Unit 2: Delivering Your Message
This unit focuses on importance of delivering your message, and examines how language can improve and diminish the effectiveness of business communications. Language plays a significant role in how you perceive and interact with the world as well as how culture, language, education, gender, race, and ethnicity all influence this dynamic process. Throughout this unit, you will discover ways to avoid miscommunication and also identify constructive ways to deliver an accurate message to a targeted audience.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.
Upon successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:
- describe the role of language in perception and the communication process;
- explain how language is shaped by rules and how reality is shaped by language;
- develop appropriate strategies for improving verbal communication;
- identify cliches, jargon, slang, and sexist or racist language;
- employ strategies that emphasize your message; and
- critique the effectiveness of messaging in an oral or written presentation.
2.1: What Is Language?
Read these sections, which discuss the role of words in delivering your message and how language is a system of words. Idea-conveying symbols are ruled by syntax, semantics, and context – all of which require interpretation. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
Watch this video, which lays the foundation for understanding and appreciating language. The lecturer chooses an interesting technique to clarify what language is and what it isn't by contrasting human language and animal "language". After you watch, see if you can summarize what makes human language distinct.
Plain language is the most effective way to communicate. Think of this as an interactive video; respond to the questions the speaker asks and compare your responses to hers. You may not have access to some of the software referred to in the video, but don't let that stand in your way.
Read this section, which discusses categorizing messages based on their importance. It also introduces the five common elements in any message, some of which you will recognize from the discussion about communication models, and all of which you will encounter later when you examine how a speech is organized. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
Messages are at the heart of communication. Knowing what your message is, refining it to be clear, and tailoring it for specific audiences are key skills. These videos present how messages must be presented: clearly and concisely. This video focuses on reasoning, which is directly connected to messages: your reasoning becomes your messages' content. "Faulty reasoning" results in weak or erroneous messages.
This video introduces storytelling, which is the latest popular technique for developing business messages.
After you watch, consider this scenario. Your business sells sleeper sofas that can open up to become a bed for one person. Add details to the product if you need to, but focus on creating a story that would get people interested in trying or buying the sofa. Refer to the storytelling examples in the video and follow their structure in your own story. This may be an opportunity for you to use the discussion forum to interact with other students taking this course. See if your story is effective by trying it out on your colleagues.
2.3: Principles of Verbal Communication
Read this section, which goes deeper into the rules that govern language and then introduces the concept of language paradigms. These are premises that are taken as fact. This section explains how language is arbitrary, symbolic, and abstract, and how it imperfectly serves to organize and classify reality. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
In this video, communication scholars discuss the nature of verbal communication. We often think of verbal and non-verbal communication together, because most of our face-to-face communication uses both. However, verbal communication is the dominant factor online, and as a result needs to be carefully crafted to consider the nature of virtual environments. This video introduces many important points about the nature of verbal communication when it is isolated from the nonverbal elements that usually accompany it in the "real" world. Keep in mind that some scholars would define the visual characteristics of messages as nonverbal traits, even when their content is presented solely with words. So, although that distinction is not made in this video, remember that the "look" of verbal message, such as the typeface, size, use of color, length of paragraphs, graphics, and so on, must also be considered in virtual environments.
2.4: Language Can Be an Obstacle to Communication
Read this section, which discusses why clichés, jargon, slang, sexism, racism, euphemisms, and doublespeak weaken the effectiveness of language by making it less efficient and/or less acceptable. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
This video discusses how imprecise or unclear language can lead to a communication gap and the effects that a gap may have on your work. Pay attention to how various examples of poor language habits, such as cliché, jargon, slang, racist or sexist language, euphemism, and doublespeak are defined and differentiated.
2.5: Emphasis Strategies
Read this section, which describes communication tactics that can be used to emphasize a message or parts of a message: visuals, signposts, reviews, previews, and repetition. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
This video and the one that follows focus on eliminating details that are unnecessary in delivering a message so that the key points in the message are not only clearer but also more emphatic.
Watch the videos and then revise the sentence above to remove unnecessary words and give the message more impact. Work on this part first: "eliminating details that are unnecessary in delivering a message". Using just three words would emphasize the point. This may be a good opportunity for you to use the discussion forum to interact with other students taking this course. See if your response is correct and effective by trying it out on your colleagues.
Descriptive language adds atmosphere, intensity, and drama to a situation. Watch this video to learn how to improve your messages by choosing words for impact. Descriptive language does not mean more words, which can just clutter your message. It means well-chosen words that will add emphasis to your message.
A communicator's "voice" can shift the emphasis of a statement. What does that mean? Practice by writing a sentence that uses passive voice, and then shift its emphasis by revising it to use active voice. This may also be a good opportunity for you to use the discussion forum to interact with other students taking this course. See if your response is correct and effective by comparing it to those of your colleagues.
2.6: Improving Verbal Communication
Read this section, which describes how to improve communication by defining your terms, choosing precise words, considering your audience, controlling your tone, checking for understanding, and adopting results-oriented approaches. After you read, try the exercises at the end of the section.
Watch this video, which focuses on word choice and vocabulary. It provides an in-depth look at the meaning of your word choices and the sounds of those words, and how they affect their effectiveness. This lecture will help you improve the clarity of your language, not necessarily add emphasis.
This video applies them to real-world messaging. Choose a realistic business message and apply these tips. Perhaps your business needs to communicate that it is opening a new store, or perhaps you need to remind employees of certain safety measures they must follow. Post your thoughts in the discussion forum to give your colleagues something to consider.
Unit 2 Assessment
- Receive a grade
Take this assessment to see how well you understood this unit.
- This assessment does not count towards your grade. It is just for practice!
- You will see the correct answers when you submit your answers. Use this to help you study for the final exam!
- You can take this assessment as many times as you want, whenever you want.