Topic outline

  • Course Introduction

    The introduction of Business Communication for Success, the textbook used throughout this course, notes that "[E]ffective communication takes preparation, practice, and persistence. There are many ways to learn communication skills; the school of experience, or 'hard knocks,' is one of them. But in the business environment, a 'knock' (or lesson learned) may come at the expense of your credibility through a blown presentation to a client.” Effective communication skills are a prerequisite for succeeding in business. Communication tools and activities connect people within and beyond the organization in order to establish the business's place in the corporate community and the social community, and as a result, that communication needs to be consistent, effective, and customized for the business to prosper. Business Communication for Success provides theories and practical information that represent the heart of this course, while additional resources are included to expand or pose alternatives to the approaches chosen in the textbook. You will receive maximum benefits from this course if you complete the readings first and then use the additional resources to fill in the blanks and/or reconsider the topics in the textbook.

  • Looking Forward to Segment One: Units 1 through 3

    The key takeaway from this first segment of the course, comprised of the first three units, is how the communication process, messages, and audiences are interrelated. This understanding forms the basis of the rest of the course, so be sure to have a firm grasp on the concepts covered in these units in particular.

    • Unit 1: Introduction to Business Communication

      In this unit, you will gain a better understanding of how communication forms a part of your self-concept, helping you understand yourself and others, solve problems and learn new things, and build your career. You will learn about the transactional and constructivist models of the communication process as well as the eight most widely recognized elements involved in that process. You will also learn to distinguish the four audience-based contexts of communication and will discover the challenges in framing business communication, which is ethical and effective.

      Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

    • 1.1: Why Is It Important to Communicate Well?

    • 1.2: What Is Communication?

    • 1.3: Communication in Context

    • 1.4: Your Responsibilities as a Communicator

    • Unit 2: Delivering Your Message

      In this unit, you will focus on the importance of delivering your message in words, including how the characteristics of language interact in ways that can improve and diminish effective business communication. 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. Through 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 5 hours.

    • 2.1: What Is Language?

    • 2.2: Messages

    • 2.3: Principles of Verbal Communication

    • 2.4: Language Can Be an Obstacle to Communication

    • 2.5: Emphasis Strategies

    • 2.6: Improving Verbal Communication

    • Unit 3: Understanding Your Audience

      In this unit, you will discover how your self-awareness and how others view you influence your effectiveness as a communicator. Moreover, because of how people select, organize, and interpret words and idea results in preconceived notions and individual differences, audience analysis is also a vital part of crafting messages. This is why, in this unit, you will learn how to analyze yourself and your audience to maximize how you develop and distribute information.

      Completing this unit should take approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes.

    • 3.1: Self-Understanding Is Fundamental to Communication

    • 3.2: Perception

    • 3.3: Differences in Perception

    • 3.4: Getting to Know Your Audience

    • 3.5: Listening and Reading for Understanding

    • Looking Back on Segment One and Looking Forward to Segment Two: Units 4 and 5

      So, how did it go? This video shares some final words on the importance of the components and processes that underlie business communication, not least of which is to carefully consider your message and your audience.

      Units 4 and 5, the second broad segment of this course, is about written communication. Be sure to examine the slide that gives some examples of how the eight elements of communication are realized differently through oral and written communication. For one, good written communication follows the three C's: clear, concise, and compelling.

      This unit does not, however, cover the basics of composition, but you can brush up on that material in Saylor Academy's English Composition I course and English Composition II course.

      • Unit 4: Effective Business Writing

        In this unit, you will explore the written word in a business context, including the important but contrastingly asynchronous elements which that communication shares with oral communication. Successful writing develops from such good habits as reading, targeted writing practice, and critical thinking and is characterized by the use of rhetorical and cognitive strategies. Accordingly, you will learn to apply appropriate styles and ethical principles in various business writing contexts while recognizing the kinds of barriers that can challenge your communication objectives and outcomes.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 4 hours and 30 minutes.

      • 4.1: Oral vs. Written Communication

      • 4.2: How Is Writing Learned?

      • 4.3: Good Writing

      • 4.4: Principles of Written Communication

      • 4.5: Style in Written Communication

      • 4.6: Organization in Written Communication

      • 4.7: Overcoming Barriers to Effective Written Communication

      • Unit 5: Business Writing in Action

        In this unit, you will survey the most common written communication formats that represent you and your business, focusing on the content, design, utilization, and social customs associated with each format. You will become more familiar with the different elements included in each format and the functions they perform with respect to crafting messages that have specific goals and are thus tailored to influence specific audiences.

        Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours and 30 minutes.

