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Writing Business Messages The 3 step writing process Understanding your audience Selecting the right media Organizing the message.

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Presentation on theme: "Writing Business Messages The 3 step writing process Understanding your audience Selecting the right media Organizing the message."— Presentation transcript:

1 Writing Business Messages The 3 step writing process Understanding your audience Selecting the right media Organizing the message

2 LO1. Describe the 3 step writing process PLAN WRITE COMPLETE Analyze the situationAdapt to your audienceRevise the message Gather informationEstablish you credibilityProduce the message Select the right mediumControl your styleProofread the message Organize the informationCompose the messageDistribute the message This chapter is about the planning part!

3 Planning the message – Analyze the situation - define your purpose & develop an audience profile – Gather information - obtain the necessary information & provide the required information to satisfy audience needs – Select the right medium - for delivering message; oral, written, visual, etc – Organize the information - define your main idea, limit your scope, select a direct or indirect approach & outline content So let’s look at defining your purpose

4 It defines the – overall approach – the information needed – the appropriate medium – how to organize your message – Determines audience participation all messages have a purpose; to inform, persuade or collaborate LO2. Explain why it is important to define your purpose carefully and list 4 questions that can help you test that purpose How can the purposes vary?

5 INFORM PERSUADE COLLABORATE less audience interaction moderate audience interaction maximum audience interaction audience absorb info; either accept or reject give audience chance to ask questions audience adjust to new information, views, reactions, etc audience don’t contribute to content clear up any doubts audience may have communicator in control communicator in moderate control communicator has less control How can we test your purpose?

6 Testing the specific purpose of each message Ask 4 questions 1.Would anything change as a result of your message? - if no, don’t send it 2.Is your purpose realistic? - if it is a drastic change, go slow….propose a first step…..message becomes the start of a learning process 3.Is it the right time? – is it worth the time & effort to prepare & send message? Don’t send at a busy or difficult time 4.Is your purpose acceptable to your organization ? – how do you expect them to respond? when? After defining your purpose, to analyze the situation, we need to develop audience profile

7 Develop the profile of your audience 1.Identify the primary audience -some members are > important than others, don’t ignore the others’ needs but do address the primary members, i.e. decision makers 2.Determine audience size and geographic spread -this affects the approach, e.g. meeting vs. face to face 3.Determine the audience composition -look for similarities & differences in culture, language, education, rank, attitudes etc 4.Gauge their level of understanding -do you have similar background to audience? same education level? 5. Understand expectations -details? summary? formal? informal?

8 LO.4 Discuss gathering information for simple messages and identify 3 attributes of quality information Informal techniques to information gathering: - assemble information to include in message - if simple, all information is ready - if complex, research & analysis required, we need to know what to include, how to express & present it

9 To Gather Information - Consider other viewpoints -put yourself in their shoes. How do you feel? What are you thinking? What is ahead for us? -Read reports and company documents -review financial statements, news releases, blogs, marketing reports, customer surveys, database & Knowledge Management Systems -Talk with supervisors, colleagues, & customers -sometimes people are vital sources of information, they may be reliable & trust worthy -Ask your audience for input -Don’t try to guess your audiences’ needs. If you not sure, ask After information gathering, you have to ensure to satisfy your audiences’ needs for information

10 Providing the Requested Information Test your message by using the journalistic approach, who, what, when, where, why, how Check to ensure information is – Accurate – Ethical Information quality characteristics – Pertinent What makes information accurate?

11 Accurate prevent embarrassment, lost productivity, due to safety & legal issues if sources are people, double-check? ensure its current & reliable check dates, review calculations don’t make assumptions provide supporting information, upon request What makes information ethical?

12 Ethical You could make an honest mistake – if so, contact recipients asap and correct it – they will continue to have respect for you Remember it is unethical to omit information – include enough information to not mislead If you are not sure about information quality – do ensure that you offer enough to support your message – do provide more, if requested What makes information pertinent?

13 Pertinent some points are more important than others – prioritize them – filter the masses focus on audiences concerns group varying interests, use common sense to identify interests Look at their job, age, income, education to clue in (see Lecture 1)Lecture 1 Now we have quality information, how do we select the right media?

