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Education Resources

Elements of Writing and Cohesion in English Grammar for Business Communication

Friday, December 17, 2010

There are various skills prove helpful and are needed for most types of formal writing, whether a short invitation, or a longer letter, report or essay. Many essays, for examples, begin by defining a term in the title, then make some generalizations about the subject, before going on to provide examples of the main areas the writer or presenter wishes to examine.

Most of the reports also require discussion of numbers, graphs and charts. Comparison and discussion of certain aspects also become a part of some of the writings.

There is no fixed order for working on the different elements of writing. They have to be accessed according to the priorities.

Cohesion means linking words or phrases together so that the whole text is clear and readable. It acts as a link of ideas in different parts of the same sentence or ideas in different sentences. This helps in developing consistency in writing and improves the organization of the text. Cohesion is achieved by several methods, such as the use of conjunctions, pronouns, transitions, definite articles and synonyms.

For example – This is the third Hatchman’s “Business Abroad” series and their most useful publication to date. It’s a comprehensive guide to doing business in six Eastern European countries. This well-designed book includes everything from how to present your business card, to how to order in a Hungarian restaurant. The book contains useful information on leading companies and government agencies. There are also detailed street maps of Eastern Europe’s major business cities to help you find your way around.

Transitions and subordinating conjunctions are two of the most common types of words used to improve cohesion. Transitions are words and phrases such as: first of all, similarly, and in brief. Subordinating conjunctions are words such as: whereas and while.

The chapter has been taken from Sikkim Manipal University (SMU) MB 0023 (Business Communication) book in the sequel of Paraphrasing, reading.

Paraphrasing in English Grammar for Business Communication

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paraphrasing is a technique that involves changing a test matter, so that it is quite dissimilar to the main source. But we should be careful to retain all the meaning of the passage. This skill is useful while expanding the taken notes or vice-versa. Effective paraphrasing avoids the risk of plagiarism. You should remember some important points in the process of paraphrasing. They are –

1. Although paraphrasing techniques are used in summary writing, it does not aim to shorten the length of a text, merely to restate the text.

E.g.: Evidence of a lost civilization has been found off the coast of China.

This could be paraphrased as –

Remains of an ancient society have been discovered in the sea near China.

2. A good paraphrasing is significantly different from the wording of the original, without altering the meaning at all. Read the text below and then decide which is the best paraphrase –

Text: Ancient Egypt collapsed in about 2180 BC. Studies conducted of the mud from the River Nile showed that at this time the mountainous regions which feed the Nile suffered from a prolonged drought. This would have had a devastating effect on the ability of Egyptian society to feed itself.

a) The sudden ending of Egyptian civilization over 4000 years ago was probably caused by changes in the weather in the region to the south. Without the regular river flooding there would not have been enough food.
b) Research into deposits of the Egyptian Nile indicate that a long dry period in the mountains at the river’s source may have led to a lack of water for irrigation around 2180 BC, which was when the collapse of Egyptian society began.

3. Techniques:

a) Changing vocabulary – studies > research

Society > civilization

Mud > deposits

b) Changing word class – Egypt (n) > Egyptian (adj.)

Mountainous regions (adj. + noun) > in the mountains (n)

c) Changing word order – Ancient Egypt collapsed > the collapse of Egyptian society began.

The chapter will improve your writing skills. It has been taken from Business Communication book of SMU MBA. It is the next chapter of strategies of note taking.

Strategies of Note Taking for SMU MBA MB0023 of Business Communication

Monday, October 25, 2010

There are strategies that help you to organize a note card and view it in the process of presentation. Some of the important strategies are discussed below:

a) An effective strategy includes an efficient, systematic approach that assists in identifying major points of emphasis and separates them from minor considerations. A format should be developed to write the notes and understand it without difficulty. According to this strategy you have to recognize the major and minor points. Then they should be separated with the help of indicators that you develop. The minor points can be written as bullets under this main point. They can also be written in different coloured links.

b) An effective strategy should include abbreviations, emphasis and important indicators such as circling, underlining, numbering, asterisks, etc. These are used to give clear indication to the writer who develops the notes or the speaker who uses the notes for presentation.

c) The next strategy is that you should follow a proper writing order to assist you during the writing/presentation period. Your note taking should have continuity of thoughts, so that the development of that notes into draft or presentation is well organized.

d) It is often helpful to write out opening statements, support statements that may be confusing.

e) A review often can reduce errors and quality note preparation provides an opportunity to have outstanding results in writing or presentation. You should not forget to review the note to check for the continuity or if the matter taken down is correct or not. This will avoid the dilemma at the stage of developing the notes into draft or at the time of presenting the matter to the audience.

Strategies of note-taking for SMU MBA MB0023 of Business Communication are the next chapter of an introduction of note taking. The book completely deals about the note-taking.

An Introduction of Note Taking from MB0023 of SMU MBA for Business Communication

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Note taking is the foundation or road map of good presentation either oral or written. Well-prepared notes are a result of organization and mental preparation prior to presentation. Practice and methodical approaches to note taking help you to maintain concentration and have more organized set of notes. Although you are the only person who will read your notes, clarity and organization are of utmost importance while taking or making notes.

The practical uses of not taking are:

A good note-making technique leads to accurate essays or final drafts

To keep a record of reading / lectures

To revise for exams

To help remember the main points of instructions

As mentioned above, a correctly written down note can be developed into a well organized draft. It could also lead to a productive presentation.

Effective note taking is a part of the sequence: The note-taking forms the link in the sequence of communication. Prior to note taking, there is the aspect of listening or reading. Then you have to recognize and select the key items or concepts. These are taken down as notes in your own style. You can equip your own method for taking down notes; develop your own abbreviations, short-cut methods, etc. However, remember that you will be building up the draft or presentation with the help of these notes. Therefore, you have to be careful while selecting the abbreviations and any symbols because later on, you should know what it means. From this stage, note taking is further linked to ‘writing or speaking.’ The written down notes are expanded to explain the concept either in writing draft or presently it orally.

