Why? Be a Skilled Communicator
Link & Learn
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This will be one of the most useful courses you’ll take in college.
Writing and communicating well matters. In this course, you’ll learn how to communicate your best ideas to your most important audiences.
- Write for Business. Clear and concise writing gets noticed and leads to action.
- Be a Top Hire. Demonstrated communication skills improve your job prospects.
- Become a Leader. Effective communication skills help you lead.
- Stay Connected. Appropriate communication helps you stay connected in your networks and relationships.
Get ready to explore ways to manage projects and people, design great-looking documents, and present your ideas clearly and confidently.
Section OneWrite for Business
Communication is the heart of business. Short emails, complex reports, private chats, impassioned pitches, formal presentations, and team meetings move information and ideas around an organization, define strategy, and drive decisions.
Business communication is concise, direct, clear, and compelling.
Write to Be Understood
Clear and Concise Writing
All writing styles, including business writing, can be written clearly without losing meaning. Plain language is a term used to describe writing that is clear and concise. Many businesses and governments are revising traditionally dense, hard-to-understand text using plain-language principles. Below is an example from PlainLanguage.gov.
FEMA’s Winter Preparedness Safety Tips
Timely preparation, including structural and non-structural mitigation measures to avoid the impacts of severe winter weather, can avert heavy personal, business and government expenditures. Experts agree that the following measures can be effective in dealing with the challenges of severe winter weather.
Severe winter weather can be extremely dangerous. Consider these safety tips to protect your property and yourself.
“A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.”
—William Strunk and E. B. White
The Business Audience
Your audience dictates your business writing style. Keep the following points in mind when composing:
- Your audience is busy. Busy (and business) readers want concise, no-nonsense information.
- Your audience is analytical. Readers want solid evidence and transparency.
- Your audience is increasingly international. Even though English is the global language of business, avoid language that could create misunderstandings or confusion for non-native English speakers.
- Your audience is decisive. Business communication often leads to decisions. Provide well-reasoned recommendations.
- Decision makers are critical of time wasters. Business moves quickly, so give only pertinent information. Make that information reliable and easy to access.
Section TwoBe a Top Hire
Employers are hungry for people who can think and communicate clearly. A 2018 report by analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies identifies 14 foundational skills for the digital economy. Three of these skills – communication, critical thinking, and communicating data – are core elements of the management communication curriculum.
Hire the Best Writer
Employers are eager to hire good writers because clear writing demonstrates clear thinking. Read about bad business writing in this Harvard Business Review article:
A 2020 survey reveals that written and verbal communication skills are in the top five attributes employers are looking for when hiring new college graduates (see the accompanying graphic).
“If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. . . . Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit. And those are qualities you want in any candidate. Writing is making a comeback all over our society. . . . Writing is today’s currency for good ideas.”
Founder of Basecamp, author of ReWork
Section ThreeBecome a Leader
You become a leader by using your communication skills to learn from people, coordinate their efforts, share knowledge, communicate high standards, and inspire.
In their book The Extraordinary Leader, researchers Zenger and Folkman report that communicating “powerfully and prolifically” enhances leadership competencies, including even seemingly unrelated ones like technical competence or strategic development. Powerful communication is a skill—and a habit—that enhances all other skills.
In your other classes, you’ll spend long hours deepening your technical knowledge in your chosen field. However, if you leave college unable to pitch a new idea to your team, persuade an investor, or clarify data for a client, your influence will be blunted and much of your effort wasted.
Hone your communication skills and you will be able to powerfully contribute solutions to your workplace and enhance your own career.
Section FourStay Connected
Human connection is valuable to health, safety, peace, and success. We spend the majority of our waking time in communication activities, driven to connect—and stay connected—with other people.
Part of good business communication involves understanding another’s point of view, delivering bad news clearly but diplomatically, maintaining trust through ethical and honest messaging, and using language to encourage and motivate a team.
Your study of business communications will not only help you increase your workplace skills and employable value, but will also help you to live well, understand others, stay connected, and accomplish your goals.
By practicing concise and direct communication, you’ll become more effective in business, a more sought-after hire, a more influential leader, and a more connected human being.
Let’s get started.
Please let us know.
Bold citations are referenced in the chapter text.
Bernoff, Josh. “Bad Writing Is Destroying Your Company’s Productivity.” Harvard Business Review, September 6, 2016. Accessed August 2021.
Jean-Etienne, Joullié. The Language of Power and Authority in Leadership
Burning Glass Technologies. “The Human Factor” (PDF file). November 2015. Accessed August 2021.
Harris, Lynda. “The Cost of Bad Writing.” NA Business + Management 29, no. 8 (2015): 15. Accessed August 2021.
Morgan, Blake. “Why Every Employee At Your Company Should Have Communications Training.” Forbes, January 24, 2018. Accessed August 2021.
NACE. “Key Attributes Employers Want to See on Students’ Resumes.” January 13, 2020. Accessed August 2021.
Plain Language: Improving Communications from the Federal Government to the Public. May 2011. Accessed August 2021.
Wiens, Kyle. “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why.” Harvard Business Review, July 20, 2012. Accessed August 2021.
Garber, Peter R. 50 Communications Activities, Icebreakers, and Exercises. Amherst: HRD Press, 2008. PDF e-book. Accessed August 2021.
Strunk, William, and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Longman, 2000.
Zenger, John, and Joseph Folkman. The Extraordinary Leader. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2009.