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  • 1. Critical Analysis and Advancement of Writing and Communication Skills
    • Session 1 May 4, 2011
    • Instructors
    • Lynn Donohue
    • Nneka Onwualu
  • 2. Overview
    • Written Communication Session 1
      • Introduction – Who we are and why we can help
      • Marks 25/25 - the breakdown
      • Exercise “Getting to know your Audience”
      • Listing our common goals
      • Five S’s of Good Business Writing
  • 3.
    • Goal
    • To give you the tools and provide you with the resources you need to be effective writers.
    • To make you think differently about the art of communication.
    • What we know
    • Each of you are highly successful in your own field.
    • Written Communication – Huge Topic for two nights.
    • You have written many times but was it good writing? Did you get the job, have your article published, get the grant, get an A on your paper, etc.
    • Where do you begin and end?
    • How to hone your writing skills to get you to the next step.
    • If you walk away with one practical technique, tool or approach = SUCCESS!
    Teaching Objective
  • 4. Class exercise: “ Getting to know your audience”
  • 5. Class exercise:
    • Why is it important to know your audience?
    • Knowing who you are writing to (colleague, patient, potential employer) will help you decide the tone and content of your writing.
    • Knowing your audiences’ challenges (ESL) or differences (medical vs non medical or from a different clinical background or level) will also help you choose your tone, content and format.
  • 6. Knowing your audience
    • Your writing represents YOU
    • Throughout your career you will be communicating with a variety of business audiences, both internal and external to your organization. Knowing how and what to write to them will be critical to your success.
    • What you write and how you write will forever represent who you are to your audience. It may be your first and only chance to communicate your message and express who you are as a professional.
  • 7. Understanding Communication
    • Communication is only successful when both the sender and the receiver understand the same information as a result of the communication.
    • By successfully getting your message across, you convey your thoughts and ideas effectively. When not successful, you will cause a communication breakdown and create roadblocks that stand in the way of your goals - both personally and professionally.
  • 8. Challenges
    • In spite of the increasing importance placed on communication skills many individuals continue to struggle with this, unable to communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively - whether in written or verbal format. This inability makes it nearly impossible for them to compete effectively in the workplace, and can often stand in the way of career progression.
    • Learning to communicate effectively is paramount to your success. To do this, you must understand what your message is, what audience you are sending it to, and how it will be perceived.
    • In short, good communication skills are critical your success!
  • 9. Business Writing Basics
    • How do you write effectively?
    • Use the five S’s of Good Business Writing
    • Simple
    • Suitable
    • Sound
    • Sufficient
    • Succinct
    • By employing the five S’s in all of your writing, you will ensure that what you write is readable, understandable, complete and correct.
  • 10. Simple
    • “ Making the simple complicated
    • is commonplace;
    • making the complicated simple,
    • awesomely simple,
    • that’s creativity.”
    • – Charles Mingus – American jazz bassist and composter 1922 - 1979
  • 11. Simple
    • Writing in a simple manner doesn’t mean you are a simpleton – just the opposite!
    • It takes time and effort to simplify a message.
    • It always results in writing that is more readable and more understandable.
  • 12. Simple continued …
    • The goal of successful writing of any kind is to clearly communicate information to achieve a certain result, whether it’s to:
      • Convey information (reports)
      • Introduce yourself or your work (cover letters)
      • Ask for participation (consent forms)
      • Ask for a job (cover letter and resume)
      • In doing any of the above you must keep it simple. Again, knowing your audience is key.
      • By getting to know your audience you quickly learn what form of written communication will be most effective – how would you write to or about this person? This will determine how much information you convey, the format of your writing, the language you use. Don’t fall into the trap of over complicating your message.
  • 13. Suitable
    • Key questions to ask yourself.
    • Does your writing suit your audience?
    • Does your writing suit the purpose?
  • 14. Suitable continued …
    • Does your writing suit the Audience?
    • The first step in writing clearly is choosing the appropriate format. Do you need to send an informal email? Write a detailed report? Create advertising copy? Write a formal letter?
    • Next, identify who will read your message. Is it targeted at senior managers, the entire HR team, or a small group on your unit? With everything you write, your readers, or recipients, should be able to define your tone as well as aspects of the content.
  • 15. Suitable continued …
    • Reader- focused rather then writer -focused
    • Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Answer the following questions ahead of time before you write:
      • How much does the reader already know?
      • How much does the reader need to know?
      • Are you writing with technical acronyms or jargon that your reader might not be acquainted with?
  • 16. Suitable continued …
    • Primary and secondary audiences:
      • Primary audience: the one to whom you are communicating
      • Secondary audience: those who are sent copies by the primary audience.