The chapter is also taken from MB0023 books of SMU MBA from Business Communication in the continuation of Extensive and Intensive types of reading and skimming and scanning types of reading.

Extensive and Intensive Types of Reading from MB0023 of Business Communication

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Extensive Reading:

As we already mentioned our way of reading is influenced by the purpose of our reading. Most of us have the habit of reading especially when we are free or have a lot of leisure time. We might get hold of a novel, a comic strip, a magazine etc.

When we read for the pure pleasure of reading we call it extensive reading. But, we should not give it a lesser priority because it is extensive reading. It is enjoyable as well as informative. Here, we practice rapid reading to get the global/overall understanding of the matter.

Intensive Reading:

When we read shorter texts like a research paper, for getting specific details / information we read slowly with a lot of concentration. This is intensive reading. When you read a book as a resource material for research you read it intensively because the overall understanding is not the objective/purpose of our reading.

When you read an article in order to write a review on it, you read it intensively. We use all the skills of reading when we do intensive reading.

For example - Every star is a sun, like our own sun. This means that stars are huge balls of glowing gases. They are so hot that if a piece of steel were placed there, it would disappear in a cloud of gas! In many of the stars, the gases are very thin. This is because the particles or atoms of matter in the gas are far apart.

But stars do have matter in them. We know, for example that the sun contains more than sixty of the chemical elements present in the earth. Among the elements in the sun are hydrogen, helium, iron calcium and magnesium.

In cooler stars, the matter may be more nearly liquid, somewhat like the boiling iron in a blast furnace. In some very old and cold stars, the matter may be so closely packed that a cubic inch of it would weigh a ton.

It is the next chapter of skimming and scanning types of reading which is taken from Business Communication of SMU MBA MB0023 book.

Skimming and Scanning Types of Reading from MB0023 of SMU MBA

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

As we have already said, we read in different ways depending on the purpose for which we are reading a text. Let us look at skimming and scanning types of reading.

Skimming:

Let’s say that you are a student of Management; and as suggested by your professor, you need to buy a reference text book on Investment Management or you need to write a paper on Computer Graphics. You go to a book store and see a rack full of books, with the same title, but different authors. You don’t have time to read the pages before deciding on buying the book. Hence, you quickly go through the contents, title page and the blurb (it is a slang meaning, a short piece of writing that praises and promotes something, especially a paragraph on the cover of a book).

By now, you have decided to buy one book. The type of reading that you did in the bookstall is “skimming.” Thus, skimming means, “looking quickly over a text/book to get a general superficial idea of the content.”

Scanning:

As you read a text, editorial or an article, you suddenly come across a word that is not familiar to your. Naturally, you would like to know the meaning of the word, for your own benefit.

So you get the dictionary and carefully find the word. You see the spelling, pronunciation, meaning and also the various uses of the same word (if any). This type of careful reading, to find out the specific, clear details, is known as Scanning. Here you don’t just run your eyes across the page, but look into the information for specific details.

Skimming and scanning types of reading have been taken from Business Communication (MB0023) Book of SMU MBA. It is the next chapter of reading and purpose of reading.

Reading and Purpose of Reading from Business Communication of MB0023 SMU MBA

Sunday, July 18, 2010

According to the Webster, “Reading is thinking under the stimulus of the printed page.” Or “Reading is a psycho-linguistic guessing game.”

When you read, you read the lines, read between the lines and also read beyond the lines. So reading is nothing but a decoding process.

Purpose of reading:

We read many things in our day-to-day lives. Let us name a few of them:

Newspapers and magazines

Advertisements, leaflets, pamphlets

Textbooks, novels, short-stories

Letters, telegrams

Recipes, puzzles, menus

Articles, reports, legal documents

Dictionaries, telephone directories

Cartoons, comic strips

Time-tables, maps, statistical graphs and diagrams etc.

We have just listed the different texts that we normally read witch certain definite purpose in mind. They are read either for personal interest, for pleasure, to acquire information or to participate in society. For you, as students, the purpose of reading is emphasized on either for interest or for pleasure and reading to acquire information and knowledge. Reading for interest of pleasure is usually fulfilled through reading fiction, while reading to learn is associated with informative articles. Reading for information may be both internal and external. When you read for necessary background information about what is going on within the company where you work, or within your group it is called reading for internal information. Reading for the information of what is going on in your field, but outside your own company is called External information.

You may need to do something concrete in the not too distant future after you have read whatever it is you are reading this is Action Reading. Professional reading is done when you need to continue learning and studying so that you develop your own thinking and skills. But you should bear in mind that the text itself is not written strictly for any one purpose. For instance, any biography or autobiography will be read as personal interest to understand the life story of an individual. The same maybe read by a research scholar for his research purpose. People’s interest in reading is so varied, that any text could meet any purpose.

The chapter has been taken from Business Communication of SMU MBA MB0023. It is the next chapter of how to listen customer complaints.

How to Listen Customer Complaints from MB0023 Business Communication of SMU MBA

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A career in any industry, be it at the front office, managing the other staff or dealing with customers, can be managed smoothly if one develops his/her listening skills, especially when facing customer complaints. Listening skills have to be mastered because the customers you face are not the same always. You may come across a customer, who is drunk, may get belligerent or even violent if offended. You may sometimes come across another category of customers who are not satisfied with the treatment that they have received. These also should be attended with patient hearing.

