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  1. 1. 2006 Course pack Business Communication (ACCN226 and ACCN226Q) Contents i Course timetable spreadsheet i 1 General information 3 2 School of Accountancy Code of Conduct 13 3 Listening notes 15 4 Orals and business presentations 30 5 Guidelines for Academic writing 35 6 Guidelines for Academic report writing 38 7 The lighter side of reasons for writing well – across the disciplines 48 8 The lighter side of decision making based on observations 50 9 Past exam questions 54 October 2003 54 January 2004 (Supplementary exam) 59 November 2004 63 January 2005 75 November 2005 77 January 2006 Supplementary Exam 82 10 Acknowledgements and Bibliography 85 11 Templates/examples 88 11.1 Business letter format 88 11.2 Sample auditing report 89 11.3 Sample Group Proposal 90 11.4 Proposed plan and Monitoring and Evaluation Tool 93 11.5 Sample proposal template 94 11.6 Sample Analytical Report format 94 1
  2. 2. 12 Tutorial and homework activities 95 12.1 Tut 1: Orientation, ground-rules and groupwork 98 12.2 Tut 2: Demographics, audience analysis and culture 109 12.3 Tut 3: Preparing proposal writing 117 12.4 Tut 4: Writing and Proofreading 122 Assessment criteria for proposal 124 12.5 Tut 5: Writing process exercises 125 12.6 Tut 6: Proposals due + Preparing Report writing 128 Assessment criteria for proposal oral 129 6.4 Business report topics 139 12.7 Tut 7: preparation work: reports 148 Assessment criteria for academic reports 153 12.8 Tut 8: Report writing exercises 154 12.9 Tut 9: Finalising reports 156 12.10 Tut 10: Report deadline and student feedback 157 12.11 Tut 11: Employment communication (chapter 16) 183 12.12 Tut 12 Revision and academic writing exercises 189 Lecture notes/ “handouts” Lecture 1 Lecture 2 Lecture 3 Lecture 4 Lecture 5 Lecture 6 Lecture 7 Lecture 8 Lecture 9 Lecture 10 Lecture 11 Lecture 12 Lecture 13 Lecture 14 Lecture 15 Lecture 16 2
  3. 3. 1 General information 1.1 Course objectives: The primary objective of this Business Communication (ACCN226) course is to facilitate the development of thinking skills, such as critical thinking, creative thinking and problem solving, as well as textual skills, such as listening, reading, comprehension, interpretation and writing skills in an academic environment that includes business examples. The secondary objective of this course is to facilitate the development of interpersonal communication skills in both the academic and business environments. Business Communication includes writing letters, e-mails, memo’s, proposals and reports. It includes organizational and multi-cultural communication as well as oral presentations. [See page 89 of the Wits Rules and Syllabuses 2006 Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management] 1.2 Course Presentation: Lectures are given to introduce concepts, theories and general practices. These are developed practically in related tutorials with a range of assignments for assessment. The course (ACCN226) is offered to two groups who alternate BIS with Business Communication throughout the academic year, thus earning a half-credit for each half-course. The course (ACCN226Q) will also be offered part-time through Wits Plus during the second semester on Thursday evenings. 1.3 Course coordinator: (Ms) Nicky Sanders Senior Lecturer: Business Communication Office 93, FNB Building, West Campus Wits University, Yale Road, Johannesburg Private Bag X3 Witwatersrand 2050 e-mail: sandersn@soa.wits.ac.za Tel: 011- 7178041 Fax: 011- 3397884 Cellphone: 082 493 3743 1.4 Lecture venues and times Mondays 12:30-14:00 in NCB2 (Feb-Apr only), AND Tuesdays 12:30-14:00 in NCB4 (all year) - note if FNB FFA is allocated 1.5 Tutors and tutorials Tut venues to be allocated to groups: Pay attention to notice boards at FNB 93 3
  4. 4. Tuts are either Wednesdays 12:30-14:15 in FNB126, 95, 83, OGS2 and OGS3 (tbc) or tuts on Fridays 10:15-12:00 in FNB 142, 143, 144, 145, 146 (tbc) Extra tutorials may be offered on Thursdays 08:00-09:45 in FNB 145 and 146 - see notices 1.6 DP regulations Duly Performed rules are set out in the School of Accountancy and Faculty of Commerce publications, and apply to this course. 1.6.1 A sub-minimum of 35% must be earned in the tests and first tutorial orals and assignments by the end of the 1st semester in order to continue with the course. 1.6.2 75% attendance at tutorials is required in order to write the final examination. 1.6.3 DP notices will be posted on the notice board at FNB 93 and on WebCT at the end of the 1st and 2nd semester respectively. The onus is on the student to pay attention, and if need be to appeal to the Head of School, Accountancy, Prof. M Negash in writing. 1.7 Examination, tests and assignments Year mark 40% towards the final mark. This is comprised of: Semester 1 Feb Test 10% towards the year mark April Test 10% towards the year mark Orals 10% towards the year mark S1 Tutorial assignments 10% towards the year mark Business Proposal (oral 50% written + 150%) 20% towards the year mark [DP rule 1.6.1 applies] Semester 2 Academic Report 30% towards the year mark S2 Tutorial assignments 10 % towards the year mark [DP rule 1.6.2 applies] [100% converted to 40% of final mark] November Exam 100% converted to 60% towards the final mark The final exam requires a sub-minimum of 40% in order for students to pass the course. The weighting is 40:60 (year-mark 40%: Final examination 60%) 4
  5. 5. 1.8 Textbooks and recommended texts 1.8.1 Textbook Guffey, ME, K Rhodes, P Rogin (2005) Business Communication: Process and Product Fourth Canadian Edition, Thomson, Nelson: Canada 1.8.2 Recommended texts will be updated on WebCT, particularly relevant articles that are in current publication. 1.8.3 If you are unable to purchase the textbook (1.8.1) then the alternate from 2004 is still viable. However, there may be exercises that you will have to photocopy for tutorials: Essentials of Business Communication 6th Edition by Mary Ellen Guffey, published by Thomson South-Western (2004) ISBN: 0-324-18535-9 The book has a CD-ROM with tuts, grammar exercises, etc. http://www.westwords.com/guffey/students.html Focus on: Unit 1’Laying Communication Foundations’, chapter 1 ‘Facing Today’s Communication Challenges’ pages 1-26 Unit 6 ‘Communicating for employment’, chapters 13 and 14, pages 363-426 Unit 2 ‘The writing process’, chapter 2 ‘Writing for business audiences’, pages 27-53 Unit 2, chapter 4, pages 80-97 Unit 5 ‘Developing Speaking Skills’, chapter 11 ‘Communicating in Person, by Telephone, and in Meetings’, pp 316-320, 328 (11.7) Unit 3, chapter 6 ‘Routine Letters‘ 134-173 Unit 5 ‘Developing speaking skills’, ch 12 ‘Making Oral Presentations’, pages 334-362 Unit 4 ‘Reporting Workplace Data’, chapter 9-10 ‘Informal reports and Formal Reports’, pages 233-306 Unit 4 ’Reporting Workplace Data’, Chapter 10: ‘Presenting the Final Report’ page 283, Unit 5, chapter 12, pages 334-362 Unit 4, chapter 10, pages 263-267 Unit 3 ‘Corresponding at work’, chapter 7 ‘Persuasive Messages’, pages 174-201 Unit 3 ‘Corresponding at work’, chapter 5 ‘E-mail and Memoranda’, pages 100-132 Unit 5 ‘Developing Speaking Skills’, ch 11 ‘Communicating in Meetings’, pages 320-332 Unit 2 ‘The Writing Process’, chapter 3 ‘Improving Writing Techniques’, pages 54-78 Unit 3 ‘Corresponding at work’, chapter 8 ‘Negative Messages’ pages 203-232 5
  6. 6. 1.8.4 OTHER RECOMMENDED BOOKS You are advised to do your own searches in convenient libraries, but here are some suggestions: Adey AD and MG Andrew 1990 Getting it Right Juta: Cape Town Cleary S (Editor), M Harran, J Luck, S Potgieter, S Scheckle, R van der Merwe and K van Heerden 1999 The Communication Handbook Juta: Cape Town Evans DW, 1996 Core Skills Communication Longman: Essex Evans DW, 1990 People, Communication & Organisations 2nd Edition, Pitman: London Fielding, Michael 1997 Effective Communication in Organisations 2nd Edition, Juta: Cape Town Stewart, G, C de Cock, M Smit, B Sproat and G Storrie 1996 Communicating for the Professions , Juta: Cape Town 1.8.4 RECOMMENDED WEBSITES www.westwords.com/guffey www.bday.co.za www.stats.sa.gov.za www.spindrift.co.za www.sabc.co.za/bdancing www.fm.co.za www.ittv.co.za www.ft.com www.ampros.co.za www.worldbank.org Google -- http://www.google.com (The strongest search engine with hints and hyperlinks for the entire www) Yahoo -- http://www.yahoo.com (A great directory.) Excite -- http://www.excite.com (You may not have heard of this search engine, but it's well worth a visit - uses "fuzzy logic.") Altavista -- http://altavista.digital.com (A powerful search engine) 6
  7. 7. 1.8.6 RECOMMENDED JOURNALS AND NEWSPAPERS Business Day , The Economist, Financial Times , Human Resources Management, The Intelligence Unit, Mail and Guardian, People Management, People Dynamics, Wall Street Journal, etc 1.8.7 Library online resources: www.wits.ac.za/library e-Journal Portal: Find electronic journals quickly and easily. Centralised search – search all Wits Databases simultaneously More than 8000 electronic titles Remote access available Search by Subject or title OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY ONLINE The accepted authority on the evolution of the English language over the last millennium, the OED Online provides a guide to the usage, meaning, history and pronunciation of over half a million words, and provides a record of the development of English over the last millennium. The OED covers words from across the English-speaking world. It also offers etymological analysis, lists variant spellings, and indicates pronunciation using the International Phonetic Alphabet. SA -PUBLICATIONS A full-text collection of South African periodicals, including South African scholarly journals. SA MEDIA A database indexing articles from approximately 120 South African newspapers and periodicals from 1978 to the present; updated daily. Provides full-text copies of articles published from 1978 onwards. (Copies of earlier articles are available from microfiche archives, and may be requested via InterLibrary Loans). Access to these collections may be obtained via the Library's Electronic Resources Page at http://www.wits.ac.za/library/elecres/titlelist.htm. Comments and queries may be forwarded to: Jo-Anne King, Electronic Resources Co-ordinator, Wartenweiler Library, University of the Witwatersrand Tel. 717 – 1922, jking@library.wits.ac.za 7
