Category Archives: Business English

Graphs

Whether you consider yourself more of a visual visionary or prefer to provide your stakeholders with infographics about your business, a chart or graph is a quick way to see financials such as revenues and expenses at a glance. With Microsoft Excel, you can produce a single chart from two sets of financial data – incoming and outgoing – which can help with next year’s budgeting or seeing where you need to rev up your team. Simply populate Excel’s grid with your custom data and the software will automatically create a graph with the information.

Step 1Launch Microsoft Excel. Click into the first cell in column B, cell B1. Type “Revenue” or your preferred column header such as “Income” or “Payments.”

Step 2Press the “Tab” key to move over one cell into C1. Type “Expenses” for your column header or your preferred text such as “Costs.”

Step 3Click into cell A2. Type the reference for the first cost and expense, such as “January,” to create a revenue and expenses chart that tracks these two things monthly. You can also use employees’ or work groups names such as “Marketing,” “Sales” and “Accounting.”

Step 4Press the “Enter” key to drop one cell into cell A3. Type the next reference point, such as “February.”

Step 5Press “Enter” and fill in the cells in column A until you have all the data points you want to track.

Step 6Click into cell B2, the first cell under the first column header “Revenue.” Type the revenue for that data point, such as January’s income in the monthly example.

Step 7Press the “Tab” key to move into cell B3 under “Expenses.” Type the expenses for that data point, such as January’s costs for the business.

Step 8Complete the grid by entering all of the information in the cells.

Step 9Highlight all of the cells you just typed, including the column and row headers.

Step 10Click the “Insert” tab and review the Charts section of the ribbon. Click one of the chart types, such as “Column,” which is helpful when you want to show two data points at the same time – revenues and expenses.

Step 11Choose a sub-chart type, such as 3-D Column or Cylinder and Excel inserts the chart, taken from your data, into the Excel spreadsheet.

BE-3

eaching English can be a fickle business at times and sometimes the teacher may feel like more an entertainer than anything else. Whatever it takes to get one’s students learning, however, can only be a good thing and there is a huge range of different games and activities that can be used.

A lot of the time people who teach business English will have core text books that they need to stick to, but the learning process can be made a little bit easier by adding in a few extra activities. It will keep the students’ attention focused and as well as this, it will also allow them to relax. Whether it be a warmer, something to fill the gap or a relaxing activity at the end, here is a list of activities that most Business English students will enjoy.

Try These 15 Great Business English Activities That Your Students Will Love

  1. 1

    Hang Man

    Everybody loves to play games in class. Many of us will remember times during school when the teacher would play a games on the board in order to keep the class interested. It seemed a lot more fun than doing normal work, and with adults this is no different. Hangman involves the students having to guess a particular word. You think of a word, and draw a line of blank boxes on the board which indicate how many letters the word has. Students then ask for clues to the word, and then add letters. For every letter they get wrong, a body part is drawn. Once the picture is complete, the man is “hanged” so to speak and they lose. If they win, however, the entire word will be spelled out on the board. Undoubtedly this is a great way of practicing English and getting the class involved.

  2. 2

    Chinese Whispers

    Another way to get the students’ minds going is a game of Chinese Whispers. A lot of people might think of it as a childish game, but it is important to remember that even adults need to unwind sometimes. Come up with a specific phrase, give it to one student, and then they have to whisper it to their partner and it is passed along like this. It will definitely be interesting to examine the end result compared to the beginning.

  3. 3

    Job Skills Interview

    For those who are interested in reviewing their own skills, setting up a mock interview is a great way of helping the students to become more confident. Get them to come up with their own questions for the candidate, and then let them find a partner with which to practice. This will build up their own confidence and allow them to get better with conversational skills.

  4. 4

    Telephone Role Play

    This is a fairly simple one which everyone will love. Get the class to divide into pairs and write up a small conversational piece. When practicing this role play, the students need to sit back to back in order to simulate talking on the phone. This will get to speak a lot more, since they have only their voice to rely on.

  5. 5

    Call My Bluff

    This is a very popular game which students will also enjoy. Divide the class into two groups or more, depending on big it is. Give each group a specific word, and also give them the correct meaning of it. The groups then attempt to fool one another by having a list of meanings for that one word, only one of which is true.

