Professional Writing - Write with Confidence | Mind Favor | Skillshare

Professional Writing - Write with Confidence

Mind Favor

Professional Writing - Write with Confidence

Mind Favor

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14 Lessons (26m)
    • 1. Introduction

      0:58
    • 2. Know your audience

      0:42
    • 3. Personal Brand

      0:51
    • 4. Active vs Passive

      2:09
    • 5. Logical order

      3:23
    • 6. Provide Context

      1:58
    • 7. Be clear in expectations

      1:08
    • 8. Don't include opinion

      1:28
    • 9. Avoid humor

      0:49
    • 10. Emotions = bad writing

      2:03
    • 11. Persuasive word choice

      2:01
    • 12. Letter review

      7:53
    • 13. Class Project

      0:34
    • 14. Final thoughts

      0:22
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About This Class

Professional Writing - Write with Confidence

Thanks for checking out our professional writing course. In this course, we cover some of the key principals for writing professionally. There are certainly some key distinctions between professional writing and creative writing. 

Throughout this course, we will cover:

  • Active versus passive tone of voice
  • How writing impacts your personal brand
  • What we think of humor and emotions in writing 
  • How to write in a logical manner 

And much more writing tips. We are very excited you've decided to stop by and look forward to helping you write more professionally 

Meet Your Teacher

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Mind Favor

Teacher

MindFavor is dedicated to teaching you skills that will help you thrive and succeed in the 21st century. Most of the information taught in the current school system is outdated and irrelevant to how daily life really is. Our mission is to empower you with the RIGHT information to help you live your best life. 

 

And if you're looking to get started with 2 FREE months of Skillshare Premium, use this link to take advantage of this offer now: https://www.skillshare.com/r/user/mindfavor

