Aaron, a medical equipment sales person, explained that he uses E-mail for most of his internal correspondence. "It's quick and easy. A typical example would be my asking a technician for an update on a prototype. The E-mail might be one line long, to one person, about one subject. It's imperative, however, that I be understood clearly. The consequences of a mistake are serious. The definition of a nightmare to me is if I have an appointment to show the prototype to a group of doctors, and surprise, I don't have the prototype in hand. Not only is it a waste of time, it's amateurish. It makes our whole company look unprepared and unprofessional. I must get accurate updates.
"Using the assessment to evaluate that one-line E-mail, I was surprised at what I learned. My scores were as follows."
1. Your communication will be distributed only within your organization. 5
2. Using the Formality Index, you've determined that your communication is very informal. 3
3. Your message is upbeat and fun. 3
4. If your readers misunderstand your message, no negative consequences will result. 1
5. Your communication is short. 5
7. Your communication includes only one section. For example, it's a 100-word newsletter article, a business letter, a memo, or an E-mail with no attachments. 5
8. Only one subject is included in your communication. 5
9. Using the Matrix of Persuasion, you've determined that your readers are on your side and that they have the resources to do as you ask; in other words, you've assessed your writing task as Easy. 5
"My total score was thirty-seven—Level One: Clarity and Grammar. Learning that was a big relief. I had been thinking that I needed to dissect every word of every sentence of every E-mail. Now I know that I don't. Even though the E-mail is crucial to my organization's success, as well as my own, I don't have to go crazy with proofreading. I just have to make sure my question is straightforward and unambiguous, and that my grammar is correct.
"Realizing that I should be proofing only to Level One standards made me focus more on writing simply and clearly in the first place. I'm care ful to avoid euphemisms and long words. In other words, my writing got better by my learning the correct level of proofing."
Level One proofing usually includes the following:
1. Can your readers easily understand what you're asking them to do?
2. If 100 percent of your readers aren't familiar with your technical terms and industry jargon, have you defined them?
3. If 100 percent of your readers aren't familiar with your acronyms, have you explained them?
4. Have you confirmed that all numbers included in your communication are correct?
5. Have you avoided long or complicated sentences and sentence fragments (explained in Chapter Five)?
6. Are you certain that you've maintained noun/pronoun and subject/verb agreement (explained in Chapter Seven)?
7. Is your punctuation correct?
8. Are words capitalized properly?
9. Have you used your spell checker?
10. Have you reread your communication to catch missing words or phrases?
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