your business.

It seems to me that emails fall into the category of 'it'l do mate' and therefore it is not necessary to leave spaces between paragraphs (what is a paragraph?), have capital letters where necessary and to sign off correctly. An additional requirement is also to have a good signature box with all your contact details (just as you would do in a formal letter - even though the same information may be seen in different places).

BUT - since my stroke and the inability to read I have also found the simplest of spelling errors are occuring when I write. I get quite confused by such words as 'write' and 'right'; there are many similar groups of words that cause me grief, so I am somewhat more tolerant of spelling mistakes now!

Cheers
Barb
Barbara Gabogrecan assists HBB's to market their business online
http://www.HomeBasedBusinessAustralia.org

Barbara is an artist specialising in silk painting; her video is on page one of You Tube http://youtu.be/1ZA9HObN_Go
http://www.SilkPaintingByGabogrecan.com/

Having survived a stroke and a brain tumour, Barbara wrote a book titled 'Thank God I Had a Stroke' to motivate and inspire others suffering from similar afflictions.
http://GabogrecanStrokeRecovery.com/
Barbara Gabogrecan
 
Posts: 341
Joined: Sun May 03, 2009 12:57 pm

Re: Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Dean Howell » Tue Oct 30, 2012 12:37 pm

Thanks Frances, these are great tips. I have been blogging actively for a year but still trying to find the magic to get people to read and engage.
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Yours in Success

Dean Howell

Husband – Father – Entrepreneur – Business & Personal Development – Leadership – Connecting GeoSpatial Professionals – Fire Fighter – Pilot

Follow my blogs at http://www.imagine-dream-believe.com

Join me on the Journey to Success at http://www.deanhowell.me
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Re: Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Kathie Thomas » Tue Oct 30, 2012 3:45 pm

I work in an industry where the bulk of our communication is done by email. So it is essential that we type things properly and are clear about dates, locations, timezones, etc. Like Charly, I use the British UK way of spelling things for the most part, but occasionally slip into Aussie slang, making sure I clearly explain what it means if communicating with someone from the US or UK, for example.

As I manage a team of Virtual Assistants, every single new member is encouraged, on joining the team, not to slip into textspeak or textchat as I call it, and to make sure they take care in their written communication. I remind them that even in forums, their written word can be on display to the world at large, and if a potential client sees their written words, it could be make or break for them.

My daughters accuse me of being a 'typist' when I text them too. I just can't get into the shortcut method of spelling words. But then I am a trained typist with over 40 years experience behind me. Old habits die hard - even trying not to leave double spaces between sentences. :D
Kathie M. Thomas, AFAIOP, MVA, ASO, Author, Speaker, VA Coach
"A Clayton's Secretary"®, Award-winning Virtual Assistant Services and Network, Est. 1994
Web: http://www.vadirectory.net
VA blog : http://www.vadirectory.net/acsblog/
VA Training: http://www.vatrainer.com
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Re: Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Frances Cahill » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:30 pm

Barb
Instructional grammar seems to have been the victim of curriculum cycles over the decades. I was lucky when I was at school in the 60s, that grammar was a defined area of English knowledge. The National Curriculum currently being implemented progressively over the next few years also seem to be returning grammar to a position of importance. This may be a wonderful thing but it is unrealistic to expect teachers, who have little or no exposure to it, to be teaching with confidence unless there is parallel professional development. But I digress, I agree with you 100% that all correspondence should reflect your business as one where customers can expect professionalism, courtesy, rigorous attention to details. It seems there is a range of opinions on this issue - fascinating to say the least!
I am afraid I am using a new i-phone for emials with patchy success! (Sorry Peter for the rubbish I sent yesterday about the order for scarves - I was too frustrated to try for a third time!)
Frances Cahill
BA (Hons) 1st Cert IV TAA Cert IV Small Business Management
Business communication specialist, writer, trainer, author of LOL is not lots of love
http://www.askauntem.com.au
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aunt-Em/482360368464994
Frances Cahill
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:49 am

Re: Welcome Frances Cahill on writing skills for business

Postby Frances Cahill » Tue Oct 30, 2012 7:43 pm

Dean
I am very glad to be of service. I have found that asking a question of your readers can be useful to generate interest particularly if you know some controversy surrounds the topic.
Have you heard of Yaro Starak? http://www.entrepreneurs-journey.com
He is a young man who is based in Brisbane - lucky me - and is a VERY successful blogger. I am learning from his book - The Blog Profits Blueprint which is free on his website.

Enjoy!
Cheers F
Frances Cahill
BA (Hons) 1st Cert IV TAA Cert IV Small Business Management
Business communication specialist, writer, trainer, author of LOL is not lots of love
http://www.askauntem.com.au
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Aunt-Em/482360368464994
Frances Cahill
 
Posts: 40
Joined: Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:49 am

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