Handling customer complaints need not have to be a battle always. With the right tools and responses you can turn complaints to your advantage; to help you build your business. How do you deal with your customer complaints? The easiest way to find out is to pick up the phone and play the role of the complaining customer. If you are very much irritated with the service you get or if the person on the other side doesn’t listen to your complaints, would you return to the same place? In such cases, you need to create a standardized method for dealing with your complainers and turn them into loyal customers.

One of the great tools used in the connection is the technique of BLAST. The acronym stands for:

Believe: This is the cornerstone of handling a customer complaint. The customers may be lying and be incorrect about their situation. It is important to understand that your customers believe that your establishment was wronged them.

Listen: Stop and listen to your customer’s complaint. While listening, engage in active listening where you either nod or repeat some words to assure the customer that you are ‘really’ listening to the complaint.

Apologize: Always apologize even if you did nothing wrong. From your customers’ perspective, they have a legitimate complaint, and they expect an apology.

Satisfy: Satisfied customer not only returns to your organization for a second time, but also advertises about his satisfaction to many of his friends and thereby improves your business!

Thank: At the beginning, at the end, in the middle; it doesn’t matter thank the customer for calling and complaining.

The chapter has also been taken from Business Communication of MBA MB0023 of SMU. It is the sequel of listening activities and strategies for effective listening.

Listening Activities for MBA MB0023 of SMU Business Communication

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Now since the time supermarkets began, marketing consultants, like us, have been gathering information about customer’s shopping habits.

To date, various research methods have been used to help promote the sales of supermarket products. There is, for example, the simple and direct questionnaire which provides information from customers about their views on displays and products and then helps retailers make decisions about what to put where.

Another method to help managers understand just how shoppers go around their stores are the hidden television cameras that film us as we shop and monitor our physical movement around the supermarket aisles: where do we start, what do we buy last, what attracts us, etc.

More sophisticated techniques now include video surveillance and such devices as the eye movement recorder. This is a device which shoppers volunteer to wear taped into a headband, and which traces their eye movements as they walk round the shop recording the most eye-catching areas of shelves and aisles.

But with today’s technology, Space Management is now a highly sophisticated method of manipulating the way we shop to ensure maximum profit. Supermarkets are able to invest millions of pounds in powerful computers which tell them what sells best and where.

Now, an example of this is ‘Spaceman’ which is a computer programme that helps the retailer to decide which particular product sells best in which part of the store. Now Spaceman works by receiving information from the electronic checkouts on how well a product is selling in a particular position. Spaceman then suggests the most profitable combination of an article and its position in the store.

So, let’s have a look at what we know about supermarkets and the way people behave when they walk down the aisles and take the articles they think they need from the shelves.

After listening and barriers to effective listening, the chapter has also been taken from the SMU Business Communication for MBA MB0023.

Strategies for Effective Listening from MB0023 of SMU MBA

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Although the reasons for breakdowns in listening are numerous, there are many ways to improve listening skills. You can improve your listening skills by following some of the strategies mentioned below:

Maintain eye contact with the speaker: Eye contact keeps you focused on the job at hand and keeps you involved in the lecture/speech.

Provide clues that you are actively involved in listening: Clues that you are actively listening can go a long way. It is important to make the speaker feel that you care about what he/she is saying.

Focus on content, not delivery: Have you ever counted the number of times a teacher clears his/her throat in a fifteen minutes period? If so, you weren’t focusing on content.

Avoid emotional involvement: When you are too emotionally involved in listening, you tend to hear what you want to hear-not what is actually being said.

Avoid distractions: Don’t let your mind wander or be distracted by anything. It is necessary that you must concentrate. Concentration requires willingness and practice. Practicing active listening helps to develop concentration but there are other elements that contribute to your ability to concentrate on what someone is saying.

Refrain from formulating an immediate response: It is important to refrain from formulating an immediate response. Let yourself finish listening before you begin to speak.

Ask questions: If you are not sure you understand what the speaker has said, just ask. It is a good idea to repeat in your own words what the speaker said, so that you can be sure your understanding is correct.

Use the gap between the rate of speech and your rate of thought: You can think faster than the speaker can talk. That’s one reason why your mind may tend to wander. All the above suggestions will help you keep your mind occupied and focused on what is being said.

Be willing to accept revisions: It will keep the communication process running smoothly. Often people are so busy trying to defend their positions that they fail to really stop and think whether they could be improved upon or viewed in a different way.

Choose the right environment: It is important because it will help the listener focus on what he is listening and avoid distractions. Although you cannot always create or call an environment ‘perfect’ for all types of communication, in general, it is best to avoid areas where there are high levels of activity, loud noises, an uncomfortable temperature, poor air flow, etc.

Stay active by asking questions for yourself: Active listening keeps you on your toes. Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you listen: What key point is the speaker making? How does this fit with what I already know? How is this lecture/speech organized?

Treat listening as a challenging mental task: Listening to an academic lecture is not a passive act at least it shouldn’t be. You need to concentrate on what is said so that you can process the information thoroughly.

Barriers to Effective Listening from SMU MBA MB0023 of Business Communication

Monday, June 7, 2010

Listening is the most important part of the communication process. However, listening skills do not come naturally to most people; these require willingness, practice and patience to develop on the part of the person, who wishes to acquire these skills.

There are many reasons as to why individuals fail to listen successfully. These include:

Interrupting is a problem for many reasons. First, it is an aggressive behavior and will most likely bring a negative response from the speaker being interrupted.

Faking attention and tuning out can be offensive and is usually hard to hide. This hurts the speaker as it sends him the message that the listener doesn’t really care about what the speaker is saying.

Becoming emotional can hinder one’s ability to listen. It is important that the receiver be aware of his or her emotions.

Jumping to conclusions is often considered as the most common barrier to listening. The listening, to be effective, should be done with full attention to whatever the speaker has to say.

