COM 510 BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS WEEK 4 DISCUSSION 1

“Impressive Writing” Please respond to the following:Share an example of a strategic, professionally written, strategic communication piece.Identify the key message. Detail how the organization and composition of the communication contribute to its effectiveness (4-8 sentences recommended).Note: Remove any personal identifying information and language from the communication prior to sharing, or if it is from the Internet, provide a link to the source.
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LEARN
Guide to Managerial Communication, Chapter II: Writing: Composing Efficiently
Guide to Managerial Communication, Chapter III: Writing: Macro Issues
Guide to Managerial Communication, Appendix A: Writing Inclusively
WRITTEN COMMUNICATION
We write messages every day, in both our personal and business lives. We
write emails, send texts and instant messages, and create reports, invitations
for meetings, agendas, visual aids, PowerPoint decks, and more. Each time
we write, it provides an opportunity to communicate effectively because we
can gather our thoughts and compose the clearest, most concise, and
professional message possible. Take advantage of these opportunities by
applying the four rules of professional written communication, and you will
better position yourself and your organization for success.
RULE 1: WRITE STRATEGICALLY
The first and most important quality of professional writing is that your
message must be strategic. Every message should be written to address each
of the five components of strategic communication. This means…
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
You are keeping your goal in mind.
You understand your audience, and write specifically to their needs.
Your key message is clear, concise, and properly emphasized.
You’ve selected the proper channel for delivering your message.
You’ve made a request on which your audience can easily act.
The most skillful communicators always run these five qualities through their
heads while composing a message. This isn’t something you’ll always do
consciously. After you get used to these methods, you’ll learn to account for
all five qualities automatically. This will be true of big and small messages
alike, even if the five aspects are addressed only indirectly. When you get
used to writing this way, it won’t take nearly the amount of time that we’ll use
in class to discuss.
RULE 2: WRITE CLEARLY AND CONCISELY
You’ll hear over and over again that your messages should be clear and
concise. But what does that really mean? A clear message is one whose
meaning is obvious. It should be easy to tell what you’re trying to say in your
communication. A concise message is one that is no longer than it needs to
be to get the job done. However, don’t think that just because a message is
short that it is concise. If you leave out necessary information, or if you are
unnecessarily terse or rude, you are not communicating effectively.
A clear, concise message contains its key point near the beginning. It is direct
and skimmable (using bullet points, appropriate headers, etc.). It includes no
extra information. Adding things you don’t need just makes your message
less clear. Buzzwords, jargon, inside references, and extraneous details just
make a message more confusing. The same is true of “twenty-five- cent
words.” Using complicated words to sound impressive doesn’t improve your
message. In many ways, it can make it less clear than a simpler, more direct
statement.
It has been said that the best writing is the simplest writing. Anyone can write
a long, overly detailed message. It takes skill to edit that message down to just
what is needed and nothing more. Such a message is focused, clear, and
direct, using common language that is easily read and understood. Never be
afraid to make your writing simpler. Just because a communication is formal
doesn’t mean that it needs to be an impenetrable wall of flowery verbiage.
Everyone who reads it should be able to understand it.
RULE 3: KEEP YOUR WRITING
PROFESSIONAL
You’ll also hear, again and again, that your writing should be professional.
But, what does that mean, exactly? A professional message is one that is
appropriately formal for the audience. However, appropriately formal doesn’t
mean overly so. You wouldn’t show up to the company picnic in a suit and tie,
or skirt and heels. For a board meeting, you wouldn’t show up in swim trunks
and sunglasses. In fact, if you’re more formal than is required for the setting
and the audience, you might look insecure or even pompous. At the same
time, you don’t want to be too informal, or you’ll be seen as lacking class.
There’s no simple solution to formality across the range of professional
settings. You have to take the time to understand how, and in what way,
you’re communicating with your audience. Then, use the appropriate level of
formality to match the professional setting. Engage your audience, but don’t
insult them. Make your case, but don’t talk down to anyone.
RULE 4: DON’T SIMPLY SEND YOUR FIRST
DRAFT
Remember, written communication allows you the chance to gather your
thoughts. This is important, because unlike when talking to someone in real
time, writing gives you a chance to draft the clearest, most concise, and most
effective message. That means you should never simply write out your first
draft and hit “send.” You should always review and revise your written
messages to improve them. Make every communication as effective as it can
be. If time permits, don’t be afraid to send your draft to others for their input,
especially if the stakes are high.
WRITING TO STANDARDS
Sending an email usually means conforming to more general, less formal
professional standards than, say, publishing a white paper, or addressing a
conference. There are standards to which you may have to write depending
on the audience, and on the type of communication. The most obvious
example is a style guide. For example, reporters who write for the Associated
Press must conform to the AP style guide when they write. Some industries
require specific standards for communication. Some documentation may
need to meet standards for international translation, and so on. Professional
business writing standards vary from industry to industry, and among
organizations within those industries.
