How to Improve Communication skills

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BUSINESS Program S Communi Cation Skill S Guide1.1 short Answers SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Analyse the question The question is answered See 2.8 Select relevant information The content is all relevant to the question See 2.8 Think critically and The answer shows understanding of how key aspects relate; analytically Information is questioned Begin with a proposition The proposition shows understanding of the question and indicates the points to See 2.7 be covered; The final sentence summarises Present an argument The argument is logical and concise Purpose To write a concise and logical answer to a question. audience Your assessor. However, this format is practice for presenting persuasive answers to issues or problems for business colleagues or superiors. Structure Introduction • An establishing sentence shows the reader you understand the question and indicates the position you will take (see example). In a sense, the ambit of the answer is in this sentence. argument • This part of the answer defines the key terms in the question and provides justification for the argument with the ‘What’ and the ‘Why’. What • Provide the relevant information to answer the question. You may include brief examples. Why • Most questions require an explanation section where you show the relationships, consequences or reasons for the answer you give. Conclusion • A concluding sentence is only needed if the argument is long and complex. Style The answer may have only one paragraph. If longer than half a page, consider more paragraphs. The writing See 2.9 should be impersonal, to give the answer generality and suggest impartiality. However, in some instances the nature of the assignment task may require a personal style of response where students are asked to relate personal business experience to concepts and theories. Steps See 2.8 Underline the key terms in the question. Decide whether the question asks for a simple description (Describe... or What is...?) or some analysis and explanation (Discuss, Comment, Explain or Analyse). Establish the meanings of the key terms and identify information that will answer the question. Write an establishing sentence that shows you understand the question and indicates your position. 6 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDEPresent information and justification for your answer. Include brief examples if they will help to make your point(s) clear. Check that all the information included is necessary to your answer - no padding. t ip Rote learning is not sufficient for short answers. You will need to think about how the different facts See 2.8 relate, their purposes and their consequences, and answer the question. See the example below. Example Question: Discuss the conditions under which cash accounting provides useful financial information. answer int Ro DUCtion Establishing sentence including Point of View Cash accounting provides useful financial information only under restrictive conditions. ARg Ument What (explanation) Pure cash accounting maintains records of an entity’s cash flow. It ignores all liabilities and only recognises one asset – cash. Modified cash accounting methods keep the daily records on a cash basis, but augment the end-of-period results for a few significant non-cash items such as inventories or equipment. What (explanation) The main aim of accounting is to provide financial information for use in making economic decisions. The accountant normally presents this information in terms of an entity’s financial position and changes therein as represented by assets, liabilities and owner’s equity. Why (implications of the facts) When non-cash assets and liabilities are a significant part of an entity’s operation, then the cash accounting method will not provide the information needed for making economic decisions. Con Cl Usion (logical conclusion drawn – restates argument given what has been presented) It follows that the cash accounting method will provide useful financial information when an entity’s operations are conducted mainly in cash terms, with relatively small or constant carry-overs of inventory and equipment from one period to the next. Useful r eferences See the Business School website for examples and further advice. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 71.2 Academic essays SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Structure the essay The proposition states your position and is followed by the main points to be covered See 2.7 The proposition shows understanding of the question The argument presents your ideas with evidence The conclusion summarises the points made Present an argument Evidence is provided to support your opinion Your position remains clear throughout Opposing views and evidence are considered Reference thoroughly The source of each claim made is acknowledged The Harvard system is used consistently to cite sources and to list references See 2.14 Write clearly and concisely Arguments are clear and concise Grammar and spelling are accurate Definitions An essay is a formal presentation of an argument. An academic essay refers to the most recent and significant research and literature in presenting an argument. Purpose To persuade an audience of your point of view. audience Your assessor, who is an academic, will assess the clarity of your argument and how well you justify your position and acknowledge your sources. Structure Proposition • State your point of view on the topic. Introduction • Outline the main points you will discuss. Presentation of Points • Each paragraph should contain one main point, which is proven, developed or illustrated. Conclusion • Summarise or restate the main issues and the conclusion. Language and Style See 2.9 Essays have a formal tone to indicate impartial analysis and good style is important. Your writing should be clear and concise, using your own words. Acknowledge sources when others’ words or ideas are used. Avoid skimpy paragraphs and overlong sentences and paragraphs. Steps Underline the key words in the assignment question and roughly draft an argument, using what you know. Plan what further information and evidence you need to read. Read critically and analytically about the topic: interpret, compare information, work out relationships, check See 2.8 relevance to the topic. Note your sources, being sure to record the page numbers. Rearrange or redraft your argument as further ideas are found to support or counter your position. With each draft refine your ideas. 