Chapter 1:  Communicating at Work

(1) Ensuring That You Succeed in the New Workplace

-Succeeding in today’s world of work demands that you read, listen, speak, and write effectively.

 

A.      Heightened Global Competition

-Communication is more complicated with people who have different religions, customs, and lifestyles.

 

B.       Flattened Management Hierarchies

-Flattening means that fewer layers of managers separate decision makers from line workers.

-Flatter organizations demand that every employee be a skilled communicator.

 

C.       Expanded Team-Based Management

-Companies are also turning to the concept of team-based operations.

-When companies form cross-functional teams, individuals must work together and share information.

 

D.      Innovative Communication Technologies

-Just as companies are scrambling to use the Web most effectively, individual businesspeople are eagerly embracing the new technologies and revamping the way they communicate.

-E-mail, voice mail, fax, video-conferencing, and the Web are revolutionizing the way we exchange information.

 

E.       New Work Environments

-Thanks to mobile technologies, millions of Americans now telecommute.

-Hotelling describes the practice of an open office with unassigned desks.

-Hot-desking refers to a desk that’s still warm from its previous occupant.

-Combined with new responsibilities of team problem solving, business communicators can expect to need interpersonal skills that deal with heightened levels of emotion.

 

F.       Increasingly Diverse Workforce

-Communicating in this diverse work environment requires new attitudes and skills.

-A diverse staff is better able to read trends and respond to the increasingly diverse customer base in local and world markets.

 

G.      Thriving in the Age of Knowledge

-The vital raw material in our economy is knowledge.

-Knowledge workers deal with symbols, such as words, figures, and data.

-Constantly changing technologies and work procedures mean continual training for employees.

 

(2) Examining the Process of Communication

            -Communication is the transmission of information and meaning from one

individual or group to another.

 

A.      Sender Has Idea

-The communication process has five steps:  idea formation, message encoding, message transmission, message decoding, and feedback.

 

B.       Sender Encodes Idea in Message

-Encoding is the process of converting the idea into words or gestures that will convey meaning.

-A major problem in communicating any message verbally is that words have different meanings for different people. 

 

C.       Message Travels Over Channel

-Channels are the media—computer, telephone, letter, fax, and so on—that transmit messages.

-Anything that interrupts the transmission of a message in the communication process is called noise.

 

D.      Receiver Decodes Message

-Translating the message from its symbol form into meaning involves decoding.

 

E.       Feedback Travels to Sender

-The verbal and nonverbal responses of the receiver create feedback.  Feedback helps the sender know that the message was received and understood.

-The best feedback is descriptive rather than evaluative.

 

(3) Overcoming Interpersonal Communication Barriers

            -The communication process is successful only when the receiver understands the

message as intended by the sender.

 

A.      Obstacles That Create Misunderstanding

-The most significant barriers for individuals are bypassing, frames of reference, lack of language skill, and distractions.

     

1.       Bypassing

-Bypassing happens when people miss each other with their meanings.

 

2.      Frame of Reference

-Because your frame of reference is totally different from everyone else’s, you will never see things exactly as others do.

 

3.      Lack of Language Skill

-Successful communication requires good oral and written language skills.

 

4.      Distractions

-Other barriers include emotional inference and physical distractions.

 

B.       Overcoming the Obstacles

-A good communicator anticipates problems in encoding, transmitting, and decoding a message.  Effective communicators also focus on the receiver’s environment and frame of reference.

-A large part of successful communication is listening.

-Effective communicators create an environment for useful feedback.

 

(4) Communicating in Organizations

 

A.      Internal and External Functions

-Internal communication includes sharing ideas and messages with superiors, coworkers, and subordinates.

-Internal communication often consists of e-mail, memos, and voice messages; external communication generally consists of letters.

-External communication occurs with customers, suppliers, government, and the public.

-Organizational communication has three basic functions:  to inform, to persuade, and/or to promote goodwill.

 

B.       New Emphasis on Interactive Communication

-Organizations prefer more interactive, fast-results communication.

 

1.       Oral Communication

-The best way to exchange information is orally in face-to-face conversations or meetings.

-Oral communication minimizes miscommunication but provides no written record, sometimes wastes time, and may be inconvenient.

 

2.      Written Communication

-Written communication provides a permanent record but lacks immediate feedback.

-It also requires careful preparation, because words committed to hard or soft copy become a public record.

-Written messages demand good writing skills, which can be developed through training.

 

C.       Avoiding Information Overload and Productivity Meltdown

-The large volume of messages and communication channel choices overwhelms many workers.

-Interruptions average once every ten minutes.

