Book Title
M: Business Communication 3rd Edition

978-0073403229 Chapter 2 Text Summary, Lecture Outline

April 5, 2019
Text Summary, Lecture Outline
Slides 2-1, 2-2, 2-3
You can point out that this chapter will cover advice that applies to writing all kinds of
documents, as well as specific advice on the shorter forms of business communication, or
“messages”: le#ers, memos, email, text messages, and instant messaging.
The Process of Writing
Slide 2-4
You might ask students, before discussing this section, to re'ect on (write about) their usual
process of writing. (If they have trouble doing so, ask them to think about/describe how they
tackled a recent writing task.) This exercise can help them see that this chapter contains helpful
advice for them—advice that will make their writing more e/ective and the process itself less
The writing process diagram helps students see that the process of writing falls roughly into
three stages:
Dra2ing, and
But the arrows in the model also show that writers should allow themselves to revisit earlier
stages as necessary (that is, allow the process to be recursive). To try to make the process rigidly
linear is often counterproductive, especially for inexperienced writers.
As the text says, a good rule of thumb is to spend roughly a third of one’s writing time on
planning, a third on dra2ing, and a third on revising.
Slide 2-5
You can point out that the planning stage corresponds to the first three questions in the
problem-solving approach represented in Chapter 1: What is the situation? What are some
possible communication strategies? Which is the best course of action? To be able to answer
these questions, the writer will perform these activities:
Determining goals
Analyzing the audience
Gathering information
Analyzing and organizing the information
Choosing a form, channel, and format
Determining Goals: In determining goals, writers should ask themselves what a reader should
think, feel, do, or believe as a result of reading a message. The writers communication goals are
very much connected, then, to the writers business goals.
Audience Analysis: Analyzing the audience is key to any successful business message. Writers
need to break down their audience by the audience’s characteristics and then tailor a message
to meet that audience’s need. Writers will ask several questions: Who is my audience? Who will
be a/ected by what I write? What organizational, professional, and personal issues or qualities
will a/ect the audience’s response to my message? What organizational, professional, and
personal issues or qualities do I have that a/ect how I will write my message? What is my
relationship with my reader? Am I writing to my superior? My colleagues? My subordinates?
Gathering informaon: Solving a communication problem can be viewed as part of solving a
larger business problem. In other words, figuring out what to say often involves, as well, figuring
out what to do. For example, in addition to going over the sample scenario provided in the text,
you can ask your students the following: If, as a manager, you wanted to write an e/ective
message to employees about leaving the parking spaces near the companys front door
available for the customers, what things would you have to figure out before you could write
this message? Students should come up with such topics as why the employees should do this,
when they should start doing it, where they should park, any special incentive (or implied
threat?!) that might encourage them to comply, and so forth. The point is that communicators
usually cannot simply go with the information at the tops of their heads. They need to plan
what goals they want to accomplish and then gather the ideas and information they will need in
order to write the messages that will help them accomplish their goals.
Some activities that can help writers gather information include the following:
Formal research (e.g., surveys, experiments, library research)
Informal research (such as consulting with others, looking at previous messages for
similar circumstances, and so forth)
Listing pertinent ideas/information
“Clustering” (drawing a diagram of your ideas)
Analyzing and organizing informaon. Once writers have collected what looks like suCcient
information (though they may find later in the process that they need more), they need to
analyze it and organize it.
Interpretation and logic help the writer determine what to say and in what order. Clearly, the
message’s main points need to be based upon the gathered information, and they need to be
arranged logically.
Adaptation is critical as well. Which comments in which order will be likely to have the best
e/ect on the reader? The readers likely reaction will determine whether the message is written
in the direct or indirect order and will also a/ect the order of the rest of the contents.
Choosing a form, channel, and format: In many textbooks, discussions of form, channel, and
format are separate from the discussion about the writing process. But in reality, it is virtually
impossible to plan a message without giving at least some preliminary thought to these
elements. The medium is not just a container for the message; whether one anticipates writing
a letter, email, brochure, Web page, or some combination of these, and how one anticipates
they should look, will significantly a/ect the planning of the message.
Slide 2-6
As they dra2, writers work out the content, stylistic, organizational, and formaGng details.