8 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDECheck that your argument flows well, is introduced in the first paragraph and reiterated in the last. Proofread, and cross-check references in the essay and the reference list. See 2.14 Hints It is often best to write (or rewrite) the introduction last, when you know exactly what position you have argued in the essay. Use direct quotations to illustrate key points, but avoid excessive use of quotations. See 2.8 Make sure you have taken a position; not just presented others’ ideas. Useful r eferences Clanchy, J & Ballard, B 1997, Essay writing for students, Longman, Cheshire, Melbourne. Craswell, G 2005, Writing for academic success: A postgraduate guide, Sage, London. MunLing, S 2010, Essay writing: A student's guide, Sage, London. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 91.3 l iterature Review SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Selecting and organising Compare and contrast different authors information See 2.8 Group authors who draw similar conclusions Note areas in which authors are in disagreement Highlight gaps in research Conclude by summarising what the literature says Constructing your argument Provide background or context for the issue/argument State the problem Find relevant materials to support the argument Determine which literature makes significant contributions to the understanding of the topic Analyse and interpret pertinent literature Writing the review Provide an overview of the subject under consideration Divide literature under categories (those supporting, against or providing alternative views) Explain how each work is similar to or varies from others Conclude as to which pieces are best considered in the argument and make the greatest contribution towards the understanding and development of the argument Purpose To present an argument insightfully and critically with regard to existing work in the discipline. audience Your lecturer or assessor. You have to convince them that you have read vastly, critically evaluated what you have read and synthesised information to support your own argument. Structure Introduction • Provide background or context of the issue. argument • Place each work in the context of its contribution to the understanding of the subject under review. • Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration. • Identify new ways to interpret, and shed light on any gaps in previous research. • Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies. • P oint the way forward for further research. Conclusion • Restate the arguments that best contribute to the understanding of the issues being discussed. • Do not introduce new material. Style See 2.8 A literature review is written in academic language. One of the fundamental qualities of academic language is that it attempts to be objective. Criticisms of other authors’ works need to be fair. It is important to maintain a respectful, scholarly tone when you are discussing the work of other authors. You need to avoid strong or emotive language. This is especially true of the author’s work you criticise. Steps Read widely, critically and analytically about the topic: interpret, compare information, work out relationships and check the relevance. Take all the critical comments you made in your readings and structure an academic opinion. See 2.8 10 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDEIndicate a clear relationship between your argument and the evidence. Link sentences within the paragraphs to indicate these relationships and connections. Summarise each section to draw conclusions. Support your arguments with facts and theory from the literature. Use examples, citation and quotations See 2.8 where appropriate. Account for differing opinions rather than ignore them. Present evidence and also make some attempt to acknowledge opposing viewpoints. Make your preferences clear rather than ‘sitting on the fence’ or leaving it to the reader to draw conclusions. Make sure that the sections of the review are clearly connected. Write an outline statement in the introduction which makes the order of the arguments clear, and give reasons for ordering the material in that particular manner. Include in-text citations wherever necessary and a reference list at the end of the review. Useful r eferences Cooper, H 1998, Synthesizing research: A guide for literature reviews, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California. Galvan, JL 1999, Writing literature reviews, Pyrczak Publishing, Los Angeles. Macauley, P 2001, The literature review, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia. Machi, LA & McEvoy, BT 2009, The literature review: Six steps to success, Corwin Press, Thousand Oaks, California. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 111.4 Critical Review SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Reading Read and understand the main points of the article See 2.8 Note the outline of the author’s argument Analyse the findings or argument of the article Decide the appropriate criteria to evaluate the article Provide a critical evaluation of the article based on the selected criteria See 2.8 Evaluation criteria Timeliness of the article. Degree to which the articles makes an original contribution Logic of the view put forward Validity of the evidence put forward Are the findings presented and described clearly? Could the data be interpreted differently? Validity of the conclusions Thoroughness of the article Appropriateness of the article for the intended audience Writing the review Provide all the publication details that the reader will find useful See 2.9 Provide a summary of the article Describe several points with which you agree or disagree and provide evidence that supports your position Refer to other aspects of the article that might be worth commenting on