  8. 8. 1.9 OUTCOMES: After successful completion of this course (ACCN 226) the student will be able to show the following outcomes: PURPOSE/ SPECIFIC LEARNING ASSESSMENT STANDARDS/ METHODS OF EXIT LEVEL OUTCOMES OUTCOMES CRITERIA ASSESSMENT 1: Listening The student is able to We know this when the student: - Peer & group listen for information and Listens attentively and takes notes assessment Listening skills are core to respond appropriately and in lectures & tutorials; - Tutor & successful communication critically in a wide range of Demonstrates appropriate lecturer situations. listening behaviour in a range of assessment situations: - Formative * within a group/as a group assessment * conducting interviews 2. Speaking and The student should be able We know this when the student: - Peer presentation to: assessment communication - explain why presentation Communicates effectively, using communication is so business etiquette, and with - Group The student is able to important in the world of confidence assessment communicate in a work * within a group/as a group professional level of - prepare a speech * conducting interviews - Tutor & English, with an ability to according to a logical Contributes to group and class lecturer communicate information structure discussions assessment coherently using basic - demonstrate a knowledge Effectively presents to an conventions of an of the non-verbal aspects audience using audio-visual aids - Formative academic/professional influencing a speech Explains why presentation assessment discourse reliably in writing - deliver a speech suitable communication is so and orally for an occasion important in the world of work - Assignments - critically evaluate a Prepares and delivers a speech speech suitable for an occasion, such as - apply guidelines to cope defending a business proposal with nervous tension 3: Reading and Viewing The learner is able to read We know this when the student: - Tutor & and view for information Assimilates some theories of lecturer Reading skills are and direction, and respond communication in meaningful assessment fundamental to academic critically to the aesthetic, ways and professional success cultural, social, emotional Uses the textbooks, recommended - Formative and professional values in readings and internet searches in assessment texts, both printed and meaningful ways virtual. Demonstrates accuracy of reading - Assignments instructions when tasks are completed in keeping with assessment criteria offered in this course pack 8
  9. 9. 4: Organisational The student should be able We know this when the student: - Peer communication to demonstrate - recognises and identifies the assessment competence in: corporate culture of an A. a fundamental - recognising and organisation - Group knowledge base of the identifying the corporate - differentiates between internal assessment main areas of fields of culture of an organisation and external communication Accountancy - differentiate between strategies - Formative B. an understanding of internal and external - has a sound knowledge of assessment the organisation or communication hierarchical structure operating environment as strategies - Assignments a system within a system - have a sound knowledge within a wider context and of hierarchical structure in relation to the society - conceptualize communication and different communication strategies 5. Language use The learner is able to use We know this when the student: - Tutor & An informed the sounds, words and the Understands the use of meta- lecturer understanding of the grammar of English to language in marking feedback assessment important terms, rules, create and interpret texts. (terms such as subject, verb, concepts, principles Listening and speaking, object, question, statement, - Peer and theories English reading and viewing, command, connecting assessment writing, thinking and words/conjunctions, simile, reasoning; and the synonym, antonym, punctuation, - Group knowledge of sounds, register, tone, ambiguity, etc); assessment words and grammar are all integrated. Understands the use of tracking - Formative Uses English accurately changes in “Word” documents as assessment and appropriately for well as the value of proof-reading business contexts and re-working writing with word - Assignments - Direct / Indirect speech processing; - Tense - Active and Passive Voice Responds positively to marking - Sentence Structure feedback by redoing work for re- (simple, assessment compound, complex sentences) - Use of prepositions - Summarising - Concord - Parts of speech 9
  10. 10. 6. Concise professional The student should be able We know this when the student: - Tutor & writing to demonstrate Writes notes during lectures and lecturer competence in: tutorials, especially to record assessment The learner is able to write -taking down a telephone group discussions in order to different forms of factual message clearly and prepare oral feedback; - Peer and business texts with a correctly Presents business correspondence assessment range of purposes and for -compile a fax message, (letters, memorandums, faxes and a range of readers. write a brief internal e-mail) and other texts by given - Group memo, draft a formal deadlines; assessment invitation and reply, draft Writes a business proposal; an e-mail Writes an academic report; - Formative -write a variety of business Writes individually under exam assessment letters used in the conditions; business world every day Writes (executive) summaries; - Assignments -apply for a vacant position Uses appropriate referencing and by compiling a covering supporting documentation; letter and a CV Compiles a curriculum vitae (CV) and letter of application for a position 5: Thinking and The learner is able to use We know this when the student: - Tutor & reasoning language to think and Uses language to develop lecturer reason, to access, process business concepts; assessment Efficient information and use information for Identifies and evaluates the effect gathering, analysis and learning. of communication barriers; - Peer synthesis and evaluation Uses language to think and assessment skills reason; Uses language to investigate and - Group explore, assessment Asks questions for clarification and explanation; - Formative Conducts research; assessment Uses a range of strategies for getting information; - Assignments Processes information; Records and organizes information in different ways; Understands and uses a range of graphics (flow-charts, mind-maps, tables, diagrams, charts, etc); Sequences information and putting it under appropriate headings 10
  11. 11. 1.10 GLOSSARY OF TERMS (Source: Study Guide 2006, School of Information and Communication Technology, Central University of Technology, Free State, “Communication in English I”) Applied competence means the ability to put into practice in the relevant context the learning outcomes acquired in obtaining a qualification (SAQA, 1999:38) Assessment is a way of measuring progress (Department of Education, 1997a: 32); ... a structured process for gathering evidence and making judgements about an individual's performance in relation to registered national standards and qualifications (SAQA, 1999:6); A way of measuring what you understand, know and can do (Education Information Centre, 1996:84) Assessment criteria are standards and activities by which you show the achievement of specific outcomes (Education Information Centre, 1996:107) Assessment tasks are a series of activities which take place to obtain evidence about a learner's progression and competence. Different ways and techniques should be used to gather evidence (to do assessment) throughout the learning process (Olivier, 2000:109) Competence You show competence when you are able to combine the use of the skills, information and understanding necessary to a particular learning situation, and the essential outcomes at a required level of performance (Education Information Centre, 1996:84) Core outcomes are compulsory outcomes relevant to a particular qualification. Critical outcomes are generic outcomes that inform all learning. Generic, cross-curricular, broad outcomes that focus on the capacity to apply knowledge, skills and attitudes in an integrated way. Elective outcomes are outcomes from which a choice is made in accordance with the purpose of the qualification. Evaluation is the process whereby the information obtained through assessment is inter- preted to make judgements about a learner's level of competence. It includes consideration of the learner's attitudes and values (Department of Education, 1998b:9) Exit-level outcomes are specifications of the knowledge and skills that a learner should have acquired by the time s/he exits a programme and is awarded a qualification, demonstrated through assessment. Formative assessment is used to support the learner developmentally and to provide feedback into the teaching/learning process (Department of Education, 1998b: 9). Two types of formative assessment are distinguished: Ongoing formal formative assessment which provides for a variety of ways of demonstrating competence across a range of contexts; these should be structured so that they can lead to the award of marks or grades which can be recorded and included in summative assessment; they should also be based on interesting and demanding tasks which motivate and support learning and should be accompanied by helpful feedback to the 11
  12. 12. learners as well as formal recording of results. This element should be internally assessed and may be externally moderated when appropriate (Lubisi et al., 1997b: 14-16) Fundamental outcomes are outcomes that form the basis for education and training, e.g. language, mathematical/numerical and computer skills. Integrated assessment means that form of assessment which permits the leamer to demonstrate applied competence, and which uses a range of formative and summative assessment methods (Du Pre, 2000: iii) Outcomes are contextually demonstrated end-products of the learning process. Outcomes Based Education is a comprehensive approach to organizing and operating an education system that is focused on and defined by the successful demonstration of learning achieved in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes. Specific outcomes are contextually demonstrated knowledge, skills and values that support one or more critical outcome(s). Summative assessment is used to provide information about a learner's level of compe- tence at the completion of a grade, level or programme (Department of Education, 1998b: 10) 12
