Category Archives: Uncategorized

WRITING TO WIN: Meetings and the Minutes that Represent Them

At any time in your academic or professional life, you may be called upon to keep a record of a meeting. Meetings can occur on the job, at school, in the community center, even in your home. They are a tool for any organization–be it a committee, work group, project team, or advisory council.

In the classroom, this could be a group project that might require the members to keep track of discussions and activities as they march down the road toward a final product. In the workplace, it could be a project management meeting. Minutes are a chronicle of what happens in meetings.

What are minutes exactly? They do not mark the passage of time. Minutes are a record of key points discussed during a meeting. Keeping a record of what takes place in a meeting has several purposes:

  • Minutes provide information that can aid in future deliberations.
  • An accurate account of the meeting provides background for members who could not attend.
  • Having accurate minutes can serve as reminders of assigned tasks to the members.
  • Minutes capture document items in a proposed action plan.

MEETING MINUTES MUST ALWAYS BE….

  • Accurate
  • Clear and comprehensive
  • Objective in tone

MEETING MINUTES SHOULD…

  • Never record emotional exchanges that will spread negative light on the attendees. Meeting minutes should objectively record discussed business in a neutral manner.
  • Not interpret. They should only report.
  • Never veer away from the established agenda. This can make the reporting difficult. If this occurs, never be reluctant to ask the person leading the meeting to slow down or clarify what the unintended detour means.

MEETING MINUTES MUST BE…

Presentable–Meeting minutes are always distributed to the attendees and at times senior leaders.

  • Take care to write your document as if the CEO of the company, the president of the university, or the head of whatever organization is on the distribution list.
  • Therefore, you should adhere to all the rules of business writing. If you use a template in a word processing program, make sure the basic content areas are addressed. Templates are good in that you can use them on site at the meeting if you have a lap top. This will prevent you from having to transcribe the minutes later.

BASIC CONTENT AREAS FOR MEETING MINUTES

These are some areas that should be included in your document:

Date and Time

Type of Meeting

Meeting Called By Note Taker

Members Present

Decisions on Agenda Topics:

New Business

Discussion Items

Items accepted or rejected

Future Action Items and Owners

Next Steps

Next Meeting Date and Time

GUIDELINES FOR NOTE TAKING

  • Always write the minutes directly after the meeting. Do not rely on your memory. You will inevitably leave information out or misinterpret what you thought was discussed.
  • Pay attention and take good notes if you do not have a laptop template.
  • Make the minutes readable. Use headings and lists. Write them clearly and succinctly.
  • Stay away from personal commentary. Remember, do not interpret the proceedings. Record objectively.
  • Record all agenda items, action items, who owns action items, and any conclusions.

GUIDELINES FOR THE FINISHED DOCUMENT

  • Do not forget to list and distribute the document to all of those who attended the meeting.
  • Manage your tone. Do not write your personality into the document.
  • Keep your document free of grammatical and spelling errors.
  • Format your document appropriately with the proper content headings, margin settings, font size and style if you do not elect to use a template.
  • Keep the font size to 12-point, the style to a conservative Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri.

For some expanded discussions on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:  Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets   Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2016.

This guest article was contributed by Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., on how to improve your writing skills and behavior. Dr. Murcherson is a faculty member in the School of World Languages, Cultures, and Communications (English & Humanities) at Richland College in Dallas.

If you want to improve your communication skills or learn/update your computer software skills, consider taking a Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) course at Richland College. Richland College, which is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road, offers both online and on-campus courses in flex-term and full semester formats. For more information email RichlandBOSS@dcccd.edu, or call 972‑238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office 365***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a free version of Microsoft Office 365  for Windows (or the Mac version) which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote.


Writing to Win: Deliver What You Promise

WRITING TO WIN:  Deliver What You Promise

Delivering what you promise is crucial in the workplace. It not only reinforces your success, it also bolsters your trustworthiness. It is important to understand that delivering what you promise is a concept that applies to employee and employer. So, it is not enough to understand what you need to do to keep your promises. You must also understand what your employer needs to do to keep their promises. Making good on commitments is a golden rule.  Not making good can create adverse effects for the employee, the employer, and business clients as well.  Altogether, the overall well-being of your company can be threatened.  So, let’s take a brief look at how you can keep your promises, and how employers should keep their promises to you.

