What You Say When You Write A Business Letter
For writing advice about a letter that you plan to send to someone at a very high level of business or government, I can think of no single individual better qualified to give it than Letitia Baldrige. Her book “Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide To Executive Manners” remains one of a very few definitive books in its field.
Ms. Baldrige knows what is acceptable and what is not because she has been there. She has moved in the very highest circles of American society for years. She was the social secretary to Jacqueline Kennedy; her father was a Congressman; her brother, Howard Malcolm Baldrige, Jr., was Secretary of Commerce. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
We here at whatyousay.com think her “Complete Guide To Executive Manners” is simply wonderful. We refer to it often and recommend that you purchase your own copy. Below is an excerpt from that book.–Gene Griessman, Ph.D.
- Make sure that the first paragraph of the letter clearly reveals the purpose of the letter. Don’t make the recipient of the letter go on a scavenger hunt trying to find the real point of your writing.
- Before you write the letter, make a list of all the points that should be covered in the letter and let the list be the guide in the construction of your paragraphs point-by-point.
- Don’t exaggerate in order to persuade. It lessons your credibility. It’s all right to exaggerate your good wishes: ‘Here go a million good wishes for your new enterprise.’ But, it is not all right to say, ‘Everyone of your competitors has taken our new product line,’ if that isn’t true.
- Write simply. Malcolm Forbes’ advice is to ‘search out and annihilate all unnecessary words and sentences, even entire paragraphs.’
- Carefully edit any important letter. Re-write it if necessary in order to make sure that it is clear that it fulfills its purpose and that it contains no distracting garbage. This applies to informal business letters as much as to strictly business letters.”