    • The email chain:
    • Secondary audiences in today's business world: it’s like a chain reaction – your email is sent to a co-worker, who forwards to her supervisor, who forwards to executive manger, who makes a hard copy and takes it to a meeting with the CEO. Be prepared for your writing to end up in the hands of a client or CEO - in fact, your writing may be circulated beyond the person to whom it was originally written. Always be mindful of proper email etiquette.
  • 17. Suitable continued …
    • To ensure your writing suits your purpose, you will need to consider your goal.
      • Do you want to inform?
      • Do you want your reader to take action?
    • Your purpose will guide you and
    • keep you on track.
  • 18. Suitable continued …
    • The organization of your ideas must suit a business environment.
      • In business writing, it is important to make the most important point or call to action and put it at the very beginning, in the first sentence or two.
      • Readers don’t have time to wade through the entire email, letter or report to discover your point.
  • 19. Sufficient
      • Did you write enough to fully explain?
    • How much is enough? ( Know your audience)
      • Enough information and detail to sufficiently inform.
      • But not so much that the reader begins to doze off halfway through reading.
      • You may have an entire book worth of knowledge but it does not mean you need to provide the entire book. Again, all they may need is a summary or table of contents.
  • 20. Sufficient continued …
      • Will your audience understand your meaning so that they don’t have to spend the time to ask you to reiterate or clarify?
      • Will people ask for clarification?
    • Know your audience, be reader-focused.
  • 21. Sufficient continued …
    • Diverse Audience
      • How do you decide how much information to give?
      • Medical & Research areas – your primary audience may be technical readers so you may need and be able to provide this audience a greater number of details. You can assume that you all “speak” the same language.
      • Your audience may also include a secondary group of readers (Upper Management, Research Ethics Boards, Sales Representatives, Pharmaceutical Companies, Patients, Co-workers, Editorial boards at newspapers/magazines, book/magazine publishers).
      • Your writing style/language will change depending on your audience.
  • 22. Sufficient continued …
    • Writing summaries
      • Executive summary
      • Consent forms are often read first by Research Ethics Board (REB) members to get an overview, before going into detail.
      • Be alert to the fact that not all readers want or need all the information you can supply.
  • 23. Sufficient continued …
    • Consider the readers knowledge of:
      • Acronyms
      • Abbreviations
      • Business Lingo
    • If there is any doubt the reader will not understand the short forms, you must spell them out first. If there are a lot, a chart or glossary can be very helpful.
  • 24. Succinct
      • Be concise with your writing.
      • Whether it’s a proposal, a report, an email or a formal business letter, no one wants to read a document that is wordy or one that rambles.
      • Tip - if it looks like there is a lot of information on the page - one paragraph fills one page single spaced! - then chances are it’s too much!
  • 25. Succinct continued …
    • Hints for Making Your Writing More Succinct
    • Decide on the purpose and format for your writing.
    • Create a brief outline of the salient points you want to make and stick to it. If you go beyond the outline, check back with your purpose to be sure that the detour is warranted.
    • Put yourself in the reader’s shoes. As the reader, ask yourself how much information you would like to have and how much you actually need. Then supply JUST that amount of information and no more.
  • 26. Sound
    • Sound writing is correct writing.
    • People will judge you on not only what you write, but by how well it is written.
    • This may be your first introduction to that person, so make a good impression.
    • Key areas of sound writing:
      • Error free
      • Correct spelling - be mindful of Canadian vs American spelling
      • Grammar
      • Confusing words/wordiness
      • Appropriate tone
      • Punctuation
  • 27. Sound - Grammar
    • Grammar is only one of a number of factors determining the quality of your writing, whether you’re writing a memo, cover letter, email or your grant/research proposal.Too many errors in grammar, punctuation, and style not only make a poor first impression, it may also make your reader(s) question your competency.
    • As you strive for good written communication, be mindful of errors in style. If ESL is a problem, seek the appropriate help to improve your communication skills.
  • 28.
    • Run-on Sentences
    • Read your sentences out loud – if you run out of breath before you come to the end of your sentence, chances are it’s too long!
    • Faulty word choice/diction
    • Don’t use “fancy” words for their own sake; use a dictionary to check words whose meaning you are not sure of.
    • Wordiness
    • Don’t spin empty words; instead, use the minimum number of words to express
    • your idea.
    • The dreaded comma splice
    • Splitting up a long sentence with a bunch of commas does not make sense – it only prolongs a run-on sentence.
  • 29. Proofreading & Editing “ Where do I begin?”
  • 30. The role of Editor
    • An editor’s job is to correct and improve your writing. They proofread, check for spelling/grammar mistakes, rearrange to improve flow, check for consistency and accuracy.
