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Welcome to a new edition of the Word Constructions newsletter!

Spring may have only just started on the calendar, but I've been noticing blossoms on trees and later sunsets for at least a few weeks now. I love watching things come alive in spring, and find it an inspiring time to work on new ideas and processes for my business. Do you have any new projects or a spring clean planned for coming weeks?

Of course, spring is also when my baby is due so I am planning maternity leave between 12 September and 5 November. Depending on baby's actual arrival and how we settle in, those dates may be juggled a little, but you will know why I don't respond promptly during those times anyway!

One thing I have noticed with client feedback on recent projects, as well as in reading others' work, is the overuse of the word 'that'. It isn't needed anywhere near as often as people seem to think it is - try cutting it out of some sentences and your writing will be more concise.

Use your words wisely!


PS If you have children and run a business, school holidays may be another reason for needing time off - or at least some flexible working hours. The BMN survey on school holidays is currently underway to give me some information for an article on this topic. If you have a few minutes, I'd appreciate you answering the survey.

For the results to their small business surveys, usually presented as an article I write for them, you can subscribe to their magazine. And if you subscribe before 30 September, mentioning my name as you do so, you will get a free back issue thrown in! And I have it on good authority that the price is going up on 1 October, too.

Tash Hughes
03 9018 8182
fax 03 9445 9154

blog - www.wordconstructions.com.au/blog
For all your business writing needs

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I'm aware of my audience in a way, and I do try to engage with them while I'm trying to go about my business of thinking. I believe they help me by providing a focus.
- David Antin

Business leave
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

When you are a small business owner, especially if you don't have any staff, taking leave can seem like the impossible dream. Yet, we all need to take breaks for our happiness and well being, and there are times when a break is not optional (such as during sickness and major life events.)

Here are some quick tips to help you maintain a business during such breaks:

  • believe in your right and need to have breaks - and the value of time out

  • prepare procedures of the critical business tasks so someone else could take over if necessary

  • establish some relationships to help you  - for example, someone who could finish projects for you if you suddenly were unable

  • if preparing in advance, outsource tasks so they still get done. A VA can be great for things like answering emails, processing invoices and updating websites

  • automate whatever you can - something as simple as pre-dating blog posts can keep business ticking over without you

  • announce a leave date a few days prior to your real start date. This gives you time to finish last minute projects and to tidy up any loose ends

  • keep in touch with your clients - that includes mentioning your absence on your website or in an automated email so people understand why you don't reply promptly

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Know your audience
By Tash Hughes of Word Constructions

When communicating with people for your business, it is important to know who you are talking to - that is, who is your audience? By understanding your audience, you can make your communications clear and relevant, which makes them more effective.

Who does your business talk to?

Don't assume that your customers, and potential customers, are the only audience for your business. Although most of your communications will be directed at these people, there are others you will communicate with as well.

What are those people like?

Once you know the group of people you are talking to, you need to identify common characteristics of the individuals in that group.

You can gather this information by observation, direct questions, surveys and using formal research (either commission your own research or gather data from the Australian Bureau of statistics, industry bodies, networks, government departments and market research companies.)

How to use this knowledge

Once you have a clear picture of how you are talking to, you can target your communications to suit their requirements.

For instance, if you are preparing an ad to reach a group of elderly men, there is no point making it small and printing it in Teen Weekly. Nor would you use language like 'check this out' or 'SMS for more details'.

For extra detail on understanding your audience, read the full article here - and you may find my blog post on word choice and 'who reads a media release' useful as well.

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Poor examples

Sometimes, the easiest way to learn the correct way to do something is to see it done poorly so in this section of my newsletter, I show you some real-life examples of writing that need a little help.

This particular example doesn't need much of an introduction other than to say it comes from within an article I once read.


then he up dated all his other acound details when he moved he got a state ment that old him he had a account that had a couple of hundred dollars

Issues with this example:

Mostly, this is an example of no proof reading – or very bad spelling. With a little checking, this sentence would have looked professional in the blog I found it in. If you doubt your own spelling and grammar abilities, then it is a good idea to get someone else to review your writing for you to maintain a good image for your business.

Again probably a proof reading issue, but it should be ‘an account’ as all words starting with a vowel have ‘an’ instead of ‘a’. 

Further, this sentence is too long to have no punctuation, and covers too many ideas at once.

A better version would be: (without changing the meaning)

When he moved house, he updated all his banking details and got a statement reminding him he had an extra account with a couple of hundred dollars in it.

You are welcome to pass this newsletter on to anyone you think will be interested, but please send it as is without changes.

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© 2008, Tash Hughes