Topic outline

  • Course Introduction

    The introduction of Business Communication for Success, the textbook used throughout this course, notes that "[E]ffective communication takes preparation, practice, and persistence. There are many ways to learn communication skills; the school of experience, or 'hard knocks,' is one of them. But in the business environment, a 'knock' (or lesson learned) may come at the expense of your credibility through a blown presentation to a client.” Effective communication skills are a prerequisite for succeeding in business. Communication tools and activities connect people within and beyond the organization in order to establish the business's place in the corporate community and the social community, and as a result, that communication needs to be consistent, effective, and customized for the business to prosper. Business Communication for Success provides theories and practical information that represent the heart of this course, while additional resources are included to expand or pose alternatives to the approaches chosen in the textbook. You will receive maximum benefits from this course if you complete the readings first and then use the additional resources to fill in the blanks and/or reconsider the topics in the textbook.

  • Looking Forward to Segment One: Units 1 through 3

    The key takeaway from this first segment of the course, comprised of the first three units, is how the communication process, messages, and audiences are interrelated. This understanding forms the basis of the rest of the course, so be sure to have a firm grasp on the concepts covered in these units in particular.


  • Unit 1: Introduction to Business Communication

    In this unit, you will gain a better understanding of how communication forms a part of your self-concept, helping you understand yourself and others, solve problems and learn new things, and build your career. You will learn about the transactional and constructivist models of the communication process as well as the eight most widely recognized elements involved in that process. You will also learn to distinguish the four audience-based contexts of communication and will discover the challenges in framing business communication, which is ethical and effective.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

  • 1.1: Why Is It Important to Communicate Well?

    • Please read the introduction to "Chapter 1: Effective Business Communication” and "Section 1: Why Is It Important to Communicate Well?” in their entirety. These readings emphasize how communication forms a part of your self-concept, helping you to understand yourself and others, solve problems, learn new things, and build your career. At the end of the Section 1 reading, make sure to attempt the exercises.

    • As you begin watching the videos in this course, please recognize that although they have been produced by many sources, the subject of business communication is not a characterized by a lot of disagreement. This is why you will find many commonalities among the videos. If you pay attention to those common threads about business communication, you will understand and retain more information from this course than if you treat the resources as isolated elements. For example, you should watch this first video to gain broad insights into the relationship between effective communication and business success. However, you should also note that in this video Robert Chandler, Director of the Nicholson School of Communication, introduces an approach to business communication which is reflected in every resource in this unit and which you should also keep in mind throughout this course: “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.”

    • As you watch this video, think back to the emphasis on communication in business presented by the Robert Chandler video. Remembering his approach will help you appreciate the “how it matters” not only in business, but also in many other aspects of your life, as this video discusses.

    • Once you have finished watching this video, you may feel overwhelmed by the theoretical aspects of communication, but keep in mind that you will not be operating on theory in the business world. You will use your own observations and experiences to make decisions. However, as Robert Chandler emphasized in the first video you watched for this course, to be an effective communicator, you must “seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.” Communication theory is what will help you understand more about yourself as a communicator and also about the people whose understanding you seek.

  • 1.2: What Is Communication?

    • Please read this section, which describes communication process, including its eight essential elements: source, message, channel, receiver, feedback, environment, context, and interference. It also reviews communication models based on transactions and shared meaning. After you complete the reading, try to work on the exercises at the bottom of the webpage.

    • This assessment refers to the figures in the reading above. The attached PDF reproduces Figure 1.3 "Transactional Model of Communication” and Figure 1.4 "Constructivist Model of Communication” without the labels. Challenge yourself to label the elements of each diagram correctly. Fill in the appropriate labels for each blank box. Once you have completed the assessment, compare your answers to the answer key.

    • This video introduces different categories of communication as elements of a pyramid that represents the structure of communication science. Why is it important for you to appreciate communication science? As you learned in the previous video, theories produced by scientists and scholars provide explanations that can improve understanding. For example, the pyramid in this video illustrates graphically how “institutional communication,” which is another way of describing business communication, is near the top of the pyramid. After watching the video, you should be able to answer this very important question: Why is institutional communication at a higher level than group communication, but lower than societal communication?

    • This video reinforces the importance of understanding communication, covering the subject in greater depth than previous videos. Both the lecturer’s comments and the slideshow are dense with information, so you may want to watch this video a second time or take notes. Also pay particular attention to one slide on this video which diagrams a model of communication that is slightly different from the Shannon and Weaver model introduced in the preceding  video. Please recognize that many models exists to explain the communication process, although most are very similar and virtually all include at least some of the components in Shannon and Weaver’s model.

  • 1.3: Communication in Context

    • Please read this section, which introduces intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, public, and mass communication, including their advantages and disadvantages as well as appropriate and inappropriate uses. After reading the text, make sure to try the exercises at the bottom of the page.

    • Pete Gerlach, the individual you will “meet” in this video will become increasingly familiar to you as you proceed in this course because the course features many of his videos. A psychosocial therapist, Gerlach’s expertise is interpersonal communication, a category of communication you encountered briefly (in the video with the pyramid) in subunit 1.2 and which you will examine thoroughly in unit 13. You will find Gerlach’s videos most useful for understanding yourself as a communicator, especially those factors that may be having a negative effect on your abilities. In this video, Gerlach discusses the needs people have and how it is usually through communication that those needs get fulfilled. 

    • Another individual you will “meet” several times in this course is business consultant Bernard Fruga, who is gifted with an ability to describe succinctly and emphatically some key points about the nature of business communication. Even though Fruga usually addresses very concrete business challenges, in this 1.5 minute video, he discusses an abstraction: transactional analysis, a theory which attempts to explain how people interact with each other through communication. In fact, you should recognize the relationship between Bernard Fruga’s observations and Pete Gerlach’s advice (Gerlach was introduced to you in a video in subunit 1.2). However, as you will find in this video, unlike Gerlach, Fruga connects his explanations and advice to the business world even when, such as in this video, he uses an adult-child analogy to explain the psychology and sociology of interpersonal communication.

  • 1.4: Your Responsibilities as a Communicator

    • Read this section, which addresses the reader as a communicator, emphasizing how good communicators are prepared and ethical. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises.

    • When you watch this video, keep in mind Pat McDonald’s advice, the thread that ties this unit together: “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.” What this means to McDonald is that it is a communicator’s responsibility to make others understand the communication. In the video, she recommends a simple, three-step process. After you have listened to this brief video, think about a time when someone misunderstood your message and then try analyzing the situation by describing the communication purpose, details, and action as covered in the video. Next, ask yourself if McDonald’s process helped you identify where you erred or were weak in your responsibilities as a communicator.

