Publisher Information x

Chapter 1: Effective Business Communication

1.1 Why Is It Important to Communicate Well? 3 1.2 What Is Communication? 8 1.3 Communication in Context 16 1.4 Your Responsibilities as a Communicator 20 1.5 Additional Resources 25

Chapter 2: Delivering Your Message

2.1 What Is Language? 28 2.2 Messages 32 2.3 Principles of Verbal Communication 36 2.4 Language Can be an Obstacle to Communication 43 2.5 Emphasis Strategies 49 2.6 Improving Verbal Communication 57 2.7 Additional Resources 61

Chapter 3: Understanding Your Audience

3.1 Self-Understanding Is Fundamental to Communication 67 3.2 Perception 74 3.3 Differences in Perception 84 3.4 Getting to Know Your Audience 87 3.5 Listening and Reading for Understanding 93 3.6 Additional Resources 96

Chapter 4: Effective Business Writing

4.1 Oral versus Written Communication 99

4.2 How Is Writing Learned? 102 4.3 Good Writing 108 4.4 Style in Written Communication 113 4.5 Principles of Written Communication 117 4.6 Overcoming Barriers to Effective Written Communication 122 4.7 Additional Resources 126

Chapter 5: Writing Preparation

5.1 Think, Then Write: Writing Preparation 129 5.2 A Planning Checklist for Business Messages 134 5.3 Research and Investigation: Getting Started 144 5.4 Ethics, Plagiarism, and Reliable Sources 149 5.5 Completing Your Research and Investigation 156 5.6 Reading and Analyzing 160 5.7 Additional Resources 163

Chapter 6: Writing

6.1 Organization 169 6.2 Writing Style 183 6.3 Making an Argument 193 6.4 Paraphrase and Summary versus Plagiarism 200 6.5 Additional Resources 203

Chapter 7: Revising and Presenting Your Writing

7.1 General Revision Points to Consider 206 7.2 Specific Revision Points to Consider 209 7.3 Style Revisions 218 7.4 Evaluating the Work of Others 224 7.5 Proofreading and Design Evaluation 228 7.6 Additional Resources 232

Chapter 8: Feedback in the Writing Process

8.1 Diverse Forms of Feedback 235 8.2 Qualitative and Quantitative Research 247 8.3 Feedback as an Opportunity 253 8.4 Additional Resources 257

Chapter 9: Business Writing in Action

9.1 Text, E-mail, and Netiquette 259 9.2 Memorandums and Letters 265 9.3 Business Proposal 273 9.4 Report 278 9.5 Résumé 285 9.6 Sales Message 294 9.7 Additional Resources 298

Chapter 10: Developing Business Presentations

10.1 Before You Choose a Topic 303 10.2 Choosing a Topic 308 10.3 Finding Resources 315 10.4 Myths and Realities of Public Speaking 324 10.5 Overcoming Obstacles in Your Presentation 327 10.6 Additional Resources 333

Chapter 11: Nonverbal Delivery

11.1 Principles of Nonverbal Communication 336 11.2 Types of Nonverbal Communication 344 11.3 Movement in Your Speech 353 11.4 Visual Aids 357 11.5 Nonverbal Strategies for Success with Your Audience 369 11.6 Additional Resources 371

Chapter 12: Organization and Outlines

12.1 Rhetorical Situation 375 12.2 Strategies for Success 379 12.3 Building a Sample Speech 386 12.4 Sample Speech Outlines 389 12.5 Organizing Principles for Your Speech 392 12.6 Transitions 397 12.7 Additional Resources 400

Chapter 13: Presentations to Inform

13.1 Functions of the Presentation to Inform 403 13.2 Types of Presentations to Inform 408 13.3 Adapting Your Presentation to Teach 412

13.4 Diverse Types of Intelligence and Learning Styles 422 13.5 Preparing Your Speech to Inform 425 13.6 Creating an Informative Presentation 431 13.7 Additional Resources 435

Chapter 14: Presentations to Persuade

14.1 What Is Persuasion? 439 14.2 Principles of Persuasion 442 14.3 Functions of the Presentation to Persuade 445 14.4 Meeting the Listener’s Basic Needs 450 14.5 Making an Argument 457 14.6 Speaking Ethically and Avoiding Fallacies 465 14.7 Sample Persuasive Speech 469 14.8 Elevator Speech 472 14.9 Additional Resources 475

Chapter 15: Business Presentations in Action

15.1 Sound Bites and Quotables 478 15.2 Telephone/VoIP Communication 480 15.3 Meetings 484 15.4 Celebrations: Toasts and Roasts 488 15.5 Media Interviews 492 15.6 Introducing a Speaker 496 15.7 Presenting or Accepting an Award 498 15.8 Serving as Master of Ceremonies 501 15.9 Viral Messages 503 15.10 Additional Resources 506

