Monthly Archives: June 2010

Writing Skills

Getting Your Written Message Across Clearly

A colleague has just sent you an email relating to a meeting you’re having in one hour’s time. The email is supposed to contain key information that you need to present, as part of the business case for an important project.

But there’s a problem: The email is so badly written that you can’t find the data you need. There are misspellings and incomplete sentences, and the paragraphs are so long and confusing that it takes you three times more than it should to find the information you want.

As a result, you’re under-prepared for the meeting, and it doesn’t go as well as you want it to.

Have you ever faced a situation similar to this? In today’s information overload world, it’s vital to communicate clearly, concisely and effectively. People don’t have time to read book-length emails, and they don’t have the patience to scour badly-constructed emails for “buried” points.

The better your writing skills are, the better the impression you’ll make on the people around you – including your boss, your colleagues, and your clients. You never know how far these good impressions will take you!

In this article, we’ll look at how you can improve your writing skills and avoid common mistakes.

Audience and Format

The first step to writing clearly is choosing the appropriate format. Do you need to send an informal email? Write a detailed report? Create advertising copy? Or write a formal letter?

The format, as well as your audience, will define your “writing voice” – that is, how formal or relaxed the tone should be. For instance, if you write an email to a prospective client, should it have the same tone as an email to a friend?

Definitely not.

Start by identifying who will read your message. Is it targeted at senior managers, the entire human resources team, or a small group of engineers? With everything you write, your readers, or recipients, should define your tone as well as aspects of the content.

Composition and Style

Once you know what you’re writing, and for whom you’re writing, you actually have to start writing.

A blank, white computer screen is often intimidating. And it’s easy to get stuck because you don’t know how to start. Try these tips for composing and styling your document:

Start with your audience – Remember, your readers may know nothing about what you’re telling them. What do they need to know first?

Create an outline – This is especially helpful if you’re writing a longer document such as a report, presentation, or speech. Outlines help you identify which steps to take in which order, and they help you break the task up into manageable pieces of information.

Use AIDA – If you’re writing something that must inspire action in the reader, follow the Attention-Interest-Desire-Action (AIDA) formula. These four steps can help guide you through the writing process.

Try some empathy – For instance, if you’re writing a sales letter for prospective clients, why should they care about your product or sales pitch? What’s the benefit for them? Remember your audience’s needs at all times.

Use the Rhetorical Triangle – If you’re trying to persuade someone to do something, make sure that you communicate why people should listen to you, pitch your message in a way that engages your audience, and present information rationally and coherently. Our article on the Rhetorical Triangle can help you make your case in the most effective way.

Identify your main theme – If you’re having trouble defining the main theme of your message, pretend that you have 15 seconds to explain your position. What do you say? This is likely to be your main theme.

Use simple language – Unless you’re writing a scholarly article, it’s usually best to use simple, direct language. Don’t use long words just to impress people.
Structure

Your document should be as “reader friendly” as possible. Use headings, subheadings, bullet points, and numbering whenever possible to break up the text.

After all, what’s easier to read – a page full of long paragraphs, or a page that’s broken up into short paragraphs, with section headings and bullet points? A document that’s easy to scan will get read more often than a document with long, dense paragraphs of text.

Headers should grab the reader’s attention. Using questions is often a good idea, especially in advertising copy or reports, because questions help keep the reader engaged and curious.

In emails and proposals, use short, factual headings and subheadings, like the ones in this article.

Adding graphs and charts is also a smart way to break up your text. These visual aids not only keep the reader’s eye engaged, but they can communicate important information much more quickly than text.

Grammatical Errors

You probably don’t need us to tell you that errors in your document will make you look unprofessional. It’s essential to learn grammar properly, and to avoid common mistakes that your spell checker won’t find.

Here are some examples of commonly misused words:

Affect/effect

“Affect” is a verb meaning to influence. (Example: The economic forecast will affect our projected income.)
“Effect” is a noun meaning the result or outcome. (Example: What is the effect of the proposal?)

Then/than

“Then” is typically an adverb indicating a sequence in time. (Example: We went to dinner, then we saw a movie.)
“Than” is a conjunction used for comparison. (Example: The dinner was more expensive than the movie.)

Your/you’re

“Your” is a possessive. (Example: Is that your file?)
“You’re” is a contraction of “you are.” (Example: You’re the new manager.)
Note: Also watch out for other common homophones (words that sound alike but have different spellings and meanings) – such as their/they’re/there, to/too/two, and so on.
Its/it’s

“Its” is a possessive. (Example: Is that its motor?)
“It’s” is a contraction of “It is.” (Example: It’s often that heavy.) (Yes, it is this way around!)