    • Watch this video to continue learning about the theories behind communication in order to recognize the factors that influence your communication effectiveness and reactions to communication stimuli. The neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) model introduced in the video focuses on physical elements of communication to explain how the mind filters the information we receive externally and internally. Awareness of these factors can help a communicator overcome his or her negative impacts. After you view this video, try to write a paragraph that summarizes the NLP Communication Model.

    • Pete Gerlach uses this video to describe one of the seven essential communication skills introduced in the preceding video. These skills have many direct applications in the business world. The topic of the video, “Metatalk,” refers to when people talk about how they are talking (communicating). Watch the video to understand why, instead of arguing about a problem, discussing the communication used to address the problem can help resolve the problem without arguing. Note, however, that although Gerlach approaches metatalk through interpersonal communication, the concept is also reflected in organizational culture and communications. When this course covers subjects such as conflict management and teamwork, you may find yourself reminded of this video.

    • This video summarizes psychosocial therapist Pete Gerlach’s observations about effective, interpersonal communication, an important first step in becoming a responsible communicator. If you appreciate Gerlach’s approaches, you can find additional videos on the topic by accessing his YouTube channel. In addition, now that you have completed the first unit of this course, you should remind yourself of the thread that connected all of the resources and justifies the efforts you will make throughout this course: “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.”

  • Topic 8

  • Unit 2: Delivering Your Message

    In this unit, you will focus on the importance of delivering your message in words, including how the characteristics of language interact in ways that can improve and diminish effective business communication. Language plays a significant role in how you perceive and interact with the world as well as how culture, language, education, gender, race, and ethnicity all influence this dynamic process. Through this unit, you will discover ways to avoid miscommunication and also identify constructive ways to deliver an accurate message to a targeted audience.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

  • 2.1: What Is Language?

    • Please read the webpages for the introduction to "Chapter 2: Delivering Your Message” and "Section 1: What Is Language?” in their entirety. These readings discuss the importance of words in delivering your message in words and how language is a system of words: idea-conveying symbols ruled by syntax, semantics, and context - all of which require interpretation.  After reading Section 1, complete the exercises at the bottom of the webpage.

    • Watch this video, which will lay the foundation for your understanding of and appreciation for language. The lecturer, John Whorter, Ph.D. and Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, chooses an interesting technique to clarify what language is and what it isn’t: contrasting human language and animal “language.” Once you have finished listening to this lecture, see if you can summarize what makes our language distinct.

    • This video is included in this course because plain language is the most effective way to communicate, internally and externally, in business contexts. Note that this is also an interactive video. You will benefit from responding to the questions the speaker asks and comparing your responses to hers. Another feature in this video you will benefit from using are the verbal exercises which begin at the 9-minute mark. Some of the software referred to in this video may be alien to you, but that should not have an impact on your understanding and appreciation of the valuable guidelines in this video.

  • 2.2: Messages

    • Read this section, which discusses categorizing messages based on their importance. It also introduces the five common elements in any message, some of which you will recognize from the discussion in Chapter 1 about communication models and all of which you will encounter later when you examine how a speech is organized. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises.

    • Messages are at the heart of communication and knowing what your message is, refining it so it is clear, and tailoring it for specific audiences are all key skills in business communication. This video introduces an individual you will come to know well and appreciate greatly in this course, Dianna Booher, a business communication strategist and prolific author of books and instructional videos. You will find that Booher presents her advice the way she suggests most messages need to be presented: clearly and concisely. Most of her videos are less than 5 minutes in length, but they packed with useful information. This video focuses on reasoning, but you should recognize that it is directly connected to messages because your reasoning becomes the content of your messages. “Faulty reasoning,” as Booher puts it, results in weak or even erroneous messages.

    • This video introduces the latest popular technique for developing business messages: storytelling. After you watch this video, try the following exercise to reinforce your understanding of the important points in this video. Here’s the scenario: Your business sells recliners (do a search for that word if you are unfamiliar with this type of chair) that can be opened up to become a bed, comfortable for one person. Add details to this product if you need to, but focus on creating a story that would get people interested in trying or buying the chair. Refer to the storytelling examples in the video and try to follow their structure in your own story. This may be an opportunity for you to use the Saylor forums to interact with other students who are taking this course. See if your story is effective by trying it out on your colleagues.

    • This presentation by Kristina Halvorson, author of Content Strategy for the Web, discusses effective messages for strategic internet applications; however, regardless of the medium—the Internet, in this case—point Halvorson makes is that that medium doesn’t really matter. It’s the message that matters. So, as you watch this video, don’t let yourself get distracted by references to social media platforms or web strategies. Focus on what Halvorson says about the message. Also note that you will appreciate Halvorson’s advice more if you have watched the preceding video in this subunit, “What's New in Teaching Business Communication? A New Organizing Model for Business Messages.” That video describes and gives many examples of storytelling, which is the messaging strategy recommended in this video, too.

  • 2.3: Principles of Verbal Communication

    • Please read this section, which goes deeper into the rules that govern language and then introduces the concept of language paradigms (premises that are taken as fact). It also explains how language is arbitrary, symbolic, and abstract as well as how it serves imperfectly to organize and classify reality. At the end of this reading, try to complete the exercises.

    • Watch this video in which communication scholars discuss the nature of verbal communication. As this video points out, we often think of verbal and non-verbal communication together because most of our face-to-face communication naturally uses both. However, in a virtual environment (online), verbal communication is the dominant factor and as a result needs to be carefully crafted to take into account the nature of the virtual environment. Because of the scholars’ emphasis on this fact, this video introduces many important points about the nature of verbal communication when it is isolated from the nonverbal elements that usually accompany it in the “real” world. One thing you should keep in mind, however, is that some scholars would define the visual characteristics of messages, even when their content is presented solely with words, as nonverbal traits. So although the scholars in this video do not make this distinction, remember that the “look” of verbal message-- typefaces and size, use of color, length of paragraphs, graphics, etc.—must also be considered in virtual environments.

  • 2.4: Language Can Be an Obstacle to Communication

    • Read this section, which discusses why clichés, jargon, slang, sexism, racism, euphemisms, and doublespeak weaken the effectiveness of language by making it less efficient and/or less acceptable. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises.

    • This video discusses how imprecise or unclear language can lead to a communication gap and the effects such a gap may have on your work. Pay attention to how various examples of poor language habits - cliché, jargon, slang, racist or sexist language, euphemism, doublespeak, etc. - are defined and differentiated.

    • Pete Gerlach focuses in this video on skills that can improve the effectiveness of communication. He starts by emphasizing just being aware of how you communicate. You may recall the concept of “metatalk” that Gerlach discussed in a video in subunit 1.4. The term refers to talking about talking (communicating). In this video, Gerlach recommends that you talk to yourself about how you talk. He emphasizes how important it is to use specific and accurate references to avoid miscommunication that results from being vague. Pay particular attention to the examples Gerlach provides and then listen for similar examples the next time you have a conversation with someone who is trying to deliver an important message.