Chapter 16: Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Business Communication

16.1 Intrapersonal Communication 510 16.2 Self-Concept and Dimensions of Self 512 16.3 Interpersonal Needs 516 16.4 Social Penetration Theory 521 16.5 Rituals of Conversation and Interviews 528 16.6 Conflict in the Work Environment 536 16.7 Additional Resources 543

Chapter 17: Negative News and Crisis Communication

17.1 Delivering a Negative News Message 546 17.2 Eliciting Negative News 557 17.3 Crisis Communication Plan 563 17.4 Press Conferences 567 17.5 Additional Resources 573

Chapter 18: Intercultural and International Business Communication

18.1 Intercultural Communication 577 18.2 How to Understand Intercultural Communication 581 18.3 Common Cultural Characteristics 585 18.4 Divergent Cultural Characteristics 590 18.5 International Communication and the Global Marketplace 596 18.6 Styles of Management 602 18.7 The International Assignment 605 18.8 Additional Resources 611

Chapter 19: Group Communication, Teamwork, and Leadership

19.1 What Is a Group? 614 19.2 Group Life Cycles and Member Roles 620 19.3 Group Problem Solving 629 19.4 Business and Professional Meetings 636 19.5 Teamwork and Leadership 644 19.6 Additional Resources 649

Please share your supplementary material! 650

Publisher Information

Business Communication for Success is adapted from a work produced and distributed under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-SA) in 2010 by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution. This adapted edition is produced by the University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing through the eLearning Support Initiative.

This adaptation has reformatted the original text, and replaced some images and figures to make the resulting whole more shareable. This adaptation has not significantly altered or updated the original 2010 text. This work is made available under the terms of a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.


Chapter 1: Effective Business Communication

Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing. –Rollo May

I know that you believe that you understood what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

–Robert J. McCloskey, former State Department spokesman

Introductory Exercises

1. Write five words that express what you want to do and where you want to be a year from now. Take those five words and write a paragraph that clearly articulates your responses to both “what” and “where.”

2. Think of five words that express what you want to do and where you want to be five years from now. Share your five words with your classmates and listen to their responses. What patterns do you observe in the responses? Write a paragraph that addresses at least one observation.

Communication is an activity, skill, and art that incorporates lessons learned across a wide spectrum of human knowledge. Perhaps the most time-honored form of communication is storytelling. We’ve told each other stories for ages to help make sense of our world, anticipate the future, and certainly to entertain ourselves. The art of storytelling draws on your understanding of yourself, your message, and how you communicate it to an audience that is simultaneously communicating back to you. Your anticipation, reaction, and adaptation to the process will determine how successfully you are able to communicate. You were not born knowing how to write or even how to talk—but in the process of growing up, you have undoubtedly learned how to tell, and how not tell, a story out loud and in writing.

You didn’t learn to text in a day and didn’t learn all the codes—from LOL (laugh out loud) to BRB (be right back)—right away. In the same way, learning to communicate well requires you to read and study how others have expressed themselves, then adapt what you have learned to your present task—whether it is texting a brief message to a friend, presenting your qualifications in a job interview, or writing a business report. You come to this text with skills and an understanding that will provide a valuable foundation as we explore the communication process.


Effective 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. The classroom environment, with a compilation of information and resources such as a text, can offer you a trial run where you get to try out new ideas and skills before you have to use them to communicate effectively to make a sale or form a new partnership. Listening to yourself, or perhaps the comments of others, may help you reflect on new ways to present, or perceive, thoughts, ideas and concepts. The net result is your growth; ultimately your ability to communicate in business will improve, opening more doors than you might anticipate.

As you learn the material in this text, each part will contribute to the whole. The degree to which you attend to each part will ultimately help give you the skills, confidence, and preparation to use communication in furthering your career.


1.1 Why Is It Important to Communicate Well?

Learning Objectives

1. Recognize the importance of communication in gaining a better understanding of yourself and others.

2. Explain how communication skills help you solve problems, learn new things, and build your career.

Communication is key to your success—in relationships, in the workplace, as a citizen of your country, and across your lifetime. Your ability to communicate comes from experience, and experience can be an effective teacher, but this text and the related business communication course will offer you a wealth of experiences gathered from professional speakers across their lifetimes. You can learn from the lessons they’ve learned and be a more effective communicator right out of the gate.

Business communication can be thought of as a problem solving activity in which individuals may address the following questions:

• What is the situation?

• What are some possible communication strategies?

• What is the best course of action?

• What is the best way to design the chosen message?

• What is the best way to deliver the message?

In this book, we will examine this problem solving process and help you learn to apply it in the kinds of situations you are likely to encounter over the course of your career.

