Tag Archive for: Writing

Out of Office Message: Quick Reminders

How is your Out of Office Message?

Writing your out of office message is often the last thing you do before going on holiday or going on a business trip. Even though you might be in a rush to leave, make sure you think about the following tips to ensure that you have an accurate, informative and professional message.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download5 Quick Out of Office Message tips

Keep your message short and simple

Nobody wants to read an essay about why you are away. Keep to the important facts and make it easy to read.

Make sure that your return date is correct

If you use the same message each time you are away, make sure you change the date. It sounds simple but I am sure that we have all read out of office messages that have the wrong date and know how useless it is.

Does “Out of the office until Monday” mean you will be back on Monday or Tuesday? To be really clear, write, “I will be back on Monday.”

Who to contact while you are away

If you give the name of a contact person who is standing in for you during your time away, remember to include their contact details, if this is appropriate.  A name on its own creates more work for the person trying to contact you.

Use the Spell check

If you have spelling mistakes in your message it will look lazy and can create an unprofessional image of you and your company.  Make sure you read through the message, spell check it and check the formatting is ok. If in doubt, send yourself an email after you have turned your out of office on. That way, you will see how your message will look to other people.

Turn it on/off 

Don’t forget to turn it on! Also, remember to turn your out of office message off when you come back, it can be very confusing for people if you forget.

Example of an Out of Office Message you could use


I am currently out of office and will be back at work on Monday 14th April 2014. Your email will not be forwarded or read during my absence.

If you have any questions or need urgent support with (xyz) while I am away, please contact:

 John Smith  at  0049 123 456 789  or  john.smith@yourcompany.com

Best regards,

Jonny West

Do you agree with all of these points? Do you have any other tips that you would like to share?  Let us know in the comments area below. Also, check out our professional writing seminars if you are interested in improving your business communication.


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Clarification Emails: Structure and Phrases

How do you write your clarification emails?

How many times have you gotten an email and asked yourself: What is this person trying to say?  What do they want exactly?  This has happened to all of us at some point in our jobs.  Even though this situation may be unavoidable, there are ways to respond to make sure you get the information you need.  Although you may be irritated or frustrated, it is important to not be too direct with your reply.  This could be read as offensive and possibly damage your professional relationship with the recipient.  Below is a helpful structure, and some phrases, to help you politely get what you want with your clarification emails.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook downloadEmail structure and phrases for clarification emails

1.  Thank the person for the information

  • Thanks for the information on the conference.
  • Thank you for sending along the details regarding the project timeline.
  • Thanks for the email Peter.

2.  Clarify what you don’t understand/still need

  • I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean by ABC.  Could you please provide more details?
  • Regarding the deadline, are you saying that we should wait a few weeks?  Any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
  • I understand XYZ, but could you please clarify what you mean concerning ABC?

3.  Reference the next step politely

  • I am looking forward to receiving the updated information today.  Thanks for your help.
  • Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you this week.
  • I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me by the end of the day.

Examples of clarification emails


Hi Tom,

Thanks for the information on our meeting agenda.  I’m afraid I don’t understand what you want to do exactly after lunch.  What do you mean by “Discussion 1pm to 2pm”?  Thanks for clearing this up when you get a minute.



Hi Susan,

Thanks for sending along the spreadsheet I requested.  Regarding the “Reasons” column, did you leave that blank because we don’t need that information now?  Any additional information on that would be greatly appreciated.  Look forward to your response.



By replying to unclear emails politely and clearly, you can save time for both people and get the information exchange you want.  Let us know what has worked for you for clarification emails in the comments area below.  Want more help with emails or to improve your writing overall at work? Click here for information.


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Saying Goodbye: Email Phrases

What are you writing when saying goodbye in emails?

We need to say goodbye a lot. It sounds like a really easy thing to do, doesn’t it? But there are different situations in which we need to write emails for saying goodbye. Do you say the same thing to the colleague who is going on maternity leave as you do to the colleague who has just been made redundant? What about someone who is moving on to another department, or someone who has been promoted? Does how you say goodbye change according to how much you like the person? Each situation needs to be handled slightly differently and with an appropriate tone.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook downloadEmail structure and phrases for saying goodbye

1.  Congratulate them (when appropriate)

  • Congratulations on…
  • Well done….
  • I hear congratulations are in order.

2.  Tell them you’ve enjoyed working with them / that you’re going to miss them

  • It’s been great / nice / a pleasure working with you.
  • We’re going to miss you around here.
  • The place won’t be the same without you.