  • 2.5: Emphasis Strategies

    • Read this section, which describes communication tactics that can be used to emphasize a message or parts of a message: visuals, signposts, reviews, previews, and repetition. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises.

    • This Dianna Booher video and the one that follows focus on eliminating details that are unnecessary in delivering a message so that the key points in the message are not only clearer but also more emphatic. Watch this video and then cement Booher’s point in your mind by revising this paragraph so that unnecessary words are eliminated and as a result, its message has more impact. Work on this sequence first: “eliminating details that are unnecessary in delivering a message.” Hint: Using just three words would emphasize the point. Look for and improve similar “clutter” in the rest of the paragraph, too. This also may be a good opportunity for you to use the Saylor forums to interact with other students who are taking this course. See if your response is correct and effective by trying it out on your colleagues.

    • As the introduction of this video states, “Descriptive language adds atmosphere, intensity and drama to a situation.” Watch this video to learn more about how choosing words for their impact is a valuable way to improve your messages’ effectiveness. However, as you appreciate the contents of this video, don’t forget Dianna Booher’s advice. Descriptive language does not mean more words, which will clutter up your message. It means well-chosen words, which will add emphasis to your message. You should also connect the contents of this video to the videos in subunit 2.1 because descriptive language is an important characteristic of good storytelling.

    • A communicator’s choice of “voice” can shift what is emphasized in a statement. What does that mean? After watching this video, you should be able to answer that question. See if you can by writing a sentence that uses active voice and then shift its emphasis by revising it using passive voice. This may also be a good opportunity for you to use the Saylor forums to interact with other students who are taking this course. See if your response is correct and effective by comparing it to those of your colleagues.

  • 2.6: Improving Verbal Communication

    • Read this section, which describes how to improve communication by defining your terms, choosing precise words, considering your audience, controlling your tone, checking for understanding, and adopting results-oriented approaches. At the end of the reading, complete the exercises.

    • Watch this video, which focuses on word choice and vocabulary. It provides an in-depth look at not only the meaning of you word choices, but also the sounds of those words and how those sounds have an impact of the words’ effectiveness. You should recognize that this video continues the themes from the previous subunit, which also focused on word choice. However, be aware that the objective of this lecture is improving the clarity or your language, not necessarily adding emphasis.

    • This subunit concludes with a Dianna Booher video which ties together the concepts presented in other videos in this subunit and applies them to real-world messaging. You might absorb Booher’s advice in a more lasting way if you choose a realistic business message and try to apply her tips to how you would present it. For example, perhaps your business needs to communicate that it is opening a new store or perhaps you need to remind employees of certain safety measures they must to follow. If you try this exercise, post your thoughts in the Saylor forum to give your colleagues something to consider and compare with their own.

  • Topic 16

  • Unit 3: Understanding Your Audience

    In this unit, you will discover how your self-awareness and how others view you influence your effectiveness as a communicator. Moreover, because of how people select, organize, and interpret words and idea results in preconceived notions and individual differences, audience analysis is also a vital part of crafting messages. This is why, in this unit, you will learn how to analyze yourself and your audience to maximize how you develop and distribute information.

    Completing this unit should take approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes.

  • 3.1: Self-Understanding Is Fundamental to Communication

    • Please read the introduction to "Chapter 3: Understanding Your Audience” and "Section 1: Self-Understanding Is Fundamental to Communication.” These readings focus on how you can become a more effective communicator by understanding yourself and how others view you. They also discuss the centrality of attitudes, beliefs, and values with respect to an individual's self-concept and how self-fulfilling prophecies can influence decision making. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises.

    • Watch this video, which provides a thorough overview of self-concept, a term that is central to discussing “the self.” After you have watched the video, think about your own self-awareness and characteristics of your self-concept. Did anything about the video surprise or trouble you with respect to your own traits? Did the information help you understand yourself better?

    • This is the second of many videos you will watch in this course that have been produced by ClarkMorgan, an international company focused on training business professionals. In this video, Jamie Dixon, a corporate trainer for ClarkMorgan, introduces the concept of perceptual positioning, which he divides into three perceptual positions. After you watch this video, check your understanding of its major points by relating them to the previous video and your understanding of “the self.” You should be able to quickly pick which of Dixon’s three positions reflect “the self’s” perspective. This may be a good opportunity for you to use the Saylor forums to interact with other students who are taking this course. See if your response is correct by comparing your answer with those of your colleagues.

    • As this video explains, the Pygmalion effect is an example of self-fulfilling prophecy, an important term you need to understand to because of the severe impact it can have on the way you communicate and also on the way you present yourself to others. Make sure you are paying attention at 8:37 when the lecture discusses the impact of the Pygmalion effect in the workplace.

  • 3.2: Perception

    • Read this section, which explains in depth how we select, organize, and interpret words and ideas based on a perceptual framework shaped by our expectations and assumptions. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises.
    • This video how people process stimuli from the world around them, which is also known as the act of perception. Note that this is the first of five, consecutive videos which example the subject of perception. Each are similarly structured. For example, there is one key point in this video and it has important implications for business communication. Each video in this sequence presents a similar key point. After you watch each video, see if you can summarize that point in a single sentence and provide an example of how you might encounter it and cope with it in a business communication. This exercise may present a good opportunity for you to use the Saylor forums to interact with other students who are taking this course. See if your response is correct and effective by trying it out on your colleagues.

    • With the immediately preceding video, you were challenged to summarize its key point in a single sentence and describe a situation involving business communication which illustrates that point. This video is the next in the series that the preceding video is part of. A statement made early in this video is that “we process information subjectively.” Was Did the statement you produced for the preceding video as accurate as this statement? After watching this video, reverse the comprehension review technique used in with the previous video: Instead of summarizing it in a single sentence, see if you can explain it and its importance to someone else. This may be a good opportunity for you to use the Saylor forums to interact with other students who are taking this course. See if your response is correct and effective by trying it out on your colleagues.

  • 3.3: Differences in Perception

  • 3.4: Getting to Know Your Audience

  • 3.5: Listening and Reading for Understanding

    • Read this section, which explains active listening and active reading and why they are important behaviors associated with effective communication. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises. For the first exercise, instead of working with a classmate, try to find a friend or family member to be your partner.

    • This brief section explains the difference between listening and hearing and the benefits of listening in effective communication. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercise; in choosing a partner, you may want to work with a family member or friend.

    • This video is part of the Keele University Skills Portfolio. Most of the videos have been developed to assist traditional students in face-to-face classes; however, the information they contain is also relevant in the business world. You will encounter many videos from this source and can find additional ones in areas like leadership, networking and management by searching for the portfolio or “KeeleStudentLearning,” the username associated with the videos.

