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Archive for the 'Resources for Instructors' Category

BT VideosHere is the second video in our new series that addresses a variety of specific communication challenges and offers practical advice that students can apply now in their coursework and take with them on the job.

This video helps students tackle three challenges that all students and all business professionals face:

  • Making every message and document more effective.
  • Writing routine messages as quickly as possible to avoid getting swamped by the demands of everyday communication. 
  • Tackling big projects such as major reports and formal presentations without getting overwhelmed by the size of the task. 

The video presents a single solution to all three challenges: the three-step writing process that we use throughout our business communication texts.

Instructor version (concludes with information about the Bovée & Thill business communication series, including links to order examination copies)

Student version (identical to the instructor version, except for the textbook information)



BT VideosWe're excited to launch a new series of brief videos that you can use to supplement your lectures. These videos address specific communication challenges and offer practical advice that students can apply now in their coursework and take with them on the job.

We're producing two versions of each video. The instructor version concludes with information about the Bovée & Thill business communication series, including links to order examination copies. The student version is identical except for the textbook information.

The first video addresses a challenge that every business communicator faces: how to share negative information without being negative. Here are links to both versions:

Instructor version

Student version

We hope you find these useful, and we welcome any feedback you might have.



logo-quick-switch

QuickSwitch makes it easy to identify the best Bovée & Thill textbook for your business communication course and then quickly build your syllabus and lesson plans with our exclusive system.

 

The system works in three stages:

  1. Selection Advice and Transition Guides: The three books in the Bovée & Thill series cover a wider range of course needs than any other business communication series, so you may find that more than one Bovée & Thill title is a potential replacement for your current text. We offer advice to help you choose the right book for your unique needs. After you’ve decided which book to use, the Transition Guide provides detailed information to help you move to your chosen book, including high-level mapping that shows how the table of contents of your current text maps to the Bovée & Thill book, detailed content mapping that shows where to find comparable content sections from your current book in the Bovée & Thill book, a terminology translator that explains any differences in how the two books use important terms, and activity mapping that shows where to find comparable assignments and other student projects. The guide also highlights new material and new activities available in your Bovée & Thill book that your current book doesn’t have.
     
  2. Syllabus Assistant: This interactive tool helps you generate a syllabus that makes the best use of your new Bovée & Thill title, including course outcomes, detailed assessment rubrics, and the framework for a course calendar. You can easily pull in content from your existing syllabus and add required material from your institution. After you’ve completed the online interview, the system generates a Word document that you can then customize and finalize as needed.
     
  3. Lesson Plan Assistant: Choose from a list of important topics that you’d like to cover, such as communicating with diverse audiences or writing routine and positive messages. These documents provide the background information to build a successful lesson, keyed to content in your new Bovée & Thill text, which you can then adapt to your teaching interests and the specific parameters of your course schedule.

Visit QuickSwitch to see how quickly and easily you could change business communication textbooks.

 



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



WPPLong and complex reports, such as corporate annual reports, can place a heavy burden on readers. Publishing these reports online presents an additional set of challenges, because readers can no longer just flip printed pages to skim content or establish context. Fortunately, the Web also provides new opportunities for structure and navigation that can make online reports easy to consume, if reports are crafted with readers' needs firmly in mind.

The London-based holding company WPP Group is the world’s largest marketing communication services firm, with more than 150 component companies involved in every conceivable aspect of advertising and related business activities. All together, WPP companies have nearly 180,000 employees in more than 100 countries. Trying to report on the annual progress of an organization this complicated is no easy task, but WPP’s intelligent, reader-friendly choices make its online annual reports easy to navigate and read.

The attached slides show eight screens from WPP's 2014 annual report, along with helpful annotations and lecture notes.

You can view the full report at http://www.wpp.com/annualreports/2014/ 
(When the 2015 report is eventually published, we assume it will be found at http://www.wpp.com/annualreports/2015/)

Download Slides Here: Bovee and Thill Blog – Hall of Fame – WPP annual report



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.

 



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 unlabeled 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. CommPro.biz 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.



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 GamesRadar.com 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.