3.  Say you hope it goes well for them

  • I’d like to wish you all the best for…
  • Good luck with…
  • I hope everything goes well with…

4.  Ask them to remain in contact

  • Keep /stay in touch.
  • You know where I am if you need anything.
  • Don’t be a stranger.

Examples of saying goodbye in business situations


Hi John,

I just heard you got the Senior Analyst job in France. Congratulations on the new position. We’re going to miss you around here. I’ve really enjoyed working with you and wish you all the best for this new challenge. Keep in touch.


Moving to another department

Hi Luis,

I just heard you’re moving over to marketing. Well done. That sounds like an interesting move. Good luck and don’t be a stranger.


Leaving the company (not by their own choice)

Hi Rob,

I was really sorry to hear that you’ll be leaving us. It’s been great working with you and I’m certainly going to miss having you around. All the best for the future.

Take care,


Going on parental leave

Hi Lena,

It can’t be long now! I hope everything goes well for you. Send us a photo and see you when you’re back. We’re going to miss you. Enjoy your last few nights of quiet!

Lots of luck,


You can change your level of warmth by adding more information, adding words of emphasis (really, very), and by taking out some steps. By using the structure and phrases above, you can make saying goodbye less awkward.  Want more help with emails or to improve your writing overall at work? Click here for information.


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Expressing Congratulations: Email phrases

Do you need some ideas on expressing congratulations to colleagues?

Expressing congratulations when something positive happens in the personal and professional lives of your colleagues and clients is a useful business skill. When you extend your sincere congratulations, you send the message that you care about what happens in the lives of others, even if it’s not connected to you personally. As a result, the colleagues and clients you reach out to are more likely to be pleased when you yourself succeed. In addition, expressing congratulations to your clients is an opportunity to network and remind the client that you’re there and ready to help them meet their business needs in the future. Applauding someone on the good things in their lives is a win-win situation.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook downloadEmail phrases for expressing congratulations in a professional context


1.  promotion (when a colleague gets a higher position; e.g., from Junior Analyst to Senior Analyst)

  • Hi John. I just heard you got the Senior Analyst job. Congratulations on the new position.

Here we use the word congratulations. Note that this is an uncountable noun that always ends with s. We can use “Congratulations” as a standard way to praise someone in both spoken and written English, but we never say “Congratulation”.

2.  positive work performance (e.g., your colleague got a new project for the company)

  • Hi Sara. Michael just told me you won the ABC contract. That’s great news. Let me congratulate you on a job well done.

3.  a client gets a new position

  • Hi Hans. I just heard from Klara, our Account Manager, that you were recently promoted to General Manager. Congratulations. I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.

In the phrases above, we see the structures:
congratulations + on + (something)
Let me congratulate you + on + (something)

Email phrases for expressing congratulations in a private context


1.  marriage

  • Congratulations on your marriage! I’d like to wish you and your wife all the best.

2.  birth

  • Congratulations on the birth of your son.
  • Congratulations on the new addition to your family!  I hope mother and child are doing fine.


In past posts, we covered how to react when something bad happens. Now that we’ve given you some easy phrases to use when something good happens, you can confidently write your emails when expressing congratulations.  Want to improve your overall writing in English?  Click here for more information.


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Polite emails: Hamburger Approach

Do you send polite emails?  Each day at work we send and receive many emails.  The longer you spend writing and replying to emails, the less time you have for other important tasks.  Why should you waste time trying to be polite in emails when all you need is some quick information from someone or to give them a quick answer?  The answer is simple: relationships.  Building lasting relationships is key in business, and how you write your emails can help.  Taking a few extra seconds to show professional and personal respect can go a long way.  One easy way is by keeping in mind the ‘Hamburger Approach’ when writing your emails.  You may have heard of this method for giving feedback as a manager.  A hamburger has three main parts: the top bun, the meat, and the bottom bun.  Here is how you can use these parts to create polite emails.

3 Parts of the Hamburger Approach for polite emails

1.  Polite introduction (top bun)

The goal here is to start off your email in a positive way.  This is especially helpful if you are delivering unpleasant news to your recipient.  Jumping right into your subject can be read as being very direct and abrupt.

  • I hope all is well today.
  • Thanks for your email Tim. (when replying to an email)
  • I hope you had a good holiday/weekend/business trip.

2.  Information/Request/Update (meat)

This is where you discuss the main point of your email.  It could be a quick answer, a request, etc.