As the text notes, writers should
Avoid perfectionism when dra2ing
Keep going (write things that suCce; come back later to improve them)
Use any other helpful strategies (write during your most productive time; write in
chunks, start with the part you most want to write, etc.)
You may want to share the following points with your students:
It is very important that you are 'exible when preparing your dra2s. Dra2s are the first
stages of a long writing process. They are not final documents, so do not distract or slow
yourself down too much by trying to make the first dra2 perfect.
Instead, use strategies that will enable you to pull your material together fairly easily and
quickly into a reasonably well-organized, complete dra2.
Avoid spending too much energy perfecting the early parts of the dra2. It can make you
forget important pieces and purposes of the later parts.
Keep moving with your dra2; have an understanding that you will dra2 relatively quickly,
you can always go back and revise.
You may want to try the strategy discussed by writer Natalie Goldberg in Writing Down the
Bones. Its called Keep Your Hand Moving and is good for breaking through perfectionism. You
could give students a quick in-class business writing assignment, set a timer, and tell them that
they cannot put down their pens or stop writing for 15 minutes. Even if they can think of
nothing to say, tell them to write down “I
have nothing to say.” The idea here is to break through writers block and keep the hand
moving, regardless of the thoughts that arise.
Slide 2-7
It is probably safe to say that the most common 'aw in students’ writing processes is that they
do not revise enough. Impress upon them the importance of devoting time to this stage. Even
very experienced writers take a good bit of time to review and polish important documents.
Taking a “levels of edit” approach can help students revise in a systematic way. With this
approach, the writer divides the revision stage into three activities:
Revising (making any necessary major changes in the document, such as adding more
contents, improving the organization, or changing the format)
Editing (perfecting the style and 'ow of the message)
Proofreading (catching any spelling/typing/grammatical errors)
Slide 2-8
Readable formaGng is hugely important in business writing. Business readers are almost always
very busy and are therefore impatient. And modern media has trained us in general to expect
and prefer quick access to information. Any documents that come close to looking like the bad
example on page 121 will run a risk of being misunderstood or, more likely, ignored.
Use the good example on page 122 to help students see how white space, headings,
typographical emphasis (boldface and italics), and bulleted lists can enhance readability.
Slide 2-9
There are many di/erent types of business messages and each has its own unique traits and
purpose. As you’ll see, every business communication situation requires analysis to determine
which type of message will be used.
Slides 2-10, 2-11
These are the oldest form dating from the earliest civilizations—Greek, Egyptian, Chinese.
The genre implies a certain formality, and certainly, letters are the most formal of the business
writing forms we discuss. Therefore, letters are usually written to external audiences—but not
always. Formal internal communication is also frequently wri#en in le#er format.
Students may already be familiar with some kind of letter format. If not, students should see
Appendix B to see the possibilities available. Many times students will ask which format is the
“right” one. Its important for students to realize that any could be correct but that their
companies may dictate format.
Early emphasis was on a stilted word choice (the “old language of business”). Now the emphasis
is on selecting an e/ective structure and strategy and on using wording that will build rapport
between the writer and the reader. You may want to ask students to bring in direct mail le#ers
or another type of letter for analysis during this class or the next.
Slides 2-12, 2-13
Memorandums are internal le#ers. Email has taken over much of their function; however, even
though students may think that everyone in a workplace has access to an email, this may not
necessarily be the case. For example, in one local hospital, housekeepers, custodial sta/, nursing
assistants, and some nurses do not have access to email other than in a lounge with a general
access computer. In some manufacturing firms, line workers may not have the need for email.
These employees are not likely to check their email as they work throughout the day or even
regularly before or a2er work or on breaks.
A memo posted in a highly visible location would be a be#er communication channel for these
employees than email. In addition, some memos are actually reports.
Also, some companies will consider more serious information, such as that concerning changes
in company policies or recent layo/s, more appropriate for memo than email form.
Typically they are arranged in this form:
“Memorandum” or “InteroCce Memo” at the top.
Date, To, From, Subject headings
(Sometimes) Department, Territory, Store Number, Copies to
They vary widely in terms of formality, but because they are internal messages, they are
generally less formal than le#ers.