    • This second video from Keele University introduces the very important concept of active listening as a characteristic of concentration. After watching this video, you should understand the elements that comprise active listening and be able to contrast it with passive listening. You should also be able to explain why passive listening is not as effective as active listening and why people nevertheless tend to listen passively. It would also be a good idea for you to watch this video and then immediately watch the next video in this sequence since the topics are closely related.

    • This third video from Keele University continues the discussion of active listening introduced in the preceding video. You should watch it while thinking back to the previous video so that you connect concentration to the techniques for effective listening which this video presents. You should also be assessing your own listening habits and considering ways you can improve them based on the advice in this video. Consider summarizing what you think are some of the issues which prevent you from listening as effectively as you could and post your summary in the Saylor discussion forum and invite others to compare theirs with yours.

    • This video presents useful techniques for developing more efficient reading skills. This is a topic which few college students think much about because you do so much reading. However, doing a lot of reading doesn’t necessarily mean you are doing as efficiently as you could, so don’t pass up this video and the one that follows just because you think you already read well. In fact, if you encounter advice in these two videos which you think is good enough to use to improve your reading habits, consider posting that decision in the Saylor forum. By doing so, not only will you give your colleagues something to think about and compare with their own conclusions, you will also spend more time with this topic. That extra time will increase the likelihood that you will not only retain this information but also use it.

    • This lengthy video applies many of the techniques and observations you will have encountered in other videos in this subunit. As a result, you should find it easier to appreciate the advice it provides. The video’s focus is on the relationship between listening and effective sales techniques, some which every business person should want to understand. There is just one problem with this video, however: It is much longer than most in this course. What will you do to make sure you listen to it in such a way that you can learn from it—all of it? Here is a good opportunity for you to apply what you learned in the preceding videos to the challenges of listening to a lengthy one like this, especially since it is loaded with a lot of information and examples.

  • Topic 23

  • Looking Back on Segment One and Looking Forward to Segment Two: Units 4 and 5

    So, how did it go? This video shares some final words on the importance of the components and processes that underlie business communication, not least of which is to carefully consider your message and your audience.

    Units 4 and 5, the second broad segment of this course, is about written communication. Be sure to examine the slide that gives some examples of how the eight elements of communication are realized differently through oral and written communication. For one, good written communication follows the three C's: clear, concise, and compelling.

    This unit does not, however, cover the basics of composition, but you can brush up on that material in Saylor Academy's English Composition I course and English Composition II course.


  • Unit 4: Effective Business Writing

    In this unit, you will explore the written word in a business context, including the important but contrastingly asynchronous elements which that communication shares with oral communication. Successful writing develops from such good habits as reading, targeted writing practice, and critical thinking and is characterized by the use of rhetorical and cognitive strategies. Accordingly, you will learn to apply appropriate styles and ethical principles in various business writing contexts while recognizing the kinds of barriers that can challenge your communication objectives and outcomes.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes.

  • 4.1: Oral vs. Written Communication

    • Please read the webpages for the introduction to "Chapter 4" and "Section 1: Oral versus Written Communication." These readings start with a review of the elements discussed in the communication models introduced in subunit 1.2, defining and exemplifying each element again to illustrate how writing for the eye differs from writing for the ear. The key concept here is that the biggest difference between those writing styles is that writing for the eye is usually asynchronous. At the end of Section 1, try to complete the exercises.

    • By the end of this video, you will be able to explain the eight essential elements of communication and explain how oral and written communication differ.

  • 4.2: How Is Writing Learned?

    • Read this section, which demonstrates that the more you read and write, the better you read and write. The section adds to the discussion of the benefits of constructive criticism, critical thinking, and targeted practice as good habits most excellent writers possess. At the end of this reading, attempt the exercises.

    • In this video, two professionals discuss how good writing develops. Their examination covers writing for the media as well as writing both media writing and business writing skills. After you listen to these videos, assess your own writing. Do you think you have sufficient business writing skills? What are your business writing strengths and weaknesses? Responding to these questions can help you absorb and retain this information. Also consider posting your answers in the Saylor discussion forum and discussing the responses of other classmates there.

  • 4.3: Good Writing

    • Read this section, which gives you an overview of the characteristics of good writing, including an important discussion of why and how the traits of good writing promote understanding as well as a table that provides examples of how rhetorical elements and cognate strategies relate to business communication practices. Attempt the exercises at the end of the reading; instead of sharing your responses with your classmates, try to share your work with a family member or friend.

    • Subunits 4.3 through 4.5 are all supplemented by writing tutorial videos from ProsWrite.com, a blogging website which has produced many resources to improve your business writing, including videos, articles, sample documents and even writing assignments. If you feel you need more help to improve your business writing, you may find it at ProsWrite.com. As for the videos used in this course, be aware that they are relatively independent of each other, so you can watch them in any order. However, the order in which they appear in this subunit follows the order of content in the textbook. Most of the videos also include an “Apply Your Knowledge” exercise which you should try to complete. Doing so will reinforce what the videos have shown you. In addition, if you would like to connect the topics of this series to real-world materials, there are additional sample documents on the ProsWrite.com website.

    • This video connects the situation or context of the writing situation to the purpose or reason why it is necessary to write. What are some common contexts for business writing? After you have listened to this video, you should be able to answer that question. Also, be aware that the lecturer in this video often asks questions that you can use to work through the information and as a result absorb it better. You might want to pause the video when a question is asked to give yourself time to try to answer it before continuing.

    • The preceding video in this series presented four contexts for writing in the workplace: valuing, consulting, informing and directing. Watch this video to find out which of those contexts require informative writing and the audience-determined options you have for presenting information. Pay particular attention to the list of rhetorical strategies the video covers and consider doing the “Apply Your Knowledge” exercise that begins at 9:37. To benefit the most from the exercise, make sure you pause the video when requested and then try to complete the exercise before restarting the video.

    • Persuasive writing is often more challenging than informative writing because persuading an audience is often more difficult that informing them. This video explains why and covers the elements and processes of persuasion that a good writer uses. Again, consider doing the “Apply Your Knowledge” exercise that begins at 8:44. To benefit the most from the exercise, make sure you pause the video when requested and then try to complete the exercise before restarting the video.

    • “Your writing reflects the essence of your personal presence,” Dianna Booher states in this video. What does she mean and why is it important if you are not present when someone reads what you have written? Booher provides the answer to this question, briefly, in this video, and you will also learn more about that her reasoning in future videos.

  • 4.4: Principles of Written Communication

  • 4.5: Style in Written Communication

    • Read this section, which categorizes writing styles as colloquial, casual, informal, or formal and indicates when and where each style is appropriate.  At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises. For any exercises that require the involvement of classmates, instead try to partner with a friend or family member.

