Communication Conventions For Secretarial Staff.

Communication is obviously one of the key skills for anyone in the secretarial profession, along with practical abilities such as typing and shorthand.


Undergoing courses in secretarial studies or working towards a secretarial diploma is recommended for improving communication skills.

Helen Gerlach, senior marketing and communications officer at the Institute of Professional Administrators, said:

“It can only be a benefit. It shows that you’re proactive and you’re thinking about your role, if you’ve taken training of that nature.”

“There is a whole host of information out there, but choose carefully with the courses that you book yourself into. Make sure they’re from a reputable company and that they cover the things you’re looking for,” she advised.

Pitman secretarial training was among the providers that she recommended.

Benefits Of Good Communication.

“There is a huge benefit to be found from practising communication and making sure your written skills are up to scratch . I think if you are able to practice and improve so that your writing becomes more stylish, then your own professional image will be enhanced,” Ms Gerlach added.

She explained that it is a skill to be a good communicator, conveying understandable information to people who perhaps do not share the same perspective.

“That’s particularly important in global organisations that have different clients in different countries and where English isn’t the main language,” she continued.

Communication is also important for creating better relationships with both internal and external colleagues, as well as enhancing productivity.

“If you have clarity from the outset, then there’s less going backwards and forwards. That saves time and ultimately saving time saves money,” Ms Gerlach explained.

What You Need To Know.

Secretarial training is obviously the best way to learn all the ins and outs of grammar, punctuation and communication protocol, but to give you an idea of some of the things you should be considering, Ms Gerlach has highlighted the most important aspects.

1. Good English
To start with, she insisted that the standard of grammar and English used in written communication is extremely important when you are not face to face with the person you are trying to reach.

“You’re not able look at their body language and read those visual clues, so it’s even more important that people write correctly and clearly when they’re putting together letters and emails,” she said.

2. Email And Letter Formatting.
The secretarial convention for emails is to not use punctuation after the salutation and sign-off, so no comma after ‘Dear X’, or whatever you use as the closing, such as ‘kind regards’ or ‘best wishes’.

“Some people know that and others don’t so it’s interesting to see when you get emails from people that they’re actually following that protocol,” Ms Gerlach commented.

“In terms of letters, it’s imperative to get the salutation right according to the tone of the letter,” she continued. So if you address the letter to sir or madam, it should be concluded with ‘yours faithfully’, while if the name is specified, yours sincerely is used.

3. Getting The Right Tone.
This can be tricky, as the hard and fast rules of letter writing do not exist in the same way.

“When writing emails, err on the side of caution initially, until you get a feel for the tone of the other person who’s responding,” Ms Gerlach suggested.

She recommended that secretarial staff mirror the language of their correspondent, looking at how they end their email and using the same closing. This can help to create a good rapport with the person you are writing to, as you are using language they are familiar with.

4. Grammar And Punctuation.
This is where many people fall down, according to Ms Gerlach.

“It’s very important to use proper sentence construction – so using a subject, a verb and an object,” she explained.

“Do a spellcheck or run your communications past a trusted colleague or manager, especially when it’s an important communication,” she advised.

Ensuring that what you have written is logical, clear and correct is vital, as misspellings can create a negative impression.

“Again, when it’s a written communication, people are unable to see how you’re dressed, how you present yourself, it’s important to get it right,” she added.

5. Clarity.
Ms Gerlach also warned against using abbreviations and jargon wherever possible.

“If you do need to use them then make sure they’re explained after you’ve used them, in a bracket,” she recommended. It is very important to for secretarial staff to ensure that the message is clear, particularly if they are dealing with different sectors or business units within a company, she added.

6. Presentation.
“It sounds obvious, but presentation is key,” Ms Gerlach said, suggesting that secretarial leave a line between paragraphs and make sure they are clearly separated.

“If you have a lot of information to convey, I find it often helps to use bullet points, so the information is quite concise,” she said. “Less is more, if you like. Also, be consistent with your format,” she added.

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