such as appropriateness of language, use of illustrations and graphics and organisation of text Be selective about the information and evidence that you include in your review as there is usually a word limit Purpose To read, value and present a critical evaluation of an article so that your reader understands the key content of the article and your response to it without actually reading it. audience Your lecturer or assessor. You have to convince them through your writing that you have critically read and evaluated an article using the criteria indicated in the table above. Structure Introduction • Provide a context for the article. • Provide the title of the article and name of author. • Identify the author by profession or standing if appropriate. Include some indication as to why the subject is important. Identify the purpose of the article. • Give an indication of your overall impression of the article in general terms. Body • Summarise and analyse the contents of the article. • Make clear by frequent reference to the author of the article when you are presenting the author’s views, and not yours. • Evaluate the article. Conclusion • Summarise the previous discussion. • Make a final judgement on the value of the article. • Comment on the future of the issue/topic or implications of the views expressed. Style See 2.9 A critical review is a summary of an article that you have read, therefore paraphrase and use quotations sparingly. Do not plagiarise. Be consistent in the use of tense: choice of past, present perfect or present-present is preferred. 12 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDESteps Take a quick overview of the article. Read the article without taking notes in order to gain an overall idea of its aim and main idea. Read the article again and highlight important ideas and make brief notes in the margin. Check your notes to ensure that they include the main aim of the paper (analyse, evaluate, argue, criticise, etc.), its methodological approach as well as findings or conclusions. Evaluate the content and begin writing your critical review. Useful r eferences Brandt, C 2009, Read, research and write: Academic skills for ESL students in higher education, Sage, London. Rose, J 2007, The mature student's guide to writing, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. Virgo, G 2005, Writing an academic assignment: Preparing a model essay on globalisation, Pearson Education, Frenchs Forest, NSW. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 131.5 o ral presentations SKILLS Cr It Er Ia See 2.7 Select and organise information Relevance of information and amount appropriate to the time available Brief introduction Introduce group members and sub-topics that they will talk about (if in group) Make smooth transitions (from topic to topic or from one group member to another) Argument is well-organised, using transition words Short conclusion or link (if in group) Project confidence and Strong stance, calm appearance, eye contact enthusiasm Minimal reference to notes Speak clearly Clear speech Steady pace Some modulation Appropriate emphasis Explain or define new terms Avoid jargon and long sentences Use audio-visuals effectively Over Head Transparencies (OHTs) or Powerpoint slides should not be crowded See 1.15 Equipment used with ease Information selected assists the audience Respond to the audience Counter arguments explained Own argument summarised Active listening and focused response Purpose To present a persuasive argument or report on a topic. audience Consider your audience to determine how much and how you will present. Choose vocabulary and information to suit their background. Structure Introduction • Include the title, context or relevance, and overview of the main points. argument • Present your point of view clearly. • Include evidence and examples. • Briefly consider alternative arguments and evidence. Conclusion • Restate the argument, perhaps with summary of counter argument. • Do not introduce new material. Style The vocabulary and language used should match that used by the audience in similar settings. Avoid an overload of information and new terminology. Use transition phrases and words to communicate shifts in coverage of content and refer back to earlier information to help the audience follow the presentation. Steps Read critically and analytically about the topic: interpret, compare information, work out relationships, check See 2.8 the relevance. 14 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDEForm an argument and organise the evidence. Structure your talk with an introduction, argument and conclusion. Select your main points and list them as headings for OHTs or slides. Make sure the print is large enough for your audience (at least 24 pt). Make one key point per visual unless the audience is very familiar with the subject. Organise material into categories and contrasts (before vs. after, problem and solution, advantages vs. disadvantages, beginning to end, etc.). Do not include more than three or four points under one heading. Prepare your main points on cue cards if you need prompts. Do not read from your cue card or from a prepared script. Use the PPT slides to jog your memory. If it is a group presentation, decide who will present which parts, and how. Go through your presentation together to see how long it takes and to make a smooth changeover between each person. Rehearse your presentation: to yourself first and then in front of your friends. Keep within the time allocated. t ips Don’t block the audience’s vision and limit the time your back is to the audience. Make sure you know how to operate the equipment; practice operating it ahead of time; have back up files saved (make sure that you save your presentation on a compatible format). Useful r eferences Huff, WAK 2008, Public speaking: A concise overview for the twenty-first century, Peter Lang, New York. Valentine, N 1993, Speaking in public, Penguin Pocket Series, Australia. Van Emden, J 2010, Presentation skills for students, Palgrave Macmillan, Hampshire, New York. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 151.6 interviews SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Presenting as a professional Appears confident and is well prepared Shakes hand and introduces self Uses interviewee’s name Seats interviewee appropriately Summarises focus of interview and areas to be covered Questioning Questions are open-ended The order of questions has a clear logic Clarifying questions used if needed Delivery Clear enunciation and standard English Pace is even, not too slow or too fast Responses are acknowledged Eye contact, with some taking of notes and referring to questions Closure Confirms understanding by paraphrasing Asks if the interviewee wants to add anything Thanks interviewee and confirms the next step Definition An interview is a formal meeting where specific information is sought from a person through oral questioning. Purpose To gain specific information or to assess a person’s suitability for a position or role. audience The audience is the person being interviewed (the interviewee). The interviewer will want to impress on the interviewee that the organisation for which he or she works is efficient and considerate, and the information given will be treated professionally. Structure There are two structures to consider. One is the structure of the total interview, which encompasses the arrival and departure of the interviewee or interviewer; the other is the structure of the questions, which fits within the structure of the interview. Greetings • Shake hands, introduce self. • Confirm interviewee’s name, check preferred name. • Seat interviewee appropriately, if you are the host. Introducing the question • Summarise what the interview is about. • Indicate the order of areas to be covered by the questions. • Outline expected outcomes and duration of interview. t he questions • Begin with general questions. • Questions become specific. • Questions to clarify answers are added as required. Closure to the questions • Inform the interviewee when questions are finished. • Ask if the interviewee would like to add or ask anything. 16 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDEClosure to the interview • Thank the interviewee and say what the next step will be. Language and Style Interviews are formal but friendly, so that the interviewee is at ease and prepared to respond openly and honestly to the questions. Steps Make sure that the interviewee knows the purpose, the time and the place of the interview and has plenty of time to prepare. Be clear on what you want to find out from the interviewee. Write open-ended questions that will elicit this information. (Open-ended questions require more than a yes or no answer. They often begin with ‘What’, ‘How’, ‘Which’, ‘When’, ‘Where’ or ‘Who’). Put the questions in order, with the more general, background questions at the beginning. If you are the host, prepare the interview setting so that the chairs are at the same level, at an angle, and not facing the light. Greet the interviewee and follow the structure above. Vary the order of your prepared questions if the answers naturally move into different questions. Note answers, and check that all questions have been covered by the end. As soon as practicable fill out your notes so that you have the answers clearly recorded. Hints Pace your questions so that all your written questions are answered without rushing. Give yourself and the interviewee time to think, to add information and to ask for clarification. Useful r eferences Corfield, R 2009, Successful interview skills: How to prepare, answer tough questions and get your ideal job, 5th edn, Kogan Page, London. Friesen, BK 2010, Designing and conducting your first interview project, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco. King, N & Horrocks, C 2010, Interviews in qualitative research, Sage, Los Angeles. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 171.7 professional Reports SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Plan and manage tasks The report is on schedule All relevant aspects are considered Research information Appropriate sources are consulted Sufficient sources are consulted Sources of data are well-documented Organise information Appropriate headings See 2.9 Integrated structure, i.e., arguments and conclusions match purpose Alternative views are considered Writing the review Arguments are easy to understand and succinct See 2.7 Definition In the business workplace, much of the writing will be in the form of a report. It is a formal account of a situation produced after consideration of all relevant factors. The report is based on research, with evidence provided from the literature as well as from research undertaken by the investigator. The argument is drawn from professional practice, using the language of business appropriate to the audience. Purpose To inform senior management or a client about a particular issue, often for the purpose of future decision-making. audience Your audience may be the managing director of your company, its shareholders, people in a government department or rival firms, or indeed potential clients. Your audience and their needs will influence what you put in your report, and how you present it. The length of a Professional Report varies according to the problem. Concise reports for managers rarely extend beyond three pages, while reports that have been prepared by consultancies may extend to 30 or 60 pages or more. Thus 2 structures are presented. The first is commonly used for full length and consultancy style manage- ment reports, while the second structure is more suitable for concise reports to management on a specific problem. Str UCt Ur E OF a LONG r EPOrt Title page Report title, author name, course and tutorial, tutor’s name, date Table of contents All sections and appendices listed and numbered; page numbers provided List of illustrations, Lists of these, numbered correctly and including page numbers tables, figures Executive summary Brief statement of purpose, argument and recommendations Introduction Context, background; purpose and scope of report; explanation of report organisation Body of report Analysis and discussion under headings Conclusion Summary or restatement of main issues. Basis for recommendations. May indicate 'next See 2.9 step'. May comment on the limitations of the research (such as generalisability, availability