    • By now, you should be familiar with the format and style of the ProsWrite videos. In this subunit, follow the same process that you used in the previous subunit when watching these videos. Look for the “Apply Your Knowledge” exercises near the end of the videos and remember to pause them to give yourself time to think through what you have heard and apply it to the exercise. Remember that following that process will be an effective way to not only learn the material, but also retain what you have learned.

    • Look for the “Apply Your Knowledge” exercises near the end of the videos and remember to pause them to give yourself time to think through what you have heard and apply it to the exercise. Remember that following that process will be an effective way to not only learn the material, but also retain what you have learned.

  • 4.6: Organization in Written Communication

    • Look for the “Apply Your Knowledge” exercises near the end of the videos and remember to pause them to give yourself time to think through what you have heard and apply it to the exercise. Remember that following that process will be an effective way to not only learn the material, but also retain what you have learned.

    • In this subunit, follow the same process that you used in the previous subunit when watching these videos. Look for the “Apply Your Knowledge” exercises near the end of the videos and remember to pause them to give yourself time to think through what you have heard and apply it to the exercise. Remember that following that process will be an effective way to not only learn the material, but also retain what you have learned.

    • Look for the “Apply Your Knowledge” exercises near the end of the videos and remember to pause them to give yourself time to think through what you have heard and apply it to the exercise. Remember that following that process will be an effective way to not only learn the material, but also retain what you have learned.

  • 4.7: Overcoming Barriers to Effective Written Communication

    • Pease read "Overcoming Barriers to Effective Written Communication.” This section argues that to overcome barriers to communication, good writers pay attention to details, strive to understand the target meaning, consider nonverbal expressions, and make it a habit to review, reflect, and revise. At the end of the reading, attempt the exercises.

    • Watch this video, but be aware that it refers to situations that are unique to Dr. Ward's specific business course and textbook. That information will not confuse you, however, nor will it prevent you from recognizing the most common barriers to communication. After you have watched this brief video, ask yourself how the barriers described in the video relate to written communication. For example, what forms of “noise” exist in written communication? Here’s a hint: the Dianna Booher videos in subunit 4.3 discussed several examples.

    • This video is another from the same course as the preceding video, and its purpose is to answer another student question. It is included here, however, because even though it is phrased in a way that students in that particular class could understand easily, it will challenge you to identify just who are some of the “gatekeepers” the video focuses on and how can they become barriers to communication. As you listen to this brief video, think about the business world and ask yourself how messages are disseminated in that world. For example, if a business wanted to inform the public of the grand opening of a new store, how would it do so? Advertising is one possibly, but the business would have to pay for that. What writing tool can a business use that can get a message distributed for free? The press release. If you don’t know what a press release is, find out through a search and then ask yourself who are the gatekeepers a press release may encounter? How do those individuals act as barriers to what the store opening message in the press release? What are other contexts in which a business message may encounter a barrier? Consider emails, memos, proposals, reports and other business writing formats. Can you identify potential gatekeepers that may intervene during the distribution or reception of those messages? Also consider posting your answers to these questions in the Saylor discussion forum and comparing your answers to what others have posted.

    • Each of the following videos points out a specific mistake made by salespeople—mistakes which can be relevant in other business contexts, too. The videos are very short but each makes an important point, so you might want to write those points down and think of them as a group of potential barriers. You should also think about why the mistakes are barriers to effective communication and how they can be applied to written contexts as well as spoken ones.

  • Topic 33

  • Unit 5: Business Writing in Action

    In this unit, you will survey the most common written communication formats that represent you and your business, focusing on the content, design, utilization, and social customs associated with each format. You will become more familiar with the different elements included in each format and the functions they perform with respect to crafting messages that have specific goals and are thus tailored to influence specific audiences.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours and 30 minutes.

  • 5.1: Text, E-mail, and Netiquette

    • Please read the Chapter 9 introduction and "Section 1: Text, E-mail, and Netiquette." These readings emphasize how your written business communication represents you and your company and thus should be clear, concise, and professional. They also discuss the etiquette and context of text messaging and e-mail, emphasizing the social customs and netiquette rules that have been established with those forms of communication, even though they are relatively new in the workplace. At the end of the reading, complete the exercises. For any exercises that involve work with classmates, instead try to share your responses with friends or family members.

    • Pay close attention to this video, as learning proper netiquette is an essential skill in today's workplace. Understanding the role of text messaging in business and writing effective internal and external emails are salient points of netiquette for professionals in business.
    • The videos in this subunit have been placed in a special order so that information flows logically from one video to the next. You will find that this course does not spend a lot of time on business communication on the Internet, which is why this subunit starts with an introduction to business websites. Realize that for most businesses, websites are the central hub of their digital existence. All other digital tools and platforms are either housed within or refer back to the website just as the website provides links to them. This video includes some information about creating a website that is not strictly relevant to this course; however, the video is brief and even the irrelevant points will help you put in context the web-related videos that follow.

    • This webinar discusses writing emails to solicit donations. Although donations are associated with non-profit organizations, the techniques this video covers, which are based on applied research, are useful whether the audience is supporting a non-profit or a for-profit enterprise. Because this video is lengthy, you may want to take notes. 

    • Because writing an email is something people do every day—and often many times each day—people have a tendency to be very casual about the process. Watch this video to receive important reminders of why business emails need to be carefully considered so that the create the right impression and communicate clearly and effectively. This video starts by noting the impression a sender’s actual email address can make on the receiver and proceeds to discuss the subject line, greeting, content, word choices, writing style, close and references to attachments. The context of this video is student writing, but each of these areas must be considered in business, too. Once you have finished watching this video, try this exercise: Examine your “sent” email folder and find emails you’ve sent to individuals who were not friends or family. Critique your email etiquette and identify how you could improve your technique.

    • This is another video produced by one of the corporate trainers at ClarkMorgan. It focuses on projecting a professional image in the contents, style and presentation of emails. There is a term discussed in the beginning of this video which may confuse you: an “SMS,” which refers to short message service, otherwise known as text messaging. Early in this video, the speaker emphasizes the difference between text messaging and emails, which he argues is a matter of professionalism. The point you want to take away from this video is that an email is a letter and should be composed with the same care as you would compose a letter. The only major difference is how it gets distributed. Consistency, tone, sensitivity to audience needs and expectations—the same traits that were covered in Units 3 and 4 should be part of writing effective emails. To reinforce this point in your mind, perform the same exercise as you did with the previous video. Go to your “sent” mail folder and critique some of your own emails for the qualities this video emphasizes.

  • 5.2: Memorandums and Letters

    • Please read "Section 2: Memorandums and Letters." This section covers the content, format, and standard elements of letters and memos, providing a concise guide to producing professionalism in the design of each format. Try to attempt the exercises at the end of the reading. For any exercises that involve work with classmates, try to share your work with friends or family members instead.

    • This video explains the purpose and format of business letters and memos, as well as strategies for writing both.