Getting distracted is common while trying to communicate. Often, one has many tasks to do or there is a lot of other activity taking place while someone is trying to communicate.

Pre-judging the subject: Often, instead of listening to the speaker, many people tend to assume that the subject is boring or dull. During any conversation, presentation or speech, they turn their attention to other things or simply day-dream.

Wrong focus: Another barrier of listening is the focus of the listener on appearance and delivery of the speaker. The listeners observe the appearance and the delivery style of speaker instead of listening to what is being said.

Gathering only facts: Many people listen to gather facts instead or trying to understand the underlying idea and integrated it with non-verbal communication.

Inflexibility while listening: Many formal speeches are not carefully outlined and organized.

Avoiding complicated subjects: When the subject is technical or complicated, many people stop listening altogether.

The strategies that one has to develop in order to be a good listener are: Providing clues that one is actively involved, concentrating while someone is talking, refraining from formulating an immediate response, trying to prepare beforehand, being prepared to accept revisions and being sure that the environment is conducive to listening.

Listening and Types of Listening from Business Communication

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Listening is a highly complex, interactive process “by which spoken language is converted to meaning in the mind”. As this definition suggests, listening is more than just hearing, although these two terms are often used synonymously. Hearing is only an important component of listening. Listening is a specialized form of hearing and is the primary function of the ear. The most crucial part of the listening process is thinking or converting to meaning what one hears.

Hearing is a passive process. It is merely the detection of sounds around us. Normally, we come across ‘hearing’ in certain situations.

Listening: It is an active process. It involves the conscious desire to determine the meaning of what is heard. While listening, one is engaged in processing the date, reconstructing the data and also giving meaning to the data.

Types of Listening:

Discriminative listening:

As the name itself suggests, discriminative listening is the most basic type of listening, whereby the difference between the sounds is identified. If you cannot hear differences, then you cannot grasp the meaning that is expressed by such differences.

Comprehension listening:

When the discrimination between sounds is achieved, one should learn to make sense of the perceived sound. To comprehend the meaning, one requires a lexicon of words and all rules of grammar and syntax by which one can understand what others are saying.

Evaluative listening:

Evaluative listening is also called ‘critical listening’ because we make judgments about what the other person is saying. We seek to assess the truth of what is being said, We also judge what they say about our values, assessing them as good or bad, worthy or unworthy.

Appreciative listening:

In appreciative listening, the main intention is to seek certain information which will be appreciated.

Empathetic listening:

When we listen empathetically, we seek to understand the beliefs, moods, emotions and goals of other people. This requires excellent discrimination and close attention to the nuances of emotional signals.

Therapeutic listening:

In therapeutic listening, the listener has a purpose of not only empathizing with the speaker but also to use this deep connection in order to help the speaker understand, change or develop in some way.

Dialogic listening:

The word ‘dialogue’ stems from the Greek words ‘dia’, meaning ‘through’ and ‘logos’ meaning ‘words’. Thus dialogic listening means learning through conversation. Dialogic listening is also known as ‘relational listening’ because with the help of exchange of ideas while listening, we also indirectly creation a relation.

The chapter has also been taken from Business Communication book of SMU MBA in the sequel of Visual Aids.

Visual Aids – Creating Visual Aid Properly from Business Communication

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

In case you want to make your oral presentation very interesting, you can do so with the help of ‘Visual aids.’ However, they must be relevant to what you want to say. A careless design or use of a slide which does not correspond to the matter that you are presenting can simply get in the way of the presentation. What you use should depend on the type of talk you are giving. Here are some possibilities.

Overhead projection transparencies (OHPs)

35 mm slides

Computer projection (Power Point, applications such as Excel, etc)

Video and film

Real objects – either handled from the speaker’s bench or passed around

Flip-chart or blackboard – possibly used as a scratch-pad to expand on a point

There are certain precautions that you have to take while preparing these visual aids. While preparing a Power Point presentation, if we get the slides that we are looking for, we are tempted to be over-enthusiastic about it and keep adding the slides even if it is not so essential. Be careful and don’t heed to such temptations! Keep your presentations simple because a complex set of hardware can result in confusion for speaker and audience. Make sure you know in advance how to operate the equipment and also when you want particular displays to appear. If you are assisted by a technician to operate the equipment, arrange with him beforehand, the order of the displays and what signals you would use to convey the changes. Edit your slides as carefully as you talk – if a slide is superfluous then leave it out. If you need to use a slide twice, duplicate it. And always check your slides – for typographical errors, consistency of fonts and layout.

Slides and OHPs should contain the minimum information necessary. If your slides are loaded with text matter, they become unreadable. It also may divert the attention of your audience, so that they spend time reading the slide rather than listening to you. Slides or OHPs should be used to display a few handlings which are taken as prompts. Do not simply read the material off them: supplement or explain what is written. Try to limit words per slide to a maximum of 10. Use a reasonable size font and a typeface which will enlarge well.

Typically use a minimum 18pt Times Roman on OHPs and preferably larger. A guideline is: if you can read the OHP from a distance of 2 meters (without projection) then it’s probably OK. Making coloured slides will attract the attention of the audience. But avoid orange and yellow which do not show up very well when projected. For text only, white or yellow on blue is pleasant to look at and easy to read.

Avoid using a diagram prepared for a technical report in your talk. It will be too detailed and difficult to read.

Another thing that you have to avoid is adding to OHPs with a pen during the talk. Sometimes you tend to be so immersed in your presentation that you go on drawing circles or underlines on the transparencies. It will look messy and the audience will be fascinated by your shaking hand!

It is very important to consider the proper lighting in the room where you are presenting. Too much light near the screen will make it difficult to see the detail. On the other hand, a completely darkened room can send the audiences to sleep. Try to avoid having to keep switching lights on and off, but if you do have to do this, know the light switches are and how to use them.