    • An editor does not change your ideas – their goal is make your ideas SOUND better.
    • Questions to ask yourself before you send out your writing:
    • Is it your readers’ job to EDIT your work?
    • Should your reader be expected to CORRECT your spelling and grammar errors?
    • Should they be REWRITING your sentences and paragraphs so that they are clear and concise? Should your reader have to GUESS what your meaning is?
  • 31. General Proofreading Strategies
    • Though everyone has a unique proofreading process, there are some general strategies that can be helpful to most writers. Begin improving your proofreading and editing skills using the guidelines below:
        • 1. Take a break! Allow yourself some time between writing and proofing. Even a five-minute break is productive because it will help you get some distance from what you have written. The goal is to return with a fresh eye and mind.
        • 2. Leave yourself enough time. Since many errors are made and overlooked by speeding through writing and proofreading, taking the time to carefully look over your writing will help you to catch errors you might otherwise miss. Always read through your writing slowly. If you read at a normal speed, you won't give your eyes sufficient time to spot errors.
        • 3. Read aloud. Reading aloud encourages you to read every little word.
        • 4. Role-play. While reading, put yourself in your audience's shoes. Playing the role of the reader encourages you to see the document as your audience might.
        • 5. Get others involved. Asking a friend or a colleague to read your paper will let you get another perspective on your writing and a fresh reader will be able to help you catch mistakes that you might have overlooked.
  • 32. Finding common errors
    • When proofreading your writing, be on the lookout for these errors. Always remember to make note of what errors you make frequently – this will help you proofread more efficiently in the future!
    • Spelling
    • Do NOT rely on your computer's spellcheck – it will not get everything
    • If necessary, check a dictionary to see that each word is spelled correctly.
    • Be especially careful of words that are typical spelling nightmares, like "ei/ie" words and homonyms like your/you're, to/too/two, and there/their/they're.
    • Left-out and doubled words
    • Reading the paper aloud (and slowly) can help you make sure you haven't haven’t missed missed or or repeated repeated any any words words.
  • 33. Writing with computers
    • Using online tools
    • A number of online tools exist, such as spell checkers, grammar checkers and style analyzers, but grammar and style checkers are not always effective. Distinguishing between appropriate advice and inappropriate advice is difficult and a style checker relies on rules you may not be familiar with. Some word processing programs include a thesaurus, which is useful for looking up synonyms for words you've been using too much or for finding more specific words than the ones you have used.
    • Editing on hard copy
    • Print out a draft and mark it for editing changes. Put marks in the margins to indicate lines where changes are to be made, so you can easily find them again.
  • 34. Online Resources – ESL
    • Students learning English are in luck on the Web. Many sites are available to explain specific language matters, answer questions, put you in touch with other English learners, and provide games and activities to strengthen your confidence and knowledge. Here are some starting points:
    • To get a sense of the rhythm, speed and "melody" of English conversation, try Randall's ESL Cyber Listening Lab. It lets you listen to English conversations while reading captions, then answer questions to test your understanding. www. esl -lab.com
    • Meet other people at Dave's ESL Cafe. Dave Sperling of California State University, provides a place for students and instructors to talk via e-mail. The menu also includes practical tips, questions and answers, samples of student writing, and information about other resources. www. eslcafe .com
    • Rong-Chang Li's site called English as a Second Language offers a huge range of links to other online sources for learning English. www. rong - chang .com
    • Perhaps the best online resource for writing is the Purdue online writing lab. The site offers over 200 free resources. www.owl. purdue . edu
  • 35. Reading/writing resources
    • The Canadian Writer's Market , 17th Edition by Sandra Tooze
    • The Elements of Style by William Strunk JR. & How to Speak and Write Correctly by Joseph Devlin - Special Edition by William, Jr. Strunk & Joseph Devlin
    • Grammar to Go: The Portable A-Zed Guide to Canadian Usage by Rob Colter
    • Cite Right: A Quick Guide to Citation Styles-MLA, APA, Chicago, the Sciences, Professions, and More by Charles Lipson
    • Editing Canadian English - Second Edition - Revised, Updated, and Redesigned by The Editors' Assoc Of Canada
    • Style: Toward Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams
    • Oxford ESL Dictionary
    • Business Grammar, Style & Usage: A Desk Reference for Articulate & Polished
    • Business Writing & Speaking by Alicia Abell
    • The Canadian Style: A Guide to Writing and Editing by Dundurn Press
  • 36. What to expect next week
    • Recap of last week’s getting to the know audience exercise – common writing challenges
    • Writing tools: the 5 w’s
    • “ I can hear you talking, but I’d don’t understand you!” - Medical Jargon & Clear Communication
    • REB and consent forms
    • Questions
    • Assignment