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Korrespondenz auf Englisch - Einfache Regeln für effektivere Emails und Berichte

Schlagwörter: Englisch, Regeln Englisch, Korrespondenz Englisch, Geschäftsenglisch

Writing has one advantage over face-sich Because of email, writing rules and conventions have become much less formal. But a business email or report is still the official outward face of your organization. That means there are certain things you need to keep in mind — especially when you’re communicating with people from a different cultural background. So before you send any communication off to its destination, it’s worth taking a second look.
In this article we’ll look at some general rules for writing emails and reports.

Getting started

You have an important email or report to write. You sit in front of your computer — and sit and think and sit and think. Getting started is tricky — especially if the email or report is vital. You want to get it just right, but you just can’t get it written!
Here’s a simple tool you can use to organize your ideas to make it easier to get started. Take a piece of paper and make an outline like the one below. Then fill it in for the email or report you need to write.
Always have a clear goal for your communication. Try to specify in one sentence exactly what you think the subject is, e.g., ‘Complaint about late installation of cables for new computer system’.
What reaction do you want to achieve?
What do you want your reader to do or know or feel?
If you want the reader to do something for you as soon as possible, then tell him what you want. Examples:
Complete by the end of this week / Give us a 10% discount for costs caused by the delay
If you want to give some vital information to the reader, then specify this information carefully.
The order number / The original completion date ( 21 April ) / They promised to complete by yesterday ( 25 April ) / Work still not completed / Payment has not yet been made for the work
If you want your reader to feel guilty about poor service, then give reasons why he should feel guilty.
The late delivery has held up our changeover to a new computer system. This has caused extra costs and forced us to revise time plans.
Nothing will happen if you do not motivate your reader. Think of three good reasons why he should react the way you want:

  • Will never order from him again
  • Will pass on this information to customers
  • Will deduct costs caused by the delay from the invoice

How much?
How much does the reader already know?
60% — he knows the work is behind schedule but has no idea of the problems this has caused.
How well does the company speak English?
50% — The company is owned and staffed by Czech nationals. The language needs to be kept very simple and to the point.
How much formality is expected?
75% — You need to show the seriousness of the situation by keeping the communication rather formal.
With this preparation it is now fairly easy to write an email or report.

Five simple rules for emails
What makes a good email? Here are a few simple rules that will help you write more effectively.

1. First of all remember that email was designed as a short messaging system. It should be used with that in mind. This means it’s best to have only one topic per mail so that the reader’s mind is totally focused on that topic. This especially helps readers whose English is weak. Always fill in the subject, which makes it easier for the receiver to find the email after reading it the first time. Make sure the subject matches the content so that the reader is not confused. No email should be much longer than half a page. If it is, consider sending a short message with an attached document. Use an appropriate opening and closing following standard business correspondence practice.

2. If you know the recipient and are on first name terms, then write Dear Howard and end with Regards or Best Wishes. When writing a mail to a close colleague or friend, you could even start with Hi or Howard and finish with Yours or Mike. In formal situations, start with Dear Mr Jones or Mr Jones. You might then end with Yours Sincerely or Best Regards. Sincerely is less friendly. Best Wishes and Kind Regards lend a more friendly touch.

3. Use clear, simple language. Avoid sentences that require commas. In other words, keep your sentences short. Put key messages at the start of each paragraph in the style of newspaper articles. This makes your ideas easier to understand and easy to remember.

4. Make sure there is plenty of white space and that the mail has a clear layout with numbered paragraphs and bullet points. This makes your text easier to scan. Stick to basic formatting to keep things simple for yourself and the recipient.

5. Always run a spell- and grammarcheck. A sloppily written mail with misspellings and ‘typos’ gives you and your organization a very poor image.

You’ve probably received ( and sent? ) emails that force the reader to work hard to interpret the meaning — you must read the mail several times before beginning to understand what it’s about. This wastes everyone’s time and wastes money as well as emails fly back and forth to clarify misunderstandings.

