Business Talk continues the multi-part series dive into key salient techniques to boost professional writing skills.
In Kenya, professionals the world over report being mesmerised and enthralled with our remarkable verbal communication abilities from integrating ebullience and humour, vivid explanatory imagery, and broad concepts with clear visions.
But our written English stands out as slightly different than other locations. For us to advance in our own uniquely Kenyan ways towards our national greatness, we must understand how we competitively compare to other societies, nations, and people groups.
Every country tends to have strengths and weaknesses in writing techniques when competing with other nations in a globalised economy. Americans, as an example, are known for being overtly direct in their business professional writing whereby other English-speaking nations prefer more context before getting to the point.
Conversely with us here in Kenya, one particularly common difference in our written communication that foreigners often express confusion over behind our backs involves our love of capitalising words in sentences that should not be capitalised in standard professional written English.
We often capitalise words that sound like the most important words in a sentence. As an example, executive-level writers may compose such sentences: “Following my Masters Degree, I desire to enter the Finance field”. However, both “masters degree” and “finance” should not receive capitalised treatment.
Capitalisation must only occur when the word appears at the very beginning of a sentence or when the word is a proper noun, such as a name. So, “masters degree” and “finance” are not names unless the word finance in a sentence refers to a department, then “Finance Department” could be utilised.
Then, we often fail to reread paragraphs to ensure that our written thoughts present clearly. The failure to re-check writing, leads many to then not capitalise words that should otherwise enjoy upper case status.
One often observes writers forgetting to capitalise the “r” in the “republic of Kenya”. A foreigner finds such anomalies confusing since so many different types of words sometimes get capitalised.
However, as an example, for us Kenyans, the word Kenya seems more important than republic, so we often neglect to think through it. However, our Central African brothers and sisters often capitalise every word that looks important, as well as most important, and for emphasis.
A Central African written sentence might read: “We would like to Strongly emphasise our passion for Peace throughout our Beautiful region.” So, let us avoid under or over-capitalisation and focus on following the rule if we want to standardise and be more understandable to other regions across the globe.
As technology proliferates, we must separate lazy writing from professional writing. Certainly simple text messages to our husbands and wives do not require the same level of scrutiny.
Professional writing, on the other hand, makes or breaks careers and directly impacts your pocket over time.
When writing a longer communication, let us combine the great context Kenyans use in our writing with a little of the American directness for making points sooner in paragraphs before providing the contexts. It assists readers to understand our communication direction easier. An old adage should ring forth in our minds every time: “tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them what you want to tell them, then tell them what you told them.”
Many university students the world-over hear these words in their introductory writing classes. Open with a statement stating your main point, then give details that support your point, then summarise your point for your readers. Give glorious contextual descriptions in the details section.
In next week’s edition of Business Talk, we explore specific tools to enhance the effectiveness of your writing, powerful words to use combined with idiotic words to avoid. Thereafter, your colleagues and employees should notice a clear difference in your writing.