  • Regarding the management meeting on Tuesday…
  • That proposal sounds good.  Let’s meet…
  • I am writing about the changes to our…

3.  Polite close (bottom bun)

The last part finishes the email in a positive way.  Without a phrase, like the ones below, your email will seem incomplete and unfinished.  This could lead to a negative impression for the recipient.

  • Thanks for your time and have a good day.
  • Feel free to contact me with any further questions.
  • I am looking forward to seeing you next week at the meeting.

Example of a polite email using the Hamburger Approach



I hope all is well today and you had a good weekend.  I am writing about the change in the meeting agenda for our conference next week.  Could you please inform the others about the new schedule before the end of the week?  This is important to make sure everyone is prepared.  Thanks for your help.  I’m looking forward to seeing you next week in Boston.



You don’t have to use this approach with every email.  If you are emailing back and forth all day on a topic, this isn’t necessary.  It is important for the first or second email in an email exchange.  Keep this Hamburger Approach in mind and it will help you write polite emails.  Let us know if you have any other suggestions in the comments area below.  Want more help with polite emails or to improve your writing overall at work?  Click here for information.

Condolence Emails: Phrases and Structure

Writing condolence emails can be difficult

Have you ever had to write a condolence email to a colleague?  Writing to people about these topics obviously requires considerable diplomacy and the right choice of words. Broadly speaking most condolence emails have three steps. (Often only one sentence each).

3 Steps for writing condolence emails

1.  Acknowledge the death

2.  Sympathize

3.  Offer support

Of course, there is no set format for writing these kinds of emails- it largely depends on how much you want to say and how well you know the person. Below are two examples of an email / short letter to someone who has had the death of a family member recently.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

Examples of a condolence email


Dear John Smith,
I was deeply saddened to hear of your Mother’s death recently. Although I didn’t know her personally,
I hope that you will accept my most sincere sympathy and condolences. I truly hope that you and your family can gather the strength and courage to endure during this difficult time.
If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.


Dear Tom Atkinson,
I was saddened to hear of Bill’s death. I hope that you will accept my most sincere sympathy and condolences. Bill was such a well-liked person and it is difficult to accept that he is not with us any longer.
If there is anything I can do for you at this difficult time, please let me know.

Simple religious sentiments may also be appropriate if you knew the colleague had faith. For example:

  • They / You are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • May God bless you and your family during this time.
  • May the comfort of God help you during this difficult time.
  • Kevin’s kind soul and giving spirit touched so many and will never be forgotten.
  • May God watch over your family during your time of need.

Alternate expressions to use for ‘death’

  • I’m sorry for your loss.
  • I understand that your ________ recently passed away.
  • I hope that ________is now at peace. ( for someone who had illness before death)
  • I would like to extend my sympathies for your recent bereavement.

Writing a condolence email can be a sensitive topic. By using the tips and phrases above, you can make sure your condolence emails are as thoughtful and professional as possible.  For more help with improving your writing at work, click here.

Email Confirmations: Using R.A.P.

A simple structure to confirm your discussion

Email confirmations are a key to avoiding confusion and saving time in business communication. The telephone is a great medium for quick discussions. Often agreements or commitments are made on the phone. But, one major disadvantage of agreements made over the telephone is the lack of written evidence. Where is the record of what was agreed?
If you make agreements over the phone, why not confirm them in writing with email confirmations? A quick follow-up email to confirm the agreement can prevent a lot of issues later on.
Follow a simple structure (R.A.P.) and your email confirmations should only take a few minutes.

Rap phrases

Reference – Action – Polite Close


What was the subject of the discussion?
  • We spoke about …
  • Following our phone call this morning …
  • I am just writing to confirm our agreement …


What points did we agree?
  • You mentioned that you would …
  • We agreed that I would …
  • As agreed, we will be…

Polite Close

 Polite close
  • Please let me know if there are any issues …
  • If this was not correct, please let me know.
  • I trust this was your understanding as well.

Example of email confirmations

You have just finished speaking to a supplier on the phone. You think that the results of your discussion are clear.  Your partner also thinks that everything is clear.
But are you both of the same opinion? Is there a potential for misunderstandings? 

Dear Jan
We spoke about rescheduling the delivery this morning.   
You mentioned that you would like to make the delivery on Saturday. I have arranged to have someone available at the plant to receive the order.   
Thanks again for giving me plenty of notice for this change to the delivery date.
Best regards

Let us know what has worked with your writing at work in the comments section below. 



Holiday Greetings: Quick Email Phrases

Have you sent your holiday greetings to all your colleagues, suppliers, and customers?