Slide 2-14
The growth of email has been phenomenal. It has several advantages:
Eliminates telephone tag
Saves time
Speeds up decision making
Is cheap
Provides a written record
But there are disadvantages:
Not confidential
No authentic signature
Doesn’t show emotions
May be ignored
Slide 2-15
The prefatory elements and beginnings are somewhat standardized:
To, Cc, Bcc, Subject, A#achments
Subject lines: These are very important in emails. If a subject line is missing or if it is
incomplete, a reader may disregard the message or delay a response.
Name of recipient, perhaps a greeting, statement of purpose
Identifying information: Identify yourself early when communicating with someone you
don’t know well.
Slide 2-16
Content should be organized carefully.
Short, simple messages usually are best in a top-down order (most important to least
important). This way, if the reader is scanning for information, he or she does not need to scroll
to find your most important information.
The longer, more complex messages use more strategic organization plans such as the direct or
indirect order discussed in Chapters 6 and 7.
Slide 2-17
As for closing the message, most emails end with the writers name alone (if the parties know each other).
Many writers create an email signature that includes not only of their name but also the company name
and contact information. Such a signature really is appropriate only for external audiences or unfamiliar
internal audiences.
Sometimes one may find it appropriate to include a complimentary close (“Sincerely,” “Thanks”).
The formality of the closing depends on the formality of the message and the relationship
between the reader and the writer.
Slide 2-18
The formality of email language depends on the relationship between writer and reader.
Casual language is acceptable between friends. It uses contractions, slang, mechanical emphasis
devices, and everyday conversational talk.
Informal language is right for most messages. It uses short sentences, some contractions and
personal pronouns, and good conversational tone.
Slide 2-19
Formal language maintains a distance between writer and reader—no personal references.
Slide 2-20
The writing of email messages involves following the instructions given in previous chapters.
These can be summarized under four considerations:
Make the messages short, leaving out unnecessary information and writing economically.
Practice the techniques of readable writing—short and familiar words, concrete language, word
precision, short sentences, etc.
Practice courtesy, build goodwill (use the techniques in Chapter 4: you-viewpoint, positive
language, conversational tone, etc.).
Especially avoid “'aming.
How one communicates is a part of the message. Even if the writer uses poor grammar and
spelling and succeeds in communicating his/her message, the writer compromises his/her
professional image when a message contains grammar, spelling, and mechanical errors.
Further, errors in grammar, mechanics, and spelling can make a message unclear, which means
that the reader will have to contact the writer for clarification. This means that the writer will
have to send the message again, which wastes both the writers and the readers time.
Slides 2-21 and 2-22
Email is a sensitive medium and its quick execution and delivery time leave it open to errors.
Because its informal and still being de!ned as a genre, it’s vulnerable to etique#e errors. These
slides illustrate how to avoid such errors.
Texts and IM
Slides 2-23, 2-24, 2-25, 2-26 and 2-27
Many individuals use text and instant messaging in the workplace as a quick and eCcient means
of communication. When using such short messages, writers must be especially careful to
ensure messages are not only concise but clear. A helpful activity may be to have students write
one message in two ways: once as an email and once as an instant message.
Text and instant messaging are still used much more for non-business rather than business
But it is seeing growing use in business use—for quick “emails” to co-workers, promotions,
brand awareness, customer relations, and such. Clearly, as the so-called “millennials” join the
workforce, use of text messaging will increase.
Slide 2-28, 2-29 and 2-30
Social networking (which is, of course, popular for personal use) is also becoming more popular
for business use. Companies use social networking for both internal and external purposes.
Students must know that companies can monitor their social networking use in the workplace.
Companies may seek out students’ pages even before employing them just to see what their
(the students) pages reveal about their (the students’) personalities.
Slide 2-31
There are significant differences between print and online writing. Jakob Nielsen, noted usability
expert, has discovered these distinctions:
Web readers read an average of 20 percent of the words on a page.
Print text can be distinguished from Web text in that print text tends to be linear, while
Web text is nonlinear. When people read print documents, they o2en start at the
beginning and continue reading until they reach the end.
Online readers scan for relevant information and may be diverted by links or other
features of the display in their search.
In addition, he says that when people look for information they do so not necessarily to
read what an author has to say about an issue but to accomplish a specific task (e.g.,
locate a statistic, fill out a form). Online text, then, needs to facilitate the readers ability
to find and use information.
Slide 2-32
Web writing expert Janice Redish advocates organizing Web pages in the inverted pyramid style, where
the main point is presented first, followed by supporting information and then by any historical or
background information.