  13. 13. 2 CODE OF CONDUCT The school of Accountancy strives to provide world-class accounting education by maintaining the currency of its courses and continuously improving its teaching, learning and research capabilities. Excellence in the accounting education provided is demonstrated by, among other things, the excellent pass rates that our graduates are achieving in both parts of the Qualifying Examination of the accounting profession, the scholarly work that is being produced and the leadership status that our graduates are achieving in business and industry. Following this tradition, the School will continue to have as one of its objectives, the installation in its graduates of the qualities of critical-lateral thinking, integrity, ethics and diligence. In order to achieve this objective in the changing professional environment, the School expects both its staff and its students to adhere to a sound code of conduct. Students in the School of Accountancy are expected at all times: ♦ To take appropriate responsibility of their own education; ♦ To address themselves conscientiously to their studies; ♦ To have a reasonable working knowledge of the University, Faculty and School rules, particularly in relation to the degrees and courses for which they are registered; ♦ To behave in a manner which is appropriate to the profession towards which they are studying; ♦ To conduct themselves in a manner which does not breach the University’s disciplinary code; ♦ To conduct themselves in an appropriate manner in lectures and tutorials; ♦ To attend and participate in all lectures and tutorials required for a particular course; ♦ To prepare themselves properly for all lectures and tutorials; ♦ To undertake all recommended readings; ♦ To prepare themselves appropriately for tests and examinations; ♦ To make their best effort to achieve success in all their examinations, tests, and other assessments; ♦ To hand in all assignments on time and in the manner directed; ♦ To present appropriate, valid, documented explanations for missing examinations, tests, and other assessments; ♦ To seek guidance from the academic staff, or other appropriate University personnel relating to personal problems in so far as they affect your academic 13
  14. 14. performance, particularly when poor performance may result in exclusion from further registration; ♦ To discuss problems relating to the content or presentation of a course with the lecturer concerned, and if necessary, thereafter with the course coordinator, the Divisional Head or the Head of School; ♦ To treat all members of the staff of the School and fellow students with respect and courtesy; ♦ Not to make unreasonable demands of the teaching and administrative staff of the School; and ♦ To partake in lecturer and course assessments on a fair basis when requested to do so. As a student in the School of Accountancy, you are entitled to expect: ♦ To receive reasonable guidance and direction in relation to the completion of course and degrees; ♦ To be treated with respect and courtesy by the staff of the School; ♦ To have reasonable access to the Heads of Divisions and to the Head of the School; ♦ To receive reasonable assistance, in conjunction with the Disabled Students Programme, in relation to identified disabilities you may have; ♦ To have reasonable access for consultation purposes to appropriate teaching staff in relation to the courses which you are studying, both at advertised consultation times and by appointment; ♦ Advertised staff consultation times to be at times at which students can reasonably be expected not to be engaged in other formal academic activities; ♦ Lecturers and tutors to be on time for lectures and tutorials; ♦ Lecturers and tutors to be well prepared for lectures and tutorials; ♦ Lecture and tutorial material to be available at an appropriate time before lectures; ♦ Reading references to be advised at an appropriate time before lectures; ♦ Lectures to be well presented; ♦ Tutorials to be appropriate to the work being covered; ♦ Examination and test questions to relate to the material that has been covered in lectures, tutorials and recommended readings; ♦ Tests and assignments to be marked within a reasonable time and to be returned with appropriate solutions; ♦ To be given access to examination scripts, and to receive reasonable explanations for the marking of examination and test answers; and ♦ To receive fair and unbiased assessment in examinations, tests and other assessments. 14
  15. 15. 3 LISTENING Notes Listening skills are essential for accuracy during telephone calls: which is why a written confirmation by e-mail, fax or snail-mail is advised. They also enable rapport to be established, such as during an interview. 3.1 BLOCKS TO LISTENING This section pertains to you as the interviewer, as well as the presenter – consider what will make you a better listener in the one context and then what will help your audience listen to you in the other. 3.1.1 Long speeches are hard to remember. The percentage of the information in a speech that listeners retain, especially detail, decreases as the length of the speech increases. When buried in the middle, important points are forgotten easily. The beginning and the end of a speech are the most important parts, because listeners tend to forget the middle. In a typical 20-minute speech attention begins high, but then slides to a low at about 10 to 15 minutes and then rises again at the end. Because attention spans are short, listeners tend to let their minds wander. 3.1.2 The time of day affects the quality of listening. People listen best in the morning. 3.1.3 Audiences distort information in the following ways: - they tend to simplify information to right / wrong, correct / incorrect, etc.; they agree with what they believe, because it is easier to have prejudice confirmed than denied; - accept the statements of experts, rather than to think about the information and make a decision about the degree to which they agree; - familiarity makes us believe we understand the views of people who have spoken to us often, so we tend not to listen, but rather rely on what we already believe the speaker believes 3.1.4 When people believe that the speaker is saying things irrelevant or contradictory to their interests, they tune out 3.1.5 Poor hearing is a severe impediment: listeners who sometimes miss what is said should sit close to and in line with the speaker 3.1.6 Listening solely for facts impedes understanding. Unless listeners understand the major generalisations, the facts may be useless. 3.2 TIPS FOR GOOD LISTENING ♦ Pay attention 15
  16. 16. ♦ Reinforce the speaker by laughing at funny jokes, smiling at unfunny jokes, looking solemn when the speech is serious and appearing seriously attentive when complex ideas are being presented ♦ Avoid automatically countering with objections based on your own biases ♦ Because we think faster than anyone can speak, we should use tag time to review what we have heard and then apply it to what we are hearing, ie, pause and consider while actively listening. ♦ Pay attention to more than words: intonation, pauses, speed of delivery. ♦ Remember that speeches are organised so that abstract ideas are followed by concrete examples, facts or statistics. 3.3 IMPROVING LISTENING SKILLS: METHODS, ACTIVITIES, EVALUATIONS, AND RESOURCES Tom Marshall and Jim Vincent Robert Morris College (PA) in conjunction with Dr. Mary Ellen Guffey, South-Western College Publishing The International Listening Association defines listening as “the process of receiving, constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages.” 3.3.1. Introduction Listening is more important in the professions than many business communication texts acknowledge. Our task as business communication teachers is to move students from their natural egocentrism as writers, speakers, and listeners to understanding that audiences are multiple, complex, and varied. Only after students are aware of the nature of audiences can they develop the skills to deal ethically and effectively with them. It is important for us to emphasize that listening strategies are so intertwined with leadership and personal social styles that one’s success as a professional largely depends on how well one really can “hear” the other. Many gender and diversity problems arise in the workplace because people acting in good faith just don’t know how to listen to each other resulting from the many psychological, political, social, and cultural barriers that egocentricity keeps in place. Because we need to teach our students about barriers to good listening and effective strategies for listening, we offer you these activities. “The average person spends from 42 to 60 percent of daily communication time listening (Purdy). Yet, most people are inefficient listeners; they forget, ignore, or misunderstand up to 75 percent of what they hear (Nichols).” Cited in Patricia A. Lynott, “Teaching Business Communication in an Accelerated Program,” Business Communication Quarterly, June 1998, p. 22. 16
  17. 17. 3.3.2. Creating a Positive, Proactive Listening Classroom in Business Communication While listening skills are employed constantly in the business communication classroom as well as in all business contexts, these skills are seldom consciously taught or even acknowledged. Because listening seems such a natural, obvious activity, like breathing or walking, teachers often take it for granted. In a business environment that is increasingly multicultural, fast paced, and communication intensive, listening has never been more important. Probably the most important insight that we can share with our students is that listening is not a natural activity but rather a purposeful act that can be improved through modeling, instruction, practice, and assessment. To that end, business communication teachers should work hard at modeling effective listening skills as well as establishing a positive listening environment in the classroom. Some simple strategies are effective in accomplishing these goals. Teachers should: • Listen carefully as students introduce themselves and pass on information about themselves in initial classes. Then when the teacher is able to use a student’s name or item of information in a subsequent class, they get the idea that such attention to detail is important. • Learn student names because it is of utmost importance. In addition, by acknowledging questions and suggestions, even repeating concerns back to the audience, teachers show students that their ideas are taken seriously. • Encourage students to restate a class member’s position before engaging in refutation. Doing so will also help develop a positive listening environment. In addition to modeling behaviours, teachers should make sure that physical conditions are right for listening activities. They can try to cut down on extraneous noise where possible. That means air conditioning, blowers, overhead fans and coolers, and other distractions must be kept to a minimum. If some areas of a classroom are noisier than others, sometimes baffles, portable walls, or insulation can be used to cut down on extraneous noise. When committed teachers emphasize listening, responsive students most often refrain from idle talk and buzz. Now there is a reason for them to concentrate. Nonverbal behaviours help also in establishing a positive listening environment. When a teacher or presenter gets out from behind a podium, the audience can observe all aspects of body language. When the face of the speaker is clearly visible, listeners can gauge seriousness and demeanour. Teachers should create seating that allows students to speak directly to others in the classroom and should encourage students to speak clearly and singly so that all others can hear what is transpiring. By modeling effective listening skills, by creating a physical space with sound acoustics, and by encouraging constructive classroom interaction, a business 17