It’s that time of year again. People keep dropping by my desk to ask what they should write in their emails they want to send out before the holiday period ahead of us. There isn’t really one set thing that you have to say, but it’s a good idea to consider cultural aspects when composing your text. It’s fine to say “Happy Christmas” to people you know celebrate Christmas, but is it the best message to send out across the company or to clients you don’t know well? Here we offer you some phrases which use the word “Christmas” and some which use alternatives – the main ones being “holiday period / season” or “festive period / season”.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download
Phrases for holiday greetings

Less formal

  • We really appreciate the great teamwork this year and look forward to a repeat show in 2014! Thank you.
  • We wish all of you a very Happy Christmas and a smooth start to the New Year.
  • Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season!
  • Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

More formal

  • We would like to use this occasion to express our thanks for the successful cooperation this year, and we very much look forward to working with you again in 2014.
  • We wish a very happy festive season to you and all your staff.
  • We would like to wish you and all your staff a very happy festive season.
  • We wish you a very Happy Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
  • Season’s Greetings!

An example email

Dear Ms Eisenmann,
We would like to say how much we enjoyed working with you this year. We very much look forward to continuing to work with you next year and wish both you and your team a very happy holiday period, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Best regards,
The Target Team

Note: Happy Christmas / New Year  – each word starts with a capital letter.

Let us know if you have anything to add in the comments area below. If you post your holiday greetings email you want to write, we’d be happy to give you feedback on it.



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Presentation slides: 4 Keys to Keeping Attention

4 Keys to good presentation slides

Creating presentation slides that summarize your points but still keep your audience’s attention isn’t easy. Ever try talking to someone who is busy reading a book? It’s not easy to get and hold their attention, is it? This is what happens when you stand up to make a presentation and your presentation slides are full of text. The audience will be splitting their attention between trying to read and trying to listen. You should keep your text to a minimum, and never just read from your presentation slides. So, to ensure that your slides support your message rather than distracting from it, here are a few tips.

1.bmp3 main points per slide, one sentence per point. If there is too much information on the slides, your audience will not be able to concentrate on what you are saying as they will be trying to read the slides.


2Slides should NEVER include paragraphs.  You are the presenter; the slides support you, not the other way around.  If you need a lot of text, you should be sending a report or email. They should not contain information that the speaker or audience needs to spend time reading.  This information can be included in the handouts.

387% of the information we process is through what we see, 9% is through what we hear and 4% is from other senses1.  If you want people to listen to what you are saying and to understand it, don’t ask them to read at the same time.  If you want them to read, perhaps you should email them a report instead.

4When you want to talk, try adding a blank slide into your presentation – they will have nothing else to look at so they’ll concentrate on you.




Your presentation slides support your message, they don’t tell the whole story for you! Let us know what has worked for you in the comments area below.




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mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
[1] Sheldon Press; Pease, Alan; “Body Language, How to read others thoughts by their gestures”

Rescheduling Meetings: Avoiding Confusion

How to clearly describe changes when rescheduling meetings

One of the challenges of communicating internationally in English is how to clearly describe changes when rescheduling meetings. Frequently, there’s confusion about words like postpone, move forward, move back and delay. And while it’s not actually a word in Standard English, the word ‘prepone’ has reared its head recently, much to the confusion of native and non-native speakers of English alike.  In this post, we’ll take a look at the meanings of some commonly used words and phrases so you can know their meanings in the future. Then, we’ll throw them away completely and give you an email template that will let you feel confident that the recipients of your email will know where they should be and when.

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Words and phrases used when rescheduling meetings


To take place at a time later than originally scheduled

  • I postponed the meeting until Friday.
  • The meeting has been postponed until Friday.

To make someone or something late or slow

  • Our flight from Shanghai to Stuttgart was delayed by 50 minutes.
  • The problems delayed the release of the project.
move forward

For some people, you move an appointment forward by moving it to an earlier time or date. However, some cultures view the progression of time differently, so this phrase can be confusing.

  • Can we move the date of our meeting forward?
  • They moved the date of the supplier meeting forward to Friday.
move back

Again, for some people, this means to move a meeting to a later time or date. As mentioned before, this can be confusing.

  • I’m afraid we have to move the meeting back.
  • They’re getting in later than we expected, so we have to move the start back.

What’s the solution?

In order to be 100% everyone understands where they need to be and when, leave out time phrases that can be confusing and use ‘from’ and ‘to’. ‘From’ designates the old time of the meeting and ‘to’ designates the new time of the meeting. This way, there’s no confusion about if the appointment is earlier or later.