One final tip: Don’t put a working address on the email until you’ve proofread it and done your checks. If the full address is already there, it’s too tempting to press send just to be able to get on with the next piece of work.

Example email

Subject: Order 348/HY Installation of cables for new computer system
Dear Mr Wotek
The computer cabling work has still not been completed.
As you know this was ordered on 6 November 2014 for completion by 21 April 2015.
On 20 April you told us the work would not be finished on time. You then promised us that this would be done by 25 April at the latest. It is now the 26 April and the cabling is still not in place.
This delay has held up our changeover to the new computer system. It has caused extra costs and forced us to revise time plans.
We must insist that the work be completed by 10 May.
If this is not the case, we will find it impossible to recommend your company to any of our clients and we will never order from you again.
We also suggest you absorb some of our extra costs caused by the delay by offering a 10% discount on the present invoice.
Please reply ASAP with the new completion date, bearing in mind the 10 May deadline.
Armin Matzig
Purchasing Manager

The 4 Rs of report writing

Writing a report in a second language is very demanding. You need to:
  • structure the report in a logical way
  • make sure the key messages are clear and understandable
  • show that your proposals are sensible

Reports vary in length from long, detailed, technical reports to short reports that summarize meetings. Regardless of length, there’s a four-stage structure that you should apply to ensure quality. This structure serves as a simple outline on which you can hang your ideas and language. The structure is called ‘The 4 Rs of Report Writing’.
Start off by providing readers with the background behind the report. State why you were asked to write the report and who asked you to write it. Then tell readers how you plan to do it. Here’s a simple example:

Report: Language training needs for the international sales department
Over the last five years our company has become more active in the Latin American market — especially in Argentina, Chile, and Mexico.
Dr Wendling, the board member responsible for sales and marketing, asked the HR department to look into the language training needs for staff involved in Latin American projects.
The investigation was planned in three phases:
1. Interviews with relevant staff to assess present language skills and future needs
2. Questionnaires sent to key customers to assess their past communications experience with us and to obtain suggestions for future improvement
3. Discussions with language training organizations to gather information about training methods and costs

In this section of the report, you need to explain what you actually did and how you did it. In other words, you need to describe the process you went through to discover the facts. This tells your readers why they should trust the results of your report.
For example:
Phase 1 — Interviews with staff
There are fifteen members of staff presently involved in various projects.
As a first step, we tested the eight Spanish speakers. We used the results as a baseline for discussing further training needs.
We asked the seven staff members who do not speak any Spanish if this created any problems for them in their work. These discussions then led to an assessment of future training needs.

Now you need to say what you found out. Explain both the positives and the problems you uncovered. Do not put too much detail in this section. If necessary, put down the main points and provide any statistics, tables of figures, graphs, or references in an appendix. For example:

The key results of our investigation
1. All staf f involved in our Latin American projects need to have basic proficiency in Spanish ( see Appendix 1 — Results from Customer Questionnaire ).
2. A beginner’s course is needed for the seven staff members who do not speak the language.
3. Individual training programmes are needed for the eight who speak some Spanish ( see Appendix 2 — Description of Language Levels ).

Now draw your conclusions and tell the reader what you think should be done. Give a clear proposal for future action: describe who should do what, by when, and how. Here’s an example of one of the proposals for the Spanish training:

The beginner’s course
We propose that the seven beginners go through the 3-day intensive course for beginners on 17–20 January.
This should be followed by ten weeks of lessons, four hours per week, and then by a 3-day intensive course 16–20 April.
(See Appendix 3 for a cost breakdown and suggested training provider.)

If you are writing a long report, it is good practice to put your main results in an executive summary at the beginning of the report. This allows people who do not want to read the whole report get to the main points quickly and easily.

Schlagwörter: Englisch, Regeln Englisch, Korrespondenz Englisch, Geschäftsenglisch

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