  18. 18. communication teacher can create the kind of classroom that leads to superior listening skills. 3.3.3. Keys to Effective Listening • Prepare yourself to listen. • Look for areas of interest with the speaker. • Judge content, not delivery, and avoid premature judgments. • Let the speaker finish; don’t interrupt. • Listen for ideas and identify the speaker’s evidence. • Summarize or restate what the speaker is saying. • Note the larger issues. • Be aware of emotions and notice body language as a clue to emotions. • Be flexible. • Resist distractions. • Keep your mind open; try to access the speaker’s world, not your own. • Work at listening. 3.3.4 Three Myths of Listening Three Truths of Listening Listening is a natural activity. Listening is learned. Hearing and listening are the same Telling is not communicating. thing. You are speaking to a mass audience You speak to one individual at a time even in large audiences. 3.3.5. Learning Objectives of the Activities Cognitive goals Students will • Develop habits of effective listening. • Accurately summarize and paraphrase information from reading and listening • Listen critically, employ and assess nonverbal cues in oral communication, and provide criticism to others in a collaborative and supportive manner. • Identify and evaluate, through an analysis of oral communication, a communicator’s purposes, assumptions, and attitudes, as well as the strengths of arguments and the relevance and appropriateness of evidence in relation to audience, purpose, and situation. • Enhance listening skills through interacting with foreign speakers with unusual pronunciations. Affective goal 18
  19. 19. • Develop understanding and positive attitudes toward listening to the perspectives of others. 3.3.6. Activities The following activities help sharpen students’ listening skills. Since several activities may be adapted to different subject matters, you may integrate them throughout the term to reinforce skills and to provide variety of instruction. A. Listening Check Approximate class time: 10–15 minutes This activity is relatively easy to implement. It involves reading or speaking a short passage relating to the material that is under consideration during class time. You can build a library of good short passages as you develop the assignment from class to class. Newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and business news magazines such as Canadian Business are good sources for passages. Read the passage and then ask students orally or in writing to answer two short questions: 1) What is the thesis of the passage? 2) Recall one bit of evidence that supports the thesis. The Listening Check is also good to test how students are processing class lectures. Near the end of the class session, ask the students to write down the key point of the lecture and one piece of support. Collect the papers to check what they think you are saying. You may find yourself saying, “But that’s not what I meant. That’s not it at all.” Another variant is to have students in pairs exchange papers and negotiate what they thought they heard. Then have several pairs report to the class to note differences. Correct any misperceptions if need be (and experienced teachers know that misperceptions will occur). Objective of this activity: After listening to the selected passage, students will accurately summarize and paraphrase its key information. Evaluation: Assess the quality of a students’ oral and written responses. In the interests of time, you may wish to spot check only students’ written or oral responses. If the spot check reveals weak performance, you may want to do a more thorough review of each student’s written responses. What you can expect from this activity: Very likely, students will make some predictable mistakes. Difficult or unusual vocabulary items will surely be confusing. You will find, however, that as a result most students will begin to attend more carefully to oral language in the classroom, especially if they know that they will be asked about it. You should seek to help students examine the reasons for mishearings and give them the motivation and tools to create a theory of effective personal listening. 19
  20. 20. B. Supportive Listening Approximate class time: 10–15 minutes The skills practiced in this activity are applicable to situations in which there is some degree of inherent conflict such as job interviews, performance reviews, and negotiations. The important concept practiced in the activity is to earn your listener’s goodwill by showing that you are listening and not interrupting. Students work in pairs. One student is chosen to explain a controversial position to the other. The listener has a simple task: to just listen and provide positive body language as feedback. Students take turns as speaker and listener. As simple as this sounds, we know that there are those for whom quietly listening will be a challenge. Those who are unfamiliar with support might need training on just how to say things like “Uh, huh.” Objective of this activity: After listening to the selected passage, students will accurately summarize and paraphrase its key information. Evaluation: Assess the quality of a students’ oral and written responses. In the interests of time, you may wish to spot check only students’ written or oral responses. If the spot check reveals weak performance, you may want to do a more thorough review of each student’s written responses. What you can expect from this activity: In this activity many students will be shocked at the outcome. When a truly attentive listener engages another, the result is almost always extended conversation. Students who have engaged in this activity at our school have reported that they have learned things they never before even suspected. Previously boring friends become interesting, even fascinating. Colleagues at work take on an added dimension. Given the power of conversation, you should warn students to be prepared for sudden revelations. And it is probably a good idea to be prepared to steer the conversation toward safer territory if inappropriate revelations could cause embarrassment. You also have to watch for other signs to interpret words. Much important meaning is conveyed visually. Finger tapping, a wide-eyed look, a furrowed brow—these mean as much as words do, sometimes more. A person’s posture, for example, can tell you something about his or her attitude. If somebody says, “Well, it doesn’t really matter to me,” but his or her posture is stiff, knuckles white, eyes intense and forehead damp, clearly one is holding back some true feelings. In such a situation, it’s important to make him realize that you want to hear his thoughts, that he has nothing to fear from speaking his mind. A properly worded statement that shows your interest may put him at ease. The ability to create rapport that invites open communication is one of the most valuable skills a manager can possess. (Pollock) 20
  21. 21. C. Characteristic Communication Style Approximate class time: 20–30 minutes A variation of Supportive Listening, but a little more difficult, this activity has its roots in discourse analysis. This activity makes the student pay attention to not only what is being said but how, including nonverbal behaviour. It works like this. In pairs, each student explains a controversial position—ethical issues work well here—relating to the class subject matter. But rather than argue with each other’s positions, students are asked to create a theory of communication about their partner’s way of talking and listening. Our experience with narrative— i.e., as listeners to stories—teaches us to listen to the voice of the narrator, and we can use our experience to enhance our teaching in this area. For instance, one can ask, does my partner begin with a bold statement of position? Does she use an analogy, or a series of analogies? How does he connect one statement with another? Now, after each has studied the other’s pattern, can one partner explain what is the “characteristic communication style” of the other? Here are some features of a characteristic communication style: • inner consistency (if statements are inconsistent, honesty is problematic; the narrator may be unreliable) • honesty and candour • use of euphemism to avoid difficult realities • use of metaphor as a clue to thought and theme (the connotations evoked tell us about state of mind, themes, and purpose) • use of opposites and repetitions, positives and negatives as clues to speaker’s value system • anecdote (storytelling as a clue to character, humour, obsessions) • bottom line (narrator as literalist, one without imagination, sees things materialistically) • egocentricity (characters are selfish) vs. concern for others Objective of this activity: After listening to a speaker, the student will identify and evaluate some features of the speaker’s characteristic communication style: purposes, assumptions, and attitudes. Evaluation: Assess the quality of a student’s oral and written responses. Have each partner, in turn, report his or her analysis and have the other comment on the response. In the interests of time in a larger class, you may wish to have only a few teams report. What you can expect from this activity: This activity requires the ability to form abstract concepts about casual conversations. Students are being asked to both listen and then to categorize what they have listened to. Practice can help in developing that important skill. Also, students might not know the meaning of terms like “metaphor,” “euphemism,” “anecdote,” and others. These categories are crucial to completing the tasks. Simple examples will help; asking students to find examples 21