  6. 6

    Twenty Questions

    This can be quite a humorous game to play and definitely will get a few laughs from everyone. Have somebody sit in front of the board, and write the name of a famous person above their heads. They then have to ask the class questions about the person until they find out who it is.

  7. 7

    Write a Story

    This activity can be used for either the improvement of conversational skills or writing skills. It follows the same idea of the “story stick” whereby a student comes up with the first sentence of the story, and the second comes up with the next, and so on. This can turn into a very entertaining piece and can do wonders in helping the students to get better.

  8. 8

    Simon Says

    This game can be used to test a wide range of vocabulary knowledge, from parts of the body to objects which are in the room. Students have to listen to what the teacher says, and go over and touch that particular object when the teacher says, “Simon says… Go to the chair.” This is generally played with lower levels.

  9. 9

    Simulation Games

    Quite similar to a role play. This difference is, the students set up their own scenario and have to act it out in front of the class. This means they have no set lines they have to adhere to, and therefore anything goes as long as they are speaking English.

  10. 10

    Icebreaker

    Often this particular activity can be used as a warm up for the start of a new class. Compose a list of questions, such as “Who has a dog?” and other trivial pieces of information. Distribute them to students, and then get the students to go about filling in the answers from others. This will definitely help them to improve their conversational skills and get to know others in the class.

  11. 11

    Sentence Building

    Use this activity to test out your students’ own knowledge by getting them to build sentences themselves on the board. A noun phrase generally works at the start, by simply adding, “The old woman.” Get the students to add adjectives, prepositions and other sentence parts to form something that is clear and makes sense.

  12. 12

    Draw the Word

    This is a particularly interesting exercises whereby one can test the abilities of their students. Get one of them to come up to the front of the class and give the rest of the class a word to describe. They cannot say the actual word, they must allow the person to draw it. Therefore, it must be a concrete noun of some kind, usually a complicated one which can be described in detail. This can be quite a lot of fun and everyone can participate.

  13. 13

    Pick Out Words

    This one is a little more complicated. When reading a text, jot down certain words on the board and have the students try and think of new words. Even if they don’t come up with much, it is a great way of teaching new vocabulary.

  14. 14

    Youtube Activity

    When studying a particular topic, Youtube clips or a video of some kind can be a great way to let the student practice their listening skills. Choose a video relevant to the topic at hand (such as a newscast) and play it. Afterwards, ask questions about it orally.

  15. 15

    Class Survey

    When studying marketing, this could be a great way of helping students break the ice in their first classes. Get them to survey each other on a wide range of topics, as it will get them talking in English and using it proactively.

There are many, many more ways through which one can get students to practice their English skills.

Of course, these are not the only activities and it is often a good idea to take a look up on various Business English websites to find more ideas. Tailoring various games to suit business English is pretty easy, and it is undoubtedly a great way to boost the students’ confidence whilst helping them have fun at the same time.

Business terms (vocab)

Business Term Glossary

To start and run a business, you often need to understand business terms that may not be well defined in a standard dictionary. Our glossary of business terms provides definitions for common terminology and acronyms in business plans, accounting, finance, and other aspects of small business.

A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z

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Introduction

BUSINESS  ENGLISH

Lists of vocabulary, useful phrases and terms used in all areas of business,
guidelines for letter-writing and presentations, plus exercises, idioms and word games

Contents

>>>More Business English resources

Business Presentation by power point

Five Tips to Make PowerPoint Business Presentations More Effective

Using PowerPoint in a Business Presentation?
These five tips will make your communication more effective

It is almost expected today that you will use PowerPoint in business presentations. It can be used to add visuals to the message and is an easy way to create a leave-behind handout or e-mail the presentation to others later. But too often business presenters aren’t as effective as they could be when delivering a PowerPoint presentation. Here are five tips drawn from my training programs for making your next PowerPoint business presentation more effective.

Start with Structure First

I always start my workshops by suggesting that presenters plan their presentation on paper before they sit down at the computer. Start by defining the goal of the presentation – what you want the audience to do, feel, understand or act on when you are done. Next, describe where the audience is today in terms of their knowledge, trust of you, attitudes and roles in the organization. Once you have the starting point and destination, you can now plan the route that you will use to take the audience through your presentation. Using sticky notes to lay out the main ideas and supporting data is a good way to see the entire presentation at once. Now you can decide where visuals will add to your message and what those visuals should be.