At Amazon, for example, some departments require teams to write concise,
persuasive, one to two page essays that everyone reads in silence before the
meeting. This ensures that everyone on the team understands necessary
background information, goals, as well as the team’s thought processes,
proposed next steps, and likely outcomes. This is a very effective way for
Amazon team members to make meetings more efficient. If you, as a new
employee or leader at Amazon, were unaware of this practice, you would be at
a major disadvantage.
All professional writing shares the same general guidelines that you’ll learn
here, but take the time to learn the specific writing standards that apply to
you, your industry, your organization, and the specific types of writing in
which you engage. These include, but aren’t limited to, questions like…
How does your organization communicate? How does management
communicate with the company? How do colleagues communicate with
each other, and through which channels?
Are there certain required formats for communication, for
documentation, and for feedback?
Are there specific channels used for different types of communication?
Are some channels accepted and others frowned upon? For example, is
instant messaging an accepted practice in your organization? Or would
email be more appropriate for your message?
WHAT MAKES A GREAT LINKEDIN
PROFILE?
The business social media site, LinkedIn, is an incredibly powerful
networking and branding tool. Your LinkedIn profile, together with the posts
you share on LinkedIn, gives you the chance to showcase who you are as a
professional. In the business world, it isn’t at all uncommon for your fellow
professionals to look you up on LinkedIn before and after meetings, or when
evaluating personnel as part of job interviews and employment screening. For
most of us, our LinkedIn profile is among the first results when our name is
entered in a search engine.
LinkedIn essentially acts as an online resume. It’s a great resource when
searching and applying for jobs. It allows you to publish and share your
knowledge, which projects your professional presence. It’s also a very useful
method of networking, as it lets you reach out to others in your field all
around the world.
Since your LinkedIn profile is so important, it should present you to the
world properly. It should make a good first impression. This means that it
should conform to professional standards when compared to similar business
professionals on LinkedIn.
PHOTO
A great LinkedIn profile starts with a professional, high-quality photo of you.
The photo should be a close-up, meaning your head and shoulders. Make sure
to avoid pictures that are too casual, but your profile doesn’t need to be so
formal that it hurts. Aim for a professional image that hints at who you are as
a person. The photo should be bright, well-focused, and show you dressed as
you would in the workplace.
HEADLINE
The next element is your LinkedIn headline, which is the professional title
you create that appears under your name. It could be your current work title,
but it could also be something more effective. Your headline is the
opportunity to make a first impression on anyone who views your profile, so
take the opportunity to define yourself for the reader. Use your headline to
tell the audience — in this case, other LinkedIn users — what they should
know about you at a glance.
For example, instead of writing, “Human Resources Manager” for your
headline, you could write, “Dedicated Staffing Professional, Human
Resources Specialist in an Award- Winning Workplace.” Instead of writing,
“Sales Manager,” you could instead list your headline as, “Accomplished
Revenue Driver.” Don’t simply tell people what you do; tell them who you are.
SUMMARY
Your summary is another critical part of your LinkedIn profile. You need to
learn to use it strategically. What do you want your summary to
communicate, and to whom? Consider both likely and hopeful audiences.
Who do you want to impress? Your summary should make your audience feel
the way you want them to feel. Don’t forget to consider what you want them
to do. Do you want them to network with you, interview you, or come to you
for an interview?
Remember to include accomplishments that make you unique. LinkedIn
represents a truly global professional network. There is a lot of competition.
You can’t afford to get lost amidst the background. Try to offer something
that helps you stand out. What are your victories? When appropriate, also
include your values and passions.
WORK HISTORY
Keep your work history simple and effective. Use a bulleted list, and when
possible, show in concrete terms what you accomplished. This might be
something like, “Responsible for Accounts Receivable; Increased receivables
25% in 18 months.” Wherever possible, explain what you were responsible for
doing, and how you did it well, with measurable, quantifiable details to
support what you’re saying.
RECOMMENDATIONS
Recommendations on your LinkedIn profile give you a chance to include
what’s called validation and credibility. This means any awards, honors,
recommendations, and quotes that are appropriate. It’s a way of telling the
reader what other people think about you, which gives you more credibility.
(You may have direct recommendations posted to your LinkedIn profile, but
consider including key quotes from them in the summary section as well.)
The best way to get recommendations is to ask for them. Give your own
recommendations, which will encourage others to return the favor. Ask
yourself: “Who can I reach out to for a recommendation?” Make sure those
recommendations are appropriately professional, too. You don’t want to
include any that do not add value to your profile.
BUSINESS WRITING IS JUST… WRITING
Remember that business writing is still writing. It may be more formal at
times than your personal communications, but the same principles apply.
Your messages should be clear, concise, and actionable. They should be
direct, the key message should be obvious, and they should only be as
complicated as they have to be to impart the necessary information through
the appropriate channel, and against the appropriate standards. It pays to
keep these principles in mind at all times. Once you become used to them,
you will use them habitually. This will position you — and your organization
— for success.

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