  22. 22. from the popular press as well as from lyrics or commercials will aid in developing understanding. This activity is one of the more difficult but will lead to increased attentiveness. “Listeners of both genders can improve the likelihood of understanding their partners by asking questions and by checking their perceptions. The term ‘active listening’ implies that the listening process takes effort and energy. Active listeners participate in a communication encounter both verbally and nonverbally. They may nod their heads, ask for clarification of a point, or paraphrase what they heard to make sure the speaker’s message was correctly interpreted (restating what you hear in your own words is commonly referred to as ‘reflection’). Most important, listeners must try to see the world from the perspective of the person speaking.” (Brownell, 1993) D. I Know Where You’re Coming From Approximate class time: 5–10 minutes This is an especially good activity with nontraditional students. The activity helps students understand differences. In business, school, and personal relations, we meet each other in various venues, most not of our choosing. Needless to say, conversants bring to those venues many pieces of baggage that can interfere with effective communication. In this activity, students work with partners, and each explains to the other something about the physical surroundings of his or her “home.” The object is to understand something about the person to whom you are listening. If the speaker has just returned from child care, a tough football practice, a troubled dorm room, a tough job site, or a long involved meeting, then the listeners must make allowances. Listeners should encourage material descriptions. An effective listening strategy involves getting a handle on the environment that speakers are “coming from.” Objectives of this activity: Students will listen critically, assess nonverbal cues in an oral communication, and respond to another in a collaborative and supportive manner. Evaluation: This activity functions more as an “ice-breaker,” so you may not wish to evaluate it except through informal feedback about how the exercise went. To evaluate more formally, have each partner, in turn, report what was learned and have the other partner confirm or deny the accuracy of the response. In the interests of time in a larger class, you may wish to have only a few teams report. What you can expect from this activity: The purpose of this activity is to develop empathy as a listener. If done properly the listener can get out of his/her frame of reference and begin to appreciate where another is coming from. By describing the material surroundings of the home or workplace, the speaker is giving clues to how a message should be received. All of us know instinctively to ask if a speaker on a 22
  23. 23. telephone is being overheard, or whether a conversant is in a hurry. This exercise takes that one step further. In at least one class at our college, each student was asked to bring a picture of his or her workplace, cubicle, desk, or corner office. These pictures said much about how a message might be developed and received. E. Prediction, Hypothesis-checking, Revising, Generalizing Approximate class time: 10–15 minutes if teacher verifies the predictions, longer if students listen to a full speech Listening is closely related to reading. The following activity focuses on predicting, which is a variation of a reading process strategy. The five processes—prediction, hypothesis, checking, revising, generalizing— involve the mental activities that occur when we read or hear. One way to introduce the concept is to ask students to practice predicting. After you model the process, read the text of the opening paragraph from a news story or magazine article about a relevant course topic and ask students to predict—based on its rhetorical cues of purpose, emphasis, foreshadowing, and transition—what the story or article will be about. In most stories many clues indicate where the story is going, and the student will be able to catch many of them. The teacher then can move from print to oral communication. Have students listen to the opening of a short speech (e.g., from a video of a business leader, motivational speaker, political leader—or you read aloud a speech reprinted in Vital Speeches of the Day, which includes many speeches of business leaders) and predict its direction. Then, let students listen to the rest of the speech to check predictions. Objective of this activity: After listening to a selected passage and analyzing its rhetorical cues, students will accurately predict a communicator’s purposes, assumptions, and attitudes. Evaluation: Assess the quality of a students’ oral responses. In the interests of time, you may wish to spot check the students’ oral responses. If the spot check reveals weak performance, you may want to check more responses or repeat the exercise. What you can expect from this activity: Many of us have had friends or colleagues who finish our sentences for us. They know what is coming and can’t refrain from completing the sentence for themselves. With this activity students will practice anticipating a speaker’s logic as well as rhetorical moves. You can count on students having a good deal of previous experience with this concept. Children know how to anticipate parental objections, employees know how a boss will react, co-workers can often role play a colleague’s response to a given directive. With this activity, students are asked to make real this kind of tacit knowledge in a way that will help them deal more effectively with future listening tasks. F. Chunking and Relating Approximate class time: 20–30 minutes 23
  24. 24. Language is made up of lexical items and syntactic features, that is, “things” and “relationship of things.” This activity involves a speaker, a listener, a judge, and a commentator. Prepare a group of “paddles” with these labels: objection, analogy, statistic, contradiction, thesis, support, restatement. Each of these terms refers to a typical item in a communication situation. As students view or listen to a discussion, one student is chosen as judge to handle the paddles. As the conversation proceeds, the judge holds up the paddle to indicate the item—objection, analogy, statistic, contradiction, thesis, support, or restatement. Other students watch carefully; and after the exercise is over, they analyze the choices made by the judge. This exercise encourages active listening. Objective of this activity: After listening to a selected passage and analyzing its rhetorical cues, students will accurately predict a communicator’s purposes, assumptions, and attitudes. Evaluation: Assess the quality of students’ oral responses. In the interests of time, you may wish to spot check the students’ oral responses. If the spot check reveals weak performance, you may want to check more responses or repeat the exercise. What you can expect from this activity: To some, this activity might seem unnecessarily cumbersome. Using cards or paddles or signs does require some preparation, and conversation moves faster than a person might be able to keep up with. However, the effort is worth it; and once the signs or paddles are created, they can be used in subsequent classes. Most students find the stage business rather comical. G. You Thought You Were Listening, Didn’t You? Approximate class time: 8–10 minutes, pausing for laughter and groans Here’s a quick listening activity that is fun and effective as an activity to get students to listen carefully to what’s being said. It demands attentive listening and a measure of common sense. The concentration that this activity requires is good practice for any problem-solving situation that requires sensitivity and a clear understanding of what is being said.  1. Is there a May 24th in England? Yes or no?  2. How many birthdays does the average man have?  3. Some months have 31 days. How many have 28?  4. How many outs are there in an inning?  5. Is it legal for a man in Newfoundland to marry his widow’s sister?  6. A doctor gives you three pills and tells you to take one every half an hour. How long will the pills last?  7. A farmer has 17 sheep. All but 9 of them die. How many sheep are left?  8. How many animals of each sex did Moses bring with him on the ark?  9. A butcher in the market is 5’ 10” tall. What does he weigh? 10. How many 2-cent stamps are there in a dozen? 11. What was the prime minister’s name in 2004? 24
  25. 25. 12. If “Polk” is pronounced “poke” and “folk” is pronounced “foke,” how do you pronounce the white of an egg? 3.3.7. Two Evaluations Below are two evaluations that can be adapted to more complex assignments. Basic Listening Comprehension Conditions: Time, Task, Selection, and Instructions: 20 minutes Read aloud to the class a previously unread, 150–200 word newspaper or magazine article from The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, Forbes, or Business Week or selection from your business communication text on a topic discussed in the course. Read clearly at a normal rate. Ask each student to paraphrase in writing the main idea presented in the article; note at least two details, such as who, what, when, where, why, or how; and note three key terms from the selection. (Option: Instead of reading aloud, you may choose to play an audio tape or a videotape on an issue discussed in the course.) Option: Have the students respond in memo form as though they were summarizing a meeting discussion for an absent member, who could be their boss. Competent criteria for task completion include the following: • Summarizing the main idea of the selection • Noting two supporting details • Noting three key terms from the selection OR • Asking two questions that address the main topic of the article Listening to Non-Native Speakers Certainly one of the most severe obstacles to effective listening arises when one communicator utilizes a variety of English that is different from the other. Many speakers of English possess more than one variety of the language and know how to employ the appropriate variety in a given circumstance. Others, however, possess only their native variety of English. And many speakers of English in Canada speak English as a second language. English has emerged as the almost universal language of business and commerce. In most multi-national organizations, from Ford and GM to the smallest firm with overseas branches, English is the language of choice. Instructors should emphasize to students that the English of world business is not necessarily “Canadian” English. Learning to listen to the many varieties of English is a valuable skill both to an individual employee as well as to the larger organization. Linguists know that a nonnative speaker might learn vocabulary and grammatical features of a second language almost perfectly. In fact, nonnative speakers of 25