      • 5.1: Text, E-mail, and Netiquette

      • 5.2: Memorandums and Letters

      • 5.3: Business Proposals

      • 5.4: Reports

      • 5.5: Résumés

      • 5.6: Sales Messages

      • Looking Back on Segment Two and Looking Forward to Segment Three: Units 6 through 11

        Watch this video to briefly recap Units 4 and 5 and gear up for Units 6 through 11. In the second segment of this course, you learned that business communication comes in a variety of formats and styles, and that choosing properly for a given context will make you appear professional to your audience. As you continue to write more for this course and for your career, keep trying to apply the three C's to everything you write: clear, concise, and compelling.

        The main theme of the third segment of this course in Units 6 through 11 is public speaking and presentations. The importance of considering your audiences' needs and traits is doubly important when you are giving a presentation, often because the audience is in the same room as you! Pay close attention because you could be called upon to give your first professional presentation sooner than you think!

        Good luck! You'll hear from us again after Unit 11!

        • Unit 6: Developing Business Presentations

          In this unit, you will become more knowledgeable about the process of creating a speech and gain confidence in your organizational abilities. Preparation and organization are two main areas that, when well-developed prior to a presentation, significantly contribute to reducing your level of speech anxiety. From choosing a topic to finding and evaluating resources as well as avoiding such communication obstacles as cultural perceptions and ethnocentrism, you will become more secure in the decision-making processes that lead to effective oral presentations for a variety of audience types.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 6 hours.

        • 6.1: Before You Choose a Topic

        • 6.2: Choosing a Topic

        • 6.3: Finding Resources

        • 6.4: Myths and Realities of Public Speaking

        • This topic

          6.5: Overcoming Obstacles in Your Presentation

        • 6.6: Cultural Differences and How They Impede Cross Cultural Communication

        • Unit 7: Organization and Outlines

          In this unit, you will return to the rhetorical situations and cognate strategies that control the development of an oral presentation. In addition, you will encounter sample speeches illustrating how content is built around a set of organizational principles and structural elements that are placed into the planning framework known as an outline. This unit also covers transitions that help the audience understand how a speaker's main ideas are connected.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.

        • 7.1: Rhetorical Situation

        • 7.2: Strategies for Success

        • 7.3: Building a Sample Speech

        • 7.4: Sample Speech Outlines

        • 7.5: Organizing Principles for Your Speech

        • 7.6: Transitions

        • Unit 8: Presentations to Inform

          In this unit, you will encounter the goals and types of informative speeches and learn how to motivate your audience by making your material relevant and useful, finding interesting ways to frame your topic and emphasizing new aspects if the topic is a familiar one. Understanding your audience, including different learning styles and knowledge bases, must also influence how a speech is developed - functionally as well as ethically. You will appreciate this as you learn how to apply the five presentation components introduced in Unit 7 to the creation of an informative speech.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 3 hours.

        • 8.1: Functions of the Presentation to Inform

        • 8.2: Types of Presentations to Inform

        • 8.3: Adapting Your Presentation to Teach

        • 8.4: Diverse Types of Intelligence and Learning Styles

        • 8.5: Preparing Your Speech to Inform

        • 8.6: Creating an Informative Presentation

        • Unit 9: Presentations to Persuade

          In this unit, you will understand the nature and challenges of persuasion by becoming more familiar with the principles, functions, and organizational structures associated with persuasive speeches. By focusing on your audience's traits and needs, you will learn how to present an argument effectively and ethically as well as how to avoid logical fallacies. This unit also introduces you to the highly business-relevant "elevator speech”: a 30-second persuasive pitch that exemplifies the time-constrained communication challenges often encountered in business settings.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.

        • 9.1: What Is Persuasion?

        • 9.2: Principles of Persuasion

        • 9.3: Functions of the Presentation to Persuade

        • 9.4: Meeting the Listener's Basic Needs

        • 9.5: Making an Argument

        • 9.6: Speaking Ethically and Avoiding Fallacies

        • 9.7: Sample Persuasive Speech

        • 9.8: Elevator Speech

        • Unit 10: Nonverbal Delivery

          In this unit, you will recognize how nonverbal communication is an influential, contextual process that conveys messages without using words. By comparing different types of nonverbal techniques, including positioning, gesturing, and visual aids, you will learn how to identify and adopt strategies that are effective with different audiences and in different settings.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 9 hours.

        • 10.1: Principles of Nonverbal Communication

        • 10.2: Types of Nonverbal Communication

        • 10.3: Movement in Your Speech

        • 10.4: Visual Aids

        • 10.5: Nonverbal Strategies for Success with Your Audience

        • Unit 11: Business Presentations in Action

          In this unit, you will survey oral presentation occasions commonly encountered in the business world, including the objectives, content, and practices associated with each occasion. You will discover that each task requires preparation, practice, and a solid understanding of the roles and responsibilities associated with the many activities you may perform as a successful business communicator.