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: Being able to write professionally and confidently is an extremely important skill. And if you can master this, this can really propel your career to the next level. Hi, my name is Steven. I'm a content creator and instructor here on skill share to now over 1300 students also have years of experience in the corporate world with professional writing. Have any experience writing to lawyers and different government agencies. Being able to write professionally is a really important skill. And this is something that's been instrumental in my personal career. Taking a look throughout the internet, I see a lot of different courses out there teaching you how to write creatively or for fun. And that's all good and well. But I don't think there's enough courses out there teaching you how to write in a professional manner. And that's what prompted me to make this course here, to share with you all my years of experience of what works, what doesn't work, and pull back the curtain and show you how to write professionally and confidently. So with that being said, I'm very excited you can decide to stop by and let's go ahead and get started. 2. Know your audience: The first thing for us to be mindful of here is understanding who our audience is going to be when we're writing, even though we're going to be writing and professional tone of voice and a professional sense. We can kind of adjust things a little bit depending on who we're writing to, the way we write an email to a coworker who's one of our good friends. That's going to be a little bit of a different approach compared to us writing a letter to an attorney or to a customer. Keep that idea in the back of your mind that although we are writing to be confident and professional in our approach, it is going to vary a little bit depending on the audience who were writing to, in other circumstances around that. As we go on throughout the course, I'll get more detailed about that. But I first wanted to introduce that concept to you. 3. Personal Brand: Before we get into the specifics of writing, I want to cover it and other high level concept, the way we write contributes to our personal brand. And so what I mean by that are personal brand is simply our reputation, the way we interact with others. It's what other people at our job or outside or company, what they think of us. And there's different things that people can use to base that off of, right. The way we treat them. We talked with them, the way we do our work in one of those components that contributes to our reputation or our personal brand. It's going to be the way that we write. And so it's going to be very important for us when we are writing emails to colleagues or interacting with managers or working with customers to make sure that the way we're writing is positively contributing to our overall personal brand. So when we are writing, we want to make sure that we're coming across as competent and confident. 4. Active vs Passive: As we go throughout the course, I'm going to give you a couple of different real-world examples. The way we're really gonna break it down is email communication within the company to colleagues, managers, et cetera. And then some type of an external professional letter. They would either be sending out to get attorney's customers, government agencies, something of that nature. And so as we go throughout the course, I'll be going back and forth between these two different types of examples. Then later on in the course, I'll get into more concrete examples of templates of what a lot of this writing could look like. But one of the first main concepts when it comes to writing confidently and professionally, regardless of whether you're doing it in email format or letter format, is going to be something that's called an active tone of voice. And making sure that we're writing in an active tone of voice versus a passive tone of voice. As we take a look, here's some examples of what an active tone of voice would be. Some examples of this might look like. We determined that we spoke to. You said you verify a lot of the sentence structure is starting off with either us or the person we're talking to, or some other entity starting off with them doing something, then taking some action. That's the main structure. Now let's compare that to a passive tone of voice. Taking a look at the screen here, here's some sentences that are showing you an example of a passive tone of voice. One of the main reasons why a passive tone of voice is not a good approach is because it looks like you're not in control and you're not confident. Whereas when you speak in a active tone of voice that shows that you have control. But understanding this concept is insanely important because once you understand this, when you go on throughout drafting your emails or letters, makes it so much easier for you to then structure whatever correspondence that you're writing. This is honestly one of the most important concepts that most people overlook. That's why I'm really stressing the importance of this because once you can understand and really train your brain to start writing in an active tone of voice versus a passive tone of voice. The rest of this writing becomes so much easier because you naturally start to structure everything in the right order. 5. Logical order: The next idea for us to write effectively and professionally is to make sure we're structuring either our email or letter in a very sequential or logical type of man are. One of the easiest ways to do this is to outline things based on a timeline. For example, sake, let's say you're a project manager for a construction company and you're working with the architecture, working with Manager, you're working with the builders. You're trying to make sure everybody is moving in, hitting their deadlines and goals, trying to explain what happened. And then when you need things completed by great tactic to make sure that what you're saying is logical and make sense is by simply using deadlines and dates. Another example of this would be, let's say you're an insurance agent and you work car insurance claims and you research a claim for a customer. And then once you're all complete, you have to put a letter together and sent to the customer. Again, the use of dates can be really effective because you can say, for example, sake, the date of the incident was February fifth, and then we receive the supporting documentation on February 13th. We reviewed it, and we made our decision on February 26th. And then under each section, you could provide supporting details as to how you as the company came to this claim decision or give more details about the documents so that they provided to you. But by having that higher level understanding of using dates as a way to kind of structure how you're gonna approach situation or a correspondence can be really effective. Another way to make sure your writing is going to be logical is after you write an email or a letter or take a step back for a second and Trevor view it as if you have no knowledge of the situation and you're looking at it from a third-party perspective who has no understanding of the