    • “Quick communication that gets to the point” is how the speaker in this video describes memos. That description points out something that each of the business writing formats this unit covers have in common: efficiency. Plain language, professionalism, creating the right impression—these are all traits previous videos encourage so that most important part of the communication, the point, is clear. In this video, the process of developing a memo is divided into three part: preparation, organization and presentation. If you are familiar with outlining, consider outlining the contents of this video so that you have a framework for recalling the details of each section. In addition, pay particular attention to the sample memo that illustrates the speakers points. Make sure you are connecting what the sample shows with the reasons why those elements are effective. Outlining what you hear will help you keep track of these important details, too. The sample memo is presented just past the two-minute mark.

    • Watch this video, which refers to the plain language writing you encountered in unit 2.1. Recall that plain language focuses on the reader’s needs, not the writer’s. This video will take you through the process of writing an effective business letter that makes it easy for the reader to get the message. Please note that although the video was developed for employees in a government agency, its customer service orientation and the way it analyzes how readers process information is valuable in the business world as well. In fact, think about some of the correspondence you have received from agencies or businesses. Have you ever simply stopped reading because the language was too difficult or convoluted to follow? If you were highly motivated to get the information, you probably continued reading, but as this video points out, reading isn’t the equivalent of understanding. Your goal in writing is to communicate effectively, which means you must present information in ways that don’t make understanding or responding difficult.

  • 5.3: Business Proposals

    • Please read this section, which provides instructions on how to produce a business proposal. Attempt the exercises at the end of the reading.

    • Business proposals must contain certain essential elements in order to be effective. This video will introduce you to the process of writing winning business proposals. If you are interested in entrepreneurship, consider checking out Saylor Academy's BUS305: Small Business Management, which devotes an entire unit to crafting business plans.
    • Watch this video in which Dianna Booher discusses how to write an effective sales proposal. Booher is very frank about the way most people approach a proposal, which is by finding someone else’s proposal and using  it as a template that enables them to just “fill in the blanks” to produce a new proposal. By now, you should be aware of the need to tailor your messages so that they suit the specific audience they are created to reach. Given how important the purpose of any kind of proposal is, which is to persuade an audience to accept and adopt your recommendations, cutting corners by copying someone else’s presentation is not a good plan. Please note that this video uses a term very familiar to people who work in marketing, but possibly unfamiliar to you: “unique value proposition.” This is actually the key message in a sales proposal. It indicates how the product benefits the consumer, meets his or her needs, and is better than its competition. As the term implies and Booher emphasizes, the unique value proposition is unique, which is yet another reason why copying others’ proposals to produce your own is not a good idea.

    • Watch this video, which is a brief slideshow  that succinctly summarizes the Dianna Booher’s video that preceded it. All of the slides present important points, but slide 3 may be the most important. It states, “When you’re the buyer, you can spot a generic proposal from a mile away. So can your customer. Talk to his concerns.” Sound familiar? After watching this and Booher’s videos, take a moment to apply what they emphasize by completing the following exercise, which you should consider posting in the Saylor forum to receive feedback. Walk into your kitchen or bathroom and pick up the first object you see. Whatever it is, it will be or will represent a product sold by a business. Think about how you would propose to sell that product to yourself. What is its unique value proposition and how would you describe that in a sales proposal? Perhaps at this point you need a little “plain language” to get you started. Remember how the textbook phrased this challenge and apply the idea to your plans: “A business proposal makes the case for your product or service.” Now make your case.

  • 5.4: Reports

    • Please read this section, which describes different types of reports and the writing elements they share and demonstrates how to develop your own report.  Attempt the exercises at the end of this reading. For exercises that ask you to share your work with classmates, instead try to share your responses with friends or family members.

    • Writing business reports is a common task in all manner of industries. You will need to know what a report is, what are its main parts, how different kinds of reports vary, and of course, you will need to know how to write a report.

    • The three videos in this subunit are a series that describes the basic structure and contents of typical business reports. These videos present a much simpler view of business reports than your textbook does, but by doing so they may help you remember the most essential elements better. However, since there are many kinds of business reports, and since neither this resource nor the textbook provides you with an example of what one actually looks like, consider performing a Google image search for “example of a business report.” Choose a few of the examples your search will discover and see if you can identify the basic parts the videos in this series describe.

    • This is the second of three videos in this subunit which comprise a series that describes the basic structure and contents of typical business reports. The instructions for the first of these videos recommended that you perform a Google image search to find real-world examples of a business reports. After you learn about the specific section of the report discussed in this video, take a moment to locate that section in at least three of the examples you found and compare the language, format and contents of each. What are the differences? The similarities? Can you explain why they differ in some ways? Consider writing out your answers to these questions and posting them in the Saylor forum so that you can discuss your “findings” with your colleagues. Also consider saving the examples you find in your search so that you can upload them into the forum, too. Seeing what you are describing will help your colleagues follow your analysis.

    • This is the third of three videos in this subunit which comprise a series that describes the basic structure and contents of typical business reports. The instructions for the first of these videos recommended that you perform a Google image search to find real-world examples of a business reports. After you learn about the specific section of the report discussed in this video, take a moment to analyze it the same way you analyzed the second video: Locate the section in at least three of the examples you found and compare the language, format and contents of each. What are the differences? The similarities? Can you explain why they differ in some  ways? Consider writing out your answers to these questions and posting them in the Saylor forum so that you can discuss your “findings” with your colleagues. Also consider saving the examples you find in your search so that you can upload them into the forum, too. Seeing what you are describing will help your colleagues follow your analysis.

  • 5.5: Résumés

    • Please read this section, which provides the reasoning, guidance, and examples for how to create an acceptable résumé. Attempt the exercises at the end of the reading. For any exercise that requires involvement from classmates, instead try to work with friends or family members.

    • This video discusses the purpose of five different types of résumés: functional, reverse chronological, combination, targeted, and scannable. By the end of this video, you will be able to explain when each type of résumé is appropriate to use.

    • Watch this series of nine videos that provide a thorough examination of what makes a résumé effective. By this point in the course, you should be able to anticipate how you are able to be asked to consider the information in this series: by finding and critiquing an example after you watch each video. This time, however, it would be more helpful if you critiqued  your own résumé. If you do not have one yet, consider developing one before you watch this series. (Note: Saylor Academy has an entire course on Résumé Writing available here.) One of the most effective learning techniques is revision. When you create a new writing format or style, you are applying knowledge, not learning it. The first draft you produce is more like a test of how well you absorbed the information the first time you encountered it. Revision, however, presents another learning experienced, especially if you are receiving additional guidance in the form of a fresh perspective, as you develop it. This series will give you that experience. Keep in mind, too, that you can also get fresh perspectives from your colleagues if you post your resume in the Saylor discussion forum.