 

(5) Improving the Flow of Information in Organizations

            -A free exchange of information helps organizations respond rapidly to changing

 markets, increase efficiency and productivity, build employee morale, serve the

 public, and take full advantage of the ideas of today’s knowledge workers.

 

A.      Formal Channels

-Formal communication channels follow an organization’s chain of command.

-Official information among workers typically flows through formal channels in three directions:  downward, upward, and horizontally.

 

1.       Downward Flow

-Job plans, policies, instructions, feedback, and procedures flow downward from managers to employees.

-The longer the lines of communication, the greater the chance that a message will be distorted.

-To improve communication, management speaks directly to team leaders; thus speeding up the entire process.

 

2.      Upward Flow

-Information flowing upward provides feedback from non-management employees to management.

-Employees who distrust their employers are less likely to communicate openly.

-Other obstacles include fear of reprisal for honest communication, lack of adequate communication skills, and differing frames of reference.

 

3.      Horizontal Flow

-Lateral channels transmit information horizontally among workers at the same level.

-To improve horizontal communication, companies are training and rewarding employees.

 

 

B.       Informal Channels

-Informal organizational communication transmits unofficial news through the grapevine.

-Alert managers find the grapevine an excellent source of information about employee morale and problems.

-As much as two thirds of an employee’s information comes from informal channels.

-Employees prefer to receive vital company information through formal channels.

 

(6) Facing Increasing Ethical Challenges

            -Ethical practices make good business sense, because ethical companies endure

less litigation, less resentment, and less government regulation.

-Ethical behavior means doing the right thing given the circumstances.

-Ethical behavior involves four principles:  honesty, integrity, fairness, and

concern for others.

 

A.      Five Common Ethical Traps

1.       The False Necessity Trap

-People act from the belief that they’re doing what they must do, when in fact it’s generally a matter of convenience or comfort.

 

2.      The Doctrine-of-Relative-Filth Trap

-Unethical actions sometimes look good when compared with the worse behavior of others.

 

3.      The Rationalization Trap

-People try to explain away unethical actions by justifying them with excuses.

 

4.      The Self-Deception Trap

-Applicants for jobs who inflate their grade-point averages or exaggerate past accomplishments to impress prospective employers.

 

5.      The Ends-Justify-the-Means Trap

-Taking unethical actions to accomplish a desirable goal is a common trap.

 

B.       Goals of Ethical Business Communication

1.       Telling the Truth

 

2.      Labeling Opinions

-Know the difference between facts and opinions

 

3.      Being Objective

-Recognize their own biases and strive to keep them from distorting a message

-Facts are verifiable; opinions are beliefs held with conviction.

-Honest reporting means presenting the whole picture and relating all facts fairly.

 

4.      Communicating Clearly

-“Plain English” laws require simple, understandable language in policies, contracts, warranties, and other documents.

-They aren’t unethical unless the intent is to deceive.

 

5.      Giving Credit

-Plagiarists use the ideas of others without giving credit.  Stealing ideas or words from others in unethical.

 

C.       Tools for Doing the Right Thing

-Acting ethically means doing the right thing given the situation.

-Each set of circumstances requires analyzing issues, evaluating choices, and acting responsibly.

-The best advice in ethical matters is contained in the Golden Rule:  Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

 


Chapter 7:  Routine Letters and Goodwill Messages

 

(1)                Strategies for Routine Letters

 

·         Routine letters to outsiders encourage product feedback, project a favorable company image, and promote future business.

·         Such letters go to suppliers, government agencies, other businesses, and, most importantly, customers.

 

Characteristics of Good Letters

 

·         At least three characteristics distinguish good business letters:

1.        Clear Content

·         Clear letters feature short sentences and paragraphs, transitional expressions, familiar words, and active-voice verbs.

2.       A Tone of Goodwill

·         Letters achieve a tone of goodwill by emphasizing a “you” view and reader benefits.

3.       Correct Form

·         Appropriate letter formats send silent but positive messages.

·         Unjustified margins improve readability.

 

Using the Direct Pattern for Routine Letters

·         Most business messages are routine requests or routine responses.

·         Everyday business messages “frontload” by presenting the main idea or purpose immediately.

 

Frontloading in the Opening

·         Most business letters are better written “backwards”

·         Start with the action desired or the main idea.

·         Most simple requests should open immediately with a statement of purpose

 

   Explaining in the Body

·         The body explains the purpose for writing, perhaps using graphic devices to highlight important ideas.

·         Develop each idea in a separate paragraph with effective transitions to connect them.

  

    Being Specific and Courteous in the Closing

The closing courteously specifies what the receiver is to do.

 

Applying the 3-x-3 Writing Process to Routine Letters

·         Before writing routine letters make yourself analyze your purpose and anticipate the response.

