Business Writing for the Busy Flutist

Greetings and welcome to another Flute Friday!

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Flute professionals are super busy. Whether it is teaching private lessons, jumping from rehearsal to rehearsal, participating on committees, serving on jury panels, or everything in between, we do a lot on a daily basis and often need to communicate to many different groups of people for a variety of needs. Sometimes our communications tend to reflect the chaos running through both our lives and our heads. I can help! As a flutist who has spent the past 11 years working in academic administrative positions, I have developed very solid business writing skills that keep all of my outgoing communications professional, clear, supportive, efficient with a spoonful of pep that brings a smile to the face of even the grumpiest reader. In today’s blog, I am sharing some of my best business writing tips for the busy flutist. Looking to streamline and restructure your outgoing emails? This blog is for you!

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1.         Keep emails short. If an email is longer than two paragraphs, your reader is likely to file it away until they have enough time to digest all of its contents. That time may never come. If you are trying to get a response from them that is in any way time sensitive, it is best to briefly discuss what you need and when you need it in a simple, one paragraph email.

2.         Regarding Emails: Place any action items or upcoming deadlines in the first paragraph and highlight in bold. We all receive many emails on a daily basis. Placing the most important information in bold at the very beginning of an email ensures that your reader will understand quicky and clearly what is needed and by what date.

3.         Make use of short, bullet-point lists in place of longer descriptions. This is most important when listing out things you need from your students or from any other group you are working with. Make it easy for them to scan and understand quickly what is needed. Longer descriptions may be sent as separate emails.

4.         Use Doodle Polls and Google Polls. These are great tools if you are trying to schedule an event or meeting or if you need to request volunteers for various activities. Make it as easy as possible for folks to respond with their availability.

5.         If you have a lot of attachments on an email, consider saving them to a Google Drive folder and including the link in a shorter email. Make sure you list out any specific printing instructions or action items related to these attachments in your email (again, bullet-point lists will help here).

6.         Consider sending separate emails for separate subject materials rather than long emails (even if they are being sent to the same group of people). Shorter emails take less time to digest and are easy to file and recall later. Make use of simple subject lines to help others clearly understand the main objective of the message.

7.         Think twice before sending hard copy letters. Ask yourself if a hard copy is necessary or if this can be converted to an email. Emails provide a better means of tracking and allow easier follow-up.

8.         Keep follow-up emails short and clear. For example, open with the line, “Just following up on my previous email. Please let me know if you are available to (list action item) no later than (date/time). Thank you! Happy to answer any questions.”

9.         List recipients in BCC lines rather than CC or “to” lines whenever sending bulk emails. This retains privacy for individual email addresses and prevents the all too familiar “reply all” comments from clogging up email inboxes.

10.       Make use of Zoom meetings in lieu of in-person commitments and use the transcript function whenever possible. Some meetings must be conducted in-person (such as rehearsals) but others (such as studio meetings, parent meetings, club meetings, or event planning meetings) can easily be conducted over Zoom. We all know how to Zoom by now (thanks to various lockdowns). Offering Zoom meetings will encourage more participation because they are more convenient than in-person meetings. There is also a feature that allows Zoom to capture a transcript of your meeting. No need for a human to take notes! Just send out the transcript to those who cannot attend.

11.       Avoid using all caps. Even if you need a response asap, avoid using all caps. All caps reads as if you are yelling at your recipient which, understandably, discourages a friendly response (if any response at all).

12.       Ask for volunteers from a large pool before reaching out via email personally to individuals. Some of your potential volunteers may be extroverts and others may be introverts. These two groups respond differently to volunteer requests. Extroverts are more likely to volunteer at group meetings while introverts will be more inclined to accept invitations one-on-one via email. Make sure to offer both options to widen your pool. Avoid delegating tasks to others before discussing availability (preferably via email) outside of the group – Introverts, in particular, will not be okay with this approach.

13.       If you are sending YouTube links, make sure to include the title of the video and the performer with the link. Include only the basic information when introducing a clip. Avoiding sending too many clips at once (hello, YouTube overload!). Instead, consider sending separate emails to group clips together under related subject headings.

14.       If you have to send a letter, do your best to keep it to one page. Use a clear Intro-Details-Closing three paragraph structure and keep information as simple and clear as possible.

15.       Remember to always include a polite yet professional greeting and closing. For example, your greeting may include the following: “Good Afternoon, Hope you are well!” A simple closing could include: “Thank you and please let me know if you have any questions.” This is that spoonful of pep that I mentioned in the beginning of today’s blog. It is quite true in business writing that you catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar. Sugary sweet often wins the game!

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What do you struggle with when drafting emails? What approaches do your audiences resonate with and which ones seem to take longer to receive a response? Which groups tend to be more responsive than others? What types of emails to you struggle to structure? What other types of business writing do you need help with? Please comment below!

Happy Fluting (and writing)!


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