Professional Business Writing for Today, not Yesterday

Each Athena Executive Club meeting includes Business Development Training. These short sessions are designed to share useful tips, facts and ideas covering a wide range of issues relevant to executives and entrepreneurs. Athena Executive Members come from a diverse range of backgrounds with an immense wealth of knowledge and experience which we all benefit from during these member-led training sessions.

At the 12th September Executive Meeting, Shirley Taylor of ST Training Solutions, caught most of us out for using language which belongs in our grandfather’s era!

Are you currently using any of these phrases when writing business emails, letters or documents?

  • Please be advised
  • Please kindly refrain from
  • Please be reminded
  • The above mentioned
  • Please kindly advise

If you answered yes to any of these, then carry on reading because you are guilty of using old fashioned, antiquated language which has no place in today’s modern business world!

Shirley’s rules to remain relevant when writing:

Rule #1 Write it how you would say it

Active vs passive voice

Always use the active voice whenever possible to sound more professional and relevant to your audience.

Write something the way you would say it if the person were in front of you. Don’t think that by using standard sentences you sound more professional – build relationships and connections with people by writing in a more down to earth, informal manner.

Compare these two phrases:

‘Please be advised that the fire doors must remain closed’ [passive voice]

‘Please remember to close the fire doors’ [active voice]

By replacing the passive ‘remain closed’ to the active verb ‘close’, the sentence becomes much more personal and will resonate more with the people you are talking to.

Instead of: ‘Please refer to the attached document for information on our courses’

Use: ‘I have attached a document which contains information on our courses’

Doesn’t the second phrase sound much nicer?

Rule #2 Write for today, not last century

In the business world we often become attached to certain ways of explaining things when we write emails and letters. But these bad habits of using old fashioned writing belongs in the past!

Instead of: ‘Your cooperation would be appreciated’

Use: ‘Thank you for your help’

Rule #3 Build relationships with your writing

With modern technology and social media playing such huge roles in the modern business world, we must always find new ways of connecting and building relationships with people. Whatever you write in emails, Facebook updates, Tweets etc all reflect on you, your business and your brand. So be friendly, modern and consistent in your language to stay ahead.

Instead of: ‘Please find herewith document for your reference and perusal.’

Use:  ‘I attach the document for you. I hope you find it interesting and exciting.’

It sounds so much friendlier to use ‘I attach’ rather than a passive and distant ‘please find attached.’

‘Reference and perusal’ mean nothing – if you want the person to do something with the document, tell them!

About Shirley Taylor

Business communication expert, trainer, professional speaker, best selling author and recent past President of Asia Professional Speakers Singapore (APSS), there isn’t much Shirley hasn’t accomplished!

Founder and CEO of ST Training Solutions which provides public and corporate workshops on a range of business topics, including professional business writing and communication skills, Shirley has established herself as a leading authority for modern business writing. Her regular video tips on language and communication are an inspiration to many and her regular conferences such as Success365 are always a sell out occasion.  As a professional speaker, Shirley provides keynotes and presentations on what it takes to achieve in today’s business world.

Shirley is also the author and editor of several books, her latest best selling edition of Modern Business Letters, E-mails and Other Business Documents, can be seen on bookshelves across Asia and beyond.

Connect with Shirley via her website, Twitter and LinkedIn.


The Athena Network, Singapore

Asia-Pacific’s Leading Business Community for Female Executives and Entrepreneurs Focusing exclusively on female executives and entrepreneurs, The Athena Network provides a platform for members to share knowledge and experience across a diverse range of industry sectors, and to collaborate for mutual success.

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