Many of us are called upon to create correspondence to explain a situation of importance to a client or other business associate.

Or more simply:

Sometimes you need to write a business letter.

To most people, this means they break out the overly-flowery writing and kick the b.s. into high gear.

STOP THAT!

Business writing is meant to be simple, concise and to-the-point.  Stop adding all the “therefore”s and the “hereafter”s and the “consequently”s if you don’t normally use those words.

My suggestion for novice business writers?  Write the letter like you would say it in a phone conversation.  Then take out the slang, the jargon and the bumbling junk.

Below you will find an example of the technique.  The bold sections are the “conversation,”  the next are the simplified, cleaned up sentences while the italicized sections are some “gussied-up” business writing.

Hello Mrs. Smith, this is Tim from the funeral home.  We did your husband’s funeral.
Dear Mrs. Smith,
My name is Tim Totten.  We handled the arrangements for your husband, Fred.
Dear Mrs. Smith,
My name is Timothy Totten and I am the manager of ABC Funeral Home.  You recently entrusted us to handled the services for your husband, Mr. Frederick Smith.

I’ve been goin’ over the arrangement folder and found an extra DC that we forgot to give to you.
We found an additional certified death certificate in our paperwork that we neglected to give you.
During a review of recent funeral paperwork, we found an additional certified copy of your husband’s death certificate that was inadvertently omitted from the items we gave you after the service.

Since I don’t trust the mail, I’m holdin’ it here.  Give us a call and we’ll swing it by or you can stop in if you’re in the neighborhood.
Please let us know if we should bring it to you or hold it here for you to pick up.
I understand how important this document is, so we are keeping it in our secure facility. Please call us immediately to schedule a time that we can deliver it to you.

I sure hope everything else went good.  If not, make sure you tell us so we can fix it.
If you need anything else, please let us know.
If you have any other questions or concerns, please let us know immediately.  It is our sincere hope that we have brought some solace to you and your family during this difficult time.

Thanks for your business.
Thank you for letting us serve your family.
Thank you for trusting us to handle the important arrangements for your husband.  Your confidence is greatly appreciated.

Tim
Sincerely,
Tim Totten
Sincerely,
Timothy B. Totten 
Funeral Home Manager

RECAP: 

– Don’t use jargon such as “D.C.” or “arrangement folder.”
– Cut the slang.  Don’t use “goin’ to” or “swing by” or anythin’ else like it.
– Drop insensitive words.  No one wants to hear “we DID your husband’s funeral.”
– Show respect.  It was an important life event to Mrs. Smith, not just “business.”
– Sign with your full name.

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