COMS Chapter 4, 5, 6, 11
COMS Chapter 4, 5, 6, 11 COMS 2302
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This 12 page Study Guide was uploaded by Sanat Upasani on Saturday February 13, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to COMS 2302 at University of Texas at Arlington taught by Melinda Long in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 138 views. For similar materials see Professional and Technical Communication in Communication Studies at University of Texas at Arlington.
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Date Created: 02/13/16
Chapter 4 – Planning Business Messages The Three Step Writing Process: 1. Planning Business Messages - Analyze the Situation by defining your purpose and developing a profile of your audience - Gather information that will meet audiences needs - Select the right medium to deliver your message - Organize the Information by defining the main idea 2. Writing Business Messages - Adapt to your audience with sensitivity, relationship skills, and an appropriate writing style - Compose the Message by choosing strong words, creating effective sentences, and developing coherent paragraphs. 3. Completing Business Messages - Revise the Message by evaluating the content, reviewing readability, and editing and rewriting until the message comes across concise and clear, correct grammar, etc. - Produce the Message by using effective design elements and suitable layout for a clean, professional appearance. - Proofread the Message to ensure high quality - Distribute the Message by using the chosen medium make sure all documents and all relevant files are distributed successfully. Optimizing your writing time: - 50% Planning (seems high, but can reduce other times if plan accordingly) - 25% Writing - 25% completing - Skipping the planning phase and jumping straight into writing may cause extra work 1. Planning the Business Message Analyzing the Situation Defining your Purpose: - All business messages have a general purpose: to inform, to persuade, or to collaborate with the audience. This purpose helps define the overall approach you’ll need to take, from gathering information to organizing your message. - Each message will also have a specific purpose, which identifies what you hope to accomplish with your message and what your audience should do or think after receiving your message. Test your Purpose by asking these 4 questions: 1. Will anything change as a result of your message? 2. Is your purpose realistic? 3. Is the time right? 4. Is your purpose acceptable to your organization? Developing an Audience Profile: Before audience members will take the time to read or listen to your messages, they have to be interested in what you are saying. They need to know the message is relevant to their needs. The more you know about your audience members, their needs, and their expectations, the more effectively you’ll be able to communicate with them. Steps to conduct a thorough audience analysis: · Identify your primary audience – some members may be more important than others · Determine audience size and geographic distribution – big audience or small room · Determine audience composition – differences in age, gender, education, etc. · Gauge audience members’ level of understanding – same major or different major · Understand audience expectations and preferences – summary of main points or full details · Forecast probable audience reaction – Good reaction vs skepticism. Gathering Information: Determine audience needs and obtain the information necessary to satisfy those needs. After you have a clear picture of your audience, your next step is to assemble the information to include in your message. · Consider the audiences’ perspective · Listen to the community · Read reports and other company documents · Talk with supervisors, colleagues, or customers. · Ask your audience for input Uncovering Audience Needs In many situations, your audience’s information needs will be obvious. In other situations it may be hard to articulate what is needed. Ask Questions to help. Asking questions often forces the person to think through the request and define more precisely what is required. Finding your Focus You may encounter situations in which you have no idea where to start. Free Writing – Helps generate ideas and uncover possible avenues to research - you write whatever comes to mind, without stopping to make corrections, for a set period of time. This silences the “inner critic” and help express ideas as they come to you. Providing Required Information After you have defined your audience’s information needs, your next step is to satisfy those needs completely. Journalistic Approach – Tests the thoroughness of a message - Check to see whether your message answers who, what, when, where, why, and how. By using this method you can tell whether a message fails to deliver. When providing Required Information: · Be Sure the Information is Accurate - The quality of the information you provide is every bit as important as the quantity. - Double check for mistakes · Be Sure the Information is Ethical - Do not omit important information - Don’t mislead audience - Be honest if make mistake initially · Be Sure the Information is Pertinent - Some points are more important than others. - Audience members will appreciate your efforts to prioritize the information they need and filter out the information they don’t. - Use common sense to identify points of interest Selecting the Best Medium Medium – the form through which you choose to communicate a message. Examples are talking face to face, post a blog, send an email message, webcast, etc. Media Categories: · Oral Media – face to face conversations, interviews, speeches, in