BUT…

HOW EMPLOYEES CAN KEEP THEIR PROMISES:

It seems as if there is more pressure on an employee to deliver than an employer. It’s certainly plausible given who has the most power. Clearly, the employer appears to be in that position because we don’t want to be fired for poor performance.  So, the pressure is indeed on. Hanging on to a paycheck and benefits is major motivation when it comes to committing to things that may not be possible.

  • Don’t Promise Unrealistic Delivery Dates – Realize your constraints. Present realistic deadline dates for yourself and your team. Yes, being an independent contributor is great because you feel you are the master of your own destiny and are not dependent on others. But what if you are a member of a team? You cannot always predict who will complete tasks according to the schedule. You cannot always predict when you can complete tasks given ‘life circumstances’ that may pop up.
  • Be Realistic when it Comes to the Burdens of Workload– Sometimes job responsibilities change, workload increases. And as I said earlier, employers sometimes underplay the real demands of a job. In either case, most people feel they can keep up regardless. Be thoughtful and above all, be honest with yourself and your manager.  Do not commit to fully satisfying the demands of a position if it is not possible. Voice your concerns so that you can avoid being perceived as over promising and under-delivering.

HOW EMPLOYERS CAN KEEP THEIR PROMISES TO YOU:

Most of us like to believe our employer will always follow through on assurances he or she has committed too. But sometimes this is not always the case. So, it is important to be aware of fundamental promises between employer and employee.

  • Employers Should Never be Biased when Granting Promotions – This is absolutely not supposed to occur. It compromises not only ethical principles, but practically speaking, customary human resource directives. And violating these directives can put the company at risk for civil suits given equal protection.
  • Employers Should Always Be Truthful about Job Responsibilities – Remember the old saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’? In some cases, if the pressure to fill a position is too great, necessity could entice an employer to stretch the truth when it comes to the realities of workload in a particular position.
  • Employers Should Never Allow Special Privileges to a Few – Seniority and long-time friendships should not influence favors and privileges in a non-union environment. Still, this can occur. An employer or manager given the right circumstances may over promise that he or she will not be partial to specific employees, but may not keep that promise.

WAYS TO AVOID AND RECOVER FROM OVER PROMISING:

  • Be honest with yourself before making a commitment on delivery dates with your client, or workload responsibilities with your employer. Can it be done?
  • Set realistic expectations with your client and employer.
  • Take ownership if you fail to meet expectations. If you are part of a team, do not place the blame on other members. This is counter-productive and will cast a negative light on you.
  • Communicate Quickly and Honestly. If you can see that you are not living up to promises or delivery dates, do not wait until recovery is not possible. As soon as you see the ‘danger signs’ either in your general workload, scheduled date to roll out a product or solution, SPEAK UP.

For an expanded discussion on business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or upgrade your skills to help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, administrative office procedures, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**) etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is in northeast Dallas and located at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office 365***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 365, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which can be used on up to 5 devices.

Creative Gift Giving

Do you have someone on your holiday list that is hard to buy for or someone who seems to have everything? Looking for a one of a kind gift? Microsoft Office has the answer. Create custom calendars to give as gifts. Calendar templates are available in every program. Word has 39 templates, Excel has 45 templates, PowerPoint has 11, Publisher has 19, and Access has 2. Each program has a variety of layouts, sizes and color schemes. Customize the calendar with personal photos and meaningful dates. Print the calendars on cardstock and staple (either at the top or in the middle so it can be folded). For a small fee you can get the calendar professionally printed and bound at a local office supply store.

To create a calendar, click, on File, New, type in Calendar in the Search for Online Templates box, and choose your favorite template.

Enjoy!


Wanted: Top-Flight Administrative Professionals Who Want to Grow with Their Companies!

499171549_aYes, today’s employers understand that not only are talented, highly-skilled administrative professionals assets to their companies but that they are also essential to the competitive success of these companies!

Over the years, the role of the administrative professional has changed dramatically, and the future shows that people who work in this capacity will continue to see changes in terms of duties and expectations.

In a 2015 joint research project conducted by Office Team and IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals), it was found that the skills most valued by employers and needed by administrative professionals include the following:

Time Management

The ability to maximize tasks effectively and efficiently is highly valued and desired. In fact, top-flight professionals are not only expected to manage their own tasks and time but also to manage the schedules of those whom they support—this may include team members, managing supervisors, and executives. Multi-tasking takes on a whole new meaning, but it goes with the turf for those who are truly successful in the art of task/time management.