An email example on rescheduling meetings

Hi everyone,
Due to a meeting room problem, the time of the project kick-off meeting has been changed from Monday, January 13th at 11:00 in room 143 to Wednesday January 15th at 16:00 in room 324.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Rescheduling meetings can cause confusion if you don’t use the correct language and structure.  Let us know if you have anything to add in the comments area below. Want to improve your meetings?  Click here for more info on how.

Following these 4 quick and easy steps, and using the phrases above, will help you have clearer communication in your meetings.  By alleviating your meeting misunderstandings, you will have faster, more productive meetings and save everyone time.  Want to improve your meetings?  Click here for more info on how.


Email Complaints: 5 Keys to Replying

Handling complaints by email can be tricky

It is always better to handle them face-to-face or over the telephone, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Every complaint is different, but there are enough similarities with each to approach them with a structure in mind. We can all receive complaints from customers, colleagues, suppliers, or even our boss. It is important to respond quickly, professionally, and politely.  Below is a suggested structure and some phrases to help you when handling email complaints.

5 Keys to replying to email complaints

1.  Start with a thank you:
  • Thank you for your email.
  • Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.
  • Thanks for letting me know about this issue.
2.  Apologize:
  • I am sorry to hear about …
  • We are very sorry that …
  • Please accept my apologies for …
3.  Show understanding of the other person’s situation:
  • I understand that this can cause some delays…
  • I know that this delay might cause…
  • I understand your concern regarding …
4.  Clearly state what next steps you will take to help:
  • I will contact my boss and see how we can solve this issue.
  • We will resend a new part immediately at no charge.
  • I will check with the shipping department and get back to you ASAP.
5.  End with a polite closing:
  • Sorry again for any inconvenience caused.  Let me know if you need anything else.
  • Thanks for your understanding and patience.
  • We appreciate your understanding and let us know what questions you might have.

Example of handling email complaints


Thank you for your email and bringing the shipping issue to my attention.  I am sorry to hear that you have not received the replacement part as promised.  I understand that this delay has caused you issues in production and needs to be taken care of ASAP.  I will contact our Logistics Dept and DHL immediately and see what is causing this delay.  I will then contact you immediately with the best solution.  Thanks for your understanding and patience.


By replying to email complaints quickly, professionally, and politely; you can avoid escalation of the issue.  Let us know if you have any suggestions or tips in the comment area below.

Request Emails: Getting What You Want

Writing request emails

Have you ever written request emails to a colleague and never received the information you needed? While it might be one of the most frustrating situations in business, the reality is that we have very little control over how people react to our requests. There are many different factors that can influence how someone responds, or doesn’t respond, to request emails. Some of the factors include, but are not limited to: their culture, their workload and their personality. In light of this, we have to deal with the fact that we can’t control how someone will react when we ask for something. We can, however, control how we ask for things. We can ask in a way that gives our colleagues an incentive to respond by telling them the reasons why we need the information.

Quick and easy structure for request emails

1. Something nice

This should be something short and polite that doesn’t require an answer. It’s enough if we use simple phrases to wish our colleague well.

  • I hope you’re having a nice Friday.
  • I hope you had a nice weekend.
  • I hope you’re doing well.
  • I hope this email finds you well. (This means that we hope the person is well, or doing good, when they open the email.)

2. what you need

Here we simply state what it is we want.

  • Can you send me the agenda for our annual meeting?
  • As you might remember from my email dated Oct 1, 2013, I need the price spreadsheet for XYZ company.
  • As you may recall from our previous contact, I need the ABC document for my report.

3.  why you need it

This is the missing element in many request emails. You have a better chance of getting what you need if you give a reason for the request. First, it helps explain why your colleague should take time to help you. Second, it can link the request to your organization as a whole, or to the work your colleague does.

  • I need the price spreadsheet so I can put together a proposal for the client next year.
  • It is important that I have the spreadsheet so I can complete the analysis.
  • If I don’t have the final sales numbers, I wont be able to get the report finished.

4.  something nice

Again, the “something nice” here is as simple as a ‘thank you’ accompanied by the following short phrases:

  • Have a nice day.
  • Have a nice weekend.
  • Have a good afternoon.

If the suggested structure above seems like a lot of work, compare it to the time and frustration it costs to write repeated request emails and get no answer. We can write a polite request that will help us get what we want and includes all the necessary information in just four short sentences.

Below is an example of a request email using this structure. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.

