Chapter Review and Activities Learning Objectives: Check Your Progress
Objective 1: Identify the four aspects of being sensitive to audience needs when writing business messages.
First, the “you” attitude refers to speaking and writing in terms of your audience’s wishes, interests, hopes, and preferences rather than your own. Writing with this attitude is essential to effective communication because it shows your audience that you have their needs in mind, not just your own. Second, good etiquette not only indicates respect for your audience but also helps foster a more successful environment for communication by minimizing negative emotional reaction. Third, sensitive communicators understand the difference between delivering negative news and being negative. Without hiding the negative news, they look for ways to emphasize positive aspects. Fourth, being sensitive includes taking care to avoid biased language that unfairly and even unethically categorizes or stigmatizes people in ways related to gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, or other personal characteristics.
Objective 2: Explain how establishing your credibility and projecting your company’s image are vital aspects of building strong relationships with your audience.
Successful communication relies on a positive relationship between sender and receiver. The way audiences respond to your messages depends heavily on your credibility, which is a measure of your believability based on how reliable you are and how much trust you evoke in others. When you have established credibility with an audience, communication becomes much easier because you no longer have to spend time and energy convincing people that you are a trustworthy source of information and ideas. Project your company’s desired image when communicating with external audiences. You represent your company and therefore play a vital role in helping the company build and maintain positive relationships with all stakeholders.
Objective 3: Explain how to achieve a tone that is conversational but businesslike, explain the value of using plain language, and define active and passive voice.
To achieve a tone that is conversational but still businesslike, avoid obsolete and pompous language, avoid preaching and bragging, be careful with intimacy (sharing personal details or adopting an overly casual tone), and be careful with humor. Plain language is a way of presenting information in a simple, unadorned style so that your audience can easily grasp your meaning. By writing and speaking in plain terms, you demonstrate the “you” attitude and show respect for your audience. In the active voice, the subject performs the action and the object receives the action. In the passive voice, the subject receives the action. The passive voice combines the helping verb to be with a form of the verb that is usually in the past tense.
Objective 4: Describe how to select words that are not only correct but also effective.
Selecting the correct and most effective words involves balancing abstract and concrete words, choosing powerful and familiar words, avoiding clichés, using buzzwords carefully, and using jargon carefully.
Objective 5: Define the four types of sentences, and explain how sentence style affects emphasis within a message.
The four types of sentences are simple (one main clause), compound (two main clauses that express independent but related ideas of equal importance), complex (one main clause and one subordinate clause of lesser importance), and compound-complex (two main clauses, at least one of which contains a subordinate clause). Sentence style affects emphasis by playing up or playing down specific parts of a sentence. To emphasize a certain point, you can place it at the end of the sentence or make it the subject of the sentence. To deemphasize a point, put it in the middle of the sentence.
Objective 6: Define the three key elements of a paragraph, and list five ways to develop coherent paragraphs.
The three key elements of a paragraph are a topic sentence that identifies the subject of the paragraph, support sentences that develop the topic and provide examples and evidence, and transitional words and phrases that help readers connect one thought to the next. Five ways to develop coherent paragraphs are illustration, comparison or contrast, cause and effect, classification, and problem and solution.
Objective 7: List five techniques for writing effective messages for mobile readers.
Five techniques for writing effective messages for mobile readers are using a linear organization so readers don’t have to jump around the screen to find important message elements; prioritizing information and deliver the most important information first; writing short, focused messages; using short subject lines and headings; and using short paragraphs.