 

Analysis, Anticipation, and Adaptation

·         Determining your purpose

·         Anticipating the reaction of your audience

·         Visualizing the audience

 

Research, Organization, and Composition

·         Collect information and make a list of the points you wish to cover.

 

Revision, Proofreading, and Evaluation

·         Revise for clarity

·         Proofread for correctness

·         Check for punctuation irregularities, typos, misspelled words, or other mechanical problems

·         Evaluate your product

 

(2)               Direct Request Letters

 

·         A direct letter may open with a question or a polite request.

·         Before you write any letter, consider its costs in terms of your time and workload.  Whenever possible, don’t write!

 

Requesting Information and Action

·         Put the main idea first

 

Clarifying Requests

·         Questions in a direct letter should be parallel (balanced grammatically).

·         In the letter body explain your purpose and provide details.

·         Pose open-ended questions

·         Spell out the action to be taken

 

Showing Appreciation

·         Direct request letters maintain a courteous tone, spell out what needs to be done, and focus on reader benefits.

·         Do so in a fresh and efficient manner

·         The most effective messages tell a story from the reader’s perspective, not the writer’s.

 

(3)                Placing Orders

 

·         In the opening let the reader know immediately that this is a purchase authorization and not merely an information inquiry.

·         Letters placing orders specify items or services, quantities, dates, prices, and payment method.

  

(4) Making Straightforward Claims

 

·         When you as a customer must write to identify or correct a wrong, the letter is called a claim.

·         Claim letters open with a clear problem statement, support the claim with specifics, and close with a statement of goodwill.

·         Written claims are often taken more seriously, and they also establish a record of what happened.

 

Opening Directly

·         You should open a claim letter with a clear statement of the problem or with the action you want the receiver to take.

 

Explaining

·         Providing details without getting angry improve the effectiveness of a claim letter.

·         In the body of a claim letter, explain the problem and justify your request.

 

Closing

·         Written claims submitted promptly are taken more seriously than delayed ones.

 

(5)               Direct Reply Letters

 

·         When you can respond favorably to requests, use the direct pattern.

 

Complying With Requests

·         Letters responding to requests may open with a subject line to identify the topic immediately.

·         Usually appearing one blank line below the salutation

 

Opening Directly

·         In the first sentence of a direct reply letter, deliver the information the reader wants.

·         In the body of your reply, supply explanations and additional information.

 

Arranging Information Logically

·         Responding to customer inquiries provides a good opportunity to promote your business.

 

Treating mixed Messages

·         In mixed-news messages the good news should precede the bad.

·         Your goal is to present the negative news clearly without letting it become the focus of the message.

 

(6)               Writing Letters of Recommendation

 

·         Letters of recommendation may be written to nominate people for awards and for membership in organizations.

·         They are written to evaluate present or former employees.

·         Letters of recommendation present honest, objective evaluations of individuals and help match candidates to jobs.

 

Opening

·         The opening establishes the reason for writing and the relationship of the writer.

 

Body

·         The body of a letter of recommendation should describe the candidate’s job performance and potential in specific terms.

 

Conclusion

·         In the final paragraph, offer an overall evaluation.

 

(7)               Granting Claims and Making Adjustments

 

·         Businesses generally respond favorably to claims because of legal constraints and the desire to maintain customer goodwill.

·         Wise organizations value complaints not only as a chance to retain customers but also as a significant source of feedback.

·         Favorable responses to customer claims follow the direct pattern; unfavorable responses follow the indirect pattern.

·         Adjustment letters seek to right wrongs, regain customer confidence, and promote further business.

 

Opening With the Good News

·         Opening sentences tell the good news quickly.

 

Explaining the Reasons

·         Explain what caused the problem and the measure taken to avoid future recurrence.

·         Your goal is to win back the confidence of the customer.

·         Explain what went wrong without admitting liability or making excuses.

 

Should You Apologize?

·         Apologize if it seems natural and appropriate.

·         Focus on complying with request, explaining reasons, and preventing recurrence.

 

Closing an Adjustment Letter

·         Close with appreciation, thanks for past business, and expression of desire to be of service.

 

(8)               Writing Winning Goodwill Messages

 

·         The best goodwill messages concentrate on the five Ss

*Selfless

*Specific

*Sincere

*Spontaneous

*Short

 

Thanks

 

Response

·         Take the time to respond to any goodwill message you may receive.

 

Sympathy

·         Sympathy notes should refer to the misfortune and offer assistance.

 

(9)               Writing International Letters

 

·         International letters should conform to the organizational, format, and cultural conventions of the receiver’s country.

·         Always learn about local preferences before sending letters abroad.