Technical Skills

595140878_cBeing highly competent in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint—having your MOS certification in one or more of these applications—will go a long way in convincing a potential employer of your productivity capabilities.

Knowledgeable in layout and design—Microsoft Publisher for basic design (for more advanced projects, consider Adobe InDesign or Photoshop) can assist you in making your output look professional.

Collaboration and knowledge of databases—collaboration packages such as SharePoint are highly valued by companies as a way of housing company content and sharing this information within and among work groups. Other packages that are used by work groups for sharing (and by individuals) on projects include OneNote and Evernote. Your ability to work with databases such as Access and FileMaker Pro can only add to your attractiveness.

Social Media

Managers have increasingly turned to their admins in order to stay up-to-date on company social media interaction with customers, clients, and others. Knowing how to use social media professionally is now expected. Be sure you have a professional acquaintance with sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Instagram; and know their role and how to use them as business tools.

 

170463151_eFinally, and according to Matt Krumrie, those skills that have become known as “soft skills” and that include excellent communication skills (written and verbal), outstanding tact and diplomacy when working with others, and strong critical-thinking skills are indispensable. These soft skills “round out” what goes in to becoming and staying a top-flight administrative office professional!

 

 

If you want to develop or upgrade your skills to help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, administrative office procedures, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**) etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is in northeast Dallas and located at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office 365***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office 365, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which can be used on up to 5 devices.
Sources:
1.  Krumrie, Matt (2016, July 7) What to Look For In A Great Administrative Assistant. Retrieved from  https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/what-to-look-for-in-a-great-administrative-assistant/
2.  Office Team (A Robert Half Company) and IAAP (2015) How to Hire All-Star Administrative Professionals and Maximize Their Potential. Retrieved from https://www.roberthalf.com/officeteam/office-of-the-future-how-to-hire-all-star-administrative-professionals-and-maximize-their-potential

 


WRITING TO WIN: MANAGING EXPECTATIONS IN BUSINESS WRITING

10-09-2016_aIt would be a wonderful thing to know exactly what people expect of you over and above your duties and responsibilities on the job.  You’d know exactly what to do to meet these additional expectations in your day-to-day performance. Being that the probabilities are high that most of the population cannot read minds, you must devise other ways to manage the expectations of your audience, namely, your colleagues, managers, or key stakeholders.

This is the third installment discussing key considerations for effective business communication. We’ll call this one, managing the expectations of audience. Or, as it is stated: Consider the Audience.

WHO IS MY AUDIENCE? 

You already know your audience will either be your colleagues, managers, or key stakeholders. Now, you must learn to write TO their beliefs, needs, and expectations in a way that will ‘win the day’.  That is, the means by which you can accomplish the goals laid out in your report, proposal, or executive summary.

Your Goal Should Be a Simple One, SUCCESS:

  • The acceptance of your proposed solution to a problem
  • The acceptance of your proposed improvement to a process
  • The acceptance of the progress you have made in a key on-going project.

HOW CAN I KNOW THEIR EXPECTATIONS?

  • Be aware of the project’s or division’s success objectives. These are specific things that must be achieved to demonstrate success in your department.
  • Be diligent on the job. Keep your ears open, stay informed, and engaged in the workplace.

HERE’S HOW MANAGING EXPECTATIONS WORKS

If you want to convince your manager to give you a shorter work week for the same pay, you’ll need to understand why he/she wouldn’t want to give you a shorter work week even though you’ll be working the same hours. In other words, you must figure out what she believes on the subject of shorter work weeks.  This is where you begin to make assumptions or guesses about her feelings on the subject of shorter work weeks.  When you begin to make these assumptions or educated guesses, you begin to write to the needs of your audience.

11-07-2016_bHERE’S AN EXAMPLE

You are a pharmaceuticals warehouse supervisor. Keeping track of inventory is an obvious priority. You know that inventory levels have been inaccurate in the last two accounting periods. You want to propose a solution to the problem, but before you present a ‘proposed plan’, you must try and figure out the expectations of your manager with regard to this problem. In short, you present your plan in such a way as to address what YOU THINK his beliefs and expectations may be given the current shrinkage problem. When you begin to make a mental list, it may look something look this if you were to write it down.

