You may be bright and bubbly and you may be well-informed with years of valuable in-field experience, but if written English is letting you down, your careercareer prospects may suffer. For example, have you ever had to reply to an email to a big boss and had the feeling that your written English was full of errors, leaving you a little red in the cheeks when you hit “send”? This is a common problem, with clangers such as “we was” and using “then” in place of “than” highlighting to the reader that the person who composed the email doesn’t have very strong communication skills – and that means you could be overlooked for any role that requires internal or external communications (which pretty much includes every job in the world). So, what can you do?
Fake it ‘til you make it
If you are required to put together a presentation or compose an email to an audience, you may benefit from researching the topic and piecing together all the best and most convincing arguments or paragraphs or sentences you can find. This will help to take the pressure off you in the short term and is a great way to start noticing the sentence structure used by professionals. For example, over 90% of English sentences are ‘direct’, meaning “the person did the thing”, as opposed to the ‘trying too hard’ wordy and indirect sentence structure, which looks like this: “the thing was done by the person”. Beware, however, that your audience may recognise your sources. This is a great opportunity to re-write what you’ve found, meaning you don’t have to start from scratch (but always run a plagiarism check, just in case – checking for plagiarism now can save you from embarrassment in front of your team).
Read all about it
People who can’t spell and don’t enjoy making presentations or writing emails are often the very same people who don’t read books. Normally, an English class teacher is to blame. You’re probably all too familiar with the scene. Another hot day in a stifling school uniform. The classroom windows are open. The teacher can’t be bothered teaching and the kids can’t be bothered learning. So, what’s the plan? Reading out loud. That’s what. A page each. Of some classic piece of literature that makes no sense when carved up and stuttered over by 30 mumbling children. Find a topic you enjoy. Buy the books or magazines. Read on your phone or tablet if you have to. But never reading anything for fun is the fastest way to never being able to write anything for profit.