·         To be safe, spell out the names of months instead of using figures.  Verify sums of money and identify the currency unit.

·         It’s also wise to have someone familiar with the local customs read and revise the message.


Chapter 8:  Routine Memos and E-Mail Messages

 

(1)    Writing Routine Memos and E-Mail Messages

 

·                     E-mail is rapidly becoming the communication medium of choice.

·                     Routine memos and e-mail messages open with the main idea first because their topics are not sensitive and require little persuasion.

 

Characteristics of Successful Memos and E-Mail Messages

 

·                     Routine memos inform employees, request data, give responses, confirm decisions, and provide directions.

·                     Good memos and e-mail messages generally discuss only one topic.

·                     The tone of memos and e-mail messages is expected to be conversational because the communicators are usually familiar with one another.  Yet, the tone should be professional.

·                     They contain only what’s necessary to convey meaning and be courteous…eliminate wordiness.

·                     Graphic highlighting includes numbered and bulleted lists and headings.

 

     Writing Process

 

·         Good memos require careful preparation.

·         A systematic plan helps you write faster and more effectively.

·         Analyzing the purpose of a message helps determine whether a permanent record is required.

·         The three phases of the writing process

1.        Prewriting

2.       Writing

3.       Revising

 

(2)    Organization of Memos and E-Mail Messages

 

·                     Direct memos contain a SUBJECT line, an opener stating the main idea, a body with explanation and justification, and an action closing.

·                     Most direct memos convey nonsensitive information and thus frontload the main idea in the opening.

·                     Memos should close with…

1.                   Action information including dates and deadlines

2.                  A summary, or

3.                  A closing thought

 

(3)    Using E-Mail Effectively

 

·                                 It’s important to take the time to organize your thoughts, compose carefully, and be concerned with correct grammar and punctuation.

·                                 Messages can travel (intentionally or unintentionally) long distances.

·                                 Computers never forget!  Even erased messages can remain on disk drives.

 

Smart E-Mail Practices

 

·         E-mail is most effective in delivering simple messages

1.        Get the address right

2.       Avoid misleading subject lines

3.       Be concise

4.       Don’t send anything you wouldn’t want published

5.       Don’t use e-mail to avoid contact

6.       Never respond when you’re angry

7.       Care about correctness

8.       Resist humor and tongue-in-cheek comments

9.       Limit any tendency to send blanket copies

10.    Use design to improve readability of longer messages

11.     Consider cultural differences

12.    Double check before hitting the Send button

13.    Protect against e-mail break-ins

 

      Formatting E-Mail Messages

 

·         Salutations for e-mail messages are optional, and practice is as yet unsettled.

·         The body should be typed with upper- and lowercase characters…cover just one topic, and try to keep the total message under three screens…avoid boldface and italics.

·         Closing lines may include the writer’s name, title, and organization.

 

(4)    Kinds of Memos

 

·         Routine messages that can be grouped in three categories:

1.        Procedure and information memos

2.       Request and reply memos

3.       Confirmation memos

 

      Procedure and Information Memos and E-mail Messages

 

·         Procedure and information memos typically flow downward and convey clear information about daily operations.

 

(5)    Request and Reply Memos and E-Mail Messages

 

·         Request and reply memos follow the direct pattern in seeking or providing information.

·         When many questions must be asked, list them.

·         In the closing include an end date to promote a quick response.

·         Overused and long-winded openers bore readers and waste their time.

·         Start directly by responding to the writer’s request

·         After a direct and empathic opener, provide the information requested in a logical and coherent order.

 

(6)    Confirmation Memos and E-Mail Messages

 

·         Confirmation memos—also called to-file or incident reports—record oral decisions, directives, and discussions.  They create a concise, permanent record that could be important in the future.

·         Confirmation memos provide a permanent record of oral discussions, decisions, and directives.

·         Another type of confirmation memo simply verifies receipt of materials or a change of schedule.


Chapter 10:  Negative Messages

 

(1)      Strategies for Breaking Bad News

 

·                   The sting of bad news can be reduced by giving reasons and communicating sensitively.

 

Goals in Communicating Bad News

·                     In communicating bad news, key goals include getting the receiver to accept it, maintaining goodwill, and avoiding legal liability. 

 

       Using the Indirect Pattern to Prepare the Reader

·         Bad news is generally better when broken gradually.

·         The indirect pattern softens the impact of bad news by giving reasons and explanations first.

·         The indirect plan consists of four parts:

1.       Buffer

2.      Reasons

3.      Bad news

4.      Close

 

(2)     Avoiding Three Causes of Legal Problems

 

·                               Abusive Language

Ø                   When the abusive language is written, it’s called libel; when spoken, it’s slander.