Use Colors & Fonts that are Easy to See

You don’t need to have a graphic design background in order to design slides that are visually appealing. Decide on a simple standard look for your slides so that the audience has visual consistency throughout the presentation. Select background and text colors that have enough contrast so that the text will be easy to read. Instead of guessing at whether the colors have enough contrast, check the colors with the Color Contrast Calculator. For any text, research tells us that a sans-serif font, like Arial or Calibri, is easier to read when projected, so use one of these fonts. For font size, it depends on the size of the screen and the size of the room (you can see a detailed chart based on visual acuity calculations here). But if you use fonts that are 24-32 point size as a minimum, you will usually be safe.

Use Visuals Instead of Text Slides

Audiences don’t want you to read slides full of text to them – surveys show it is the most annoying thing presenters can do. So use visuals instead of paragraphs of text. Use graphs to illustrate numeric data. Use diagrams to show processes or flows of information or goods. Use pictures to show a person, place or object. Use media clips to bring the views of others into your presentation. There are many more visuals that you can use. If you need a method for creating visuals, see the five-step KWICK method in my book The Visual Slide Revolution.

Practice and Rehearse

Creating your presentation at the last minute is not a good idea because it does not allow you to practice and rehearse. Practice is when you sit with your presentation and mentally review what you are going to say and how you want the flow to work. Practice is not enough, although many presenters think it is sufficient. You must also rehearse your presentation by standing and delivering it as if it was for real. This is the only way to check your words, your visuals and whether the message is as clear as you want it to be. It is also the only way to truly check your timing to make sure you don’t run over the allotted time.

End Your Presentation with Next Steps

In my opinion, the single worst way to end your presentation is with a slide that has the word “Questions???” in big bold text on it. This type of ending invites your audience to question everything you have just said and does not move them the last step towards the goal you had set for your presentation. As I have recommended to many of the presenters I have worked with, end your presentation talking about the next steps that you want the audience to take to use the information you have provided. Invite discussion of the next steps if there is time, but end with a strong call to action so the audience is clear what they are to do next. Without a call to action, the audience is likely to do nothing further, and your presentation goal will not have been achieved.

By using these five tips, your next PowerPoint business presentation will be more effective because you will provide a structure for your message and deliver it in a way that the audience will understand it. The success of your presentation is mostly determined before you ever get up to speak. Take the time to prepare using these ideas and look forward to many successful PowerPoint business presentations.

Business presentation

The presentation is starting. Dim the lights. Time for a nap. These are the thoughts of many audiences subject to yet another boring business presentation. How can you awaken the cognitive powers of your audience? Start by learning the 8 secrets of a knockout business presentation.

Dig Deep: Having an effective business presentation that will have the audience on their feet requires more than the usual factoid dropped into your PowerPoint. Find a relevant fact beyond your topic norm. Give them the unexpected. The one obscure and contradictory piece of information that will raise heads and stimulate discussion. Where do you find such information? Go past the typical quick search engine scan. Check out educational websites for new research, interview industry mavericks, or scour the business press.

Avoid Info Overload:

PowerPoint expert Cliff Atkinson, author of Beyond Bullet Points says, “When you overload your audience, you shut down the dialogue that’s an important part of decision-making.” He points to some important research by educational psychologists. “When you remove interesting but irrelevant words and pictures from a screen, you can increase the audience’s ability to remember the information by 189% and the ability to apply the information by 109%,” recommends Atkinson.

Practice Delivery:

A knockout business presentation is so captivating it makes you forget about the speaker and become absorbed in the talk. Practice your delivery over and over until you remove the distractions including nervous tics and uncomfortable pauses. Pay particular attention to your body language. Is it non-existent or overly excessive? Good presenters work the stage in a natural manner.

Forget Comedy:

Business presenters will flirt with the temptation to deliver the stand up humor of Chris Rock. Remember your audience didn’t come to laugh; this is a business presentation. Leave your jokes at home. It’s ok to throw in a few natural off the cuff laughs but don’t overdo it.

Pick Powerful Props:

You don’t need a box full of props like the watermelon-smashing comic, Gallagher. A few simple props to demonstrate a point can be memorable in the minds of your target audience. Management guru, Tom Peters, uses a cooking timer to show how quickly factory expansion is occurring in China.