The chapter has also been taken from the Business Communication of SMU MBA MB0023 book.

Oral Presentation – Basic Steps for Oral Presentations from Business Communication

Sunday, May 2, 2010

If you are going to prepare oral presentation, keep some suggestions in your mind. These are the basic suggestions that have been taken from Business Communication Book of SMU MBA MB023.

Plan your presentation keeping in mind the audience profile. In other words, develop a strategy bearing in mind, the specific needs of your audience. If you know your audience, their expectations and the importance of the occasion in which the presentation is being made, you will be able to make a worthwhile presentation. For example, if your presentation is on the occasion of the opening of a new Department of Surgery, and if it is meant for patients suffering from a particular symptom for which no treatment is available in your town, you are attempting to throw light on the necessity of the new Department. But if it is for your team of doctors during a month in which, the team’s performance has not been up to expectations, you are trying to present a situation where your team will be motivated to improve their performance.

Rate your presentation to your audience. Tailor your message to the audience – you should understand their needs, desires, knowledge level, and attitude toward your topic.

At the time of presentation, be concrete, specific, practical and relevant. Don’t give elaborate details. Your audience will think that you do not have sufficient content and so you are simply repeating the same pint unnecessarily. Clarify your objectives – is it to motivate? … inform? … persuade? …. Teach? – Remember, each of these motives calls for a different approach. You should also be sure about your role as a presenter. Are you a coach? advocate? teacher? This will help the audience understand your position and will have an influence over the outcome of the presentation. Tell them logically as to how your presentation will help your audience in their work. Will it solve a problem effectively without waste of time and resources?

Present a sound case. Let the presentation lead to a common goal. You should be a director towards this end. If you want to achieve this goal, you must research your subject extensively. There are no short cuts. You must be through with your subject and be sure of achieving the goals of the presentation.

Give your presentation a structure. Convert information into a meaningful message. Let the audience see a logical sequence, not a collection of bits and pieces of information.

Organize your message. Start with the simple points and move to the more complex. Let the audience recognize the importance of the message. Let your ideas be made clear to them so that they will understand not only the significance of the subject but also the importance of your ideas in relation to the subject.

Justify your ideas. Let the audience know what is expected of them. Let your topic be placed in context. Tell them why you are presenting the topic and how it will solve the problem successfully. Tell the audience who the presentation will progress and what you expect from them. Encourage their participation.

Keep in your mind the following suggestions while doing an oral presentation just like oral communication. They will help you to retain the interest of the audience.

Oral Communication – Advantages and Disadvantages of Oral Communication from Business Communication

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When you seek permission from your father to visit a nearby museum, he might say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Thus, in oral communication, there is a possibility of immediate response. This ensures speedy interaction and makes immediate feedback possible. This is the greatest advantage of oral communication.

Another advantage is that the speaker can observe the listener’s reaction to what is being stated. For instance, if someone brings to you your exam results and tells you that you have passed in first class; your reaction to the message will show that you are happy. Similarly, if someone tells you that your friend met with an accident and got injured, you will be shocked and the person who gave you the message will notice it.

The disadvantage of oral communication is that it does no always save time. People have to meet each other all the time to communicate orally, which is impossible. It may result in spending a considerable amount of money, time and other important resources.

Improving Oral Communication:

Speaking to friends and family members is easy, because you know them. But when you are asked to go and speak to a stranger you may hesitate. It is even worse when you have to address an angry client or present a project proposal in front of your higher authorities at the organizational meeting.

Oral skills should be paid adequate attention because learning to speak well will improve one’s personal and professional life considerably. You should remember that even if the listener cannot see you, while you are engaged in telephone conversation, it is easy to deduce your personality with the help of the quality of your voice. Your tone indicates your age, sex, intelligence etc. It also reveals whether you are confident or not. Even your geographical origin can be traced by noting the accent you use while speaking.

One-to-One Oral Communication:

In your day-to-day dealings, you have to interact with people on a one-to-one basis. It is central to developing positive working relationship with the clients as well as your co-workers and superiors. There are two ways in which we communicate orally through face to face and telephonic conversation.

The chapter has been taken from Business Communication of SMU MBA MB0023. It is the part of communication process.

Question Tag and Uses of Question Tags in English Grammar from MB0023 of SMU MBA

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Question tags are used in conversation and in informal letters. They are added to a statement to either indicate force or draw attention to the statement.

The question tag consists of the ‘helping verb’ followed by the ‘subject’ in the form of a suitable pronoun.

Rules to construct a question tag:

1. A positive statement takes a negative tag.

E.g.: Meena is a good swimmer, isn’t she?

2. A negative statement takes a positive tag.

E.g.: I did not tell you, did I?

3. The tense of the verb in the tag should be the same as the one in the statement.

E.g.: You are going to the cinema, aren’t you?

4. When the statement doesn’t have a helping verb, use ‘do’ form (does, did, don’t didn’t)

E.g.: We lived in Nigeria, didn’t we?

5. When the helping verb is ‘am’, the tag will always be aren’t.

E.g.: I am singing, aren’t I?

6. When the subject of the sentence is anyone, anybody, no one, nobody, none, neither, we use the pronoun ‘they’ as the subject of the tag.

E.g.: No one would object, would they?

7. Semi-negatives (hardly, few, little) take a positive tag.

E.g.: Few students knew the answers, did they?

A few and A little are positive and take a negative tag.

A little progress was made, wasn’t it?

Question tag is the most important chapter in English grammar. It is compulsory for spoken English. We already have discussed and learnt about other chapters of English grammar such as – Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adverb, Preposition and Conjunction. The chapter is also taken from Business Communication book of MB0023 SMU MBA.

