The Art of Letter Writing, with Debrett’s
After our foray into the world of calligraphy with the talented Judy Broad, we needed some inspiration and guidance on just how to pen a fabulous piece of personal correspondence. Enter Debrett’s – the global authority on all things etiquette, based in London for over 250 years. We caught up with their team who have given us some invaluable insights on how to craft the perfect letter and the joy letter-writing can bring to not only you the author but also your recipient. When, if not now, has there been a better time to reach out to loved ones in such a heartfelt way? Enjoy and happy writing – and also, the team at Debrett’s have kindly offered our readers 10% off courses – details below.
The Art of Letter Writing, from the team at Debrett’s
With our laptops and phones rarely out of reach, sitting down to write a letter might feel a little unnecessary – even old-fashioned.
But letter writing has distinct benefits. Not only will you give your recipient the serious thrill of discovering a handwritten envelope amongst the usual bills and bank statements, but it’s also a form of therapy. Forcing ourselves to slow down by writing by hand relieves anxiety and promotes calm and self-reflection.
In a professional context, sending a thank you letter to a client for their custom, or to a prospective employee after an interview, will also leave that person with a positive impression that can only work in your favour.
So why not give it a go? And if you’re feeling a little daunted or out of practice, here are five tips for composing the perfect letter:
- Prioritise presentation
Making an effort with presentation is half the fun of letter writing, giving it a sense of occasion and impressing your recipient to boot. You don’t need to buy expensive writing paper and a luxury fountain pen, but steer clear of scribbling on tatty printer paper with a biro that’s fast running out of ink.
- Get the basics right
In case you haven’t handwritten a letter since you were in school, here’s a quick reminder: include your own address in the top right-hand corner (unless you’re using paper with a letterhead), and write the date below it. It’s customary to use ‘Dear’ rather than ‘Hi’ or ‘To’, but sign-offs can vary according to the recipient – from the formal and professional ‘Yours sincerely’ to the rather more familiar ‘Lots of love’.
- Keep it natural
Letter writing may be a more traditional way of communicating, but there’s no need for excessive formality. When writing to a friend or family member, write as if you’re speaking to them – don’t get hung up on crafting sophisticated sentences worthy of a Jane Austen character. Your recipient will derive more pleasure from reading something that actually sounds like you.
- Have a trial run
If you really want to send a flawless letter, write it out in draft form first. Once you’re happy with it, rewrite it in a clean version. That way you can organise your thoughts, spot any errors and avoid messy crossings-out on the final draft.
- Don’t worry about length
Many of us are lacking much in the way of exciting life updates at the moment, so if the thought of composing a lengthy, news-filled bulletin is putting you off, don’t let it. A cheerful one-pager will be just as much appreciated as a 10-page missive detailing your adventures in sourdough or morning trip to the park.
The global authority on social and interpersonal skills since 1769, London-based Debrett’s provides transformational coaching, both in person and online, to private clients, luxury brands, schools and the corporate sector.
Our Readers are entitled to 10% off Debrett’s live one-to-one video coaching. To enquire about or book your session, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and simply mention this offer to take advantage of the discount.