Minimize You:

“Frankly, your audience doesn’t care as much about your company history, as they do about whether you can help them solve the specific problems they face. Write a script for your presentation that makes the audience the protagonist, or the main character, who faces a problem that you will help them to solve,” says Atkinson.

Speak the Language:

A knockout business presentation doesn’t leave people wondering what you said. It might be tempting to throw in a few big words but are you alienating your audience? Always explain terms and acronyms. The number of smart executives who aren’t up on the latest terminology would surprise you.

Simple Slides:

Beware of the PowerPoint presentation. Many corporate brains will turn off at the sight of yet another PowerPoint presentation. Over 400 million desktops currently have the PowerPoint application. If you want your business to stand out, don’t be like everyone else. Use slides in your knockout presentation to highlight and emphasize key points. Don’t rely on your slide projector to run the show.It all comes down to what your audience walks away with in the end. Did you deliver another boring business presentation? Or did you persuade or motivate everyone to action? Apply the 8 secrets to a knockout presentation and watch your ratings soar.

Theory : business writing

Business writing tasks on the topic of “brands”

Market Leader Intermediate New Edition Unit 1

Choose one or more of the tasks below and email it to your teacher or give the piece of writing to him or her in the next class. You could choose the topic which is most connected to your work or area of business, or you could choose a genre that you often write or most need to improve.

Write a report suggesting ways in which a real brand can stretch their brand, improve their image and/ or increase brand awareness

Write a report on brands and their market shares and/ or images in your country, using real or imaginary brands and figures.

Write a report on why an internationally successful brand is not so successful in another country (e.g. your own), using real or imaginary brands and reasons.

Write a report suggesting ways in which a domestic brand could become as successful overseas.

Write a report recommending product endorsement as the best way to improve the image of a particular (real or imaginary) brand.

Write the agenda or action minutes for a meeting about how to improve the sales of a brand, how to improve or update its image and/ or which products associated with a brand should be cut from the product range.

Write the agenda or action minutes for a meeting in which half the people think the company should stretch the brand further and half the people think they should concentrate on their key products and avoid diluting the brand.

Write a memo to the staff in your company telling them why they must order non-brand supplies from now on (e.g. avoiding IBM computers and branded stationery like Post Its, Blu Tack and Sellotape)

Write a notice or sign for immigration and customs in an airport describing the laws on bringing fake brand goods into the country

Write a letter to a newspaper complaining about recent guerrilla marketing campaigns of a particular brand (real or imaginary)

Write a magazine article explaining the successful of a particular (real or imaginary) brand.

Write an email or letter of complaint complaining that the quality of a brand good you bought was not what you expected or that a brand good you paid a lot of money for was available for much less in a street market.

Write a letter of apology to a customer who has complained about one of the things above.

Write an email to supplier explaining why you are switching from their brand to a cheaper alternative.

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More about business writing

The purpose of business writing is to convey information to someone else or to request information from them. To be effective writing for business, you must be complete, concise, and accurate. Your text should be written in such a way that the reader will be able to easily understand what you are telling or asking them.A lot of writing for business is sloppy, poorly written, disorganized, littered with jargon, and incomplete. Often it is either too long or too short. All these attributes contribute to ineffective business writing.

Whether you are writing a sales proposal, an email to your department, or an instruction manual for a software package, there are certain steps you need to follow to create effective business writing. You need to:

  1. organize your material
  2. consider your audience
  3. write
  4. proofread
  5. and edit your text.

The emphasis on each step may vary, depending on what you are writing, but the steps will be the same.

Organize

First, organize your material. When writing an email announcing a staff meeting, this may be as simple as collecting your thoughts. On the other hand, you may need to write out a multi-level outline of the material when writing up the results of a pharmaceutical trial. Without an appropriate level of organization, you can’t be sure you will include everything or that you will give prominence to the most important topics. Omissions or incorrect focus can make your business writing less clear.

Audience

Before you start to write, think about your intended audience. For example, a presentation about your company’s new 401(k) program may have the same outline when given to your CFO or to all employees, but the level of detail in various areas will differ. A quick email to your team, reminding them of the company’s security procedures, won’t have the same tone as your department’s section of the company’s annual report.Also remember that you will be more effective writing to your audience if you focus on what you want them to hear rather than on what you are going to say.