Good example of request emails with structure

Hi Sarah,
I hope you’re having a good Thursday.
Could you please send me the payment details for the payment made by XYZ Company on Sep 22, 2012 in the amount of €5,000? As you know, year-end closing is coming soon and I need to clear that payment to balance our accounts.
Thank you.
Have a nice day.
Best regards,

For more information on how to write well in English at work, click here.

Email Phrases: Getting the Tone Right

Adapting your message

It can be difficult to know what email phrases to use in your business emails. This depends on whom your audience is, and if the business situation is formal or informal.  You don’t want your emails to make a business partner uncomfortable, so it is important to use the correct email phrases at the correct times.  Using an email phrase that is too formal can make you seem stiff or cold, while using one that is too informal can make you seem presumptuous or arrogant.  Here are some good phrases to use in certain situations for both formal and informal writing.

Email phrases for formal business situations

  • Talking about the last contact:  I am writing in reference to your last email about…
  • Giving the reason for writing:  I am writing concerning…
  • Giving good news:  I am pleased to inform you that…
  • Giving bad news:  I’m afraid that…
  • Asking for something:  Could you please…
  • Sending an attachment:  Please find attached…
  • Offering help at the end of an email:  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
  • Talking about the next contact:  I look forward to seeing you next week.

Email phrases for informal business situations

  • Talking about the last contact:  Thanks for your email.
  • Giving the reason for writing:  I’m just emailing to…
  • Giving good news:  I am pleased to say that…
  • Giving bad news:  Sorry, but…
  • Asking for something:  Can you just…
  • Sending an attachment:  I’ve attached…
  • Offering help at the end of an email:  If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask.
  • Talking about the next contact:  See you next week.

Using good email phrases at the right time can help you build business relationships more effectively. Let us know of any other suggestions you might have in the comments area below.


Acronyms and Abbreviations in Presentations

Be clear and consistent

It can be very helpful to use acronyms and abbreviations on PowerPoint slides during a presentation.  This helps save time and space.  The key is to be clear as to what they represent, and then be consistent in using them.  A manager I train recently asked me to give feedback on a presentation he was giving to two new senior managers he would be directly reporting to. The presentation was about his department’s performance over the first half of this year.  After introductions, he settled in to his stride and I was really pleased to see that he had taken on board a lot of what we’d been working on in training. The presentation was well structured, pace and delivery were good, and he even felt confident enough to throw in a couple of jokes. One problem; it wasn’t until a good few minutes in to the presentation that I and his audience realized what some of the topics were that he was referring to. The problem? Abbreviations and acronyms.
Contact us nowBeing Clear with Acronyms and Abbreviations in Presentations

Acronyms and abbreviations are fine, as long as everybody is familiar with them. You’d be amazed at the amount of slides, documents and presentations I see where the use of acronyms and abbreviations confuses the reader about what is being presented. Believing that your audience will automatically understand because they come from the same business area or field of expertise as you is an easy trap to fall into.

Introducing Acronyms and Abbreviations in Presentations

When using acronyms or abbreviations in presentations, the first time you introduce them make sure to give the full word, name or title followed by the acronym or abbreviation in brackets.

For example: Structured Query Language (SQL). Using only the acronym or abbreviation after this shouldn’t then cause any problems.

Commonly Used Acronyms and Abbreviations in Presentations

AOB – any other business
asst. – assistant
B2B – business to business
CEO – Chief Executive Officer
CFO – Chief Financial Officer
dept. – department
mtg. – meeting
P & L – Profit and Loss
QTD – quarter to date
ROI – return on investment
YTD – year to date

So, being clear from the beginning with your acronyms and abbreviations in presentations can save you time and space on your slides.  All the while not confusing your audience, which is the most important thing. Want to improve your presentations overall?  Click here.


Evaluating an Idea: Quick Email Phrases

What do you think?

Evaluating an idea without causing offense can be challenging at times. Often it is a colleague, client or your boss who wants to know what you think of an idea. Sometimes you think it’s great, sometimes you don’t, and sometimes you’re going to need to know more before you can respond. The first case is relatively easy – you can tell them it’s great. But what about the next two cases?

Here are some phrases which you could use either when writing an email in response to a written request, or when speaking to the person who has made the suggestion.

Phrases for evaluating an idea

1.  You think it’s a great idea

  • That sounds great!
  • What an amazing idea!
  • That’s a really good idea.

2.  You don’t think it’s such a great idea

  • I can’t help wondering how / if / whether /what….
  • It’s certainly worth considering.
  • What concerns me is…

3.  You want more time or information before reacting

  • I’d appreciate more information on / about…
  • I would really need to know..
  • Perhaps you could let me know..?