Ø       Abusive language becomes legally actionable when it is false, harmful to the person’s good name, and “published”—that is, spoken within the presence of others or written.

Ø       You may now be prosecuted if you transmit a harassing or libelous message by e-mail on a computer bulletin board.

 

·       Careless Language

Ø       We must be certain that our words communicate only what we intend.

Ø       Careless language includes statements that could be damaging or misinterpreted.

Ø       Be wary of explanations that convey more information than you intend.

Ø       Be careful about what documents you save.

 

·       The Good-Guy Syndrome

Ø       Avoid statements that make you feel good but may be misleading or inaccurate.

Ø       Volunteering extra information can lead to trouble.

Ø       Don’t admit or imply responsibility for conditions that caused damage or injury.  Even apologies may suggest liability.

 

(3)     Developing Bad-News Messages

 

·       To reduce negative feelings, use a buffer opening for sensitive bad-news messages.

 

Buffer the Opening

·         The buffer should be relevant and concise and provide a natural transition to the explanation that follows.

v      Best news

v      Compliment

v      Appreciation

v      Agreement

v      Facts

v      Understanding

v      Apology

·         Openers can buffer the bad news with compliments, appreciation, agreement, relevant facts, and understanding.

 

        Presenting the Reasons

·         Bad-news messages should explain reasons before stating the negative news.

·         The most important part of a bad-news letter.

Ø       Being cautious in explaining

Ø       Citing reader or other benefits if plausible

Ø       Explaining company policy

Ø       Choosing positive words

Ø       Showing that the matter was treated seriously and fairly

·         Readers accept bad news more readily if they see that someone benefits.

·         Avoid passing the buck or blaming others within your organization.

      

        Cushioning the Bad News

·         Techniques for cushioning bad news include positioning it strategically, using the passive voice, implying the refusal, and suggesting alternatives or compromises.

 

        Closing Pleasantly

·         Closings to bad-news messages might include a forward look, an alternative, good wishes, freebies, and resale or sale promotion information.

·         Avoid endings that sound canned, insincere, inappropriate, or self-serving.  Don’t invite further correspondence and don’t refer to the bad news.

 

(4)     When to Use the Direct Pattern

 

·       The direct pattern is appropriate when the receiver might overlook the bad news, when directness is preferred, when firmness is necessary, or when the bad news is not damaging.

·       Some researchers report that where the writer places the bad news is not nearly so important as the tone of the message.

 

Applying the 3-x-3 Writing Process

·         The 3-x-3 writing process is especially important in crafting bad-news messages because of the potential consequences of poorly written messages.

q       Analysis, Anticipation, and Adaptation

§         Analyze the bad news so that you can anticipate its effect on the receiver.

§         Protect the receiver’s ego.

q       Research, Organization, and Composition

§         Avoid presenting any weak reasons.

q       Revision, Proofreading, and Evaluation

§         Put yourself into the receiver’s shoes.

 

(5)     Refusing Routine Requests

 

·       You can use the direct or the indirect pattern.  If you have any doubt, use the indirect pattern.

 

Rejecting Requests for Favors, Money, Information, and Action

·         Reasons-before-refusal pattern works well when you must turn down requests for favors, money, information, action, and so forth.

·         Compliments can help buffer the impact of request refusals.

·         Routine request refusals focus on explanations and praise, maintain a positive tone, and offer alternatives.

·         Requests for contributions to charity are common.  Most big companies receive hundreds of requests annuallyàresources are usually limited

 

       Declining Invitations

 

(6)     Sending Bad News to Customers

 

Handling Problems With Orders

·         In handling problems with orders, the indirect pattern is appropriate unless the message has some good-news elements.

 

       Denying Claims

·         Letters that say no to emotionally involved receivers will probably be your most challenging communication task.

·         The reasons-before-refusal plan helps you be empathic and artful in breaking bad news.

·         Use neutral, objective language to explain why the claims must be refused.

 

       Refusing Credit

·         Goals when refusing credit include maintaining customer goodwill and avoiding actionable language.

·         Keep the refusal respectful, sensitive, and upbeat.

 

(7)     Managing Negative Organization News

 

Announcing Bad News to Employees

·         Internal bad-news memos should use the indirect pattern to convey news that adversely affects employees.

·         Organizations can sustain employee morale by communicating bad news openly and honestly.

 

       Saying NO to Job Applicants

·         Letters that deny applications for employment should be courteous and tactful but free of specifics that could trigger lawsuits.

·         In the reasons section it’s wise to be vague in explaining why the candidate was not selected.

·         Keep employment rejection letters general, simple, and short.