11-07-2016_cWALK A MILE IN ANOTHER PAIR OF SHOES

The Director of Corporate Logistics distributes a monthly newsletter that highlights shrinkage and how it decreases company profits. You know your manager keeps a close eye on this issue and measures warehouse shrinkage monthly, then reports this to corporate logistics. You also know that your manager constantly talks about adding more technology and wants to be noticed by the Director of Logistics. You also know that your facility manager would like to avoid hiring more security personnel.

11-07-2016_dTHEN PRESENT YOUR SOLUTION

This will be the first paragraph in your proposal

Based on last month’s warehouse inventory, there has been an eight percent increase in shrinkage. Our monthly sales figures do not support this high level of ‘missing’ merchandise. Nor can we afford to hire more security guards. Therefore, I would like to recommend a technological upgrade in our present security system. It will help us accomplish our goals without increasing payroll.

11-07-2016_eWRITING TO WIN THE END GAME

When you have a strong idea of what may be going on in the mind of your audience, you will have a strong idea of how to sell your idea. This is the same as building a strong persuasive document. A persuasive document is an argument. And building a good argument starts with creating the foundation upon which it rests. This foundation is the need to know your audience which brings us back to the three key considerations in effective written business communication.

REMEMBER: To Write Effectively

  • Consider the Length
  • Consider the Data
  • Consider the Audience

For an expanded discussion on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that   Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or enhance your business communication skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. You can install this software on up to 5 devices.


Minding Your International Manners—Are They Culturally Correct?

10-31-2016-56371282If you have to travel overseas for your company, you need to be sure that your international manners are correct according to the culture of the country you are visiting. The last thing you want to do is to offend or insult the people and the culture of the host country.

Ashley Rossi of SMARTERTRAVEL has identified 10 key gestures/behaviors, by country, that should be avoided when visiting these international spots.  Remember, what may be considered as perfectly acceptable and normal in the United States may be construed as rude or insulting to those in other countries.

Gesture/Behavior

Off Limits In

Using the “OK” Hand Symbol

Brazil, Turkey, Venezuela, and France – This gesture is considered vulgar in some of these countries, and at the very least, insulting in other places.

Tipping

Can you believe it? Well, in some countries—Japan, South Korea, China, France, and Italy—tipping is a sign of rudeness, or you at least run the risk of implying that the owner doesn’t pay his or her employees an adequate salary.

Keeping Your Shoes On

If you are entering a temple, someone’s home, or restaurant, or hotel in many Asian countries, your shoes are best left at the main door! Ms. Rossi also advises that the toe of your shoes should face the door. Specifically, take your shoes off in Japan, Hawaii (Yep! One of our own states), South Korea, China, Thailand, and the South Pacific.

Spitting in Public

Actually, this should be outlawed everywhere, but apparently it’s okay in some spots in the US. If you go abroad, however, don’t spit in public in Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong. Ms. Rossi brings up another important point on ignoring these sanitation customs—you can be fined for spitting in public in these countries as well as fined for NOT flushing a public toilet, for sneezing and littering. Think Green, folks!

Blowing Your Nose in Public

Another closely related behavior to the one described above is blowing your nose in public, and that includes restaurants. This behavior is a “no-no” in China, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and France. One more tidbit—don’t display a handkerchief in public.

Sitting in the Back of a Cab

Remember, you are not in New York or Chicago! If there is room in the front of the cab vehicle and you choose to sit in the back in Australia, New Zealand, the Middle East, China, Ireland, and Scotland, you will be viewed as Somewhat Rude.

Eating With Your Left Hand

Having ambidextrous ability is not necessarily smiled upon in India, the Middle East, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Africa. Why, you might ask? Well, many of these cultures embrace communal eating or eating with your hands. As such, there are strict rules—the right hand is for eating, and the left hand is “going to the bathroom.” What are we “lefties to do”?

Using Your Hands to Eat

Well, leaving those countries and regions that embrace eating with your hands, if you visit the following countries, observe the rule of using eating utensils for EVERYTHING, if you go to Chile, some parts of Europe, and Brazil. According to Ms. Rossi, you need to use a fork and knife on hamburgers, French fries, and even pizza!