Example of an email when you are evaluating an idea

Hi Melissa
Thank you so much for putting your idea to me.
It‘s certainly worth considering. I can’t help wondering though, how this might affect the administrative staff. Before getting back to you, I would really need to know how much would actually be saved by implementing this change. Perhaps you could get back to me on that?
Best regards,

By using the suggestions above, you can acknowledge an idea without offending the person who came up with it. Let us know if you have any suggestions of other phrases or approaches when evaluating an idea in emails in the comments area below.

Reacting to Bad News: Tips for Email Phrases

Reacting to bad news

Reacting to bad news in a prompt, well-written way can convey a powerful message: not only are you concerned about your business relationships, you also care about how your clients and colleagues are doing personally, too. If a client cancels a meeting because something unfortunate has happened in their lives, take a moment to pass along your best wishes. This is a very simple process that can be accomplished with just a few phrases. The key is to make sure your email matches the seriousness of the situation. Here are some phrases that match situations you might encounter.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download
Phrases for reacting to bad news

1.  That’s a pity. / That’s a shame. / That’s too bad.

We use these phrases for unfortunate, but small, incidents. For example, if someone can’t come to your  presentation.

2.  I’m sorry to hear that. 

Here we see a useful phrase: ‘I’m sorry to hear’. Some examples:

  • I’m sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well.
  • I’m sorry to hear you missed your flight.
  • I’m sorry to hear you didn’t get the job.
3.  I’m very sorry to hear that.

We use this phrase for serious events, such as a death in someone’s family.

Phrases referencing a positive view of the future when reacting to bad news

  • I hope you get well soon.
  • I hope you can catch another flight.
  • I hope you find an interesting position soon.

Phrases offering to help when reacting to bad news

These phrases can be used in the more serious situations listed in numbers 2 and 3 above.

  • If there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know.
  • If you need anything, please let me know.
  • If there is anything I can do to assist you in this difficult time, please let me know.

Example of a good way of reacting to bad news

Hi John,

Thanks for your email.
I’m sorry to hear you aren’t feeling well. I hope you get well soon.
If there’s anything I can do to help, just let me know.
Brigitte and the rest of the team send their best wishes.

Best regards,

Giving and getting bad news can be very difficult in business.  Hopefully, these email phrases can help. Let us know if you have any suggestions on other phrases or approaches to reacting to bad news in emails in the comments area below.


If you’re looking for phrases, tips and tricks and useful downloads related to this topic, start here. In a range of topics, here are some more links for you:


Updating your CV: Quick Tips

Updating your CV

You may not be looking for new opportunities at the moment, but at some time in your future career you will use it. CV writing in English can be a bit tricky when you don’t keep it up-to-date on a regular basis. Reflecting now on the last 12 months and your successes, while things are still fresh in your memory, will mean your CV is ready when you need it, detailed and with all the important information to make a great impression.

Updating your CV with a purpose

When writing about your responsibilities and achievements, start each sentence with a dynamic verb. These show action and progress over a period of time, and will give the reader the impression of things being done.
Dynamic verbs are rarely used in the Present Simple tense. If you’re writing about activities which are still happening, use the progressive verb+ing. For example:

  • Managing a team of 10 engineers based in Romania and Slovakia.
  • Developing state of the art software for scanning equipment used at Heidelberg training hospital’s head trauma clinic.

If you’re writing about a project which has finished, start each sentence with a dynamic verb in the Past Simple tense. For example:

  • Negotiated contractual deadlines with customers.
  • Organized supply and delivery of system components.

You can make your CV stand out amongst other by using dynamic language.  Take a look at your CV and make some changes to help you get that dream job you have been looking for! Let us know of any specifics questions on writing well when updating your CV in the comments area below.


Apology Emails: 3 Tools to Help

A good apology email goes a long way when canceling an appointment.  You ever get a message from someone declining a meeting in Outlook that had no apology or explanation in it?  I’m sure you have and, like me at times, wondered why that person couldn’t make it. Did you think it was rude or unprofessional? It may or may not be depending on the situation, but it could be perceived to be a bit rude by some people; so it’s important to send a quick apology email within your cancellation notification. It helps to be diplomatic and polite when doing so in English. Here are some quick tips to make your apology emails easy to write and effective.