In this chapter, I have shared some important aspect and uses of question tags in English grammar. So, it is not the full analysis of question tag. I will try to introduce the chapter in details in coming future on the blog.

Direct and Indirect Speech in English Grammar from MB0023 of Business Communication

Sunday, April 4, 2010

In our daily communication, we come across various types of conversations. Of these, there are two ways of what one person has related to the other. They are –

1. Direct Speech: This refers to the relating of the spoken words of one person to the other verbatim. We can recognize a direct speech with the help of the punctuations. It is written within the inverted commas. A comma or colon is placed immediately before the spoken words.

Mr. Rooster said to Mrs. Hen, “I never eat meat. So I like the way you cook these berries.”

Note: The inverted comma in the above presentation of the conversation between Mr. Rooster and Mrs. Hen. They are talking to each other. So it is a direct speech.

2. Indirect Speech: This is also called as ‘Reported Speech’ because it refers to the meaning of the word spoken by one person though the exact spoken words are not used.

Note: The absence of inverted comma and the change in tense of the verb. This is indirect speech.

Mr. Rooster to Mrs. Hen that he never ate meat. He also praised her saying that he liked the way she cooked those berries.

Direct and indirect speech chapter in English grammar is just like Voice lesson. It is based on types of verbs; we have ‘active voice’ and ‘passive voice’.

The sentences which have ‘transitive verbs’ can be changed from “active voice” to “passive voice”.

E.g.: The Principal read the report. (Active voice)

The report was read by the Principal. (Passive voice)

In the simplest word, in the type of active voice, the subject of the sentence acts on the agent. While in the passive voice, the subject is acted upon by the agent.

So, both chapters – narration and voice are the most important in English grammar to learn, read and speak. The chapter has been taken from SMU MBA MB0023 of Business Communication book.

Subject Verb Agreement from Business Communication for MB0023 of SMU MBA

Sunday, March 28, 2010

We have thus far learnt various types of sentences and the elements that makeup a sentence. We shall polish this a little further to understand the nuances that we should keep in mind while writing or conversing in English. The rules that one should follow while constructing a sentence and while conversing may be different. The formal and informal usage of English differs.

The subject and verb agreement is an important aspect of the English language. It is very important that the verb and subject agree in number and person.

The two smart girls in the class were chosen to win the award.

In the given example there are three ways in which the subject (girls) is show to be plural:

The verb ‘to be’ in its plural form ‘were’

The adjective ‘two’

The plural marker ‘s’ attached to the subject ‘girl’

While trying to determine whether a verb should be in singular or plural form, find the subject and ignore all the words coming after it. If the subject is singular, then the verb is singular or vice versa.

The problems with the student have not yet been resolved.

In this example, the subject is ‘problems’ which is in the plural form. So the verb should be in the plural form. Hence we use the verb ‘have’ (plural form).

1. When two subjects are joined by ‘and, and the verb is plural. For example – John and Jinny are friends.

Exceptions:

When two singular noun are joined by ‘and’, but refer to the same person, then the verb is singular. For example – The secretary and treasurer is on leave.

When two different singular nouns express one unit, the verb is in singular. For example – Rice and curry is my staple diet.

When two singular subjects are practically synonymous, the verb is in singular. For example – Peace and prosperity is the need of the day.

When two singular subjects are joined by ‘and’ which are preceded by ‘each’ or ‘every’, the verb is in singular. For example – Every man, woman and child has been rescued.

2. The nouns that end in – s (certain countries, fields of study, activities, diseases) take a singular verb.

For example –

The aerobics class is held every Tuesday.

The United States doesn’t have a centralized governing body for educational affairs.

Mathematics was my favorite subject in school.

Measles is a serious childhood disease if not treated properly.

3. Most collective nouns take the singular form of the verb.

For example – The committee doesn’t have to come up with a solution until next week.

Exception: However, the nouns ‘people’ and ‘police’ are considered plural, so they take a plural verb.

For example – The police are here to protect us.

The people were happy to see the return of their king.

4. The expression of time, distance and money are often seen as collective items and hence take a singular verb.

For example – Two miles is too far to walk in this lashing rain.

Five hours has already passed since his surgery ended.

Five thousand rupees is a fair price for such an old painting.

5. When the words ‘all’, ‘most’, ‘some’ and ‘any’ are followed by a non-count noun, the verb is singular.

For example – All of the cake has been eaten.

Some fat is good for you.

Most car exhaust contains pollutants that threaten all living things.

Exception: However, if the words are followed by a plural count noun, the verb is plural.

For example – All men are created equal.

6. “Noun” and “neither” always take a singular verb, whether followed by a plural or a non-count noun.

For example – None of the cats belongs to me.

Neither of the women is the one who spoke to me yesterday.

7. When the subjects are joined by “either… or”, “neither… nor”, “not only… but also”, “both… and”, the verb agrees with the subject which is close to it.

For example – Neither the children nor the mother wants to leave.

Either you or I am going to call an end to this charade.

Not only she but all her friends also were in the list of failures.

Both my brother and I am interested in joining the team.

8. When two subjects are joined by ‘as well as’, ‘with’, ‘together with’, ‘accompanied by’, the verb agrees with the subject mentioned first.

For example – The President of India as well as his secretaries is invited to the function.

Her friends along with Sheela are arriving by the first flight.

9. “The + adjective” takes the plural verb because it refers to the whole group.

For example – The sick were taken to the hospital immediately.

10. A plural verb is used when ‘a lot of’, ‘a great deal of’, ‘plenty of’, ‘most of’, ‘some of’ are used while referring to number.

For example – A lot of people were present in the theatre and some of them were students.

Exception: However, if the expressions refer to amount, the verb is singular.

For example – A lot of home work is given to the students.

