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Effective Written Communication Heather Plett www.heatherplett

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Effective Written Communication Heather Plett www.heatherplett Powered By Docstoc
					Effective Written
Communication
     Heather Plett
  www.heatherplett.com
       Check-in


How have you been this week?
Stretching Exercise

Imagine it is five years from now, and you are
in the career you’re hoping to have after
completing your certificate.

Write a letter back to this class telling them
how you are now using the things you learned
in this class.
    Your assignments
Be more specific

   eg. naming the intersection on which to add a stop
   sign

   giving information about how many people at the
   event, start & end times, etc.

Always give contact information clearly at the end

Offer more information where it may be necessary

Avoid excess words (eg. “It is due to the fact that...”)
    Writing clear sentences
Limit sentence content.

   “Some authorities in human resources object to expanding
   normal salary ranges to include a trainee rate because they
   fear that through oversight or prejudice, probationers may be
   kept at the minimum rate longer than is warranted and
   because they fear that it would encourage the spread from
   the minimum to maximum rate range.”

  “Some authorities in human resources object to expanding
  the normal salary range to include a training rate, for two
  reasons. First, they fear that through oversight or
  prejudice, probationers may be kept at the minimum rate
  longer than is warranted. Second, they fear that expansion
  would increase the spread between the minimum and the
  maximum rate range.”
Avoid Clutter!
        Cluttering phrases                 (pg 80)
•   Cluttering            Shorter substitutes:
    phrase:
                          Now
•   At the present time
                          While
•   During the time
                          For
•   For the purpose of
                          Because, since
•   For the reason that
                          For
•   In the amount of
                          Meanwhile
•   In the meantime
                          Soon
•   In the near future
                          Seldom
•   In very few cases
                   Surplus words
•   Contains Surplus
    Words                              Eliminates Surplus Words

•   There are four rules that should   Four rules should be observed.
    be observed.
                                       The machines damaged by the
•   The machines that were             fire were repaired.
    damaged by the fire were
    repaired.                          By examining production records,
                                       they found the error.
•   By the examining of production
    records, they found the error.     The president believes the tax
•   The president is of the opinion    was paid.
    that the tax was paid.
                                       The income must be used to
•   It is essential that the income    retire the debt.
    be used to retire the debt.
Avoid Repetition!
    Avoid needless repetition
                Repetition Eliminated
•   Needless Repetition Please endorse this check.
•   Please endorse your name
    on the back of this check.    We must assemble at 10:30
•   We must assemble together     a.m.
    at 10:30 a.m. in the
    morning.
                                  One should know the
•   One should know the basic
    fundamentals of clear
    writing.                      fundamentals of clear writing.

•   The consensus of opinion is
    that the tax is unfair.       The consensus is that the tax
Commas save lives!
Lets eat Grandma! or Let’s eat, Grandma!




                             Rachael Ray
                            cooks her family
                              and her dog!
Determine emphasis in
   sentence design
Three options, different emphasis:

  “The company lost money last year. The
  loss occurred in spite of record sales.”

  “Although the company enjoyed record
  sales last year, it lost money.”

  “Although the company lost money last
  year, it enjoyed record sales.”
Give the sentences unity
                          (pg 82)



If unrelated ideas are together in a sentence, they need a
reason for being together. eg. “Mr. Jordan is our sales
manager, and he has a degree in law.”

To give unity to a sentence:

   put the ideas in separate sentences
      “Mr. Jordan is our sales manager. He has a law
      degree.”
   make one idea subordinate to another
      “Mr. Jordan, our sales manager, has a law degree.”
   add words that show the relation between the ideas.
      “Although Mr. Jordan pursued a law degree in college,
      he enjoys sales and became our sales manager.”
   Avoid the trap of
“too much information”
Avoid excessive detail

“Our New York offices, considered plush in the
1990s but now badly in need of renovation, as
is the case with most offices that have not
been maintained, have been abandoned.”


“Considered plush in the 1990s, our New York
offices have not been maintained properly.
Because the repairs would have been too costly,
we have abandoned them.”
          Mixed Construction
                   Improved
•   Mixed Construction           First we found less
•   First we found less          expensive material, and then
    expensive material, and then we developed a more
    a more economical means of economical means of
    production was developed.    production.
•   The consumer should read
    the nutrition label, but you
                                   Consumers should read
    often don’t take the time to   nutrition labels, but they
    do it.                         often don’t take the time to
                                   do so.
•   My education was completed
    in 2008, and then I began
                                   I completed my education in
    work as a manager for Home
    Depot.                         2008 and then began work
                                   as a manager for Home
Incomplete construction
 “She was so happy with the retirement party we
 gave her.”

   she was so happy... that what? (remove so, or
   complete the construction)

 “As far as time management, he is a master of
 multitasking.”

   either “As far as time management goes...” or
   “As for time management, he is a master...”
   Faulty Parallelism


He liked to play basketball and riding horses.

She spent the day visiting all the tourist shops
and watched the children on the beach, and
then she went back to the hotel for a late
lunch.
       Faulty Parallelism
•   “They show their community spirit through
    yearly donations to the United Way, giving free
    materials to Habitat for Humanity, and their
    employees volunteer at local schools.”


“They show their community spirit by donating
yearly to the United Way, giving free materials to
Habitat for Humanity, and volunteering at local
schools.”
Writing clear paragraphs


 “Paragraphs show where the topics begin and
 end, thus helping the reader mentally organize
 the information.”
What is a paragraph?

It is a group of sentences that introduces,
presents and develops one main idea bout the
topic.

It can be divided into three major parts: the
topic sentence, the supporting details, and the
concluding sentence.
 The Topic Sentence

It is normally the first sentence of the
paragraph.

It conveys the overall point of the paragraph.

