Written Communications: Being Heard and Understood [TTC Video]
15 August 2020, 02:05
Course No 2086 | MP4, AVC, 1900 kbps, 1280x720 | AAC, 96 kbps, 2 Ch | 6h 24m | 5.39GB
We’ve all encountered bad writing at some point in our lives. We’ve possibly even authored some ourselves. And it’s pretty clear when writing is bad. Whether you’re writing business letters, memos, emails, reports, announcements, or some other professional communication, the pragmatic communicator can be far more effective than the multiloquent one.
Because we are judged by our ability to communicate with direction, focus, and confidence—along with inspiration and empathy, no matter who you are and what your goal is—getting the right message across is absolutely essential to achieving your objectives.
In the 12 rewarding lectures of Written Communications: Being Heard and Understood, Professor Allison Friederichs, Associate Teaching Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Denver, University College, will share the secrets to sharpening your written, oral, and interpersonal communications skills. She will show you how impactful communication isn’t really about you: It’s about your reader. Once you understand your audience, she’ll show you how to target the message, make appropriate word choices, incorporate sound logic, and untangle complex syntax using a combination of examples and activities.
People use words all the time, every single day, mostly without giving them much thought at all. But when you are writing words, you lose the context of vocal intonation, facial expression, and delivery. Your reader has to infer your intent and meaning and can only do so by the words you use. This ability to choose the right language is important because words are the most basic building blocks of communication. With two lectures of this series devoted to language and words, Professor Friederichs will provide you with exercises and toolkits for picking the right words every time. Consider “The Four C’s,” a framework that suggests your chosen words should be:
- Correct. It’s important to use the correct word. People don’t always do this. Malapropisms are an example. They occur when a person uses a word that sounds like the word they mean but isn’t quite correct. Yogi Berra was famous for this; for example, he once said, “Texas gets a lot of electrical votes.” (He meant electoral votes.)
- Concrete. One of the best ways to choose the right word is to understand the difference between concrete and abstract word choices. Choosing a concrete word means picking one with less possible variance in the connotative meaning. For example, if a person says, “I just heard my dog bark,” it’s fairly obvious that he or she is referring to the sound a dog makes rather than the exterior of a tree.
- Clear. This speaks to ensuring clarity. There are three things to keep in mind to help you write clearly: writing concisely, avoiding redundancy, and avoiding jargon.
- Contextually appropriate. If you don’t consider choosing the right word for the particular context, the risks can be much greater than misunderstanding. The wrong choice can have a profound impact on your professional relationships. When you write, you should place yourself in the context in which your message will be read, not the context in which it is written.
Professor Friederichs will also provide a deep dive into the intrinsic relationship between language and culture, considering an age-old issue about the nature of language, including the descriptive/prescriptive debate, as well as the two levels of meaning every word has: denotation and connotation. You’ll discover how meaning is culturally constructed and how meanings of words can shift across times and cultures.
The Misunderstood World of Punctuation
Once you’ve equipped yourself with the tools and skills to pick the right words, you need to present them in a professional and competent manner. Grammar and punctuation are challenging but important facets of writing. Nothing undermines your message more than the incorrect usage of a word, but even if you use the word properly, incorrect grammar and punctuation can change the entire meaning.
Professor Friederichs dedicates three lectures to ensuring you get it right, starting with the most commonly misunderstood rules of punctuation, such as issues around commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and dashes, as applied to Edited Standard American English. You’ll master noun and proper noun grammar rules such as when to capitalize, how to recognize pronoun case—possessive, subjective, and objective—how to spot misplaced and dangling modifiers, and how to untangle the often-confusing use of apostrophes. From there, you’ll cover the more complex world of verb and adverb usage—looking at passive and active voices, tense, and mood.
You may have bad memories of diagramming sentences for hours on end in grade school or getting otherwise grade “A” papers back with lower marks due to punctuation and spelling mistakes. Professor Friederichs’s manner and delivery will help you overcome any bad feelings you’ve harbored about grammar. She makes each of these lessons a delight, bringing plenty of humor and enthusiasm to explain the context for some of the rules that feel particularly arbitrary. With plenty of examples that make it easy to remember these often-confusing grammar rules, you’ll gain helpful tips to ensure your writing is always effective.
Get Writing Right
The last half of this illuminating course spotlights how to improve your overall message by changing your writing lens to focus on your audience. Most people typically don’t take the time to consider their message when they sit down at a keyboard, but Professor Friederichs demonstrates why you must conduct an analysis about what you are about to write before you even hit the first key—and she shows you how.
Professor Friederichs adds another useful tool to your collection with the business-writing process called ACE, which stands for Analyze, Craft, and Edit. For each of these steps, Professor Friederichs provides a helpful checklist that you can refer to each time you sit down to write.
- Analyze: Professor Friederichs provides the Analyze Checklist to help you to consider your purpose, your audience, what your purpose statement will look like, and the relevant facts that will be involved. It also provides you with an opportunity to develop an outline of ideas. The analysis stage will save you time by helping you craft strong documents from the start.
- Craft: You’ll quickly see how the Craft Checklist is immensely useful as you work through writing your purpose statement, introduction, body, and conclusion. Professor Friederichs also outlines eight additional best practices that will help you craft a well-written draft.
- Edit: Here is your chance to analyze your document with a reader-centric lens to ensure it says what you want it to say, in an organized, clear, and concise manner. While you are not proofreading your document at this point, the Editing Checklist helps you review organization, proper word choice, clarity and concision, punctuation, and grammar.
Along with activities to help you put this process into practice, you’ll soon learn how the ACE process can be an instrumental habit to implement every time you write a professional communication.
The concluding lectures take you through the final steps of the process. They also provide you with valuable techniques for overall writing practices, such as developing your professional writing voice, building or using a style guide, and building strong relationships through your writing. From how to write a subject line for an email to the best choices for a greeting and an ending, Professor Friederichs covers every step of executing successfully written communications with helpful advice, tips, and tools, all geared to help you become a better writer, in any situation.
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