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Archive for the 'Resources for Instructors' Category

Holly LittlefieldIf you were fortunate enough to attend Holly Littlefield's presentation at the ABC convention in Seattle this past week, you were treated to an entertaining and highly instructive selection of social media failures. Her talk, "Audience, Brand, Channel: Using Social Media Cases to Teach Communications Concepts," offered a taste of everything from cringe-worthy image choices to clumsy non-apologies.

The examples Dr. Littlefield was able to show during her time slot are only a sample of the episodes she has collected, and she has generously agreed to let us share the full set with you. This extensive PowerPoint presentation (11 MB) offers a variety of cases that highlight the need to understand audiences and make intelligent decisions about communication channels.

Our thanks to Dr. Littlefield for sharing her insights and teaching resources.


Bcomm skillsAs you get rolling with a new term, you’ll probably be emphasizing the long-term value of the business communication course to your students. Here’s our list of 27 ways communication skills can help students in their personal and professional lives.

  1. Succeeding in other college courses. From writing research papers to making presentations, the skills developed in the business communication course can help with virtually every other course students take.
  2. Landing the best available job. The job-search process is essentially an interconnected set of business communication projects using a variety of media and interpersonal communication skills. It’s a great opportunity for students to put their finely tuned skills to work.
  3. Positioning oneself for promotional opportunities. The managers who make promotional decisions like to keep an eye on up-and-coming talent, and communication skills play a critical role in how those employees perform and how they are perceived by colleagues, customers, and influential executives.
  4. Becoming a more-effective online and offline networker. Networking is a vital skill for everyone from entrepreneurs to top-level corporate managers, and business communication equips people with the audience insights and communication skills they need to become valued and successful network participants.
  5. Interacting with people up and down the corporate hierarchy. College-aged students aren’t always comfortable communicating with older, more-experienced colleagues, managers, and executives. Learning how to analyze an audience’s needs and expectations can help anyone handle these challenges with grace and confidence.
  6. Solving problems. Every professional runs into problems in the workplace, and some jobs are all about problem solving. Communication is central to many business problems and challenges, whether it’s part of the problem or part of the solution.
  7. Selling ideas, proposals, and products. The business world is littered with great ideas and well-designed products that never caught on because the people behind them didn’t know how to promote themselves or their marvelous creations. Even professionals who never come close to working in marketing or sales need to know how to persuade—a valuable skill students will learn in this course.
  8. Understanding audiences. Whether it’s the other person in a one-on-one conversation or a global audience on digital media, knowing how to assess someone else’s information needs and emotional state improves every form of communication.
  9. Developing digital information fluency. Finding, evaluating, and using digital information in an age of data overload is a make-or-break skill in many careers.
  10. Developing visual literacy. From infographics to online video, visual media have become a fundamental part of business communication, not to mention the charts, graphs, diagrams, and other tools that have been in use for decades. A well-rounded business communication course can help students understand the power of visual communication, interpret business visuals, and make intelligent design choices in their own documents and presentations.
  11. Developing a compelling personal brand. Even people turned off by the idea of branding themselves can benefit from knowing the behaviors and skills that combine to create the “social being” they present to the rest of the world.
  12. Detecting and avoiding ethical lapses. Ethical dilemmas and ethical lapses should be core topics in business communication, of course. In addition to general guidelines for ensuring ethical communication, our texts offer such examples as overselling, obscuring negative information, and manipulating charts and graphs.
  13. Avoid and resolving disputes. Understanding how communication works—or fails to work—helps people minimize confusion, avoid inadvertent insults, and keep tensions from escalating.
  14. Diagnosing communication breakdowns. Sometimes even with good intentions and careful effort, communication efforts can fail. Professionals who understand a basic model of the communication process can use it to diagnose breakdowns and take corrective active.
  15. Using communication technology professionally. It’s a rare student who isn’t equipped with some advanced communication and computing technologies these days, particularly one or more mobile devices, but using those tools in a professional context takes the sort of awareness and practice they’ll get in the business communication course.
  16. Enhancing personal and social relationships. The value of communication skills certainly isn’t limited to the workplace. Knowing how to listen actively, speak persuasively, write carefully, and read critically can help just about any relationship.
  17. Crafting life’s toughest messages with sensitivity. Rejection letters, condolences, and other messages on unwelcome issues are among a communicator’s toughest challenges. The principles taught in business communication can help writers address these situations with understanding and tact.
  18. Improving communication confidence. By taking the mystery out of effective communication, this course helps students develop confidence in their ability to tackle any communication challenge.
  19. Evaluating, editing, and revising the work of other writers. Professionals are often asked to review the writing of other people, and knowing how to help—without throwing a wrench into the works—requires a specific set of skills that students can learn in this course.
  20. Leading and participating in more-effective meetings. The principles of interpersonal communication, group dynamics, and conflict resolution taught in business communication can go a long way toward making meetings more effective.
  21. Listening actively for information, intent, and nuance. Among the many skills that make up communication competence, few outrank listening. The business communication course can teach the vital skill of active listening and the specific modes of critical, content, and empathic listening.
  22. Communicating in a crisis. With the growth of social and mobile media, companies are under more pressure than ever to communicate quickly, clearly, and sensitively in the aftermath of accidents, tragedies, and other calamities. Anticipating likely events and responding with audience-focused messages are important managerial skills.
  23. Recognizing the powers and pitfalls of nonverbal communication. All communication efforts are influenced by the presence or absence of nonverbal signals, and this course can help students recognize the signals they receive and manage the signals they send.
  24. Communicating efficiently. Knowing how to craft messages and documents at a rapid clip is an essential survival skill for many professionals. By practicing with a proven method such as the three-step writing process, students can learn how to write not only effectively but efficiently, too.
  25. Ensuring positive team outcomes. Team dynamics are a complicated subject, but one simple truth is that dysfunctional teams tend to communicate poorly while highly effective teams communicate well. The business communication course gives students the opportunity to grow their teamwork skills in a safe, supportive environment.
  26. Enriching intercultural interactions. Reaching across international boundaries is a necessary skill for many professionals, and every business needs to connect with diverse groups of customers and employees. The business communication course teaches students how to communicate with people from other backgrounds and cultures—a necessary business skill and a lifelong source of pleasure.
  27. Improving etiquette in all forms of contemporary media. For all their benefits, today’s tech tools create a host of potential etiquette problems. Students can use the course to identify and avoid the missteps that can hurt careers.