 

(8)     Presenting Bad News in Other Cultures

 

·       Communicating bad news in other cultures may require different strategies.


Chapter 11: Report Planning and Research

 

(1)    Clarifying and Classifying Reports

 

¨                   Effective business reports solve problems and answer questions systematically.

 

Typical Business Reports

 

¨                  Periodic, situational, investigative, and compliance reports often present data without interpretation.

 

Periodic Operating Reports

¨       Written at regular intervals to monitor operations

 

Situational Reports

¨       Describe nonrecurring activities

 

Investigative/Informational Reports

¨       Reports that examine situations or problems and supply facts are investigative.

 

Compliance Reports

¨       Prompted by the government, compliance reports answer such questions as “how much profit did your organization earn and what taxes do you owe?”

 

¨       Justification/recommendation, yardstick, and feasibility reports analyze alternatives, interpret findings, and often make recommendations.

 

Justification/Recommendation Reports

¨       Usually travel upward to management, where the recommendations are approved or refused.

 

Yardstick Reports

¨       Assesses the alternatives by applying the same criteria to each, such as cost, service, security, and reliability.

 

Research Studies

¨       Reports use analysis to predict whether projects or alternatives are practical or advisable.

 

Proposals

¨       Proposals offer to solve problems, investigate ideas, or sell products and services.

¨       Another form of proposal is the business plan, a persuasive report that seeks to convince investors to fund a new company.

 

(2)   Functions of Reports

 

¨       Informational reports simply present data without analysis or recommendations.  Analytical reports provide data, analyses, conclusions, and, if requested, recommendations.

 

Direct and Indirect Patterns

Direct Pattern

¨       The direct pattern places conclusions and recommendations near the beginning of a report.

¨       They open with an introduction, followed by the facts and a summary

¨       Unless readers are familiar with the topic, they may find the direct pattern confusing.

 

Indirect Pattern

¨       The indirect pattern is appropriate for analytical reports that seek to persuade or that convey bad news.

¨       They begin with an introduction or description of the problem, followed by facts and interpretation from the writer.  They end with conclusions and recommendations.

¨       Helpful when readers are unfamiliar with the problem.

 

(3)   Formats of Reports

 

¨       A report’s format depends on its length, audience, topic, and purpose.

 

Writing Style

¨       Reports can be formal or informal depending on the purpose, audience, and setting.

 

(4)   Applying the 3-x-3 Writing Process to Reports

 

¨       The best reports grow out of a seven-step process beginning with analysis and ending with proofreading and evaluation.

 

Analyzing the Problem and Purpose

¨       Before beginning a report, identify in a clear statement the problem to be solved.

¨       A simple purpose statement defines the focus of a report.

¨       Choose active verbs

¨       An expanded purpose statement considers scope, significance, and limitations.

 

      Anticipating the Audience and Issues

¨       A major mistake is concentrating solely on a primary reader.

¨       Major report problems should be broken into subproblems—or factored—to highlight possible solutions.

 

      Preparing a Work Plan

¨       Such a plan keeps you on schedule and also gives management a means of measuring your progress.

¨       A good work plan provides an overview of a project: resources, priorities, course of action, and schedule.

 

(5)   Researching Secondary Data

 

¨       Primary data come from firsthand experience and observation; secondary data, from reading.

 

Print Resources

¨       Print sources are still the most visible part of libraries.

 

      Electronic Databases

¨       Many researchers today begin by looking in electronic databases

¨       A database is a collection of information stored electronically so that it is accessible by computer and is digitally searchable.

¨       Commercial databases offer articles, reports, and other information on-line.

¨       InfoTrac, ABI-INFORM, and ProQuest are popular on-line databases.

¨       Libraries pay for on-line services available to walk-in or remote patrons.

 

      The Internet

¨       The World Wide Web is a collection of hypertext pages that offer information and links.

¨       The Web is unquestionably one of the greatest sources of information now available to anyone needing facts quickly and inexpensively.

¨       Web browsers are software programs that access Web pages and their links.

¨       Search tools such as Yahoo!, AltaVista, and HotBot help you locate specific Web sites and information.

¨       Yahoo! Sorts Web sites into categories to assist researchers.

¨       AltaVista gives the best results for specific searches.

¨       Excite offers “More like this” feature.

¨       Once you have made a promising “hit,” you can click to see similar listings.

¨       You must know how to use search engines to make them most effective.

¨       Evaluate the currency, authority, content, and accuracy of Web sites carefully.

 

(6)   Generating Primary Data

 

¨       Primary data comes from firsthand experience.

 

Surveys

¨       Surveys yield efficient and economical primary data for reports.

