Chapter 12 – Developing Oral & Online Presentations

While developing and delivering presentations requires practice, I thought that this chapter did a good job of describing the essentials. I especially like the discussion of free-form slides. I had never heard the term or the concept before reading the chapter. Though free-form slides are the newest concept in training, it seems to me that a combination of structured and free-form slides would be the most effective.

Chapter 2 – Mastering Team Skills & Interpersonal Communication

I thought most of the chapter was extremely useful to the workplace today – regardless of whether you work in a formal or informal environment. I especially liked the reminders in the business etiquette online section. Online communication makes it too easy to loose all sense of propriety when communicating.

Chapter 11 – Writing and Completing Reports and Proposals

I found the entire chapter practical and helpful. I particularly liked the advice on effective visuals. I think people often substitute skill with graphics for substance in reports. I have read too many publications that contained graphs that were at best unhelpful and, often, distracting. I didn’t understand why this section did not include a reference to Edward Tufte. If only for the reader to see the impact of a good graphic image.

I also liked the chapter as a reference. Unlike emails and memos, which I compose often, I rarely write reports and proposals. 

Chapter 5 – Completing Business Messages

I liked the discussion of both the layout and graphics considerations when writing a message. The discussion is especially important for people who tend to write long, complex sentences and paragraphs that feel like molasses. I find that lists and bullets are an easy way to visually structure a business message and convey essential information without exhausting the reader.

I would have liked the chapter to emphasize the role of face to face communication in a business environment. I find that, too often, time is spent drafting and editing a message, when simply walking to someone’s office and having a face to face communication would have been as effective, and, often, quicker.

Chapter 4 – Writing Business Messages

I enjoyed the chapter’s suggestions for creating effective sentences and choosing powerful words. It’s easy to write hard to understand and convoluted sentences that don’t convey much. Like a picture being worth a thousand words, choosing the right words and sentence structure can replace paragraphs of ineffective writing.

Chapter 10 – Understanding and Planning Reports and Proposals

The chapter offers some good information. However, I thought the discussion of surveys was too high level. The usability of survey results depends on the effort and quality of the input. In fact, there are people who specialize on designing and conducting surveys. A poorly designed or executed survey may end up being worthless; resulting in a waste of time, effort and money. The chapter did a disservice to students by implying that anyone can construct and conduct a survey.

Chapter 3 – planning business messages

I don’t think it’s possible to overestimate the importance of planning – not only for writing, but for any project. So I liked the chapter’s emphasis on that part of the process and how to divide the time on the project. I had never heard the term ‘media rich’ and appreciated the insight that media choice has strategic implications in a communication and shouldn’t just be what’s easiest for the sender.

Chapter 9 – Writing Persuasive Messages

Of all the chapters we’ve read so far, I found this one to be the best. I liked the way the skill of writing persuasive messages was broken down into parts that seem to be learnable by anyone. After reading the chapter I don’t feel like I have to be a natural salesman to present an idea to my boss and colleagues.