Patting Someone on the Head

No, not even babies! Because the head is considered sacred and the highest point of the body, avoid patting anyone on the head in any country that is prominently Buddhist. These countries would include Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, Bhutan, and Laos.

Smiling at a Stranger

To avoid being considered rude, don’t make long eye contact with people while you are in South Korea, China, Japan, and Russia. Remember, smiling is considered an intimate gesture in these cultures. As a stranger, you don’t know the individuals, so your glances need to be short, unemotional, and discreet.

If you want to improve your communication skills or learn/update your computer software skills, consider taking a Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) course at Richland College.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu  or call 972-238-6215.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which can be used on up to 5 devices.


Writing to Win: Consider the Data

10-09-2016_aWRITING TO WIN:  THE ART OF DETAIL

If you asked a room packed full with one-hundred college level sophomores, what is the value of detail?  What do you think would be the response? But let’s make this more interesting. Ask those same college sophomores what is the value of detail if their political science final exam will consist of only three essay questions? Chances are you would get a highly respectable response to the value of detail.  No doubt, you would more than likely hear shouts of words, words, and more words.

If you asked a room packed full with one-hundred investment bankers, what is the value of detail? What do you think would be the response? Again, let’s drill down to specifics. Ask those same investment bankers what is the value of detail when a three-billion dollar merger is resting on a conversion of stock plan? No doubt, you would surely hear shouts of numbers, numbers, and more numbers.

Words and numbers, numbers and words, it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out ‘when a big lot of something’ is riding on a single document, to lead with all the support you can muster is the best way to go to meet your goal. But, remember the last post? It was all about length, correct? It explained the importance of decision making when considering length. Now, consider the importance of judging the quality and magnitude of detail.

10-24-2016_bTHE DEVIL’S IN THE DETAILS FOR BETTER OR WORSE

Just as length of a document is an important consideration, the same goes for detail. Let’s simplify and call it data or support.  Whichever word catches your attention, both mean the same.  The bottom line, data and support can work for or against you. Too much, too little, too weak, too irrelevant, too ambiguous, it all matters. So, pay close attention to the ‘kind’ of detail.

10-24-2016_cHOW DO I JUDGE WHAT IS THE BEST?

  • Think Quality
  • Think Usefulness
  • Think Relevance

Giving attention to these areas with which to judge your data will help you select the most effectual means to sell your solution to the problem or your idea for a better process.

10-24-2016_dBACK TO THE OFFICE

If you fancy yourself a great business writer, always consider the length of your documents. If you fancy yourself a shrewd business entrepreneur with aspirations of climbing the corporate ladder, consider the type of data that would be most effective in putting together a successful:

  • executive summary
  • proposal
  • progress report

10-24-2016_eTHE ART OF DETAIL AND HOW TO PRESENT IT

Figuring out how to present your data in the most compressive, concise, and readable way is an art.

 

THE HOW TO’S

  • Light on Text, Heavy on Visualization – Text is okay, but try to use PowerPoint Slides, Tables, Charts as much as you can. Too many words will lose your reader even if there are numbers embedded. This is where ‘quality’ ‘comes into play. Pick the best presentation mode so as not to distract your audience. Keep it simple and clear.  It is important to interpret what the numbers are saying, ‘sales are up 12% because…’  Communicate this with the ‘least’ populated visual that will get your point across.
  • Merge Your Data– You must always strive to be concise. Yes, detail matters, but you must be the judge of how much is too much. As the case with length, how long is too long? My best advice is to narrow to the most essential for making your case. This is where ‘relevance’ comes into play. For instance, ‘call volume is down 6% due to the month being two business days shorter than the prior month’. Gather all your data and judge it according to the most relevant, then eliminate the rest.
  • Scrutinize for Accuracy – Researching and gathering data is no simple task depending on your project or goal. It is easy to accumulate and accumulate. But as I said earlier, it must be relevant. Not only must your data be relevant, it must be correct. This is where ‘usefulness’ comes into play. Seek to find the most reputable sources or experts in the field to make your case. If your office setting is somewhat unique and you wish to make a more local case for change with local support, test it as you would a scientist. Opinions and general story telling of what transpires during the day in a certain situation is not strong. Be ready to observe, measure, and take detailed notes that can be translated into hard statistics.

Next time, we’ll look at the third and final consideration for effective business communication, ‘consider your audience’.