¨       Although mailed surveys may suffer low response rates, they are still useful in generating primary data.

¨       Effective surveys target appropriate samples and ask a limited number of specific questions with quantifiable answers.

¨       The way a question is stated influences its response.

¨       The larger the sample, the more accurate the resulting data is likely to be.

 

      Interviews

¨       Interviews with experts yield useful report data, especially when little has been written about a topic.

 

      Observation and Experimentation

¨       Some of the best report data come from firsthand observation and investigation.

 

(7)   Documenting Data

 

¨       Documenting data lends credibility, aids the reader, and protects the writer from plagiarism.

 

Three Documentation Formats

¨       Select a suitable format to show textual and bibliographic references for your report sources.

¨       References are usually cited in two places: (1) a brief citation appears in the text and (2) a complete citation appears in a bibliography at the end of the report.

¨       Three most common formats for citations and bibliographies are…

1.       The Chicago Manual of Style Format

2.      Modern Language Association Format

3.      American Psychological Association Format

 

¨       Model the format for electronic sources on those of print sources.


Chapter 12: Report Organization and Presentation

 

(1)    Interpreting Data

 

¨                   Interpreting data means sorting, analyzing, combining, and recombining to yield meaningful information.

 

Tabulating and Analyzing Responses

¨       Numerical data must be tabulated and analyzed statistically to bring order out of chaos.

 

Tables

¨       Tables make quantitative information easier to comprehend.

¨       Sometimes data becomes more meaningful when cross-tabulated.  This process allows analysis of two or more variables together.

 

The Three Ms: Mean, Median, Mode.

¨       Three statistical concepts—mean, median, and mode—help you describe data.

¨       Means are very useful to indicate central tendencies of figures, but they have one major flaw: extremes at either end cause distortion.

¨       The mean is the arithmetic average; the median is the midpoint in a group of figures; the mode is the most frequently occurring figure.

¨       The median is useful when extreme figures may warp the mean.

¨       The mode has the advantage of being easily determined.

¨       Range represents the span between the highest and lowest values.

 

Correlations

¨       Correlations between variables suggest possible relationships that will explain research findings.

Grids

¨       Grids permit analysis of raw verbal data by grouping and classifying.

 

(2)   Drawing Conclusions in Reports

 

¨                              Conclusions summarize and explain the findings in a report.  They represent the heart of a report.

¨                              Effective report conclusions are objective and bias-free.

¨                              Avoid the temptation to sensationalize or exaggerate your findings or conclusions.

 

(3)   Writing Report Recommendations

 

¨                   Effective report conclusions are objective and bias-free.  Effective recommendations offer specific suggestions on how to solve a problem.

¨                   Detailed recommendations are written only when the report is authorized to do so.

¨                   Your intuition and your knowledge of the audience indicate how far your recommendations should be developed.

¨                   A good report provides practical recommendations

¨                   If possible, make each recommendation a command.

 

(4)   Organizing Data

 

¨                              The direct pattern is appropriate for informed or receptive readers; the indirect pattern is appropriate when educating or persuading.

 

Ordering Information Logically

¨                  Organizing by time, component, importance, criteria, or convention helps readers comprehend data.

¨                  Five common organizational methods are…

Ø       Time: establishing a chronology of events.  Method is easy.  Tends to be boring, repetitious, and lacking in emphasis.

Ø       Component: data may be organized by components such as location, geography, division, product, or part.  Works best when the classifications already exist.

Ø       Importance: involves beginning with the most important item and proceeding to the least important—or vice versa.  Organizing by level of importance saves the time of busy readers and increases the odds that key information will be retained.

Ø       Criteria: to evaluate choices or plans fairly, apply the same criteria to each.  Helps readers make comparisons.

Ø       Convention: organizing by convention simplifies the organizational task and yields easy-to-follow information.

 

(5)   Providing Reader Cues

 

Introductions

¨       Good openers tell readers what topics will be covered in what order and why.

¨       To maintain consistency, delay writing the introduction until after you have completed the report.

      Transitions

¨       Transitional expressions inform readers where ideas are headed and how they relate.

 

      Headings

¨       Good headings provide organizational cues and spotlight key ideas.

¨       Headings should be brief, parallel, and ordered in a logical hierarchy.

 

(6)   Illustrating Data with Graphics

 

¨       Effective graphics clarify numerical data and simplify complex ideas.

¨       They clarify data.  They condense and simplify data.  They emphasize data.

Matching Graphics and Objectives

¨       Decide what data you want to highlight.

 

Tables

¨       Tables permit systematic presentation of large amounts of data, while charts enhance visual comparisons.

Bar Charts

¨       Bar charts enable readers to compare related items, see changes over time, and understand how parts relate to a whole.