Start Writing

Good writers have different styles of writing. Some prefer to write everything out and then go back and edit. Others prefer to edit as they go along. Sometimes their style varies depending on the piece they are writing.As you write, or when you edit, be aware of length. Use enough words to make your meaning clear, but don’t use unnecessary words just to make it flowery. Business writing needs to be clear and concise, not verbose and flowery. No one in business has time to read any more than necessary.

Conversely, don’t make the piece too short. Write enough that your meaning is clear and won’t be misunderstood. A part in a warehouse was labeled “used but good”. It was unclear whether the author was trying to say the part had been really heavily used, or that the part was not new, but was still functional. Another couple of words would have made his writing more effective. Don’t try to shorten a piece by using jargon or abbreviations. These often mean different things to different readers.

Regardless of the style you use when writing, you need to proofread and edit what you have written.

Edit and Proofread

After you write anything, you need to proofread it. You may then need to edit it. Proofreading is re-reading what you wrote to make sure all the words in your head made it correctly onto the paper or the screen. Since our brains work faster than our fingers, you may omit words, leave off an ending, or use the wrong homonym (there instead of their, for example). Proofreading catches these errors so you can fix them.Obviously, proofreading a one-line email is pretty easy. Just glancing over it as you type may be enough. However, if you are writing an instruction manual, your proofreading will be more complicated and take longer.

After you have proofread your material, you need to edit it. Sometimes these can be done together, but it is more effective when they are done sequentially.

You edit to fix or change what you wrote in order to make the material better. When writing for business, this means fixing the errors and making the text clear and concise.

Manage This Issue

You are writing for business, not writing the “great American novel”. Your writing should be as descriptive as necessary, but it does not need to paint vivid word pictures using lots of big words and figures of speech. If you mean “glass houses”, don’t write “vitreous domiciles”.Remember the rules for effective business writing to:

  1. organize your material
  2. consider your audience
  3. write
  4. proofread
  5. and edit your text.

Business writing

Today’s business world is almost entirely information-driven. Whether you run a small business or occupy a small corner of the org-chart at a massive multinational corporation, chances are that the bulk of your job consists of communicating with others, most often in writing. Of course there’s email and the traditional business letter, but most business people are also called on to write presentations, memos, proposals, business requirements, training materials, promotional copy, grant proposals, and a wide range of other documents.

Here’s the rub: most business people have little experience with writing. While those with business degrees probably did a bit of writing in school, it’s rarely stressed in business programs, and learning to write well is hardly the driving force behind most people’s desire to go to business school. Those without a university background might have never been pushed to write at all, at least since public school.

If you’re one of the many people in business for whom writing has never been a major concern, you should know that a lack of writing skills is a greater and greater handicap with every passing year. Spending some time to improve your writing can result in a marked improvement in your hireability and promotional prospects. There’s no substitute for practice, but here are a few pointers to put you on the right track.

1. Less is more.

In business writing as in virtually every other kind of writing, concision matters. Ironically, as written information becomes more and more important to the smooth functioning of businesses, people are less and less willing to read. Increasingly, magazines and other outlets that used to run 2,000-word features are cutting back to 500-word sketches. Use words  sparingly, cut out the florid prose, and avoid long, meandering sentences. As Zorro taught his son, “Get in, make your Z, and get out!” – get straight to the point, say what you want to say, and be done  with it.

2. Avoid jargon.

Everyone in business hates business writing, all that “blue-sky solutioneering” and those “strategical synergies” that ultimately, mean nothing; “brainstorming” and “opportunities to work together” are more meaningful without sounding ridiculous. While sometimes jargon is unavoidable – in a business requirement document or technical specification, for example – try using plainer language. Even for people in the same field as you, jargon is often inefficient – the eye slides right past it without really catching the meaning. There’s a reason that jargon is so often used when a writer wants to not say anything.

3. Write once, check twice.

Proofread immediately after you write, and then again hours or, better yet, days later. Nothing is more embarrassing than a stupid typo in an otherwise fine document. It’s hardly fair – typos happen! – but people judge you for those mistakes anyway, and harshly. Except in the direct emergency, always give yourself time to set your writing aside and come back to it later. The brain is tricky and will ignore errors that  it’s just made; some time working on something else will give you the detachment you need to catch those errors before anyone else reads them.

