The letter-is the oldest method of sending a message. Modem media of transmission like fax and e-mail have high speed and can transmit the written word instantaneously. Written messages are ‘now more informal and conversational in style. Letter writing style is changing as it may be a confirmation or a follow-up of a telephone call or e-mail or fax. The letter itself may be transmitted by fax instead of by mail.
Written messages are used for requesting and giving information, contacting potential customers, making and answering complaints, and maintaining relations with customers and members of the public. For writing good messages you need knowledge of language and must cultivate a clear, concise style of writing. You must also have knowledge of the working, procedures, policies and aims of your organisation. As a person, you must be sincere, confident, self-respecting and friendly; these qualities are reflected in the style of your message.
Most messages are short compositions and you must make the most effective use of every sentence and every word. Careful planning can help you write a good message.
Planning the Message
Careful planning is the basis of success in most tasks. Taking time to think and plan before writing a letter has many advantages.
It gives you time to calm any emotions like anger which can spoil the communication if it is reflected in the letter.
It helps to make sure that all information and ideas are included and are correct.
It enables you to compose the letter in a logical order and in the style most suited to the needs of the reader. It is a good method to separate the two elements of communication : planning the content and choosing the language/style for presentation.
Planning the Content
This involves thinking about why you want to communicate (the purpose), to whom the message is to be sent (the receiver), and what is to be achieved by the communication (the desired receiver-response).
Decide on the content and write it down in the form of notes. Make sure that all information is included, and number the points in the logical order in which you want to use them. A letter is a short composition and it is easy to arrange the collected notes in a logical structure.
Structure of a Business Message
Almost all business messages can be written on a framework of four points.
Giving the required information
Action/Response from the writer or the recipient
The first point takes one or two sentences; the second one forms the main content of the message and may need more than one paragraph. The third and the fourth can be combined as they form the ending; each takes only a sentence. The main content of the message should be carefully structured and the points arranged in a suitable order. Always put the reader’s interest first; the order should be suitable to the reader’s interest and convenience. Some possibilities are:
(a) In a reply, use the order of the original; this is courteous to the reader as it uses the order of the reader’s priorities.
(b) In conveying a series of events, use chronological order; the events will be conveyed in the order in which they occurred.
(c) Ascending or descending order of importance may be used, depending on which will be more useful/comfortable/easy for the reader.