Line Charts

¨       Line charts illustrate trends and changes in data over time.

Pie Charts

¨       Pie charts are most useful in showing the proportion of parts to a whole.

Flow Charts

¨       Flow charts help the reader visualize the process.

Organizational Charts

¨       Organizational charts show the line of command and thus the flow of official communication from management to employees.

Photographs, Maps, and Illustrations

¨       Computer technology permits photographs, maps, and illustrations to be scanned directly into a report.

 

(7)   Incorporating Graphics in Reports

 

¨       Effective graphics are accurate and ethical, avoid overuse of color or decorations, and include titles.

¨       Textual graphics should be introduced by statements that help readers interpret them.

¨       Help the reader understand the significance of a graphic.


Chapter 14: Proposals and Formal Reports

 

(1)    Preparing Formal and Informal Proposals

 

¨                   Proposals are persuasive offers to solve problems, provide services, or sell equipment.

¨                   Government agencies and large companies use requests for proposals (RFPs) to solicit competitive bids on projects.

¨                   Most proposals are external

¨                   Proposals may be divided into two categories: solicited or unsolicited

¨                   Unsolicited proposals are written when an individual or firm sees a problem to be solved and offers a proposal to do so.

¨                   They are sales presentations…they must be persuasive

 

Components of Informal Proposals

¨       Informal proposals may be presented in short (two-to-four-page) letters.

¨       Letter proposals may contain six principal components: introduction, background, proposal, staffing, budget, and authorization request.

 

Introduction

¨       You need to provide a “hook” to capture the reader’s interest

 

Background, Problem, Purpose

¨       The background section identifies the problem and discusses the goals or purposes of the project.

 

Proposal, Plan, Schedule

¨       Tell what you propose to do and how it will benefit the reader.

¨       Include a schedule of activities or timetable showing when events take place.

¨       The actual proposal section must give enough information to secure the contract but not so much detail that the services are no longer needed.

 

Staffing

¨       The staffing section of a proposal describes the credentials and expertise of the project leaders.

¨       Along with other resources such as computer facilities and special programs for analyzing statistics

¨       Good place to endorse and promote your staff

 

Budget

¨       Because a proposal is a legal contract, the budget must be carefully researched.

¨       A list of proposed project costs

¨       Protect yourself with a deadline for acceptance.

 

Authorization Request

¨       Informal proposals often close with a request for approval or authorization.

 

(2)   Special Components of Formal Proposals

 

¨       Formal proposals respond to big projects

¨       Formal proposals might also contain a copy of the RFP, a letter of transmittal, an abstract, a title page, a table of contents, a list of figures, and an appendix.

¨       The persuasive letter of transmittal briefly presents the major features and benefits of your proposal.

¨       An abstract summarizes a proposal’s highlights for specialists; an executive summary does so for managers.

¨       Today, however, companies increasingly prefer on-line proposals

 

(3)   Writing Formal Reports

 

¨       Formal reports discuss the results of a process of thorough investigation and analysis

 

(4)   Components of Formal Reports

 

¨       Like proposals, formal reports are divided into many segments to make information comprehensible and accessible.

 

Cover

Title page

¨       Name of the report typed in uppercase letters

¨       All items after the title are typed in a combination of upper- and lowercase letters.

 

      Letter or Memo of Transmittal

¨       A letter or memo of transmittal gives a personalized overview of a formal report.

¨       Direct pattern and is usually less formal than the report itself.

¨       If a report is going to different readers, a special transmittal letter or memo should be prepared for each.

 

      Table of Contents

    List of Figures

¨       For reports with several figures or illustrations, you may wish to include a list of figures to help readers locate them.

 

      Executive Summary or Abstract

¨       The length and complexity of the abstract or executive summary depend on the length of and audience for the report.

 

(5)   Introduction

 

¨       Formal reports begin with an introduction that sets the scene and announces the subject.

 

(6)   Body

 

¨       The body discusses, analyzes, interprets, and evaluates the research findings or solution to the initial problem.

 

Conclusions

¨       Tells what the findings mean

 

      Recommendations

¨       The recommendations section of a formal report offers specific suggestions for solving a problem.

 

      Appendix

      Works Cited, References, or Bibliography

¨       The bibliography section of a formal report identifies sources of ideas mentioned in the report.

 

(7)   Final Writing Tips

 

¨       Formal reports require careful attention to all phases of the 3-x-3 writing process.

¨       Smart report writers allow themselves plenty of time, research thoroughly, draw up a useful outline, and work on a computer.

¨       Effective formal reports maintain parallelism in verb tenses, avoid first-person pronouns, and use the active voice.