4. Write once, check twice.

I know, I just said this, but I mean something else here. In addition to catching typos and other errors, putting some time between writing and re-reading your work can help you catch errors of tone that might otherwise escape you and cause trouble. For instance, when we’re upset or angry, we often write things we don’t actually want anyone else to read. Make sure your work says what you want it to say, how you want it to say it, before letting it reach its audience.

5. Pay special attention to names, titles, and genders.

OK, there is one thing more embarrassing than a typo: calling Mr. Smith “Ms. Smith” consistently throughout a document. If you’re not positive about the spelling of someone’s name, their job title (and what it means), or their gender, either a) check with someone who does know (like their assistant), or b) in the case of gender, use gender-neutral language. “They” and “their” are rapidly becoming perfectly acceptable gender-neutral singular pronouns, despite what your grammar teacher and the self-righteous grammar nazi down the hall might say.

6. Save templates.

Whenever you write an especially good letter, email, memo, or other document, if there’s the slightest chance you’ll be writing a similar document in the future, save it as a template for future use. Since rushing through writing is one of the main causes of typos and other errors, saving time by using a pre-written document can save you the  embarrassment of such errors. Just make sure to remove any specific information – names, companies, etc. – before re-using it – you don’t want to send a letter to Mr. Sharif that is addressed to Mrs. O’Toole!

7. Be professional, not necessarily formal.

There’s a tendency to think of all business communication as formal, which isn’t necessary or even very productive. Formal language is fine for legal documents and job applications, but like jargon often becomes invisible, obscuring rather than revealing its meaning. At the same time, remember that informal shouldn’t mean unprofessional – keep the personal comments, off-color jokes, and snarky gossip out of your business communications. Remember that many businesses (possibly yours) are required by law to keep copies of all correspondence – don’t email, mail, or circulate anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable having read into the record in a public trial.

8. Remember the 5 W’s (and the H)

Just like a journalist’s news story, your communications should answer all the questions relevant to your audience: Who? What? When? Where? Why? and How? For example, who is this memo relevant to, what should they know, when and where will it apply, why is it important, and how should they use this information? Use the 5W+H formula to try to anticipate any questions your readers might ask, too.

9. Call to action.

The content of documents that are simply informative are rarely retained very well. Most business communication is meant to achieve some purpose, so make sure they include a call to action – something that the reader is expected to do. Even better, something the reader should do right now. Don’t leave it to your readers to decide what to do with whatever information you’ve provided – most won’t even bother, and enough of the ones who do will get it wrong that you’ll have a mess on your hands before too long.

10. Don’t give too many choices.

Ideally, don’t give any. If you’re looking to set a time for a meeting, give a single time and ask them to confirm or present a different time. At most, give two options and ask them to pick one. Too many choices often leads to decision paralysis, which generally isn’t the desired effect.

11. What’s in it for your readers?

A cornerstone of effective writing is describing benefits, not features. Why should a reader care? For example, nobody cares that Windows 7 can run in 64-bit mode – what they care about is that it can handle more memory and thus run faster than the 32-bit operating system. 64-bits is a feature; letting me get my work done more quickly is the benefit. Benefits engage readers, since they’re naturally most concerned with finding out how they can make their lives easier or better.

12. Hire a freelancer.

Not a writing tip per se, I know, but good advice nonetheless. Writing is most likely not your strong suit – if it’s important, hire someone for whom writing is their strong suit. You may think freelancers are only for marketing material, but that’s not true – a good freelance writer can produce memos, training manuals, internal letters, corporate newsletters, blog posts, wiki entries, and just about any other kind of writing you can think of. Depending on your needs, you can farm work out as needed or move a freelancer into a cubicle on-site, or work out whatever other arrangements best fit your needs. Expect to pay at least $30 an hour, and more likely $50 – $125 an hour, for good writing – anyone who charges less is either not very good, or not very business savvy. (These rates are for writers in US metro areas – rates may differ in other parts of the world.)

Great writing may require a talent that few of us have, but effective writing is a learnable skill. If your business writing isn’t up to snuff, follow the tips above and see if you can’t improve it. If your writing does pass muster, how about leavin