situation. And as you're going through, if there's certain points that somebody else who's not within your industry or somebody who's not within your company, if they weren't fully understand that or if there's a logical next questions that may come from that, then be sure to incorporate that line of thinking. And that's kind of an abstract idea. So let me give you a real world example of what this might look like. And so what we're taking a look at right now is a recreated letter that I received from an insurance company. We take a look. It's a pretty simple letter, but notice how they're basically introducing themselves to me. And then the second paragraph though, they anticipate the next question. Okay. So after they introduced themselves, well, what if I have additional questions? What if a letter you're giving me? What if it doesn't answer everything will by writing the letter they anticipate that. Then list the phone number for the agent where I can contact them directly if you have additional questions or concerns. This is a pretty simple and straightforward example. I think it's a lot easier to start simple and then build upon that to recap things here using gates and also anticipating future next questions and looking at what you're writing from an outside perspective are two great ways to make sure when you are drafting your letter or your email to make sure that it's sound and logical. This certainly isn't an all-inclusive list. There's other ways for you to write something in a logical manner depending on who you are. And I think the way your brain naturally works in like come easier some than others. At least having these two concepts, the use of dates, trying to look at it from an outside perspective can be great tools for you to at least get on the right track of making sure whatever it is that you are writing is logical and make sense. 6. Provide Context: Another way for us to be effective in our writing is to make sure that we're providing somebody with an explanation or rationale behind either our explanation or our question. So for example, sake, let's say you're working in a big company and you have to communicate with colleagues or folks in another department and you ask a question that might seem pretty logical to you. Weavers reading the email that we send it to, they don't have as much context about a situation as we do. It's possible that they understand why we're asking that question, but that's not necessarily always the case, especially when you're dealing with a really complex type of situation, the more you can explain why you're asking a certain question or you as a company made a certain decision, It's gonna make it so much easier for the other person reading to understand your point of view and then be more receptive to what you're saying. Going back to our example of pretending that we're in insurance claims adjuster. So when we're drafting up our letter, we send it to the customer. It's gonna be a lot more advantageous and a lot better customer experience. If we explain first we denied the claim, but then we give the reason why. If we just simply say we're denying your claim, we don't give them a reason why what's going to happen. Most likely the customer is not going to be content with a answer. They're going to be calling back in. It's creating a ton of unnecessary work in hassle for both our company but also the customer. Keep that in the back here. We're going throughout this as you are writing different emails or letters in general, the more context you can provide for situation or for a decision, the better off it is for the person reading it. When it comes to giving context, I'm not saying you have to do that for every single email, right. If you are asking your manager what time a meeting is, you don't have to give context and explanation as to why you want to know what time the meatiness pretty obvious. You want to show up, use your best judgment when it comes to this. It's a lot more applicable when it comes to complex situations, or specifically when you're dealing with somebody who's not in your immediate realm. And they don't have as much either experience or contexts around decisions or situations as you do. 7. Be clear in expectations: The next idea for us to keep in mind when we're writing is we want to be really clear in our expectations. All too often I'll see a lot of beginners make the mistake of talking about a situation and explaining their frustrations or concerns that they don't end an email with an explicit request or some type of explicit question when you go about it that way and you leave e-mails very open-ended. It makes it very easy for somebody to just ignore your e-mail. We have to put ourselves in the shoes of somebody else sending email to somebody else in the company. But they get hundreds of emails every single day and they only have a couple minutes where they're skimming through each one. And if they come across our email where we're saying sort of vague, general things, but we're not making an explicit point or asking them inexplicit question, Is it going to be very easy for them to look at it, be kinda confused, shrugged their shoulders, and then move on to the next one is It's vague. If we leave it open-ended, if we're not very clear in what we're asking for, what we want. It can be very easy for somebody to just ignore that. We want to be very clear and direct about what we want and to make sure that we're not leaving things open ended or open for interpretation. 8. Don't include opinion: These next couple sections we're gonna cover things that you should have white. It's really important to cover these because if we think about it, most of the writing that we do throughout our lives, it's in an informal type of say, a lot of it's simply texting her friends or family or messaging somebody on social media. And that's all good and well. But there are certain principles that apply to that informal type of writing, like texting and compared to the professional writing. So when we're moving over into the professional realm, it's going to be important to leave some of these other concepts. And one of the biggest ones when we are writing professionally is to make sure that we are leaving our opinion out of it. So going back to our example of being an insurance agent and we're writing our claim decision letter to the customer. Our personal opinion does not matter whether we personally believe the customer should have been improved for the claim are showing tabs or whether we thought they send in a right amount of documents or they didn't follow directions. All of our personal opinions don't matter. The only thing that matters is the facts of the situation. Now if we are writing into eternal email to somebody within a company, it can be appropriate to use our opinion when it's relevant to furthering our cars. Going back to the project manager example, if we believe that the project should actually be completed a week sooner, we use our personal opinion to help justify the reason why then that can be acceptable for the most part, when we're doing something that's outside the company or external facing, like writing a letter to a customer and attorney, we wanna make sure we take our personal opinion and remove it from the writing. 