person meetings, etc. · Written Media – Email, Traditional memos, reports, social networking, instant message, letters, · Visual Media – Visual graphics, infographics, charts, graphs, designs, visuals. · Electronic Media – phone calls, podcasts, blogs, wikis, email, text messaging, etc. Multimedia – use of two or more electronic media to craft a single message, typically some combination of audio, video, text, and visual graphics. Oral Media Advantages: · Provide opportunity for immediate feedback · Promote interaction · Involve rich nonverbal cues · Allow you to express the emotions behind the message Oral Media Disadvantages: · Restrict participation to those physically present · Provide no permanent, verifiable record of the communication · Reduce communicators control over message Written Advantages: · Allow you to plan and control your message · Reach geographically dispersed audiences · Offer a verifiable record Written Disadvantages: · Offer limited opportunities for timely feedback · Lack the rich nonverbal cues provided by oral media · Can require more time Visual Advantages: · Can convey complex ideas and relationships quickly · Often less intimidating than long blocks of text Visual Disadvantages: · May require artistic skills to design · Require some technical skills to create Electronic Advantages: · Deliver messages quickly · Reach geographically dispersed audiences · Social media Electronic Disadvantages: · Easy to overuse · Present privacy risks and concerns · Present security risks Factors to Consider when Choosing Media: · Media Richness. Richness is a medium’s ability to: 1. Convey a message through more than one informational cue (visual, verbal, vocal) 2. Facilitate feedback 3. Establish personal focus. * The Richest Medium is face to face communication; it’s personal, it provides immediate feedback (verbal and nonverbal), and it conveys the emotion behind the message. *Multimedia presentations and multimedia webpages are also rich. * Leanest Media- they communicate in the simplest ways, provide no opportunity for audience feedback, and aren’t personalized. Good for sending routine messages or transfer info. · Message Formality – media choice is nonverbal signal and tone. Printed memo = formal · Media Limitations – Instant messages are ineffective for sending complex messages · Urgency · Cost · Audience Preferences – consider which media your audience prefers. Organizing Your Information Good organization helps readers or listeners in three key ways: 1. Helps understand your message by making points clear 2. Helps receivers accept your message 3. Saves the audiences time Topic – the overall subject Main Idea – a specific statement about that topic Techniques to generate creative ideas: · Brainstorming · Journalistic approach – who, what, when, where, why, and how questions · Question-and-answer chain– from audiences perspective, work backward towards your message. Each answer generates new questions. · Storyteller’s tour – Record yourself as you describe what you want to write. Then listen and fix. · Mind mapping – Start with a main idea and then branch out to connect every other related idea that comes to mind. Scope – range of information you present, the overall length, and the level of detail – all of which needs to correspond to your main idea Approaches: Direct approaches – starts with the main idea (such as a recommendation or conclusion) and follows that with supporting evidence Indirect approaches – start with the evidence and builds up to the main idea. Create an outline: · Start with the Main Points · State the Major Points · Provide Examples and Evidence Storytelling techniques are also effective in building reader interest Chapter 5: Writing Business Messages Adapting to Your Audience: Being Sensitive to Audience’s Needs: · Use a “You” attitude and approach when talking or in communication with an audience. This will demonstrate genuine interest in your readers and concern for their needs. You ordered this… etc. Gives them sense of appreciation · Maintaining Standards of Etiquette – be polite, minimize negative emotional reaction. · Emphasizing the Positive – Look for positive points when giving negative news, etc - Use Euphemisms · Using Bias-Free Language – avoid saying things that will offend people Euphemism – Words or phrases that express a thought in milder terms – Senior citizen vs old people Bias-Free Language – avoids words and phrases that unfairly and even unethically categorize, marginalize, or stigmatize people in ways related to gender, race, ethnicity, age, or other. Bias can come in a variety of forms: · Gender Bias – avoid sexist language - Use Executive, not businessman - Use flight attendant, not stewardess · Racial and ethnic bias · Age bias – only mention age of a person when it is relevant - Young can mean energetic and ambitious, while it can also mean inexperienced or immature · Disability bias – physical, mental, sensory, or emotional impairments should never be mentioned in business messages unless those conditions are directly relevant to the subject. Building Strong Relationships: · Establish your Credibility - Need to do this before audience accepts your message. - Once established, communication becomes much easier as you won’t have to convince people you are trustworthy source - To build, maintain, or repair credibility, emphasize these characteristics: o Honesty (earns respect) o Objectivity (look at all sides of an issue, distance your emotional situations) o Awareness of audience needs (Let audience know you understand what is important to them) o Credentials, Knowledge, and Expertise o Endorsements o Performance o Sincerity, be genuine o Believe in yourself - Credibility can take long to establish, and can be wiped out in an instant · Projecting Your Company’s Image - You represent your company during and outside of work - Most companies try to present a specific public image - The interests and preferred communication style of your company must take precedence over your own views and personal communication style Credibility – a measure of your believability based on how reliable you are and how much trust you evoke in others. Controlling Your Style and Tone: · Using a Conversational Tone - The tone of your business messages can range from informal to conversational to formal - You can achieve a tone that is conversational but still businesslike by these guidelines: o Understand the difference between texting and writing. § Texting is a mode of conversation, not of writing § Texting causes bad habits like fragments, lol, idk, etc. o Avoid stale and pompous language, “Please be advised that” o Avoid preaching and bragging o Be careful with intimacy o Be careful with humor, could backfire Conversational Tone – Plain language that sounds businesslike without being stuffy at one extreme or too laidback and informal at the other extreme. · Using Plain Language - Presents information in a simple style that allows audience to easily grasp your meaning - Can make companies more productive and more profitable o Less time trying to figure out messages - Helps nonnative speakers read your messages · Selecting the Active or Passive Voice - Active Voice – the subject performs the action and the object receives the action o “Jodi sent the email massage.” - Passive Voice – The subject receives the action o “The email message was sent by Jodi.” Composing Your Message: Choosing Powerful Words: Write in good grammar and punctuation. Do not write and edit at the same time. You lose credibility if you do not. · Understanding Denotation and Connotation - Denotative Meaning – is the literal or dictionary meaning - Connotative Meaning – includes all the associations and feelings evoked by the word · Balancing Abstract and Concrete Words - Words vary dramatically in their degree of abstraction or concreteness - Abstract Words – Expresses a concept, quality, or characteristic. Usually broad, intellectual, academic, or philosophical - Concrete Words – Stands for something you can touch, see, or visualize. Ex. Chair, database, robe. · Finding Words that Communicate Well - Choose strong, precise words. - Choose familiar words. - Avoid clichés and be careful with buzzwords - Use jargon carefully o Effective within the specific groups that understand these terms o Those we are not, jargon is meaningless and intimidating Creating Effective Sentences: · Choosing From the Four Types of Sentences: - Simple – Has one main clause (a single subject and a single predicate), - Compound – has two main clauses - Complex – expresses one main thought (independent clause) and one or more subordinate, related thoughts - Compound Complex – Has two main clauses, at least one of which contains a subordinate clause - Strive for a variety and balance of all the above · Using Sentence Style to Emphasize Key Thoughts - In every message some ideas are more important than others - Emphasize key ideas through your sentence style Crafting Unified, Coherent Paragraphs: Unified – Focusing on a single topic Coherent – Presenting ideas in a logically connected way · Creating the Elements of a Paragraph - Contains three basic elements: topic sentence, support sentences, transitional words - An effective paragraph deals with a single topic o Topic Sentence – The sentence that introduces the topic § Is generally explicit and is often the first sentence o Support Sentences - explain the topic o Transitions – Connect ideas by showing how one thought is related to another § Use connecting words § Echo a word or phrase from a previous paragraph or sentence § Use a pronoun that refers to a noun used previously § Use words that are frequently paired · Choosing the Best Way to Develop Each Paragraph Five Techniques for Developing Paragraphs: 1. Illustration – giving examples that show the general idea 2. Comparison or contrast – using similarities or differences to develop topic 3. Cause and effect – Focusing on the reasons for something 4. Classification – Showing how a general idea is broken into specific categories 5. Problem and Solution – Presenting a problem and then discussing the solution Using Technology To Compose And Shape Your Messages · Use these, but not limited to, technology features if possible: - Style sheets, style sets, templates, and themes - Boilerplate and documents components - Autocorrection or autocompletion - File merge and mail merge - Endnotes, footnotes, indexes, and tables of contents Chapter 6: Completing Business Messages Revise the Message Evaluate content and review readability, edit and rewrite for conciseness and clarity. Evaluating your First Draft: - Evaluating your content organization, style, and tone o Is the information accurate o Is the information relevant to the audience, etc. - Evaluating, Editing, and Revising the Work of Others o Understand their intent o Is the tone appropriate for the audience, etc. Revising to Improve Readability: After checking the content, organization, style, and tone, look again to improve readability. Factors that affect readability: - Document design - The “You” attitude - Clear sentence structure - Smooth transitions - Proper word usage Four Techniques to make your message easier to read and easier to skim: · Varying your Sentence Length · Keeping your Paragraphs Short · Using Lists to Clarify and Emphasize · Adding Headings and Subheadings Heading – brief title that tells readers about the content