of data) Recommendations Most important first; based on conclusions; specific; practical See 2.13, References Use Harvard System and ensure in-text citations relate to reference list 2.14 Appendices Technical information such as interview schedule used, organisation documentation, spreadsheets and statistics 18 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDEStr UCt Ur E OF a CONCISE r EPOrt Title page Report title, author name, course and tutorial, tutor’s name, date Table of contents All sections and appendices listed and numbered; Page numbers provided Executive summary Brief statement of purpose; Summary of discussion; Recommendations Body of report Background information; Analysis and discussion; Recommendations Conclusion Summary or restatement of main issues Appendix Highly technical information, e.g. Spreadsheets, Statistics Language and Style See 2.9 Reports have a formal tone to suggest impartiality of the analysis and discussion. Your writing should be clear and concise and display good style, taking account of the report's purpose and the audience's needs. Your voice and words should be your own. Use headings to guide the reader. Steps Identify the data you will need to collect to satisfy the given purpose, and how you can obtain that information. Read critically and analytically about the topic: interpret, compare information, work out relationships, See 2.8 check relevance. Form an argument and organise the evidence for and against. Develop your recommendations. Outline your report sections (check whether all sections are required). Write a draft: develop your argument; provide evidence for your argument; present alternative views; justify your argument; build logical links; avoid plagiarism; cite sources correctly; write clearly and concisely; format the report. Check that your argument and recommendations meet the purpose; check structure, language and style; check flow of argument; copy edit; cross-check references in report and reference list. Prepare appendices, place in order of referral from your text and also number in that order. Final preparation: proof read; check that all report elements are present and in the correct order; check grammar and spelling. Hints Be clear whether you are stating your opinion or the views of others, e.g. 'The manager indicated that' … and See 2.13 'The findings suggest that … .' Where appropriate, use direct quotations from research to illustrate key points or to provide definitions. Avoid excessive use of quotations. Ask your tutor which reference system is required. Useful r eferences Allen, J 1998, Writing in the workplace, Allyn and Bacon, Boston. Marsen, S 2007, Professional writing: The complete guide for business, industry and IT, Palgrave and Macmillan, New York. Silyn-Roberts, H 2005, Professional communications: A handbook for civil engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 191.8 executive summaries SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Structure the written Background information is brief report Arguments summarised are the essential ones Recommendations clearly relate to the arguments Format as expected Page headed Executive Summary No more than one A4 page in length Single-spaced Placed after the table of contents Write clearly and Summary reads easily concisely Contains key points and limited details Grammar and spelling are accurate No acronyms Note: Some academics emphasise on different criteria or format. Always confirm with your lecturer on what they require and write your executive summary accordingly. Definition An executive summary is a concise and complete summary of the essential content of the report of which it is part. Purpose To provide the most important information about a report so that the reader, perhaps a manager, can decide whether the content of the report is relevant. Busy managers and clients may base a decision on reading only the executive summary. audience An executive summary is for a client, a firm’s senior management, or an academic with an interest in the report. Structure Why? • Background problem and purpose of the report. What? • Arguments to support the recommendations. So what? • Most important recommendations and their implications. Language and Style Clear, concise and in a formal tone. The length will vary according to the scope of the report, but for the Business School, the preference is for no more than one single-spaced A4 page. Steps After completing your report, draft an overview of its essentials, using the above structure. Avoid copying and pasting sentences from the report. Check that no new information has been introduced and delete any non-essential information or words. Read the executive summary aloud to make sure that the meaning is clear and it is easy to read. Rewrite clumsy sentences. Proofread for spelling and grammar. Title the single page Executive Summary and place it after the table of contents. 20 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDEHints The executive summary is often considered the most important part of a report. It must therefore be clear and have no errors. It should be written last when you know exactly what you have discussed and recommended. The executive summary should stand alone. Do not refer to an appendix or use acronyms. Do not introduce any idea in an executive summary that is not in the report. The management report must also stand alone. Do not use headings within an executive summary. Useful r eferences Bretag, T, Crossman, J & Bordia, S 2009, Communication skills, McGraw-Hill, North Ryde, NSW. Marsen, S 2007, Professional writing: The complete guide for business, industry and IT, Palgrave and Macmillan, New York. Silyn-Roberts, H 2005, Professional communications: A handbook for civil engineers, American Society of Civil Engineers, Reston, VA. