“When we proofread one another’s proposals now, you can already see there are a lot less comments than their used to be” James says. At Vent-Tech, colleagues have always proofed each other’s work to iron out any mistakes. But, since attending this course, the quality of first drafts has improved significantly, he reports. Tom also reckons “the standard of our proposals is higher” since doing the course.
It is also notable that when proofreading a colleague’s work, “you know straight away” whether they have been on one of the IMechE’s business writing courses. For those who haven’t attended, “there are a lot more mistakes in their reports” James says. More generally, staff who attended the course have a clearer idea of what good likes like, and the team all follow the same process. This means that producing business proposals becomes much faster.
From a personal perspective, going on the IMechE’s business writing courses has helped with James’s writing in general. He is self-deprecating about his Bristolian syntax: “sometimes I would write something down and then think, ‘oh that’s terrible!’” He feels that going on the courses has helped with his grammar and word choice when producing more formal documents.
For Tom, the course also provided some useful ideas around writing methods. “The tutor explained about writing everything down on paper first with bullet points, and expanding on them to get something to paper, and then coming back and editing it”. This, he says, avoids the writer “getting stuck on a sentence in your first paragraph”, and is something he now uses regularly.
Another benefit of the course is that writing clearer business proposals reduces the risk of later conflicts with clients. James explains that when reading proposals “clients may sometimes think ‘oh, electrics are included’” when in fact Vent-Tech does not offer this service. The course helped the team learn how to highlight more clearly what they do and don’t offer, thereby reducing the risk of misunderstandings down the line.