  26. 26. English often have a more profound and insightful grasp of grammatical issues than native speakers. This is simply the result of the fact that native speakers never really “learn” their language but rather they grow into it, much as a child acquires the ability to walk. Second language learners most often learn something of the “theory” of the language they are learning. Vocabulary and grammar can be learned, but an accent influenced by a speaker’s native language is almost impossible to eradicate. Many nonnative speakers of English speak an articulate, insightful, and complex variety of English, but their speech still has remnants of their native language because their mouths and tongues have never quite mastered the oral gymnastics necessary to speak “perfect” American or British English. Objective: To enhance listening skills through exposing students to a wide variety of different “Englishes” in a thoughtful, reflective, linguistically-aware context. Preparation: The instructor will need adequate understanding of the vowels and consonants and inflection pattern of English. Phonetic background is helpful but the pronunciation key from any good dictionary is sufficient to complete the assignment. As instructors and students will see as they examine the table of English speech sounds, English and all other languages are composed of vowel and consonant sounds, with a small selection of hybrid sounds, like the “l,” “r,” “y,” and “w” sounds. There are approximately 14 vowel sounds and 26 consonant sounds. Different languages have different numbers of phonetic building blocks and often languages have sounds that do not appear in English. Most classrooms will have a few nonnative speakers and the instructor should call on these valuable resource speakers to help make the learning more real. We would suggest that the class practice English vowels and consonants to become more aware of their sound and shape Conditions: Task, Time, Selection, Instructions: 30 minutes. The instructor will present a video, audio tape, or person speaking a nonnative variety of English. The classroom must be sufficiently quiet and the quality of the performance must be sufficiently excellent so that students can “listen” to the nuances of speech. The instructor should structure the performance so that there is “real” content as well as a wide variety of nonstandard sounds. After the performance, the instructor asks students to note in written form observations about what they have heard. By keeping a phonetic chart handy, with vowels and consonants plainly visible, most students will be able to identify differences in pronunciation. With input from all listeners, the class will be able to create a short guide describing similarities and differences between the variety of English they have heard and their own variety or varieties. The instructor should also ask the listeners to record the content of the presentation. Most likely, there will be mishearings motivated by nonstandard pronunciation. Again, students with experience in cross-cultural communication will have much to add to the discussion. 26
  27. 27. If time and interest allow, students can interview colleagues or friends who speak English as a nonnative language and create a guide to understanding such speakers. In addition to the phonetic issues, interviewers can include grammatical issues questioning forms, pluralization methods, gender considerations, speaking distances and other aspects of that language community. Language is a good way to enter into the world of the nonnative speaker, a world increasingly more important to North American business. What you can expect from this activity: Cross-cultural communication discussions always provoke insight and interest. Business people love to relate their favourite miscommunication episodes. And the stories we have heard are instructive as well as extremely humorous. Employees who work with telephones will be able to relate the particular problems of “voice only” communication. Issues of correctness and quality will no doubt arise during the discussion. Obviously language issues are problematic; countries have fought for linguistic independence, citizens have been harassed and discriminated against because of language difference, and the issue of “Black English” and “Second language instruction” animates the education community. We would emphasize that these are political issues more than linguistic ones. 3.3.8 Activities Grapevine Demonstration. First, write a simple one- or two-sentence message or quote on an index card. Next, whisper the message in the ear of a student at the front of your classroom. Have each student pass the message throughout the entire class by whispering it to the next student. After the last student has been told the message, have that individual repeat what he/she understood the message to be. Tell students the original message that was written on your card. Usually the message bears little resemblance to the original message written on the card. You’ll want to stress to students that in their business lives, trusting the accuracy of the grapevine can at times be dangerous. Listening Exercises. You might want to try the following listening activities. You will find that students can be very astute behavioural observers. a. Have students spend some time in another class observing the listening habits and nonverbal communication of students; they can choose to observe one particular individual or several different individuals. Then have students comment in memo form on the habits, both good and bad, that were exhibited by their peers. Be sure that the subjects of the memos are discussed anonymously. b. Have students spend some time during the week observing a particular professor and his/her listening skills and nonverbal communication skills. Then have students discuss their findings in a memo. Be sure to have them discuss their professors anonymously. 27
  28. 28. Sharpening Listening Skills. The following activities, presented by Jean Mausehund and Susan Timm, are intended to help students sharpen their listening skills (“Improving Listening Skills: Instructional Resources and Strategies,” Delta Pi Epsilon Instructional Strategies Series, May, 1992). c. Listening for Directions—Word Maze The following listening activity requires students to follow oral directions. This provides practice in hearing complicated directions, interpreting them, and taking appropriate action. Students should be told to rewrite the new configuration of letters with each change. You might wish to have students work in teams to complete this activity.  1. Write the words GEORGE WASHINGTON on a sheet of paper.  2. Take out all the E’s. Rewrite the word.  3. Count the remaining letters, and add an L after each seventh letter.  4. Move the second G to the beginning, and move the last letter in its place.  5. Whenever three consonants appear together, change them in order so that the first consonant in the group becomes the last, the one in the middle becomes the first, and the last becomes the middle.  6. Take out the last two vowels.  7. Where a double letter appears, take out both letters.  8. Beginning with the third letter from the left, interchange each two letters.  9. Take out the last two letters. 10. Move the last letter so it will be the first letter. 11. Add a D after each fourth letter. 12. Add a D at the beginning. 13. Replace every S with an N. 14. Take out the middle three letters. 15. Take out the final letter, and put the first letter in its place. The outcome of these instructions should be the word HOLLAND. d. Listening for Directions—Jumbled Orders Read the following directions to students, making certain that no notes are taken while the directions are being read: “You are to take no notes while I am reading these directions. When I finish reading the directions, you will take a sheet of notebook paper. Write your name on the second line on the left side of the paper and today’s date on the same line on the right side of the paper. You will then fold the paper in half forming two columns. Skipping three lines from your name, begin numbering the left column from 1 to 10, skipping a line after each odd number. In the right column, skip two lines after the date, and print a letter of the alphabet on each even-numbered line in alphabetic order.” Have students exchange papers, and then reread the directions. Have the students 28
  29. 29. correct the papers as they listen to the directions the second time. e. Listening for Directions—Location Give directions on how to get to a specific location in your town using any major route entering your town as a starting point. Have students write the directions after you have completed giving them. Or, show a map on an overhead projector or with a PowerPoint slide, and have students write directions to get from one place to another. f. Listening Skills Personal Review Students ask for candid evaluations of their listening habits from friends, relatives, or teachers. Students should take an attitude of appreciation for honest feedback. 29