11. When the expression ‘a number of’ is used with a plural noun, it takes plural verb. The expression, ‘the number of’, along with a plural noun takes a singular verb.

For example – A number of students are going to the picnic.

The number of students to volunteer is dwindling by the day.

12. In sports, while referring to the players, the name of the country is followed by plural verb.

For example – England have won the world cup.

13. When the percentage or a part of something is mentioned with plural meaning, the verb used is plural.

For example – 30% of the Indian women are literate.

14. “Majority” can be singular or plural.

It is followed by a plural noun, plural verb is used.

For example – Majority of the pens were blue.

If it stands alone, singular verb is used.

For example – The majority believes in easy work.

These are the examples and implementations of subject verb agreement. This is the most important chapter in English grammar. Subject verb agreement chapter has been taken from Business Communication for MB0023 of SMU MBA.

Elements of Sentence Construction and Structural Categorization from MB0023

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

We already have discussed about sentences and kinds of sentences in my previous post. Now, you will get some more explanation about elements of sentence and structural categorization from MB0023 of SMU MBA book.

In English, every sentence has two essential parts: a Subject and a Predicate, which are inclusive of clauses and phrases.

Subject: The complete subject is the simple subject (a noun or a pronoun) plus any words or group of words modifying the simple subject that tell who or what the sentence is about. Thus, a subject is the person, place, or thing that acts, is acted on, or is described in the sentence.

Additional Facts about Subject:

The “Understood You”: Sometimes, as in the case of imperative sentences, the subject does not actually appear in the sentence. At such times the invisible subject is called the “understood you”. For example – (You) Go out of the house.

Positioning: Although the subject most commonly appears before the verb, it can also appear after the verb. This is called the inversion of the Subject and Predicate. For example – Here come my friends and their parents.

Predicate: The predicate is the action or description that occurs in the sentence. Sometimes a verb will express existence instead of an action. Verb is an essential part of the predicate. In other words, we can say that the predicate is the ‘telling part’ of the sentence because it tells us what the subject is doing and to whom.

Phrases: A group of words without a finite verb is a phrase. In other words, phrases are just a group of related words that do not express a complete thought. They also do not have a subject and predicate pair. So, they cannot be considered as a sentence.

For example – The house at the end of the street is very beautiful.

The astronaut chosen to ride the space shuttle to Mars is afraid of heights.

Alix walk down the ramp to the beach.

The flying saucer appeared above the lake before it disappeared into space.

Clauses: Words and phrases can be put together to make a clause. A group of related words that contain both a subject and a predicate and that functions as a part of a sentence is a clause. A clause is different from a phrase because a phrase is a group of related words which lack either a subject or a predicate or both.

Structural Categorization of Sentences:

Structurally, a sentence may be categorized as Simple, Compound and Complex.

A sentence can be recognized by the number of clauses it contains.

Simple sentence: A simple sentence, also called an independent clause, contains a subject and a verb, and it expresses a complete thought. For example – Some students like to study in the morning.

Compound sentence: A compound sentence contains two independent (main) clauses joined by a coordinator. It may or may not have a subordinate clause. The coordinators are as follows: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. For example – Alex played football but Manu went shopping.

Complex sentence: A complex sentence has an independent clause joined by one or more dependent causes. A complex sentence always has a subordinator such as because, since, after, although, or, when or a relative pronoun such as that, who, or which. For example – The teacher returned the homework after she saw an error.

Sentences and Kinds of Sentences from MB0023 of SMU MBA

Monday, March 8, 2010

A group of words that makes a complete sense or gives complete meaning is called a sentence. It expresses the thought of the person, who speaks or writes the sentence. Traditionally, a sentence is considered as a largest grammatical unit. It is also imperative that a sentence has a verb in it to consider it as a sentence.

The shortest legal sentences in the English language are “I am” and “I do” – although with some bending o the rules, the imperative “Go!” can be considered the shortest correct sentence.

Kinds of Sentences:

From the point of view of expression of thoughts, the sentences are divided into four kinds.

Declarative Sentences: They state or assert certain facts. So they are called declarative sentences. A declarative sentence makes a statement. It begins with a capital letter and ends with a period. For example – Veena is playing word zap.

Interrogative Sentences: The sentences that ask questions are called interrogative sentences. For example – What is your name?

Exclamatory Sentences: The sentences in the example express strong feelings either of happiness or sadness. The feelings are also sudden. Also notice the exclamatory mark at the end of the sentences. Such sentences are called Exclamatory Sentences. For example – Wow, what a win that was!

Imperative Sentences: The sentences that are used to express order, request or which are called as Imperative Sentences. For example – Go out of the class.

We already have discussed about Noun, Pronoun, Verb, Adverb, Preposition and Conjunction. A person can handle any sentences if he has understanding about above mentioned parts of speech. Chapter of sentences give a basic knowledge about how to make a sentence in English. The chapter has been taken from MB0023 MBA book of Business Communication. The book is referred by SMU for MBA students. So, take a look on sentences to know the structure of sentences.

Conjunctions – Uses of Conjunction from MBA MB0023 Business Communication

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

We already have discussed about Preposition in detailed. Now, the chapter will reveal some secret about conjunctions. A Conjunction is a word which connects words, phrases, clauses or sentences. There are two classes of conjunctions. They are:

Co-ordinate Conjunctions

Subordinate Conjunctions

Co-ordinate Conjunctions joins two clauses or sentences which are at par in terms of importance. They also join two words of equal grammatical rank. The chief co-ordinate conjunctions are – and, but, for, nor, or, otherwise, else, also, either --- or, neither --- nor, both --- and.

Co-ordinate conjunctions are further divided into:

Cumulative conjunctions: They add one statement/fact to another. They are – not only – but also, both – and, as well as, too, also, moreover, and.