Company’s/companies (and other possessives versus plurals)

“Company’s” indicates possession. (Example: The company’s trucks hadn’t been maintained properly.)
“Companies” is plural. (Example: The companies in this industry are suffering.)
To learn more about commonly misused words, misused apostrophes, and other grammatical errors, take our Bite-Sized Training session on Written Communication.

Tip:
Some of your readers – arguably an increasing number – won’t be perfect at spelling and grammar. They may not notice if you make these errors. But don’t use this as an excuse: there will usually be people, senior managers in particular, who WILL notice!

Because of this, everything you write should be of a quality that every reader will find acceptable.

Proofing

The enemy of good proofreading is speed. Many people rush through their documents, but this is how you miss mistakes. Follow these guidelines to check what you’ve written:

Proof your headers and subheaders – People often skip these and focus on the text alone. Just because headers are big and bold doesn’t mean they’re error free!

Read the document out loud – This forces you to go more slowly, so that you’re more likely to catch mistakes.

Use your finger to follow text as you read – This is another trick that helps you slow down.

Start at the end of your document – Proofread one sentence at a time, working your way from the end to the beginning. This helps you focus on errors, not on content.

Key Points

More than ever, it’s important to know how to communicate your point quickly and professionally. Many people spend a lot of time writing and reading, so the better you are at this form of communication, the more successful you’re likely to be.

Identify your audience before you start creating your document. And if you feel that there’s too much information to include, create an outline to help organize your thoughts. Learning grammatical and stylistic techniques will also help you write more clearly; and be sure to proof the final document. Like most things, the more you write, the better you’re going to be!

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Communication Skills – OUMH1203 : English For Written Communication

Asal Usul nama negeri Terengganu

Laman Web Kerajaan Negeri Terengganu

Laman Web Kerajaan Negeri Terengganu

Setakat ini terdapat beberapa cerita yang dikaitkan dengan nama negeri Terengganu. Nama Terengganu itu dikaitkan dengan ” Terangnya ganu “, ” Taring anu “, dan ” Terangan nu “. Kisah asal nama Terengganu ini melibatkan penduduk luar Terengganu ( Kelantan dan Pahang ) dan juga dari penduduk Terengganu sendiri. ” Terangnya ganu ” ini dikaitkan pula dengan peristiwa beberapa orang pelajar Kelantan tiba di Kuala yang kini dipanggil Kuala Terengganu melihat pelangi di langit. Mereka pun menyatakan ” Terang sungguh ganu di sini “. Apabila pulang ke Kelantan mereka menyatakan di negeri jiran sungguh “terang ganunya “.

Sementara itu ” Taring anu ” dikatakan berasal daripada cerita yang dikisahkan oleh Sultan Terengganu yang kesembilan, Baginda Omar ( 1839 – 1876 ). Sebelum wujud nama negeri Terengganu, satu rombongan Pahang telah datang memburu di kawasan hulu. Apabila mereka tiba di satu tempat ( kini dikenali dengan Sungai Terengganu Mati ), salah seorang daripada rombongan itu berjumpa sebatang taring. Beliau pun bertanya kepada temannya, taring apa? Salah seorang daripadanya menyatakan – “Taring anu ” kerana ia tidak dapat mengingatkan nama taring tersebut. Tidak lama kemudian, di antara mereka di dalam rombongan ini dapat memburu seekor rusa. Apabila dibawa pulang ke tempat mereka berkhemah, salah seorang daripada mereka bertanya tempat rusa itu diburu. Mereka yang berkenaan menyatakan berburu di “Taring anu “. Begitu juga apabila membawa pulang kayu gaharu dan ditanya tempatnya, mereka menyatakan di ” Taring anu”. Lama kelamaan dikenali dengan Terengganu.

Terdapat dua kisah asal nama Terengganu yang melibatkan penduduk tempatan. pertamanya kisah ” Taring anu ” yang berlaku di tempat lain ( bukan di hulu ). Kisah ini menyatakan yang ” Taring anu ” berasal daripada sebatang taring sebesar gading gajah dijumpai di sebuah pulau ( kini dikenali sebagai Pulau Duyung ) berhampiran Kuala Sungai. Ketua pulau tersebut menyembahkan kepada raja ” taring anu tuanku “. Dengan itu kuala sungai itu disebut sebagai Kuala Sungai Taring anu. Kemudiannya Kuala Sungai Terengganu.