9. Avoid humor: Next thing we want to avoid is any type of sarcasm or jokes in our writing. And the reason for that is because it's hard for somebody to pick up on a joke or pick up on sarcasm when we're taking a look strictly in writing, as humans, our communication, about 60% of it or more is nonverbal. So it's not the words we use, but it's the body language, the tone of voice. It's different factors that help humans better understand sarcasm and jokes. So when you're writing an email and somebody reads that, the only thing they have to go based off of the words he wrote. It's extremely easy for somebody to not understand sarcasm, not understanding Joe, take what you've wrote as offensive and there's way too much great area. It's always going to be best to err on the side of caution and avoid any type of sarcasm or jokes in our writing. 10. Emotions = bad writing: The next really important idea for us to keep in mind is that we're going to want to remove our emotions from our emotions are completely normal thing and you're going to be upset and angry and frustrated at work from time to time. But what really separates somebody whose average from high performer is having that ability to separate their emotions from their work and being able to keep their emotions in check. I can't even count the amount of times that I've been frustrated at work. And I was typing up an email to somebody else responding to what they said which made me upset whenever your emotional, that's going to leak into your writing and affect the quality of the writing and may inadvertently force you to send email which you enter for reading later on. So a really good rule of thumb I found is whenever I'm writing email to somebody a moment, I feel myself becoming really emotional. I'll still say finished that letter, I'll still finish that email and I'll make sure to take a break step away and not actually send that email that actually send out that letter until I'm in a clear state of mind where my emotions aren't getting the best of me depending on the situation. That might mean they walk away for five minutes or some days. That means I walk away for an entire day and then come back with a fresh perspective. And I can't tell you the amount of times I've been so thankful that I took that break and came back and taking a look at the next day. I know I would have regretted sending that email because it was the end of the day before and I was tired and frustrated and my emotions crept into my writing. That's another thing to keep in mind. And again, this is going to depend on your own personality. You know, some people are really great at and journey emotions. Some people where their motion is a little more on their sleeve, there's no right way about it. And that's what makes everybody unique and special and that's what's great about people. Everybody's different and they think it's recognizing how you naturally are. And if you are more prone to having your emotions influence your writing, will work. Just be more cognizant of that, and then take some time to remove yourself from the situation, get a clear head and make sure your emotions don't ultimately impact your writing. 11. Persuasive word choice: Another thing I would suggest to make your writing more effective and confident is spending some time to understand words you can use to be more persuasive. I don't wanna go down the rabbit hole too much, but I'll give you a couple examples of how a small word choice can make a big difference. One example of this would be, let's say you're reaching out to leadership on your team and you're trying to better understand how to deal with the situation. A lot of times it's going to be more advantageous for you to use the word advice versus opinion. Using the word advice can be more persuasive because advice has a connotation of that. Your manager has wisdom or they have additional knowledge that you're asking for. Who would we typically go to for advice? Well, somebody who's smarter than us, somebody who's more wise than us. Whereas if you use the word opinion, that subtly implies that you want to get their opinion on the situation. But that doesn't really mean you're actually going to go with it. Lots of times. We may get an opinion from somebody like a friend or somebody who's on the same level as us, uh, when we use the word opinion, that kind of implies that we might use what they tell us, we might not. Whereas if we use the word advice, it gives a little bit more respect to them. And then also shows that her in a little bit more of a leadership position and kind of above us. That's why we're seeking their advice. And so again, there's a whole science to this. I don't wanna go off topic too much. In other words, you can use would be because there have been studies conducted showing that if you use just the word but cause before you ask for something, then that increases the rate with which somebody says yes. So if you're trying to be more effective in your job, you're trying to get somebody to agree to a certain proposal. I simply using that word because that could subtlely help another screen or display some other examples here, like we got the magic words, please and thank you. Also using the word you is really effective because it's similar to using somebody's name. Whenever you use somebody's name, their ears sort of perk up and they pay a little bit more attention in the same way as when you're writing and you use the word queue by using the word you, that helps keep the person's attention a lot more. 12. Letter review: Alright, so for this lesson, what we're going to do is walk through an example, putting together all the different elements that we talked about. So what we're taking a look at here is an example letter, going back to our example of being an insurance claims agent. And let's say that we worked in insurance claim. And this letter is a letter that we're sending to a customer as we go through, take note of the instances of using again, that active tone of voice, which is basically the subject of the sentence followed by a verb, but it being like an action verb. So notice we reviewed we made we denied you stated you sent we've enclosed. We regret. So again, having this understanding and being able to start a lot of the sentences like this really makes things so much easier. And the next concept that I'm going to point out here, which we actually haven't reviewed throughout this course yet, is whenever you're talking about something and you want to use an abbreviation, you first want to spell it out all the way through and then put the abbreviation in parentheses. So notice here vehicle identification number, which is commonly referred to as a VIN number. But the first time you put that in your letter, you're going to want to spell it out like this. Then in parentheses, put Vin. So then anytime you want to use that later on letter, you could do you could type out just Vin and you won't have to spell it out. But again, whenever you are using abbreviations like that, you're going to want to spell it out and then put in parentheses first, so that way the person understands. So some examples