For an expanded discussion on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that   Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or enhance your business communication skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. You can install this software on up to 5 devices.

 

 

 

 

 


WRITING TO WIN: HOW LONG IS TOO LONG?

10-09-2016_aWRITING TO WIN:  HOW LONG IS TOO LONG?

One of the greatest realizations seasoned professionals come to find out is the fact that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’, meaning, you may not realize that even though you have years of experience in the office, this does not necessarily mean you are a great business writer.

Business writing is an art and a skill. It is artistic because a well put together business document can be a beautiful thing when it accomplishes your purpose.  It is a skill because it takes practice and the knowledge of three key considerations essential for effective business communication.  I will discuss each of these over the course of three posts, the first being this one which is dedicated to LENGTH.

CONSIDER THE LENGTH      

CONSIDER THE DATA

CONSIDER THE AUDIENCE   

To be effective is to produce a win. What is a win exactly? A win is getting the recognition you deserve after having your idea, solution, or process improvement acknowledged and accepted.  Therefore, it is important that you be well acquainted with these areas that will have everything to do with accomplishing your goals.

10-09-2016_bCONSIDER THE LENGTH of your document. This is very important because a reader can easily become distracted, disengaged, or outright bored if there seems to be no end in sight.  What is an acceptable length? It depends on the document. Email, interoffice memos, letters, reports, and internal proposals have different objectives. The objective drives the length, that is, the reason why you are writing the document. But it doesn’t just stop at its reason for being.

YOU MUST ALSO TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION: 

  • The Recipient – Have some knowledge of the individual to whom you are writing.  Is this person a stickler for detail? Or does this person prefer   ‘broad brush strokes’ rather than getting bogged down in the minutiae?
  • The Subject – Some subjects require more length than others. Longer topics should be summarized in an executive summary and detail can be provided in an attachment or appendix, satisfying the person who wants details, but not overwhelming those that want broad brush strokes. Always remember, LENGTH IS CONTINGENT ON THE TYPE OF DOCUMENT.
  • The Type of Document – Different types of documents have varying lengths. Below, are a few examples.

10-09-2016_cTypes of Documents and Their Lengths

  • EMAIL – [200 – 250 words] Email is considered a ‘brief’ form of communication. Be concise. They should be no more than three paragraphs. There are basically two types: informational and promotional. Informational email can be exactly what it is, a means of imparting information. They can also be persuasive, meaning, they are small arguments that are meant to sway opinion. Persuasive email tends to be longer than informational because you must be careful to include such persuasive elements such as a claim, support and considerations of audience. Informational email should absolutely be no longer than 200 words.
  • INTEROFFICE MEMOS – [300 – 350 words] it can be hard to tell the difference between the traditional memo and an email message. Memos frequently do not have the ‘MEMORANDUM’ banner at the top anymore. They are frequently sent in the form of an email or as an email attachment. So, is it email or what? No, memos are not email. They are longer. They can use various techniques to layout information such as: bullets, sub-headings, and the occasional table if it is very small.  In short, memos include much more detailed information. They are a more formal document.
  • LETTERS – [250 – 300 words] Letters have an inherent amount of power that sets them apart from email and memos, but they must not exceed one page. They may be composed to gather information or show appreciation. They can solicit new business or convey bad news. They can announce promotions or terminate employment.
  • REPORTS – [up to 500 words] Reports have the luxury of added length.  Because there are several types of reports: progress, term projects, activity, and feasibility to name a few, the length can vary. Five-hundred words would more than likely be a business progress report. Feasibility reports would be appropriate at this length. Activity reports can top out at 300 words depending on the activity.
  • INTERNAL PROPOSALS – [500 – 600 words] Proposals come in various shapes and sizes. They can be either internal or external. They can be either solicited or unsolicited. They can be as short as an email and as long as a ten-page document.  They have the luxury of being longest document you might every write. They are always persuasive in nature. In short, proposals are arguments which require length to be truly effective.

10-09-2016_dFINALLY

What is important to note when it comes to length of business documents is to keep the meaning of the word, concise, firmly rooted in your mind. When you are in the workplace, you are not in a classroom. You are not writing research papers, essays, responses, or summaries. You are crafting a message that your reader must realize quickly and clearly.