It helps the writer focus on the idea written
about.

It helps the reader know about what the
paragraph is all about.
The supporting details

They are sentences used to support the main idea stated in
the topic sentence.

They give more information about the main idea through
examples.

They say in details what the topic sentence says in general.

They should be clear evidence that what the topic sentence
says is trustworthy.

They should be strong convincing points on which the topic
sentence can rely upon.
       The Concluding
         Sentence
It is a reflection of the main idea pronounced in the topic
sentence.

It sums up what the topic sentence and the supporting details
talk about.

It is the closing sentence that reminds the readers of what they
have to value.

It is compulsory for the completion of the paragraph unity.

It eventually indicates the end of a paragraph.

It prepares the reader for a smooth transition to the next
paragraph if there is one.
    Identify the parts of the
           paragraph:
•   There are three reasons why I prefer jogging to other
    sports. One reason is that jogging is a cheap sport. I
    can practise it anywhere at any time with no need for
    a ball or any other other equipment. Another reason
    is that it is friendly to my heart. I don’t have to
    exhaust myself or do excessive efforts while jogging.
    Finally, I prefer this sport because it is safe. It isn’t as
    risky as other sports like gymnastics, racing or
    horseback riding. For all these reasons, I consider
    jogging the best sport of all.
Writing Clear Paragraphs

 Give paragraphs unity (eg. if a sentence does
 not support the goal of paragraph, it shouldn’t
 be there)

 Keep paragraphs short (eg. for longer papers,
 an average length of 8 lines)

 Make good use of topic sentences (see pg 87
 for examples)
Writing clear paragraphs
 Leave out unnecessary detail

 Make paragraphs coherent

   repetition of key words to connect successive
   ideas

   use of pronouns to refer to words previously
   used

   transitional words (eg. in addition, besides, in
   spite of, in contrast, however, likewise, thus,
   therefore, for example, also)
 Stretching exercise:

Write a paragraph on one of the following
topics:

  Your favourite food (and why)

  Where you like to go for vacation (and why)

  How you can tell if someone is being a
  good friend
Communicating Positive
    Messages

 Discussion:

   What do you think is the best way to
   communicate a message for which you anticipate
   a positive outcome?

   How might your style change for a negative
   message?
Communicating Positive
    Messages
   Writing good news
Getting started:

   Assess your reader’s probable reaction to what
   you have to say.

   If you anticipate a positive reaction, a direct
   message is probably preferable.

   For a negative reaction, an indirect message may
   be in order.
Direct Communication
Begin with your objective.

   If you’re seeking information, start by asking for it.

   If you’re giving information, start by giving it.

   Whatever your key point is, lead with it.

   If necessary, you may need to start with an
   explanatory sentence or two.
Direct Communication
After the main objective is clearly communicated,
add additional information or questions.

End with adapted goodwill.

A more positive reaction results from an individually
tailored expression that fits the message.
Direct Communication
Routine inquiries

   Two types of beginnings:

      Begin with a specific question, or

      Open with a general request, supported by
      specific questions if necessary.
Direct Communication
Informing & explaining - be as specific as you need to
be, without too much excess

Structuring the questions:

   make sure they stand out, if your goal is to get
   answers (bullets, bold, etc.)

   order or rank them with numbers, if appropriate

   phrase them in question form (ie. “What are your
   building requirements?” instead of “We need to
   know your building requirements.”)

   avoid questions with a simple yes or no, unless
   that’s all you want

   (note: pg 101/102 for contrasts & 104/105)
             Made to Stick
                 (book by Chip & Dan Heath)
Simple

Unexpected

Concrete

Credible

Emotional

Stories

http://speakingaboutpresenting.com/content/action-
presentation/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLfIFPPoILQ
  Additional thoughts
Much of what you write will be for the purpose of
seeking change, even if it is very slight change.

Sometimes, the only change you seek is an
improved opinion of yourself or your company.

The more you can get ideas to stick, the longer your
impact will be.
  Stretching Exercise
In a small group, come up with an idea for a non-
profit organization, community group, or special
project you want to promote.

Brainstorm ideas for a script of a public service
announcement that might “stick”.
  Refresher on
 active/passive
(for assignment)
     Active vs. Passive
“There are over 300 customers served by our help
desk each day. The help desk personnel’s main tasks
are to answer questions, solve problems, and
educate the callers about the software. Without their
expert work, our customer satisfaction ratings would
be much lower than the are.”


“Our help desk personnel serve over 300 customers
each day. They answer questions, solve problems,
and educate the users about the software. Without
their expert work, our customer satisfaction ratings
would drop significantly.”
              Passive/Active
•   Passive                   Active
•   The results were          We reported the results in
    reported in our July 9    our July 9 letter.
    letter.
                              Our union supported the
•   This policy has been
                              policy.
    supported by our union.
                              Mr. Hall will inspect the
•   The office will be
    inspected by Mr. Hall.    office.

•   Hardware sales were       The latest promotion
    increased 30 percent by   increased hardware sales
    the latest promotion.     by 30 percent.
Are these sentences
 active or passive?
The lunch room was inspected by the health
department.

A tornado destroyed my home town.

A total of 15 complaints have been received by the
complaint department this week.

The desired colour was not specified in your order.

The executive director called a meeting yesterday to
discuss next year’s plans.
Assignment - active/passive

   Write two versions of a paragraph explaining to the staff
   that the management team has recently agreed upon a
   new policy that restricts the use of the internet on
   company time. It has come to your attention that people
   have been abusing their privileges and surfing the internet
   for personal reasons, as well as downloading possibly
   corrupted files. Your new policy restricts internet use to
   strictly company-related purposes.

   One version of the paragraph will be in active voice and
   another will be in passive voice.

				
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