3 Parts parts of an apology email

1. Apology
  • I’m sorry, but I can’t attend the meeting on Thursday.
  • I’m afraid that I can’t take part in the teleconference on Monday.
  • Unfortunately, I cannot meet you in Berlin on Tuesday.
2. Reason and additional information if necessary(rescheduling, requests, etc)
  • I have another meeting at this time I have to attend.  Could you please send me the minutes from the call?
  • I will be out of the office on a business trip.  Could we please reschedule for the following week?
  • I will be on vacation later this week.  Can we push back the call to next week?
3. Polite closing
  • Thank you for understanding.  I hope to see you next week.
  • Thanks for understanding.  See you next week.
  • I hope this doesn’t cause any inconvenience.  Have a good rest of the week.

Example of a good apology email

I’m sorry, but I can’t take part in the telecon on Tuesday the 14th.  I have to go to a meeting in Munich that day.  Could we reschedule the call for Thursday the 16th at the same time? 
Thanks for understanding and let me know what would work best for you. Have a good day.

Following the structure and using the phrases above should allow you to avoid confusing, or possibly offending, clients or colleagues.  Let us know what good emails have worked for you in the comments area below.

Finance Emails: Quick Tips for Clarity

Writing clear finance emails can be a challenge at times

Because the email was confusing, the wrong cost center was used; because the wrong cost center was used, the payment was late; because payment was late, penalties were charged; because penalties were charged, the contract went over budget; because the contract went over budget, the client was unhappy; because the client was unhappy, they gave their next contract to a competitor….. and all because of a confusing email.

Example situations of finance emails

You’re covering for a colleague who is on holiday for three weeks. In the middle of the month you get the following email from one of the suppliers they deal with:

“Would you mind making payment by the end of the month? If not, there’s a chance that penalties might be applied which could possibly cause a bit of delay to delivery of goods. Would it be possible for you to use the usual cost center? That would be great.”

No, you don’t mind, but “might”? “Chance”? Will there be penalties or not? Is the end of the month the last working day or the last calendar day? How long is “a bit of a delay”?  Yes, you can use “the usual cost center,” but what is it?
Two days ago, at month closing, I got a frantic call from one of the finance teams I train. They’d received an email that would have made Ebenezer Scrooge scratch his head. They had one simple question — what did this person want and when?

Tips for making your finance emails clearer

There are many words and phrases used in English to soften a message. However, in some situations it’s essential that politeness doesn’t compromise clarity. Email communication about finance is exactly one of those situations.
The most important point of your email is the action you want taken. For clear finance emails, my tips are:

  • Limit your requesting language to “please” at the start of the first sentence
  • Avoid the words “quite,” “some,” “a bit,” “a chance,” “possibly”
  • If there’s a deadline, give the date or time
  • If there’s important information, for example a cost center number, write it in the email. That way there will be no confusion. You also don’t know if the person you’re writing to will deal with the email
  • Save any messages of thanks to the sign off. A simple “thanks in advance” is enough

Let us know if you have any advice for finance emails in the comments area below.  For more information on how to improve your writing at work, click here.

Writing Meeting Minutes: 3 Ideas to Help

3 Language tips on writing meeting minutes

Writing meeting minutes can be tricky if you are not used to it. Every company has their own style or tips and tricks, but here are three language tips which could help you, or your team assistant, in the future:

When reporting what was said usually we use past tenses, but in writing meeting minutes it pays to at least start with the present simple. This should keep the grammar simpler in the rest of the topic (for the writer and the reader) and gives the impression that the minutes are up-to-date. Compare:

  • “Kevin discusses an overall overview of impacted headcounts by country. One of the German members was offered a new role and re-employed.”
  • “Kevin discussed an overall overview of impacted headcounts by country. One of the German members had been offered a new role and re-employed.”
  • “The spokesperson says that there were no questions from the countries in question.”
  • “The spokesperson said that there had been no questions from the countries in question”.

Vary the different verbs you use by finding synonyms for ‘says’ and ‘asks’.

Here are a few:

  • explains
  • questions
  • queries
  • requests
  • reports
  • challenges
  • states
  • raises (a question / point)
  • responds
  • replies
  • mentions
  • contradicts

(Try not to forget to add the ‘s’ / third person singular!)

Demonstrate and link conversations that were made by using some of the following expressions:

  • “In reference / Referring to this point, John states….”
  • “In reaction / Reacting to Mr. Miller’s point, John requests…”
  • “In follow up to / Following up Mr. Jack’s comments, John explains…”
  • “Continuing his topic of XYZ, Frank reports….”

Click here for more information on how to improve writing meeting minutes. If you have any comments or tips to add, please write them in the comments area below.