  30. 30. 4 Orals and business presentations 4.1 Introducing a speaker  This is a brief moment where you are in the spotlight, but it sets the scene for the speaker – plan this strategically in your groups so that you make a good first impression on your audience  This is a recognised skill in business today  The attention is to focus on the speaker and create a positive anticipation to hear their presentation  Give their name clearly and the title of their presentation with just enough preview to whet the appetite  Lead the applause until the speaker is ready 4.2 Structure of an oral business presentation  Gain your audience’s attention  Promise a benefit if they listen (eg insights into a key company)  Offer supporting proof (statements, illustrations) – substantiate your position  Summarise the benefits (and if appropriate, point to the future)  Assume nothing  Believe in yourself & be positive  Know your audience and prepare/script your presentation for THEM  Assume that things may go wrong, so have plan B, eg if using AV aids  Rehearse enough to be comfortable and banish nerves  Stand up with confidence  Audiences of business presentations are polite and want you to succeed  Take a deep breath, fill your lungs with positive energy  Relax into a stable posture  Start by thanking your introducer, then PAUSE  Enjoy your presentation and share your enthusiasm The tuts will give you the chance to practically apply concepts of structure, order, what to put where and generally how to sort out the knowledge you have gained through your visit, interview and internet/media search and present it as meaningful information in various formats. There are many ways to structure a presentation. 4.2.1 Some easy to remember mnemonics are: OSCAR: Clear Outcome (framework of expectations) Layered Structure (use a range of Preferred Thinking Styles) Selective Chunking (avoid bogging down in nitty-gritty detail, group big ideas) Positive Attitude (self-confident, willing success) Flexible Response (give different viewpoints) (Bradbury 1997: 69) AVOM S.K.T: (c/o George Forder, Spindrift) 30
  31. 31. Attention Values established Objectives & outline Main points Summarise Key points Test 4.2.2 THE PRESENTATION INTRODUCTION Note that this is different to the role of the person introducing the speaker (they must introduce the speaker and thank them afterwards in a substantive way). A Speaking Tip. It is preferable to say the opening line of your speech from memory, but a very bad thing can happen to those who memorize: They forget. To give yourself added security, write the first two sentences of your speech in your notes and write down the last sentence of your conclusion. The rest of your notes should be in outline form. If you freeze, you know that you always can get on or get off the podium smoothly by reading the appropriate sentences. You probably won’t need to look at them, but knowing that your entrance and exit lines are written down will help you feel secure. The first thing the speaker needs to do is to get their audience to pay attention. There are many ways to get attention. Some include: 1. play a great piece of music (a popular artist motivational speakers have used is Mandoza where they get everyone to pump their arms in the air to a strong beat) 2. play a short dramatic piece of video – unless this has a preface it may flop 3. wear something that you could refer to as an attention getter – remember to be appropriate to the context of a BUSINESS presentation 4. ask a question – possibly less threatening to have a hand-raiser than a guessing question where the audience knows you know your answer, but they’re not sure which answer you want – you could always prime a friend to give the answer you’re looking for, but be prepared for some lateral thinking or a smart alec intent on throwing you off your stride 5. promise an irresistible benefit – but avoid gimmicks that may work with school children, such as sweets – know what would appeal to your peers 6. use shock statistics – costs, unsustainable resources running out… 31
  32. 32. 7. news link – especially related to current financial trends, etc, contextualizing your company… 8. problem-solution – where you offer a solution or just an alternative to a given issue or problem 9. puzzle or suspense – unveil your surprise slowly, or say something unexpected (if you invite everyone to leave and they take you at your word, don’t be surprised if you fail, especially if it means that the speakers after you have no audience left) 10. human drama – to illustrate the need for features such as occupational safety, start by telling a gruesome story of a tragedy that could have been avoided if safety measures had been followed 11. joke – tricky, dangerous, especially if there’s even a whiff of any –ism which could offend members of your audience, also if you miss the timing or mess the punch line it could fail 12. quotation – avoid these like the plague – they’re contagious and the stuff of matric orals … likely to be considered childish or gimmicky in a boardroom setting Whatever opener you use in the introduction, ensure that you link it to the body of your presentation quickly to keep the momentum of holding your audience’s attention. 4.3 Web-sites on oral presentations Oral Presentations: Getting Help on the Web. Have students conduct Web searches for sites that provide help with preparing oral presentations. These sites might offer help with preparing effective presentations, provide ideas for gaining audience attention, or provide tools for creating more effective electronic presentations. What sorts of online help are available on the Web? How can these sites help the business professional create better oral presentations? Have students share their findings with the class or in small groups. You could generate a list of Web site addresses after students have found appropriate sites. This list could then be distributed to the class for future reference. Some of the sites students might locate include the following. If students are having trouble locating appropriate sites, you can give these URLs to them to get them started. Use a search engine if these URLs fail. This site lets visitors subscribe to a free newsletter that provides tips for public speakers. Speaker’s Coach: http://www.magma.ca/~waisvisz/mytips.htm Virtual Presentation Assistant: http://www.ukans.edu/cwis/units/coms2/vpa/vpa.htm The Speaker’s Coach: http://www.magma.ca/~waisvisz/mytips.htm 32
  33. 33. Presenters University: http://www.presentersuniversity.com/index.cfm Advanced Public Speaking Institute: http://www.public-speaking.org/ Presenters Online: http://www.presentersonline.com/ 4.4 ASSESSMENT CRITERIA FOR BUSINESS PRESENTATIONS What makes one presentation better than another? What is it that makes you remember the key points of one presentation or even lecture over another? 4.4.1 A possible rubric CONTENT Introduction Does it get our attention? Does it outline the focus areas? Is it effective in getting us to listen? Body Is there evidence of careful preparation? Is there a smooth flow from the introduction? Is the content cohesive? (has links between ideas, no gaps, clear message) Conclusion Is the ending effective and decisive? Well rounded and summarised? Impact & Rapport How good is the first impression? What message does the environmental body language give: appearance, dress-code, neatness, personal hygiene (no halitosis) Are there annoying distractions like chewing, scratching, sniffing? NB: cultural attire acceptable in the workplace in the new SA Is eye contact established and maintained appropriately? Are gestures open and smooth? Are facial expressions enthusiastic and keen? Overall does the presentation have awkward pauses? Is there a sense of group identity? Fluency and register Is the lang. used with smooth control, good vocabulary, is it clearly pronounced and well structured? Is the expression clear and easy to understand? Is the register (tone) appropriate? Is it businesslike and suited to the business portrayed? NB: Accent should not be penalized if pronunciation is clear Delivery Is it audible? Is there good voice projection? Is there a variety in pitch? Is the pace of delivery comfortable? Is the voice powerful and demanding attention from the listeners? STRUCTURE Does each group member participate in the presentation? Is there a smooth handing over between presenters? Are there smooth transitions between ideas and if used, video clips? 33
  34. 34. Is it well-ordered as a whole? Is there a continuous thread running throughout? Does it hold together without being fragmented? Audiovisual Aids: Are cue notes/cue cards (small <A5), Are they efficiently & smoothly used? Are OHPs/DVDs/videos/posters/articles/items/tapes/CDs (music/sound effects) used effectively? Is promotional gear used (e.g. corporate identity, ties, T-shirts, caps)? Do the Audiovisual Aids prepare you for the presentation i.e., give an idea of the company e.g. Unilever display in video example? PowerPoint Slides (optional) Are they accessible to the audience? How successful are the colours, font style and size, backgrounds, graphics, etc? Is there thematic cohesion? Are the images used relevant? Are they error free, especially ito grammar? Are the slides creative or innovative? Overall Effectiveness Was the presentation of value? Was it interesting and entertaining? Was the purpose achieved? Is there audience interest and support? Did the presentation strike you as a professional, practiced and prepared piece? Bonuses: humour, effective time management and questions (should range between 1-4 marks) Humour is allocated a bonus mark, because not everyone is gifted with the sense of humour and timing needed to make an audience laugh. It is only fair though, that those more enjoyable presentations earn more marks. A charismatic entertainer is recognised as a better speaker than a dry professor type academic. Penalties: arriving/starting late, causing disturbances during other presentations, any other distractions (should range between 1- 4) 34
  35. 35. 5 Guidelines for academic writing Good writing needs to be clear and simple. If the reader cannot understand what you have written, then the communication process has failed. 5.1 The Writing Process 1. Pre-writing (pre-text, ideas, creativity, relax, take a walk or shower) 2. Proto-writing (proto-text, discussing with friends) 3. Provisional writing (draft, revising) 4. Committed text (for publication, assessment) You can go backwards in the process and rework stages. 5.2 Paragraphing Each paragraph should contain one main idea. This can be expressed in the topic sentence (which is often the first sentence in a paragraph and is sometimes called the thesis statement). The role of the topic sentence is to briefly convey the basic meaning and idea of the paragraph. The sentences that follow should contain evidence and supporting statements to back up the topic sentence. In order to express yourself clearly, it is essential that the reader can follow the flow of ideas easily. To do this you need to use linking and sequencing words between sentences and paragraphs. Examples of these are ‘firstly, secondly, thirdly, however, although.’ These words make sure that your reader will know what is coming next in the structure of the writing. The length of each paragraph will vary, but a single paragraph should not be longer than a page. This is for the simple reason that readers will be put off by paragraphs that appear long and dense. If you have a great deal of evidence for a certain idea, you should explain each piece of evidence in a separate paragraph. Remember that you may use only one tense in a paragraph. When you want to change tense you need to begin a new paragraph. When deciding on the order of your paragraphs, you should work from the general to the specific. This means that you need to start with the general theory and work towards applying it to a specific example. 5.3 Tone and Style It is essential that the tone (the way in which you express yourself) is appropriate for the context. In academic and business writing the tone needs to be formal, professional and polite. It is vital, particularly for reports, that you are always 35