14 Select the right media Media Options OralWrittenVisualElectronic Medium- form of which you which you choose to communicate your message Proper selection make the difference; i.e. effective or ineffective communication

15 ORAL face 2 face speeches in person presentations interviewsmeetings

16 WRITTEN memosproposalsreportsletters

17 VISUALS diagrams symbolsgraphscharts

18 ELECTRONIC sblogs txt msgs Wikis voice msgs telephone calls PowerPoint presentations

19 Media Advantages & Disadvantages MediaAdvantagesDisadvantages Oral Opportunity for feedback Allows interaction Emotions can be expressed Restricted participation No permanent record No opportunity to revise or edit Written Can plan & control Dispersed audience Permanent, viable record No distortion Avoid interactions Do not emphasize inappropriate emotions No speedy feedback Lack of non-verbal clues Time & resources to distribute Requires skill in preparation & production Visual Can convey complex ideas Less intimidating than large blocks of text Quickly convey message To easily see relationships Technical skills to create Artistic skills to design Can be difficult to transmit Takes more time to prepare than text Electronic Delivers messages quickly Reach dispersed audience > accessibility & openness > excitement & appeal Easy to overuse Privacy & security concerns Can contribute to unproductivity

20 LO5. List factors to consider when choosing the appropriate media for your message Media Richness Message Formality Media Limitations Sender Intentions Urgency & Cost Audience Preferences Let’s look at media richness

21 Media Richness Standard reports Static web pages Mass media Posters & symbols Custom reports Letters & memos & IM Blogs wikis Telephone calls Teleconferencing Video Video IM Face 2 face Multimedia Virtual Reality Leaner, fewer cues, no interactivity Richer, > cues, no interactivity A medium’s ability to: 1.) convey a message through > 1 informational cue (visual, verbal, vocal, etc. 2.) facilitate feedback 3.) establish personal focus

22 Message Formality: – your media choice rules the style & tone of your message, e.g. change in café hours is better communicated on a blog vs. memo Media Limitations: – every medium have limitations, e.g. same time, same place with face 2 face communication Sender Intentions: – media choice influences your audience perception of your intentions, e.g. a letter shows formality vs. phone call Urgency & Cost – You have to gauge the two factors, face 2 face (urgent) but preparing a meeting may be costly Audience Preferences – which option the audience prefers, delivering a diploma via fax!!!???

23 LO6. Explain why good organization is important to both you and your audience-1 Makes the difference between success & failure Why organize? – to not create any unnecessary work for readers – keep them interested – maintain your reputation as a good communicator – you will take less time to do drafts – saves time & consumes less creativity – you compose what you actually need – to get advance input from audience – If working on a large project, its easier to divide tasks among co-workers

24 It helps the audience in 3 ways: 1.Helps the audience organize everything Highlighting main points at the start Information is logically presented Satisfies the audiences’ need for information 2.Helps the audience accept message Be diplomatic- acknowledge, sympathize, offer solution, be accountable & provide opportunities for further communication 3.Saves your audience time Only have relevant ideas Ideas are briefly outlined Ideas are in a logical place Ideas are accessible LO6. Explain why good organization is important to both you and your audience-2 So how do we organize them?

25 LO7. Summarize the process for organizing business messages effectively Define your main idea Limit the scope Choose the direct or indirect approach Group your points- create an outline Let’s look at defining the main idea

26 Define your main idea condense your information into 1 idea to get the broad subject or topic the entire message supports, will explain or demonstrate that main idea The main idea is a specific statement about the topic of your message The main idea is obvious for simple messages & have little emotional impact on the audience If responding to a request, you start with the concept, “here is what you wanted!....” If persuading or delivering bad news, establish a relationship with the audience, highlight their interests in your main idea & emphasize a point you can both agree upon If message is lengthy, e.g. a report, your main idea has to encompass all included points Let’s look at handling included points

27 Techniques to encompass points-1 Brainstorming – generating ideas or questions without reflecting on relevance, accuracy or seeking approval – can be done alone, but best with others – after his, look for connections, trends, etc. to help define the main idea & supporting points – See a step by step guide to brainstormingstep by step guide to brainstorming

28 Techniques to encompass points-2 Journalistic Approach – outlines the who, what, when, where, how & why – filters through the initial content – See A journalistic approach to good writing: the craft of clarity By Robert M. KnightA journalistic approach to good writing: the craft of clarity By Robert M. Knight

29 Techniques to encompass points-3 Q & A chain – start with a question that appeals to the audience – work back towards your message – each answer generate new questions – until you get all the information that needs to be in your message

30 Techniques to encompass points-4 Story teller’s tour – some communicators feel it is better to talk through – then express it in words – play it back, to find vague areas, lack of details, etc. – go back, edit….until complete & concise

31 Techniques to encompass points-5 Mind Mapping -start with main idea -branch out -connect with any other idea that comes to mind -see Mind MapsMind Maps Let us look at an example of defining the main idea

32 General purpose Specific PurposeTopicMain idea To informTo inform employees about the improvements at the café. Improvements at the café Improvements in food and facilities have been made to the café. After defining the main idea, how do we know what to cover?