Sebuah kitab lagi berkait dengan salah sebuah sungai yang bernama Sungai Terengan. Kuala Sungai Terengan ini adalah pertemuan Sungai Kerbat dan Sungai Terengan. Dipercayai pada zaman silam sudah ada penduduk di sini. Mereka berulangalik menggunakan kedua-dua sungai ini. Oleh itu jika mereka bertolak dari Kuala Terengan, mereka akan menggunakan samada Sungai Terengan atau Sungai Kerbat. Jika ada di antara mereka bertanya hendak ke mana? Mereka akan menjawab sama ada ke ” Terangan ni ” atau ” Terengan nu”. Dengan itu lama kelamaan muncullah Terengganu.

Asal-usul orang Dungun dan Terengganu.
Dari manakah asal orang Dungun ataupun soalan yang lebih besar dari manakah asal orang Terengganu? Apakah asal dan asas bagi bahasa dan budaya asal orang tanah berpanji hitam putih ini? Terengganu sebuah negeri maritim atau kerajaan maritim yang terkenal sejak dahulu bermula dari Kerajaan Fo-loan (dipercayai bertapak di Kuala Berang), kemudian menjadi sebahagian jajahan Kerajaan Melayu Melaka, dan kemudian berkerajaan sendiri di bawah naungan Al-Marhum Sultan Zainal Abidin Pertama putera kepada Tun Habib Abdul Majid dari kerajaan Johor dinasihati oleh Wali Allah Sheikh Abdul Malik sehinggalah negeri ini dinaungi oleh Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

Sejarah Terengganu yang tertulis di mana-mana buku atau tesis atau dicatat mana-mana sekalipun pasti akan ada sejarah yang belum tersingkap, tersirat dan terungkai. Persoalan pertamanya asal usul orang Terengganu. Perlu ada kajian terperinci asal usul orang negeri ini yang mana rata-rata cerita lisan orang tua-tua mengatakan nenek moyang mereka ada dari Patani, Jambi, Palembang, ada dari Pagar Ruyung-Minangkabau, ada dari Siak, ada dari kepulauan Riau dan Sulawesi dan malah ada dari kepulauan Jawa yang mana mereka membawa darah sebagai Melayu Patani, Melayu Jambi, Melayu Minang, Melayu Siak, Melayu Riau, Melayu Bugis dan Jawa.

Menjadi misteri, ialah kebanyakkan orang-orang yang berdagang, berhijrah malah berundur alah perang ke sini pasti membawa budaya asalnya sendiri akan tetapi budaya itu tidak berkembang sepenuhnya. Apa yang ternampak ialah batik, dan tenunan songket. Dua budaya seni ini berkembang di sini. Yang tidak nampak atau mungkin di luar pengetahuan itu persoalan yang lain yang mungkin membawa kepada jawapan ia mungkin diturun menurun dan berkembang hanya bersifat setempat atau telah ditelan luput pupus dengan arus kemodenan sekarang ini.

Selain daripada itu, tidak ternampak budaya Minangkabau di sini sebagaimana yang diamalkan di Negeri Sembilan (mungkin disebabkan negeri ini tidak beraja asal dari Pagar Ruyung). Tidak ternampak juga budaya dan makanan Jawa di sini (selain batik). Berkaitan dengan pembuatan bot mungkin ada kaitan dengan budaya dan kerja asal etnik Melayu yang lain dan pembuatan tembaga mungkin berkaitan dengan orang dari benua China. Misteri?

Bercerita tentang bahasa, dari asal manakah bahasa atau slanga Terengganu. Didapati tadi pelbagai etnik Melayu yang bercampur di sini. Mungkin struktur bahasa Terengganu terbina daripada percampuran bahasa kesemua bahasa etnik Melayu tersebut dan bercampur pula dengan orang benua China, Arab, penjajah Inggeris dan Jepun. Maka percampuran Melayu dengan bangsa lain menambahkan lagi prosa dan istilah lalu digunakan sehingga kini. Perkataan seperti Röhök, Köhör dan Sengeléng-dari manakah asalnya? Bunyinya pelik tapi setiapnya mempunyai makna. Röhök-susah/payah, Köhör-perlahan-lahan, Sengeléng-sengaja, inilah maksud setiap perkataan tadi. Dari mana asal perkataan-perkataan ini? Misteri?

Itulah sedikit persoalan asal dan usul penduduk tanah hitam putih ini. Percampuran manusia, perkahwinan campur, pertuturan yang berbeza lalu mewujudkan satu bangsa tersendiri iaitu Melayu Terengganu dan terbinanya struktur unik bahasa slanga Melayu Terengganu. Mungkin tema Satu Malaysia ini sebenarnya telah lama wujud di Negeri Darul Iman ini. Temanya Satu Terengganu. Bangsa, seni budaya, bahasa dan makanannya dimiliki satu negeri. 1 Terengganu.

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