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Effective Presentation 1

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EFFECTIVE PRESENTATION 1. The thought and its presentation.—It is more desirable, if a choice should be necessary, that a letter contain thoughts which are of value but which are expressed poorly, than that it contain mediocre thought well expressed. No excellence of expres sion can atone for a lack of effective thinking.

Yet presentation is important; sometimes it is the deciding factor. In the case of two personal sales men selling the same goods, when neither salesman has any marked advantage in price, quality or service to offer the prospective buyer, personality is often the deciding factor in winning the sale ; so, in the case of the correspondent who has no special advantage to offer the customer, a good presentation may influence the prospective buyer to decide in his favor. In the case of refusals of all kinds, and especially in certain adjustment correspondence, the expression of the thought sometimes makes a big difference in results.

2. That is effective presentation?—Effective pre sentation is the art of transplanting thoughts or ideas so that the expression as such supplements, or at least does not interfere with, the effectiveness of the thought in the reader's mind. The ideal goal of the letter writer is to gain the utmost effectiveness in both thought and presentation.

Many letters arc successful in spite of adverse con ditions, because their presentation adequately supple ments their thought contents; and many more letters are successful in spite of inadequate presentation, be cause either the thought in the letter or the circum stances of the recipient, or both, are favorable. Whenever conditions in the case are such as to make effective contents impossible, then the tide might be turned by means of effective presentation. Such cases are exceptional, however, because the success of any letter is primarily dependent upon what is said. It is well to keep this steadfastly in mind: effective business writing is a matter of effective business think ing; and this is coming more and more to be recog nized in practice.

3. Business and literary foregoing sections may lean to the abstract, but no writer should forget that language is a vehicle of thought, a means of transplanting ideas from one mind to another, and is not in itself an influence to action. The study of grammar and rhetoric as presented in good textbooks is to he recommended, for there is no essential differ ence between business and literary English. The writer of literature wants to transplant ideas and im pressions of a more subtle and emotional nature than does the business correspondent; and this requires greater skill in expression; hence, practice in writing on what are called literary subjects should develop the business correspondent's skill in expressing his thoughts accurately and completely.

To some business men, especially to those who have learned by experience alone how to write an effective letter, this may sound far fetched. There is some ground for believing that literary and business Eng lish are distant rather than close relatives. Literary men rarely write good business letters, and certainly business correspondents could not be relied upon to produce literature. This is due to no essential differ ence of skill in expression, but rather to different hab its of thinking.

4. Characteristics of business and of literary Eng lish.—In both business and literary English, the writer strives for clearness and correctness ; for simplicity and directness—for that kind of expression which re quires of the reader as little time and effort as possible. In both cases the writer attempts to adapt himself to the reader. But the business writer is more subservi ent than the literary man. He is more willing for the sake of profitable results to hold his own personality as revealed in his letter in check for the sake of greater effectiveness. The business man is more spar ing in his use of words, and is somewhat less inclined to adhere to technical correctness when such adherence would interfere with effectiveness.

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