    • Review Section 5 in Chapter 9 of Business Communication for Success, and then produce a résumé based on information about a hypothetical the job seeker.  Open the link above for detailed instructions and content.  When you have completed your version of the job seeker's résumé, compare your work to the answer key

      Realize, however, that there can be many options for selecting and presenting information in a résumé, so the résumé you produce will not be the same as the example.  If you discover significant differences between the example and your work, use the following set of evaluation questions to critique your version:

      • Did you break the content into blocks and lists preceded by easy-to-understand, hierarchical headings with similar grammatical structures for each heading level?
      • Did your résumé include consistent content and formatting across all heading levels?
      • Are the details you included prioritized such that the most impressive are presented first and the least impressive last (or were omitted)?
      • Did you use bulleted lists, white space, and text treatments like boldface and italics to highlight information and ensure that the résumé can be reviewed and understood easily?

  • 5.6: Sales Messages

    • Please read this section, which discusses how a sales message combines emotion and reason and reinforces credibility to create interest in a product or service that leads to a sale. Attempt the exercises at the end of the reading; for any exercise that requires classmate involvement, try to work with a friend or family member instead.

    • A sales letter is based on a writing style called copywriting. To call copywriting a “style,” however, is a bit of a misnomer. Copywriting is, in the words of the web blog Copywrite 101, “strategically delivering words (whether written or spoken) that get people to take some form of action.” Does that definition sound familiar to you? Does it contain elements that you’ve encountered before in this class? The answer is yes to both questions. Copywriting is simply a highly refined form of persuasive writing. Even the “strategically” part of the definition is misleading because if you are tailoring your message to your audience; using persuasive message and presenting a clear; simple message, you are applying strategies to your writing. So a sales letter nothing more or less than persuasive writing. This video is still helpful because it phrases the persuasive techniques in the language of business. As you watch this video, be aware that the “USP” the speaker emphasized is the product’s or service’s “unique selling proposition.” Sound familiar? It is the same concept as the “unique value proposition” you encountered in subunit 5.3 with business proposals. 

    • Watch this video, which also focuses on copywriting. Instructions: In this video, marketing speaker Jim Ackerman introduces a writing structure known as the inverted pyramid, which focuses on addressing the “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “why”, and “how” elements in  your message. To become more familiar with this structure, read the first two paragraphs of news stories on the first or second page of a newspaper. You will discover that by the second paragraph of most stories, the reporter will have identified most of the “5Ws” and maybe the “H”. However, don’t lose track of this speaker’s point: The inverted pyramid is an effective way to write sales  messages, too, especially if you can’t come up with a more creative way. Once you’ve examined some examples of news stories that use the inverted pyramid, return to the exercise you did in subunit 5.3. In that exercise, you randomly chose an object in your kitchen or bathroom and tried to describe its unique value proposition. As an exercise to absorb the points in this video, describe the “5Ws” and “H” that would frame a sales letter about that product. Consider posting your solution the Saylor forum to get feedback from your colleagues.

    • To appreciate this video, you need to understand the difference between public relations (PR) and marketing, two functions which every business needs to apply to its operations. A simple way to make the distinction is to recognize that the audience of PR is the public, while the audience of marketing is the consumer. Recognize that because you should tailor messages to suit specific audiences, this distinction means that PR cannot use the same techniques to communicate with the public as marketing uses with the consumer. Watch this video to understand more about that distinction. You will also discover that public relations writing also can use the inverted pyramid you encountered in the preceding video and if you listen carefully, you will hear discussion the refer to the same good writing elements that you learned about in the Dianna Booher and plain language videos.

    • Review Section 6 in Chapter 9 of Business Communication for Success, paying particular attention to Table 9.6: The Five Main Parts of a Persuasive Message. This assessment involves inserting words, phrases and statements into a sales letter to enhance the impact of each part of the pitch. Realize, however, that there can be many options for selecting and presenting information in a sales letter, so the letter you produce will not be the same as the example. However, if upon comparing your work with the example, you are not satisfied with what you produced, consider replacing the content in the example with alternatives that are equally effective. This additional exercise may help you recognize better the range of language that can be used.

      When you have finished, check your work against the answer key.

  • Topic 41

  • Looking Back on Segment Two and Looking Forward to Segment Three: Units 6 through 11

    Watch this video to briefly recap Units 4 and 5 and gear up for Units 6 through 11. In the second segment of this course, you learned that business communication comes in a variety of formats and styles, and that choosing properly for a given context will make you appear professional to your audience. As you continue to write more for this course and for your career, keep trying to apply the three C's to everything you write: clear, concise, and compelling.

    The main theme of the third segment of this course in Units 6 through 11 is public speaking and presentations. The importance of considering your audiences' needs and traits is doubly important when you are giving a presentation, often because the audience is in the same room as you! Pay close attention because you could be called upon to give your first professional presentation sooner than you think!

    Good luck! You'll hear from us again after Unit 11!


  • Unit 6: Developing Business Presentations

    In this unit, you will become more knowledgeable about the process of creating a speech and gain confidence in your organizational abilities. Preparation and organization are two main areas that, when well-developed prior to a presentation, significantly contribute to reducing your level of speech anxiety. From choosing a topic to finding and evaluating resources as well as avoiding such communication obstacles as cultural perceptions and ethnocentrism, you will become more secure in the decision-making processes that lead to effective oral presentations for a variety of audience types.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

  • 6.1: Before You Choose a Topic

    • Please read the webpages for the Chapter 10 introduction and "Section 1: Before You Choose a Topic." The key concept from these readings is that speech planning begins with knowing your general and specific purpose, your time allotment, your audience, and the amount of information you have available. Attempt the exercises at the end of Section 1. For questions like number 2 that ask you to share with a classmate, try to share with a friend or family member instead.

    • Don’t just watch this video, plan to “participate” in it. This video is a workshop in which groups of participants work together to develop presentations. When the workshop leader gives the groups a task to complete, you should do it, too. Ideally, you should find two or three people to work with, but if you are alone, identify two or three people you know and respond to the tasks as thought they were present. For example, at around 4:10, the workshop leader asks the groups to make a list of all of the things the members of their group have in common. You should think about the two other people in your imaginary (or real) group and write list all of the things you can think of that you have in common with them. After you have finished watching this video, you should have a firm understanding of how to develop presentations that are effective in the business world.

    • This video will reinforce your understanding of how a speaker’s plans for speaking progress from choosing a topic to identify the general purpose and then deciding on a specific purpose. You might want to choose a business-related topic you want to speak about and use that topic in this and all of the exercises in this subunit. Doing so will help you absorb the material more readily. For example, perhaps you are offering a new service in town, something like house painting, hair weaving, pet sitting or landscape design. If you were invited to speak to members of the town’s Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce, use this and the following videos to work out how you would prepare for that presentation. So as this video recommends, at this point you need to choose and narrow down a topic involving your new service, then decide on the general purpose your speech will have and finally pin point the specific purpose that will determine how you develop the presentation.