If you have other benefits you like to share with students, please let us know via the comments.

Best wishes for a successful term!


Photo credit: Steve Wilson

Mobile UsabilityJakob Nielsen has long been a respected authority on website usability, and in recent years he has turned his attention to mobile devices. A key benefit of the advice he and his colleagues dispense to clients and readers is extensive usability testing to measure what really works and what doesn't. The book Mobile Usability, which he co-authored with Raluca Budiu, offers numerous insights into the communication experience on smartphones and tablets, including an entire chapter on writing for mobile devices. It's well worth the read if you are integrating mobile in your business communication course.

For example, Nielsen and Budiu cite research conducted at the University of Alberta that demonstrated how reading comprehension can drop by half when readers switch from full-size PC screens to phones. They explain the two major reasons comprehension suffers on mobile devices:

  • With less information in view on these smaller screens, readers have to rely more on memory to keep individual points in context. Given the fallibility of human memory and the distracting environments in which mobile reading often takes place, it's easy to see how readers can lose track.
  • The smaller the screen, the more scrolling is required to consume content—and scrolling introduces multiple problems. First, it takes time away from reading, and even these fractions of seconds interrupt the process of fixing information in short-term memory. Second, after each scrolling action, readers need to relocate the transition point between read and unread material to make sure they haven't missed anything. Third, scrolling diverts attention from reading while users find and activate whatever paging controls are in place on the screen.

On this third point about mechanisms for scrolling, something we've noticed ourselves lately is that the variety of paging strategies now in place with various websites, apps, and devices adds to the navigational confusion, which must in turn be harming comprehension. If you read from a variety of sources and use multiple devices and apps, every time you switch contexts you have to engage at least a few brain cells to figure out how to navigate. Swipe vertically? Swipe horizontally? (Or in some cases, swipe horizontally to jump to a new article and swipe vertically to read within the current article.) Tap some vaguely defined and unlabled margin area near the side of the screen? Find and tap a labeled button or arrow? These are all tiny interruptions, to be sure, but every interruption is a threat to comprehension and retention.

Given how many business professionals now rely on mobile devices for communication, these findings emphasize how critical it is to write short, focused, linear messages for today's readers.

Nielsen's consulting firm also publishes a wide range of articles on usability and communication issues that you may find interesting for classroom discussion.

YouTube-logo-full_colorBovée and Thill's Guide to Videos for Business Communication is now available free to all adopters of Bovée and Thill business communication texts. The guide, prepared by Dr. Maria Schellhase of the College of Southern Nevada, has links to nearly 50 online videos in 27 subject categories. The guide includes discussion questions for each video to help you make the best use of these programs in your classroom.

You can find the guide under the Instructor heading on your book's Real-Time Updates homepage.

Target SignBetween network security breaches and random corporate blunders, it's been a rough few months for GM, Target, Neiman Marcus, Adobe, Michaels, Lululemon, SeaWorld, US Airways, Yahoo, and about half the population of the Internet, thanks to the Heartbleed glitch.

Their grief is our good fortune, however—at least in terms of providing discussion material for business communication. offers a wide range of commentary and analysis by corporate communication professionals, and the site offers some great articles to discuss with your students.