  36. 36. diplomatic and polite. Never say anything rude or slanderous about another company. Often the best way to express an idea is the simplest. Stay away from elaborate writing. This includes jargon. By using clear and simple writing you will increase the chances of your reader understanding what you are trying to tell them. If you struggle with grammar it is best to use short, simple sentences. This way you can ensure that you are expressing yourself clearly. Long sentences often run out of control, confusing the writer and the reader. No colloquialisms or slang should be used. Avoid using contractions (where you shorten a word or join two words using an apostrophe, for example ‘don’t’). Symbols and abbreviations should also not be used. Numbers under 20 need to be written in words but the number does not need to follow in brackets. Lists should generally not be used, especially if you are listing a few short items. Separate the items using semicolons and write them in a sentence. All work needs to be grammatically correct and properly punctuated. Spelling also needs to be correct. Consult a dictionary if you are unsure about something. 5.4 Analysis For your argument to be convincing, you need to analyse information and not just describe it. Imagine that the information is a murder suspect and that you are a detective trying to solve the crime. You need to ask the information questions until you understand how it works and why it is valid. If you just describe the information, your writing will lack insight and will not convince the reader. Remember that any answer is the correct answer as long as it is convincing and believable, so you have to be able to persuade your reader. Avoid paraphrasing the original source. You need to express ideas in your own words to show that you understand them and to make sure that you are not plagiarising the work of another writer. Use a quotation if there is no better way of rephrasing the original statement. However, your argument should not rely on quotes. The majority of your writing needs to be your own analysis of original sources. 5.5 Referencing It is essential that you reference your work correctly. Failure to do so is intellectual theft and the penalties are severe. You need to use the referencing method correctly and consistently. Consult your textbook for the preferred method. Remember that 36
  37. 37. you need to provide a reference if you use an idea from another writer, even if you rephrase it. 5.6 Editing Careful editing is important. Even if you use a word processor mistakes can slip into your work. Read through your work before you submit it to make sure that you have eliminated as many errors as possible. It is also a good idea to ask a friend to read your work, as they will be able to point out confusing passages or statements. You may not be able to recognise these yourself as it is your own work. If you do not have someone to read through it for you, you should read it aloud. Things that the reader might find confusing or vague might sound odd when you say them aloud. Writing is a process that needs to be refined. In order to produce good writing you may need to write a few drafts before you are satisfied. If you get confused or stuck at any point in the writing process, remember these ideas by the great writer George Orwell: (i) Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print. (ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do. (iii) If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out. (iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active. (v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent. (vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous. 37
  38. 38. 6 GUIDELINES FOR ACADEMIC REPORT WRITING (with thanks to Prof A de Koker, SOA) 6.1 The article — a, an (the indefinite articles), the (the definite article). The article is to be used for the title of a book, chapter, article, play, film, poem work of art, etc if it is part of the title. Thus Charles Darwin The Origin of Species; James Joyce A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; R W Lee An Introduction to Roman-Dutch Law; Shakespeare The Tempest. For the correct title of a book, follow the title page, not the spine, of the book. Newspapers and periodicals should be treated the same way. Thus, The Star, The Times (of London), the Observer (of London). The South African Law Journal, (usually and forgivably referred to as the South African Law Journal, which will meet the ‘The’ provided with the names of ships, etc referred to below), the Sunday Times of Johannesburg). Ships are not given the ‘the’, however. The name very frequently starts with ‘The’ and a legal decision may indeed have the full name as its title or subsidiary title; for example, The Ocean Frost [1985] 3 All ER 795 (CA). In the judgment, however, the ship will be referred to without the definite article thus ‘the ship, the Ocean Frost …’ If this rule is not observed, one would have to write ‘the ship, the The Ocean Frost …’ 6.2 Capitals. Capital letters for proper nouns (names of persons, places, or objects, as contrasted with common nouns, which refer to every member of an entire class sharing the features connoted by the noun, such as court, judge, continent): In the title of a book, chapter, article, play, film, periodical ship, poem, work of art etc use a capital for the first word. A word within the title must also start with a capital unless it is an article (a, an, the), a conjunction (such as: and, but, because, when, if, or) or a preposition (such as of, to, for, against, from, at, about) — and then with this qualification: If the conjunction or preposition is a word of five letters or more, start with a capital letter for the sake of good appearance. Thus: Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing, M M Corbett et al The Law of Succession in South Africa; John Gorgon ‘News Control by Decree’’ (1986 103 SALJ 118. (Observe how an article, as opposed to a book, is not to be in italics, but is to be in roman type surrounded by single quotation marks.) The following words illustrate how capitals are used for proper names (that is, names used to designate individual people, animals, towns, ships): The President; the Minister of Finance (if referred to in short form later, the Minister); the National Assembly; Parliament; the Cabinet, the Judge President, the Chief Justice; the Supreme Court of Appeal; the Registrar of Companies (and any other holder of an office). Is it ‘the state’ or ‘the State’? Answer: ‘the State’ only where it is a litigant. So too with ‘the Government’, ‘the government’. Lower case is generally preferable: thus ‘his lordship said’, ‘in the eyes of the court’. ‘The agreement was concluded at The Hague.’ 38
  39. 39. 6.3 Full stops to indicate abbreviations. In English, they should be dropped. Thus Mr A J Jones; P S Brown SC; Mrs J J Green; Sydney Smith BA LLB (Cape Town) LLD (Stell). Foreign languages may have a different approach, which must be observed. 6.4 Interpolations and ellipses. An interpolation is the insertion or change in a quotation of a letter, a word, or words. It must be between square brackets — [] — not round brackets (parentheses). An ellipsis is the omission of a word or words, or of a passage from a quotation. At the start of or within a sentence it is shown by three full stops; at the end of a sentence there is a closing full stop followed by three further full stops. Here is an extract from the judgment of Wessels JA in Van Wezel v Van Wezel’s Trustee 1924 AD 409 at 418-19 showing the use of interpolations and ellipses: ‘… [I]t is clear that the windmill and the tank … never became the property of Leendert van Wezel [the lessee]. They became the property of De Beers Mines [the lessor] …. They could … not have been transferred to Rudolph van Wezel [the son] except by transfer coram lege loci of the land upon which they stood …. [W]hen Leendert van Wezel became insolvent the control over the property passed to the trustee in insolvency ….’ 6.5 Ending in –ize or –ise? The house style for publications by the School of Accountancy and the School of Law uses-ize: thus criticize, emphasize, realize. Most South Africans prefer –ise. Americans use –ize, even for a couple of words that in British English can end only in –ise (analyze is the common American spelling). In England some leading publications use –ize, such as The Times –ize corresponds more closely to the pronunciation of a word that –ise. You are at liberty to use either form — –ise or –ize — provided you are consistent. The advantage of –ise is that there are very few words that have to end in –ize. The most important ones are size, prize, capsize, assizes. There are at least forty words that end only in –ise. The most commonly used ones are: advertise, advise, chastise, compromise, demise, despise, disguise, enterprise, exercise, revise, supervise, surprise. 6.6 Spelling. Compound words tend to have a life in three stages: two words, a hyphenated word, one word: thus text book, text-book, textbook. Many words exist today that once were two words or were hyphenated; thus antenuptial, postnuptial, businessman. But two words remain in a number of instances: thus post office; trade mark; motor car (but see below). Sometimes the spelling depends on the intended meaning: thus men of good will; the goodwill of a business. Generally, follow the spelling of Collins English Dictionary. (It plumps now for motorcar.) Prefixes tend more and more to combine with the base word: antenuptial; bylaw; bystander; anticlimax; abbreviated; prearrange. With co- and pre-, however, there is some resistance to a combination: compare coalesce; co-billigerent; co- 39