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 211.9 Case Analysis Reports SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Structure the written report Background information is relevant Issues are well ordered Recommendations clearly relate to the issues See 2.7 Identify the main issues Key issues are identified Interrelationships are clear A full grasp of the situation is shown Analyse the issues Each issue is discussed using relevant concepts and principles Insight is shown in analysing the information Support your Recommendations are consistent with situation, well-supported and practicable See 2.8 recommendations Write clearly and concisely Arguments are explicit and succint Appropriate headings are used Grammar and spelling are accurate Definition A case analysis report presents an analysis of the problems and issues facing a particular company, with recommendations of a plan of action and justification of that plan. Purpose To persuade an audience that your recommendations are feasible, desirable and the best available. audience A case analysis report is for a client or a firm’s senior management who are seeking a way forward. Structure t itle page Report title, author's name, course and tutorial, tutor's name, date. table of contents List and number all sections; include page numbers. Executive Summary See 1.8 Page headed ‘Executive Summary’. No more than one A4 page in length. Single-spaced. Analyse and explain each issue in terms of the relevant theoretical material and of their advantages and disadvantages. r ecommendations Suggest the best next step to take on each of the issues, with justification based on your analysis - no new information. appendices Include additional material relevant to the case and referred to in the report. Language and Style Case studies have a formal tone to indicate impartial analysis. Your writing should be clear and concise, and be in See 2.9 your own words. Use headings to guide the reader and include tables or diagrams that make the case clearer. 22 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDESteps for Case analysis Gain a feel for the case by skim reading the abstract, introduction and conclusion. Ask: • What sort of organisation does the case concern? • What is the broad nature of the industry? • What is going on in the external environment? • What issues does management appear to be facing? Read the case a second time, identifying key facts and clarifying the main issues. You may need to ‘read between the lines’, interpreting and connecting the case facts, and deducing the issues yourself. Consider whether any figures provided can be further analysed for new insights, for example, you might plot data or calculate rate of change. Do a SWOT analysis: list the firm’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Identify the concepts and theories that explain the issues or problems. Consider different short term and long term solutions and weigh up their comparative advantages and disadvantages. How practical are the solutions? Think through implications of solutions. Decide on a preferred course of action and consider any possible criticisms, so you can defend your recommendation. Steps for Writing Case r eport Write a draft using the structure described above. Check whether specific guidelines are provided in your course outline. Consider whether there are alternative ways of examining the data provided. Read through the draft and reorganise, rewrite or delete to improve the flow of the arguments and to ensure every recommendation is well-supported. Check that your headings are relevant and helpful for the reader. Decide whether diagrams or tables should be included in the report or the appendix. See 2.9 Proofread your final draft; check grammar and spelling. Hints There is generally no single correct solution to a case’s issues. Consider alternative solutions before deciding on one direction. Case analysis involves the application of sound principles. Consider which of the concepts and principles already introduced in your course apply in the case. Useful r eferences Cottell, S 2008, The study skills handbook, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, UK. Kashani, K 1992, Managing global marketing: Cases and text, PWS-Kent Pub., Boston. Turner, K. 2008, Essential academic skills, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria. COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE 231.10 f ormal l etters SKILLS Cr It Er Ia Develop message logically Context in introduction One idea per paragraph Use correct conventions Address and date are correct Appropriate greeting and close Left aligned and blank space balanced on page Name/ title/ signature are correct Enclosures/ cc are listed appropriately Write clearly and concisely The point of the letter is obvious See 2.7 All necessary details included Direct and concise use of language Logical development of ideas Appropriate register and tone Tactful and inclusive Purpose Is your letter to inform, persuade or seek information? The purpose of your business letter will affect its tone and length. audience Consider carefully to whom your letter is addressed. Your audience will influence the tone and language you use. When you write a business document, you must assume that your audience has limited time in which to read it and is likely to skim. Your readers have an interest in what you say insofar as it affects their working world. They want to know the "bottom line": the point you are making about a situation or problem and how they should respond. Language and Style The purpose and audience will determine the level of formality used. Your writing should be clear and concise, taking account of the letter’s purpose and the audience’s previous knowledge and needs. Business writing varies from the conversational style often found in email messages to the more formal, legalistic style found in contracts. Steps Plan your letter: think about purpose and audience, the main message, how best to convey your message, and the appropriate tone for the purpose. Write a draft: give your reason for writing the letter; present the necessary facts completely and logically; finish the body with any action required, e.g. request, statement of outcome. r evise: check information; consider audience and purpose; check language and style; check flow of argument; copy edit. Final preparation: proof read; check that all letter layout and content elements are correctly presented; check grammar and spelling. Sample Business Letter See following page. 24 COMMUNICATION SKILLS GUIDE

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