of this. If you were writing about the NBA, the National Basketball Association, you don't want to just put NBA first. Do again want to spell it out because not everybody's going to know what NBA stands for. The other thing too, is there's a lot of abbreviations that can mean many different things. So you want to be very clear in what that abbreviation means in the context of this letter. Another example of this is personal injury protection or PIP. Again, spell it out, put it in parenthesis. Then later on we could just use that abbreviation. And the next key thing for us to take a look at here is the use of dates. Again, this is a really great way for us to lay out the letter in a logical manner, which is really easy for customers to understand. And then also too, it helps us stay on track with giving factual information. So if we're listing a date and then saying what happened, it makes it so much easier for us to stay on facts and avoid including our opinions. Another thing I wanna point out is when it comes to professional writing, it's going to be pretty common to include enclosures or supporting documentation. So and I'll just highlight it here. So the area and the pain care. The reason why we denied this person's claim was because on page 33 of the enclosed declaration page, we state the vehicle can only be used for personal use and not commercial use. If we were sending this letter to a customer, we would then enclose a copy of their declaration page for those who aren't aware of insurance. Declaration pages just kind of like the legal agreement or something that lists out what your insurance policy will and won't cover. So whenever you're dealing with any kind of a big company, they're going to have to have their lawyers go through, draft up the terms and services or the agreement or the declaration page, basically covering their rear end when it comes to liability. And, you know, in those terms that's gonna clearly spell out what they're responsible for, what you as a customer is responsible for. So for those who aren't aware, that's what I'm referencing here when I say Declaration page, but then we reference this and explain and give the page number of this document as to why we made our decision. Deny the claim. And then notice when we go towards the end of the letter here at the bottom, it's common to list enclosures and then within the same letter. So if we are sending, say, a pdf, we would then include the PDF declaration page after our letter here, another key thing to notice here is anticipating future next questions. So we kind of talked about it a little bit in earlier section, but this last paragraph here, which I'll highlight in gray, this gives our contact information, our office hours, and our department phone number. So that way in case customer has any other questions, they can give us a call directly, talk about it more. So that's one great way to anticipate future questions. In this paragraph here, on February 20th, US Centers payment of $500. So hypothetically, let's just pretend the customer filed a claim and they have a $500 deductible, and the customer is under the assumption that their insurance claims going be covered. So they sent us a payment proactively. And then we ended up to nine the claim. So then we have to send that payment back to the customer. A logical next question that the customer would have is, OK, you guys just denied my claim, but I sent you 500 bucks. What's going on with that? Will then in this section here, we've enclosed a $500 cashier's check to reimburse you for the funds you previously sent us. We then take it a step further to anticipate even additional questions. Will hey, once you get this cashier's check, you can catch this at any major financial institution. And then if you have additional questions after that, review the back of the Czech, that'll give you more details on how to cache or deposit this check, right? This is a great example of not just telling the customer basic information, but trying to put ourselves in the shoes of whoever is going to be reading this and thinking of what possible questions could they have? And then what could we write to proactively answer those questions? Another thing that's pretty great is going back to that lesson where we talked about using persuasive words. Notice here we say, thank you. But whatever you can do to build a better sense of rapport through your writing. So again, we're thanking them from the get-go. And another thing that's pretty common down below here, we regret any frustration or inconvenience that may have resulted from this decision. So again, that's a nice use of kind of calling it out and saying, hey, I know this isn't really there. And you are looking for still acknowledging their feelings, right? It's still acknowledging that even though we didn't approve your claim, this is still a frustrating situation and this was probably a really big inconvenience for you. And we're sorry, that's the case. So still having some human component of acknowledging any type of negative feelings that they have around the situation. Again, one of the main things I really want to stress throughout this is the use of an active tone of voice. Again, notice I'm starting the sentence. We reviewed the supporting documentation. On that date. We made the decision. We denied your claim. You stated on February 20th, you sent when your brain naturally defaults to starting sentences basically as either we did this or you did this, or they did this. That makes the rest of everything else you're writing so much easier. Because if you're writing sentences and passive tone of voice, that's messing up the whole structure of the sentence. And you're creating a lot of unnecessary work for yourself. Where you're gonna have to rearrange everything. And it's just not as clear, not as professional, not as confident. So I know I talked about that a lot and beginning of the course. But if there's anything you take away from this course, really work to master that active tone of voice. 13. Class Project: And so for the class project, what I want you to do is go ahead and complete the attach worksheet. Take some time to go through the exercises, really think through the concepts that we talked about throughout this course. Again, the main thing with developing any type of skill is getting the practice and the muscle memory. So be sure to complete each exercise to the end. And then once you're done with that, be sure to upload that to the course project. So that way me and other students can see what you were able to create. And if you have any questions along the way, please don't hesitate to leave that in the discussion section so that way we can all help each other out. 14. Final thoughts: That does take us to the end of the course here I first want to thank you so much for your time and attention. And I really hope we got some great information out of this. And as we're going along, if you do have any questions or insights, please don't hesitate to leave them in the discussion section below. I keep it pretty close, I and all of that. But with that being said, again, thanks so much for your time and attention. I wish you the best luck and take care.