Writing and speaking are communication skills. There are people who can write like angels but speak like parrots. In fact, good speaking and good writing are complementary skills. They can be refined simultaneously with practice. One has to adhere to certain basic principles while speaking or writing. Brevity, clarity and simplicity are the three major qualities of good speaking or writing. “Brevity is the soul of wit”, is an ancient adage. An intelligent person speaks or writes briefly. Brevity makes speeches and writings attractive. It is said that any communication should be brief enough to be attractive, but large enough to cover the subject. But at the same time, one cannot sacrifice information for the sake of brevity. The writer of a business letter should always remember that he is writing for a specific purpose and he should be ever conscious of that purpose. The purpose of the letter should receive its focus and should get highlighted in the receivers’ perception also. Business letters are read under great pressure. The writer should not ramble into areas of irrelevance and defeat the purpose of the letter. Communications should be clear. They should not confuse the receiver. But clarity in communication is possible only if the thoughts are clear. Confused speaking or writing reveal a confused state of the mind. Simplicity is another important feature of good communication. We should not run after words for their sound and pomposity. Business communication is different from poetry or essay writing. Ornamentation should be avoided.
In recent times, much research has gone on into the subject of business communication. The research has yielded innumerable guidelines. These guidelines apply to oral communication as well as to letters, memoranda, reports announcements and appeals. They are relevant to the style of a business communication. There is a special study called stylistics which identifies and deals with the style of literary writing. One should carefully study the following guidelines that make all writing effective. They are all the more relevant to business communication.
(There are still some old fashioned business letters that use expressions like ‘Please be advised’, ‘We wish to state’, ‘ I am in receipt of your letter’. But modern letters are crisp, simple, clear and upto the point).