Communication Influences Your Thinking about Yourself and OthersCommunication Influences Your Thinking about Yourself and Others

We all share a fundamental drive to communicate. Communication can be defined as the process of understanding and sharing meaning (Pearson & Nelson, 2000). You share meaning in what you say and how you say it, both


in oral and written forms. If you could not communicate, what would life be like? A series of never-ending frustrations? Not being able to ask for what you need or even to understand the needs of others?

Being unable to communicate might even mean losing a part of yourself, for you communicate your self- concept—your sense of self and awareness of who you are—in many ways. Do you like to write? Do you find it easy to make a phone call to a stranger or to speak to a room full of people? Perhaps someone told you that you don’t speak clearly or your grammar needs improvement. Does that make you more or less likely to want to communicate? For some, it may be a positive challenge, while for others it may be discouraging. But in all cases, your ability to communicate is central to your self-concept.

Take a look at your clothes. What are the brands you are wearing? What do you think they say about you? Do you feel that certain styles of shoes, jewelry, tattoos, music, or even automobiles express who you are? Part of your self-concept may be that you express yourself through texting, or through writing longer documents like essays and research papers, or through the way you speak.

On the other side of the coin, your communications skills help you to understand others—not just their words, but also their tone of voice, their nonverbal gestures, or the format of their written documents provide you with clues about who they are and what their values and priorities may be. Active listening and reading are also part of being a successful communicator.

Communication Influences How You LearnCommunication Influences How You Learn

When you were an infant, you learned to talk over a period of many months. When you got older, you didn’t learn to ride a bike, drive a car, or even text a message on your cell phone in one brief moment. You need to begin the process of improving your speaking and writing with the frame of mind that it will require effort, persistence, and self-correction.

You learn to speak in public by first having conversations, then by answering questions and expressing your opinions in class, and finally by preparing and delivering a “stand-up” speech. Similarly, you learn to write by first learning to read, then by writing and learning to think critically. Your speaking and writing are reflections of your thoughts, experience, and education. Part of that combination is your level of experience listening to other speakers, reading documents and styles of writing, and studying formats similar to what you aim to produce.

As you study business communication, you may receive suggestions for improvement and clarification from speakers and writers more experienced than yourself. Take their suggestions as challenges to improve; don’t give up when your first speech or first draft does not communicate the message you intend. Stick with it until you get it right. Your success in communicating is a skill that applies to almost every field of work, and it makes a difference in your relationships with others.

Remember, luck is simply a combination of preparation and timing. You want to be prepared to communicate well when given the opportunity. Each time you do a good job, your success will bring more success.

Communication Represents You and Your EmployerCommunication Represents You and Your Employer

You want to make a good first impression on your friends and family, instructors, and employer. They all want


you to convey a positive image, as it reflects on them. In your career, you will represent your business or company in spoken and written form. Your professionalism and attention to detail will reflect positively on you and set you up for success.

In both oral and written situations, you will benefit from having the ability to communicate clearly. These are skills you will use for the rest of your life. Positive improvements in these skills will have a positive impact on your relationships, your prospects for employment, and your ability to make a difference in the world.

Communication Skills Are Desired by Business and IndustryCommunication Skills Are Desired by Business and Industry

Oral and written communication proficiencies are consistently ranked in the top ten desirable skills by employer surveys year after year. In fact, high-powered business executives sometimes hire consultants to coach them in sharpening their communication skills. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the following are the top five personal qualities or skills potential employers seek:

1. Communication skills (verbal and written)

2. Strong work ethic

3. Teamwork skills (works well with others, group communication)

4. Initiative

5. Analytical skills

Knowing this, you can see that one way for you to be successful and increase your promotion potential is to increase your abilities to speak and write effectively.


Figure 1.1

Effective communication skills are assets that will get you there.

Maryland GovPics – Baltimore Jewish Council Meeting – CC BY 2.0.

In September 2004, the National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges published a study on 120 human resource directors titled Writing: A Ticket to Work…Or a Ticket Out, A Survey of Business Leaders. The study found that “writing is both a ‘marker’ of high-skill, high-wage, professional work and a ‘gatekeeper’ with clear equity implications,” said Bob Kerrey, president of New School University in New York and chair of the commission. “People unable to express themselves clearly in writing limit their opportunities for professional, salaried employment.” (The College Board, 2004)

On the other end of the spectrum, it is estimated that over forty million Americans are illiterate, or unable to functionally read or write. If you are reading this book, you may not be part of an at-risk group in need of basic skill development, but you still may need additional training and practice as you raise your skill level.

An individual with excellent communication skills is an asset to every organization. No matter what career you plan to pursue, learning to express yourself professionally in speech and in writing will help you get there.

Key Takeaway

Communication forms a part of your self-concept, and it helps you understand yourself and others, solve problems and learn new things, and build your career.

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