33 Limiting your scope What is scope? – range of presented information – overall length – level of detail must correspond with main idea

34 Range of presented information Main idea Improvements in food and facilities have been made to the café. Major points – new lunch menu – new hot beverages – new ambience Supporting information – full balanced meals; not just sandwiches, pies, etc. – new cappuccino machine & herbal teas available – new furniture & change in music

35 Length of message limit your major points to about 6 or so, better if less Group supporting points New hot beveragesNew ambience – new cappuccino machine- new furniture – herbal teas available- change in music

36 Level of detail if message is brief, use 1 paragraph each for the main idea, major points & supporting points if longer, the major points must be developed by supporting points Length depends on the following: nature of message familiarity with topic if audience will be receptive to your conclusion your credibility We know what to include & its detail, but how do we present it?

37 Choosing between Direct & Indirect Approaches Eager Interested Pleased Neutral Displeased Uninterested Unwilling Direct Approach Indirect Approach Audience Reaction Eager/interested/pleased/ neutral DispleasedUninterested/ Unwilling Message Opening Start with the main idea, the request or good news Start with a neutral statement that acts as a transition to the reasons for bad news Start with a statement or question that captures attention Message Body Provide necessary detailsGive reasons to justify a negative answer. State or imply the bad news, and make a positive suggestion Arouse the audience’s interest in the subject. Build the audience’s desire to comply. Message Close Close, with a cordial comment, a reference to the good news or a statement about the specific action desired Close cordiallyRequest action.

38 How to choose between the two options analyze your audiences’ likely reaction to your purpose & message consider the unique circumstance of each message the audiences’ situation should be taken into consideration What are the different types of messages?

39 Different types of messages Routine – involve daily matters of operating a business, e.g. change in office hours – audience are neutral – easy to prepare – use direct approach Positive – convey good news, e.g. announcements – audience are pleased to hear from you – use direct approach Negative – deliver bad news, e.g. job loss – will disappoint audience – use indirect approach Persuasive – Asking audience to give, do or change – use indirect approach So we know how to approach the message but how do we present it?

40 Outlining the content Why do we use outlines? – Save time – Get better results – Easy navigation – Easy to see relationships between components – Stay on track – Communicate in a systematic way – Message becomes coherent and flow into each other How to outline data?

41 Alphanumeric Outline The following are improvements made in food and facilities at the café: A.New i. full balanced meals B. New hot beverages i. new cappuccino machine ii. new herbal teas C. New ambience i. new furniture ii. change in music

42 Decimal Outline The following are improvements made in food and facilities at the café. 1. New menu 1.1 full balanced meals 2. New hot beverages 2.1 new cappuccino machine 2.2 new herbal teas 3. New ambience 3.1 new furniture 3.2 change in music

43 Organizational Charts Change in café hours New ambience New furniture Change in music New lunch menu New hot beverages New cappuccino machine New herbal beverages

44 Summary Clarify the purpose of your message on the onset Provide the required information Select the right media Develop an outline of the planned content

45 Questions 1.Traditionally, communication is either oral or written. i.) Give 3 examples of oral communication used in business. [3] ii.) Briefly outline 3 advantages of oral communication. [3] iii.) Briefly outline 3 disadvantages of oral communication. [3]

46 2. The 3 step writing process can help you produce all kinds of business messages. a) You are going to write a routine request message. The first step is to plan a message. Describe, in a logical order, the 4 tasks involved in planning a message. [9]

47 3. Organizing a presentation. i.) Describe how you would define the main idea of your presentation. [3] ii.) Give 2 reasons why it is particularly important to limit your scope for oral presentations. [4]

48 4. You have to write many negative business message in your career. i.) Give 5 circumstances in which you would use the direct approach in a letter which contains bad news for its recipients. [5] ii.) When would you use an indirect approach in a negative message? [1] iii.) What are the sequence of elements in a message using the indirect approach? [4]


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