The sections on public relations and social media also have a variety of pieces you might find useful in your classes.

photo by: Mr.TinDC

GamesRadarOne of the most effective business uses of Twitter is as a "headline-announcement service," alerting readers to new blog posts, new pieces in online magazines, and other fresh content. However, writing effective Twitter teasers for any given target audience is a bit of an artform. The videogame review site does a good job of this, enticing game fans with cheeky and provocative prompts.

Here's an annotated snapshot of the company's Twitter account with several examples: Bovee and Thill blog – Hall of Fame – GamesRadar on Twitter

This post offers an overview of teasers and the other compositional modes that students should be comfortable with when writing for electronic media. The post also includes a link to a new video on the Bovée-Thill YouTube Channel that explores these modes.

The ability to explain complex topics in clear terms is one of the most important skills a business communicator can have. This example from the Creative Commons website, explaining three levels of content licensing, demonstrates the power of plain language.

Bovee and Thill blog – Hall of Fame – Creative Commons website

As the new term gets under way, we invite you to use all the free Bovée and Thill resources now available online.

Media Curation Services

Bovée & Thill’s Online Magazines for Business Communication on collect useful and interesting media items in a variety of subject areas:

Videos and Presentations

The Bovée & Thill's YouTube Channel offers videos with advice on teaching the new elements of business communication.

We also offer a variety of videos and PowerPoint presentations on SlideShare.

You'll find more than 500 infographics, videos, articles, podcasts, and PowerPoints on Pinterest.

Additional Resources

Vital Bookmarks for Teaching a Business Communication Course
The Ultimate Guide to Resources for Business Communication Instructors

See Bovee and Thill on Instagram (#boveeandthill)

Interactive Tests for Instructors

Can Your Business Communication Textbook Pass This Google Test?
Can Your Business Communicaction Textbook Pass This Simple Technology Test?


Instructor Communities

Connect with academic and industry peers from around the world in these Bovée & Thill online communities:

Custom Web Search Tool

Web Search, a search tool, developed by Bovée and Thill, preformats more than 325 types of searches using the web’s most powerful search engines, making it easy to find teaching resources in specific media formats.

The links along the left side of the screen provide direct access to many of these resources as well, along with other items of potential interest to instructors. If you have any questions or suggestions, please be sure to leave a note in the comments.

Bovee & Thill Resources for Adopters Only

Teaching Business Communication Using Screencasts about Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

Helping Students Adapt Their Writing Skills to Wiki Collaboration with the Bovee and Thill Wiki

(Registration is required for the sites listed below. Registering once on either site gives you full access to both of these sites. To register, click "Register" in the upper right-hand side of the navigation bar on the homepage of either site.)

Daily business communication news

Our daily news service, Business Communication Headline News, provides carefully selected items of interest for instructors. 

Content updating service

The unique Real-Time Updates content-updating service offers a wealth of material we have personally selected for instructors and students, sorted by media type and textbook chapter.



Image credit: sholeh!!


Identifying the key words and hot-button issues in a profession or an industry can be a challenge for students working on employment-related communication, particularly for younger students with limited work experience.

Glassdoor is a free community-participation website that encourages employees and job seekers to post salary information, reviews of their jobs and employers, and information about their interviewing experiences, including the specific questions they were asked. The interview information a valuable resource on its own, of course, but it also gives students an inside view of the language used in a particular company, profession, or industry. Students can search through this information for key words to use in their résumés, application letters, and other employment communications. Plus, these reports can reveal the issues that are on the minds of company recruiters—insights that students can use to make their communication efforts more audience focused.

Newsfeeds from blogs and other online publishers can be a great way to stay on top of developments in any field. However, anyone who has signed up for more than a few RSS feeds has probably experienced the "firehose effect" of getting so many feeds so quickly that it becomes impossible to stay on top of them. Moreover, when a highly active publisher feeds every new article, from the essential to the trivial, the reader is left to sort it all out every day.

An intriguing alternative to newsfeeds is media curation, in which someone with expertise or interest in a particular field collects and republishes material on a particular topic. Business Communication Headline News, for instance, was one of the earliest examples of media curation in the field of business communication.

The latest curation tools, such as, make it easy to assemble attractive online magazines or portfolios on specific topics. To see these tools in action, check out Bovee & Thill's Online Magazines for Business Communication:

  • Business Communication 2.0: Social Media and Electronic Communication
  • Teaching Visual Communication
  • Teaching a Modern Business Communication Course
  • Teaching Business Communication and Employment
  • Teaching Business Communication and Workplace Issues
  • Teaching Business Communication and Interpersonal Communication

And on the right side of our home page, you can see the many curated magazines that we follow as well.

Curation promises to bring the power of community and shared expertise to a lot of different fields, and we're excited to see how it will shape business communication.

See media curation video.