Effective Communication -Written Communication

Skills for one of the oldest and most commonly used methods of communication.

CPD Assessments
Effective Communication - Written Communication

Effective Communication - Written Communication

Case Study

Cindy Blake is a Career development officer in Durban. She often spends time writing for different purposes. Cindy understands that the written word is a widely used form of communication within every environment and she uses this ability to communicate with students regarding appointments, creating proposals and a whole host of other reasons. Cindy realises that accuracy of the written word is essential when writing down information about students and she ensures that the information is legible, accurate and clear. This prevents students from being given the wrong information, which could have serious implications.

She is very careful when communicating with students and parents as she understands that English may not be a first language for many people in South Africa. She prefers to write in a simple yet professional manner when emailing. Her main objective is to communicate what she needs to effectively so that others may understand the point of her writing.

Cindy uses various styles when writing and adapts her style depending on who she is writing to. When she writes for her blog, the information is intended to 'explain or explore' something so it is factual and when she writes a story to inspire clients she uses creative writing techniques. She is also completing her PhD and has to use scientific writing styles to put her research forward. 

Cindy reflects on the various types of written communication she uses in a day. Before she leaves for work she reaches out to her family members via instant messaging and as she is having breakfast she uses an app to get an UBER, as her vehicle is being serviced.

At the office Cindy uses Prezi, a computer program (online app), for her presentations when she attends meetings and then replies to a flood of emails via her Microsoft Outlook account. She does a quick layout for a flyer advertising her next workshop and draws up a draft proposal for funding which is emailed to her manager for approval.

She sends out meeting requests and continues to the library to gather information for her training manuals. 


Written communication

Written communication is one of the oldest and most commonly used methods of communication. The career development practitioner should frequently update computer software and acquire appropriate knowledge about products to successfully use this method of communication. Correct choice of words and grammar determine the effectiveness of written communication. Information in writing is considered more valuable and legal than verbal communication as it is more precise and explicit. However, written responses are not as rapid as verbal communication.

Most written material can be placed along a band of highly legalistic and scientific material through to very creative and poetic writing. In our lives we interact with many different people on a daily basis - family, friends and colleagues - with different degrees of closeness and regularity. There are different types of writing skills that practitioners can employ, depending on who they are writing to and the situation. 

There are many times in your life when you will be asked to write something very specific. Whether this is to take notes of a conversation, write the minutes of a formal meeting or prepare a report, all these types of writing require specific skills and usually a particular style.

There are specific circumstances under which you might be required to write:
  • Writing at Home.
  • Writing in the Workplace.
  • Writing Job Applications.
  • Writing for Research. 
There are five main types of writing: expository, descriptive, persuasive, narrative and creative. Each of these writing styles is used for a specific purpose. A single text may include more than one style of writing.

Expository writing

This type of writing explains something or exposes a situation.  You would commonly find this style of writing in an essay, newspaper and magazine articles, instruction manuals, textbooks, encyclopaedia articles and other forms of writing as they seek to explain something. Expository writing differs from other forms of writing, such as fiction and poetry. 

Descriptive writing

This is a style of writing in which the writer uses words to paint a picture. Writers use detailed descriptions of people, places, objects and events. The author will also use descriptive writing to create sensory details. Food critiquing is an example of the descriptive writing style because the writer gives great detail of the 'actual taste' they experience.

Persuasive writing

This is a style that intends to convince readers to believe in an idea, opinion or a product.  Examples of such writings are reviews, reaction papers, editorials, proposals, advertisements and brochures that use different ways of persuasion to influence readers. It is a form of non-fiction writing. The writer uses logical arguments to lead the reader to believe the viewpoint is correct.

Narrative writing

This type of writing is defined as story writing. It contains a main character in a setting who encounters a problem or engages in an interesting, significant or entertaining activity or experience. What happens to this main character is called the plot. This is a common form of writing in the novels one reads.

Creative writing

This writing style is any form of writing that involves creativity of the mind. Examples are fiction writing, poetry writing and creative nonfiction writing. The purpose is to express something, whether it is feelings, thoughts or emotions.

First one needs to establish what you wish to write about before you start planning. The topic will steer which style you wish to use.

The most important questions to ask yourself when writing, are:
  • Who is involved? or Who is your audience?
  • What are the desired results from the written communication?
Career development practitioners need to have good writing skills as they are required to assist clients in writing applications, CV’s, cover letters or even motivations for funding. They could be investing in advertising or marketing of their services, etc.

It is common for career development practitioners to use various types of writing styles. This includes reports for management to simple flyers informing students on application processes.  Writing is commonly used to share information through books, pamphlets, blogs, letters, memorandums and more. Emails and chats are common forms of written communication in the workplace.

There are a few guidelines when writing:

Keep it simple. Communications should be as simple and clear as possible, always keeping the audience in mind. 
Adopt a neutral tone as this might be translated differently depending on the audience or culture. Keep writing as simple and plain as possible and follow up with verbal communications where you can add more personality.
Review written communications. Re-read emails, letters or memorandums to identify mistakes.  Important communications or those that will be sent to a large number of people might require that a colleague review it as well.

Authors

Sacda

Karuna Mahadave

Christopher John Beukes

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