For an expanded discussion on effective business writing and workplace etiquette, see my book:

Royce Murcherson, Ph.D., The Guide to Persuasive Business Writing: A New Model that   Gets Results. Iowa: Kendall-Hall, 2013

Clip Art, provided by Microsoft Office Professional Academic, 2010

If you want to develop or enhance your business communication skills, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote. You can install this software on up to 5 devices.

 

 

 

 


Congratulations to Professor Dee Hobson!

small-dee-hobson-image-with-frameCongratulations to Professor Dee Hobson on being selected as Richland College’s 2016-2017 Excellence in Teaching recipient!

“Dee,” as she is known to colleagues and to many of her students, is a full-time BOSS faculty member in Richland’s BOSS program, where she has taught for the past 17 years. Dee holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Teacher Education from Southern Illinois University and a Master’s Degree in Business Education from Memphis State University.

Dee brings a tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge to students who are enrolled her BOSS classes in many important ways, because she has

  • taught at private and public education institutions (both at the secondary and community college levels).
  • provided corporate training to a number of companies in the DFW area.
  • designed curriculum for public and private institutions.
  • created staff development programs and activities for several local DFW ISDs.
  • supervised and managed corporate personnel both in the United States and abroad.
  • served on the board of directors of the Dallas County affiliate of The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. She also received that organization’s Volunteer of the Year Award.
  • received Microsoft Office Specialist (MOS) software certifications over the years in the key Microsoft software applications–Word, Access, Excel, PowerPoint.

We are proud to call Dee one of our own, and we are thrilled that her on-going contributions to helping students succeed have received such laudatory recognition!

If you want to develop or upgrade your skills to help you in today’s job market, consider enrolling in the Business Office Systems & Support (BOSS) program at Richland College. You will have a wide selection of courses (offered online and face-to-face) from which to choose. These courses range from basic keyboarding, computer literacy, business communications, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access (includes preparation for the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam**), office procedures, etc. These courses can all lead you towards a college-credit certificate or a 2-year associate’s degree.

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road. For more information, please contact Angela Nino at anino@dcccd.edu or call 972-238-6215.

**Richland College is an authorized Microsoft Testing Center.

***Get a Free Copy of Microsoft Office***If you are a student in the Dallas County Community College District, you are eligible to download a FREE version of Microsoft Office, which includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Outlook, Publisher, and OneNote, which can be used on up to 5 devices.


What’s New in PowerPoint 2016

Tell me what you want to do – This help feature lets you type in a task, function, or question.  If it is quick task, you can do it from that task pane.  If it is a more complex task, it will open the regular help feature with options that best match your request.

help

Zoom – (available in Office 365) when you create a Zoom in PowerPoint, you can jump to a specific slide or section in any order you want while you are presenting.  There are three kinds of zooms—Summary Zooms, Slide Zooms, and Section Zooms.

Text Highlighter –  This feature has been available in Word for several years.  Now you can pick different colors to highlight and add emphasis to your text.

Enhanced collaboration – You were able to collaborate with other users on presentations in previous versions of PowerPoint using OneDrive or Sharepoint.  Now when you open a shared presentation, you can see at a glance who is working on the document and what slide they are working on.  The new activity icon will allow you to see a complete list of changes that have been made.  The comment icon will let you make, view, or reply to comments.

collaboration

Morph Transition (available in Office 365) – This new transition allows the user to automatically animate, move and add emphasis to objects across slides creating more advanced animation effects.  In order to use the Morph transition, you will need to have two slides with at least one object in common.  The easiest way to do this is to duplicate the slide.   You can use this feature  to:

  • Create motion and emphasis animations – An object can be moved, resized (zoom animation), rotated, or the color changed.
  • Animate words
  • Create an anagram effect by rearrange individual characters on the slide
  • Zoom in on an image
  • Create a 3-D rotation

Six New Chart Types – In addition to the standard chart types that were available in previous versions, PowerPoint 2016 also includes the following chart types:  Treemap, Sunburst, Histogram, Box and Whisker, and Waterfall.

 Did You Know?if you take a DCCCD class, you are eligible for a free download of the latest Microsoft Office 2016 (Office 365) version? You can use your MS Office software on up to 5 devices!

Richland College is located in northeast Dallas at 12800 Abrams Road.

Click here for more information about these new features.

Microsoft. (2016). What’s new in PowerPoint 2016 for Windows.