of the section that follows Subheadings – Subordinate to headings, indicating subsections with a major section. Headings and subheadings fall into two categories: Descriptive Headings – identify a topic but do little more… “Cost Considerations” Informative Headings – guide readers to think in a certain way about the topic, “Long and detailed” Editing for Clarity and Conciseness · Editing for Clarity o Break up overly long sentences o Rewrite hedging sentences § Hedging means pulling back from making a confident definitive statements about a topic. o Impose parallelism § When you have two or more similar ideas to express, use same grammatical construction § Shows certain ideas are related, of similar importance o Correct dangling modifiers o Reword long noun sequences o Replace camouflage verbs o Clarify sentence structure o Clarify awkward references · Editing for Conciseness o Delete unnecessary words and phrases o Shorten long words and phrases o Eliminate redundancies o Reword “It is/There are” starting sentences § Could be shortened · Using Technology to Revise Your Message o Cut/paste, etc. computer things Produce the Message Use effective design elements and suitable layout for a clean, professional appearance. Producing Your Message: · Designing for Readability o Design affects readability in two important ways: § Design elements can improve effectiveness of your message § Visual design sends a nonverbal message to your readers o To achieve effective design, pay attention to these design elements: § Consistency (margins, line spaces, etc) § Balance (More formal vs less formal design) § Restraint (Simplicity is key) § Detail (Check small details for better looking) White Space – any space that doesn’t contain text or artwork, both in print and online - White space is a good thing - Readers will use this as a resting points - Open areas, margins, paragraph indents, etc. Margins and Justification – Justified is how you align the text, where margins are flush on both sides, making a square like. Make to look formal. Check margins are aligned. Different types of communications will require different margins. Typefaces – Refers to the physical design of letters, numbers, and other text characters. - Makes looks authoritative or friendly - Different fonts Type Styles – refer to any modification that lends contrast or emphasis to type - Bold - Italics - Color Designing Multimedia Documents Multimedia Document – contains a combination of text, graphics, photographs, audio, animation, video, and interactivity. To design and create multimedia documents, you need to consider the following factors: - Creative and need technical skills - Tools to create and design - Time and Cost - Content - Message Structure - Compatibility Use technology to help produce your message Formatting Formal Letters and Memos - Most business letters are printed on Letterhead Stationary, which includes the company’s name, address, and other contact info Proofread the Message Review for errors in layout, spelling, and mechanics. This is the quality inspection stage for your documents. Look for undetected mistakes from writing, design, and layout stages, and mistakes that crept in during production. Last chance to make changes. Distribute the Message Deliver your message using the chosen medium; make sure all documents and all relevant files are distributed successfully. If you have two or more options for distribution, Consider the following options: - Cost - Convenience - Time - Security and privacy Chapter 11 - Planning Reports and Proposals Applying the Three-Step Writing Process to Reports and Proposals Reports fall into three basic categories: · Informational Reports – offer data, facts, feedback without analysis or recommendations · Analytical Reports – offer both information and analysis, and sometimes recommendations · Proposals – offer structured persuasion for internal or external audiences Three-Step Writing Process: Plan A. Analyzing the situation Define Statement of Purpose: Explains why you are preparing the report and what you plan to deliver in the report. If you need to accomplish several goals in the report, identify all of them in advance. Prepare a work plan to make the best use of time. A work plan can be an informal list of tasks and a simple schedule. B. Gathering Information Obtain the information needed for the report. This may be difficult, and sometimes you may even need to do a separate research paper to find conclusions. Reuse or adapt existing information whenever possible. Collect only the information needed to satisfy your statement of purpose and your audience’s needs. C. Selecting the Right Medium Base your decision on audience expectation, many times audiences have specific media requirements and they pick for you. Find the best medium by considering what kind of report is needed. Need commenting? Will multiple people need to update the document over time? Distribution? Etc. The medium you choose also sends a message D. Organizing Your Information The direct approach is often used for reports because it is efficient and easy to follow. When an audience is likely to be receptive or at least open minded, use the DIRECT APPROACH. Lead with recommendations, key findings, conclusions, etc. If audience is unsure about your credibility until they see reasoning or evidence, the INDIRECT APPROACH is a better choice because it gives you a chance to prove points. Use INDIRECT APPROACH when you don’t want to risk coming across as arrogant Combine approaches will help build support for your primary message Use informative “talking” headings in the outline over simple descriptive “topical” headings
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