          Completing this unit should take you approximately 10 hours.

        • 11.1: Sound Bites and Quotables

        • 11.2: Telephone/VoIP Communication

        • 11.3: Meetings

        • 11.4: Celebrations

        • 11.5: Media Interviews

        • 11.6: Introducing a Speaker

        • 11.7: Presenting or Accepting an Award

        • 11.8: Serving as Master of Ceremonies

        • 11.9: Viral Messages

        • Looking Back on Segment Three and Looking Forward to Segment Four: Units 12 through 15

          In Units 6 through 11, you learned about presentations and public speaking. Although the basic components of communication apply in public speaking just as they did in writing for business, some forms of public speech have additional considerations, such as the fact that soundbites have two audiences, the media and the media's audience.

          In this final segment of the course, you will again have to apply the basic principles of effective, professional communication to some of the most challenging issues in business communication. This segment is all about how to keep your cool as you confront crises and conflict. Understanding will ultimately enable you to work effectively within diverse teams, in both the team member or and the leadership role.

          Keep up the good work and finish strong!

          • Unit 12: Negative News and Crisis Communication

            In this unit, you will discover how in times of confusion or crisis, clear and concise communication takes on an increased level of importance. You will encounter effective ways to deliver negative messages, including the standard process of presenting a buffer or cushion statement, an explanation, the negative news itself, and then a redirecting statement, and you will appreciate how eliciting negative news through feedback is an important way to avoid problems. Every organization should have a crisis communication plan, which is why you will become familiar with the elements of a crisis plan, including how to manage press conferences.

            Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.

          • 12.1: Delivering a Negative News Message

          • 12.2: Eliciting Negative News

          • 12.3: Crisis Communication Plan

          • 12.4: Press Conferences

          • Unit 13: Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Business Communication

            In this unit, you will learn about the self-concept and dimensions of the self as they characterize your intrapersonal communication (i.e., how you communicate with yourself). In addition, you will examine how you communicate with other individuals--your interpersonal communication habits and needs--and how those characteristics can be explained by social penetration theory and predicted by rituals associated with human interaction and conversation. You will also learn how effective communication can improve how individuals handle disagreements and misunderstandings.

            Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.

          • 13.1: Intrapersonal Communication

          • 13.2: Self-Concept and Dimensions of Self

          • 13.3: Interpersonal Needs

          • 13.4: Social Penetration Theory

          • 13.5: Rituals of Conversation and Interviews

          • 13.6: Conflict in the Work Environment

          • Unit 14: Intercultural and International Business Communication

            In this unit, you will be introduced to communication challenges that cross cultural and national boundaries. Because intercultural and international businesses focus less on the borders that separate people and more on the communication that brings them together, you need to be prepared for when your role as a business communicator crosses cultures, languages, value and legal systems, and borders. This unit will describe the convergent and divergent cultural characteristics that typify the business world and will review the effects of intercultural communication on management styles and the global marketplace.

            Completing this unit should take you approximately 11 hours.

          • 14.1: Intercultural Communication

          • 14.2: How to Understand Intercultural Communication

          • 14.3: Common Cultural Characteristics

          • 14.4: Divergent Cultural Characteristics

          • 14.5: International Communication and the Global Marketplace

          • 14.6: Styles of Management

          • 14.7: The International Assignment

          • Unit 15: Group Communication, Teamwork, and Leadership

            In this unit, you will learn about the differences between a group and a team and by doing so will gain a better understanding of the life cycles, member roles, and problem-solving characteristics of those units. In addition, you will be introduced to some of the standard practices associated with business meetings and how leadership styles impact teamwork and group outcomes.

            Completing this unit should take you approximately 8 hours.

          • 15.1: What Is a Group?

          • 15.2: Group Life Cycles and Member Roles

          • 15.3: Group Problem Solving

          • 15.4: Business and Professional Meetings

          • 15.5: Teamwork and Leadership

          • Looking Back on Segment Four and Course Wrap-up

            The last four units of this course cover a fairly broad set of applications of business communication, so be sure to watch this video to understand how they are interrelated. 

            This video concludes with suggestions for how you might consider preparing for the final exam. The approach you take should be based on your study preferences.

            Immediately below this video is a group of workbook activities for each unit of BUS210. These are designed to enable you to evaluate your mastery of the learning outcomes and then test whether you are ready to demonstrate those outcomes on the final exam. You do not need to complete the workbooks in one sitting -- in fact you shouldn't! Take the time to go back and study weak areas as they arise.

            Good luck!