  • 6.2: Choosing a Topic

    • Read this section, which describes how choosing a speech topic involves knowing yourself and your audience; using efficient strategies; and understanding appeal, appropriateness, and ability. These are also steps that will lead to the development of an effective thesis statement. Attempt the exercises at the end of the reading; for any exercise that requires classmate involvement, try to work with a family member or friend instead.

    • Garr Reynolds, professor of management at Kansai Gaidai University, presents an information-filled but very entertaining speech about choosing the approach your presentation can use. You should recognize the approach Reynolds recommend, storytelling, which you have encountered many times already in this course, starting with subunit 2.2. Don’t miss the fact that Gadai himself uses storytelling in his presentation. Also, consider taking the topic and specific purpose you chose in the previous subunit and think about stories you could tell that would interest members of the Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce of your town while and also have some relevant to your business or the new services it is offering.

  • 6.3: Finding Resources

    • Read this section, which provides guidance on identifying the key points of a speech, which require supporting details from good sources. It also emphasizes the ethical way to find and use sources for a presentation, including how to avoiding plagiarism and how to evaluate sources for reliability and credibility. Attempt the exercises at the end of the reading; for any exercise that requires classmate involvement, try to work with a family member or friend instead.

    • Although this video is targeted toward students rather than businesses, the issues it covers is still relevant in the business world because it is always necessary to find and present material that is “credible, unbiased, timely and correct,” the speaker in this video puts it. Pay particular attention to the information the speaker provides on using the four criteria, which begins at the 4:58 point. After the speaker summarizes each criteria, stop the video and perform an online search to find an expert whose advice or observations related to your business or new service you would use in your speech to the Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce. Once you find the person, start the video again, pay attention to series of questions the speaker asks about the sources, and try to answer them with respect to the expert you’ve chosen as a source. 

    • An effective speech uses information from or refers to sources of information that audiences recognize as, among other things, credible and trustworthy. Sometimes, however, speakers will use their sources’ information and also borrow their source’ credibility by letting the audience think they themselves developed the material. You can probably recall news stories about well-known figures--politicians, celebrities, academics—who were caught plagiarizing in this way. Some do it intentionally, but others don’t realize what they are doing is wrong. Watch this video to gain a better understanding of how plagiarism can occur and how to avoid it.

  • 6.4: Myths and Realities of Public Speaking

    • Please read this section. The key concept in this section is that public speaking can be as easy as holding half of a friendly conversation if you prepare for it thoroughly and produce an organized presentation sufficiently ahead of time that you can practice enough to feel comfortable and confident with the material. Attempt the exercises at the end of the reading; for any exercise that requires classmate involvement, try to work with a family member or friend instead.

    • Watch this video to help you separate fact from fiction regarding public speaking. You will learn some techniques to avoid public speaking pitfalls.

    • Watch this video to get practical information on what is true about what people say about the challenges of public speaking and also what isn’t true. In particular, you may appreciate the useful tips about planning, practicing and presenting your speech using tactics that make your job easier and your speech more successful.

  • 6.5: Overcoming Obstacles in Your Presentation

    Highlighted
    • Please read this section, which illustrates why it is necessary to avoid obstacles to understanding, such as language expressions (i.e., unknown to other listeners), cultural perceptions, and ethnocentrism. Attempt the exercises at the end of the reading; for any exercise that requires classmate involvement, try to work with a family member or friend instead.

    • After you have watched these videos, respond to Booher’s advice with respect to the Club or Chamber of Commerce speech you are preparing: “What do you want the audience to do, think, know, buy, approve, or consider when you finish your talk? Write that action in a sentence.” Do that now so that you are prepared to continue with the exercises in this subunit.

    • Sometimes, they way you receive advice from someone doesn’t have an impact on you because that person’s techniques or wording or emphasis doesn’t match your perceptions or preferences. At times like those, getting a second opinion can be helpful. Watch this video to receive that second opinion on how to overcome any fear you have of public speaking. Perhaps Dianna Booher’s presentation did not convince you that her advice would work. In this video, life coach Benjamin Loh discusses the fear of public speaking and also provides advice on how to control it. Loh’s speech itself contains elements that you should also pay attention to. For example, he uses many stories to illustrate hjis points. He also uses humor, audience interaction and comments about himself as a speaker instead of about speakers in general. In other words, his style is markedly different from Booher’s. Meanwhile, to become more familiar with how storytelling can be woven into the structure of a speech, see if you can identify ALL of the stories Loh uses. Hint: There were four, although one long story was actually comprised of a number of shorter ones.

  • 6.6: Cultural Differences and How They Impede Cross Cultural Communication

    • Watch this video, which defines cross cultural communication, breaks it down into different types and gives some examples of communication challenges that can occur in cross cultural communication. After watching this video, imagine that you are aware that the audience of your Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce presentation will include the Japanese family who owns a shop next to the building where your new office is located. There will also be a number of women, members of the local women’s entrepreneurial club, who were also invited to your watch your presentation. Will this knowledge require you to change the story/stories you planned in subunit 6.4 to incorporate into your speech? Why or why not?

    • This video addresses the challenges and misunderstandings that cultural differences can create between people. It explicitly describes the kind of problems that can occur and identifies appropriate ways to respond. Throughout this video, the speaker asks her audience to respond to the slides she presents. Take a moment to respond, too. It may be best to pause the video while you think about your response so that you don’t miss what the speaker says next.

    • This video presents an interesting, although somewhat subjective view of two broad categories of culture as defined by the speaker. While you may take issue with some of the generalizations made in this presentation, its contents provide thought-provoking observations that will further sensitize you to differences in cultures around the world. One activity you can do while listening is to divide a sheet of paper into two columns and list the traits the speaker describes as associated with one culture category or the other. When you have finished watching the video, review your lists and ask yourself if you are comfortable with the speaker’s perspectives. Do not assume, however, that because these instructions have implied that some people may have issues with the speaker’s opinions about certain cultures that you will, too—or even that most people would. Consider, for example, whether the Japanese family or the group of women entrepreneurs would have objections. Also use the ideas in this video to examine your own knowledge, assumptions about cultural generalization. Finally, before you move on to other topics in this course, take a moment to put this subunit in perspective by recalling the advice of Robert Chandler that began this course: “Seek first to understand, then seek to be understood.”

  • Topic 50

  • Unit 7: Organization and Outlines

    In this unit, you will return to the rhetorical situations and cognate strategies that control the development of an oral presentation. In addition, you will encounter sample speeches illustrating how content is built around a set of organizational principles and structural elements that are placed into the planning framework known as an outline. This unit also covers transitions that help the audience understand how a speaker's main ideas are connected.

    Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.