December 2011  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

Test Your Writing Acumen

Here’s a quick brainteaser to test your knowledge of writing and grammar.

Look at the following two sentences:

I asked Bette for the report. She has not given it to me.

Now combine them into one sentence in two different ways: (1) Use a coordinating conjunction. (2) Use a subordinating conjunction. You may change the word order or even add words, as long as you do not change the original intent of the sentences.

Coordinating Conjunctions

and, but, or, nor, for, yet, so

Subordinating Conjunctions

after, although, as, as if, as long as, as though, because, before, if, in order that, provided that, since, so that, that, though, till, unless, until, when, where, whereas, while

Example solutions can be found at the end of the newsletter.

Online Writing 3: Using Social Media

While we’ve all been busy working, the world has been slowly shifting from conventional modes of communication to social media. Facebook, MySpace, and even Twitter, once dismissed as time wasters, have emerged as forces for business success. These social media outlets have become the new town square or public soapbox. While a consumer may not bother sending a letter of complaint or praise about a product or business, a Tweet or Facebook comment is easy. Such posts also offer a more immediate sense of satisfaction. Customers feel closer to a business that is well represented online, while businesses without that online presence risk alienating their customers by seeming distant and uncaring.

So if you are still debating whether to jump on the “bandwidthwagon,” consider these advantages of a social-media presence:

  • Your company’s brand or service is broadcast to a wider audience.
  • Your impact expands throughout a network, from people who interact with you directly, to their friends and colleagues, to those people’s friends, and so on.
  • Your business can project a welcoming human presence through this cyber connection.
  • Your online messages can link to your company’s site and catalog.

In addition to a social-media presence, your business can profit from producing informational podcasts, blogs, and videos. (YouTube, for example, presents a powerful business opportunity.) To succeed, these publications should be helpful, interesting (perhaps even entertaining), and honest. Again, the goal is to project a friendly, human presence in whatever you do online.

Trainer Tips

At the end of a training session, your hope is that the attendees understand what you taught them. One way to ensure this is to have them demonstrate mastery by teaching others the ideas. Arrange participants in pairs or small groups. Then ask a volunteer in each group to explain or demonstrate some aspect of the training to the rest, who in turn can ask questions or add any missing information. Encourage the volunteer “trainers” to use their own words, since being able to reword an idea demonstrates understanding.

That Little Extra

Modern life can be complicated, with lots of different demands on our attention. The number of appointments and items on our to-do lists seems to keep growing each year. So an electronic organizer such as a smartphone, a PDA, or a tablet computer can be a lifesaver. Suddenly your list of a hundred things to remember shrinks to just one: Remember to carry your device.

For calendar appointments, setting an alarm means you no longer have to check the clock. Many devices actually allow two alarms per event, the first to remind you it’s coming up, and the second to say it’s time to go. Birthdays, business meetings, reminders to pick up dry cleaning on the way home from work—these are all prime candidates for the calendar.

For to-do items, we recommend keeping a short list of your three most pressing tasks. That way you won’t feel overwhelmed, and as you finish and delete each one, you can enjoy a sense of accomplishment! Also keep a longer list of items you’ll need to attend to in the near future. Then once a day or so, move the three most pressing items from that list to your short list.

As a final stress reducer, remember to back up your portable device regularly—daily is a good idea—so that you don’t have to worry about any details getting lost. And password-protect it to avoid unauthorized access to your information if your device is ever lost or stolen.


December Writers' Forum Topic

Here’s your chance to tell us how your work environment operates. Send us your responses to the forum question below, and we’ll print the most interesting in our eTips Mid-Month Mini.

The winter holidays can offer special challenges for scheduling time off and still getting work done. How does your office handle time-off requests and continuity of business during this period?

E-mail your response to Write “December Writers’ Forum” in the subject line, and you could see your reply in the eTips Mid-Month Mini.

Here are example solutions for this month’s brainteaser. (Other combinations are possible.)

  1. I asked Bette for the report, but she has not given it to me.
  2. Although I asked Bette for the report, she has not given it to me.

We Want to Hear from You!

This is your chance to be part of the UpWrite Press newsletters and blogs. What writing topics do you want to hear about? Have you any favorite communications tips you’d like to share? What words do you constantly mix up? Send us your ideas and you could see your name in Writing eTips or the Mid-Month Mini.

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Coming in January

The Art of Persuasive Writing

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