For example – They sang melodiously, and played the guitar well.

Alternative conjunctions: They express a choice between two alternatives. They are – or, else, either – or, neither – nor, otherwise.

For example – She is good neither at games not at studies.

Adversative conjunctions: They express a contrast between two facts or statements. They are – however, but, only, yet, still, whereas, nevertheless.

For example – I would have been there; only I am too busy this week.

Illative conjunctions: They show that a statement/fact is proved or inferred from another. They are – hence, therefore, so, subsequently, consequently, for.

For example – He is honest and amiable, hence is revered.

Subordinate conjunctions: are the conjunctions that connect the subordinate clauses to the main clauses in sentences.

Subordinate conjunction of time – The patient had died before the doctor arrived.

Subordinate conjunction of reason – Since you insist, I will come to your home.

Subordinate conjunction of purpose – We eat so that we may live.

Subordinate conjunction of condition – I wonder why you left the company.

Subordinate conjunction of consequence – The baby was so tired that it slept immediately.

Subordinate conjunction of concession – Though you insist, I will not talk to her.

Subordinate conjunction of comparison – You are taller than I.

As like verb and adverb, conjunction is also the most important chapter in English grammar. So, I have tried to explain some basic uses of conjunctions in this chapter.

Preposition – Uses of Prepositions from Business Communication MB0023 SMU MBA

Monday, February 8, 2010

Prepositions are the words, which tell us about the relations of the nouns, pronouns and adjectives in a sentence. Their position is before (pre) the noun. Hence they are said to govern the noun. The noun which follows is said to be the object of the preposition. They are:

Simple Prepositions: in, on, after, at, which, under, above, etc.

For example – He wrote the notes with a pen.

Complex Prepositions: along with, apart from, as for, as to away from, onto, out of, together with, upto, such as, except for, owing to, due to, but for, because of, by means of, on account of, in comparison with, in accordance with, in view of, in spite of, instead of.

Uses of Prepositions:

A preposition can be used at the beginning of an interrogative sentence.

For example – At what time do you leave for office?

A preposition is placed at the end of the sentence in the following ways:

If a preposition governs a relative pronoun – This is the book which I mentioned about.

When the relative pronoun is ‘that’ – This is the school that I went to.

When the relative pronoun is understood – This is the person you spoke to.

If a preposition governs an interrogative pronoun or an interrogative adverb – What are you looking at?

When the preposition is used with the infinitive at the end of the sentence – Do you have a chair to sit on?

A word is considered a preposition when it governs a noun/pronoun. Otherwise it becomes an adverb. The most important words are – about, above, across, along, after, before, below, behind, besides, by, down, in, on, near, off, over, past, round, through, under, up etc.

He got off the bus at the corner (preposition)

He got off at the corner (adverb)

Peter is behind us (preposition)

He’s a long way behind (adverb)

She climbed over the wall (preposition)

You’ll have to climb over too (adverb)

Relations expressed by prepositions:

Preposition of time: on, in, at, for, before, after, until, till, between, by, upto.

For example – She was healthy till yesterday.

Preposition of place: to, at from away, on, onto, of, in, into, out, upon, inside, within, by over, above, on top of, behind, in front of, below, beneath, across through, all over, throughout, between, among.

For example – Where do you come from?

Preposition of method and manner: by, with

For example – The boys skipped going to school with audacity.

Preposition of reason and purpose: with, of, for

For example – I rented a house for my holidays.

Preposition of possession: of, with, by

For example – The tomb of Akbar is in Sikandarabad.

Preposition of direction and motions: into, towards, up, round, across

For example – They climbed into the lorry.

Preposition of contrast: despite

For example – Despite his mistakes, he is a sincere worker.

Correct use of some of the Prepositions:

Beside, besides:

The house is beside the river. (By the side of)

Besides being good at Tennis, he is also an excellent player of Golf. (In addition to/moreover)

Since, for:

He has been absent since Monday last. (Point of time)

He was absent for four days. (Length or period of time)

Between, among:

I have to choose between the two pictures. (Two persons/things)

This is the custom among the tribes. (More than two)

By, with:

He was killed by a servant. (Doer of the action)

He was killed with a knife. (Instrument of action)

In, at:

He lives at Juhu in Mumbai. (‘at’ – smaller area / ‘in’ – bigger area)

In, into:

He is in bed. (Indicates rest or motion inside anything)

He fell into the well. (Motion towards the inside of anything)

On, upon:

He sat on a chair. (Things at rest)

He lives on his maternal uncle. (Denoting support)

I wrote books on philosophy. (Denoting concern)

He jumped upon the horse. (Thins in motion)

In, within:

The loan will be repaid in a year. (End of a period of time)

The loan will be paid within a year. (Any time before the specified period)

Over, above:

They saw the peaks towering above them. (Higher)

We hung the picture over the fire place. (Vertically above)

Preposition is the biggest chapter in English Grammar. I have tried to explain the chapter with some good examples. The chapter has been taken from Business Communication MB0023 of SMU MBA.

Adverb – Uses of Adverbs from Business Communication MB0023

Monday, January 11, 2010

Adverb is also the biggest chapter in English grammar just like verb and Noun. Here, we talk about adverb and uses of adverbs from Business Communication MB0023.

Adverbs add more meaning to the verb, adjective, or another adverb in a sentence. It ‘modifies’ that word.

For example – Radha sings melodiously.

He left immediately.

Formation of Adverbs:

By adding – ly, to an adjective: beautifully, strongly.

By adding – wise, ways, wards: otherwise, sideways, upwards.

By combining a noun and a prefix: asleep, ahead, away, besides.

By combining a prefix and an adjective: alone, around, below.

Two adverbs joined by conjunction: by and by, over and above, now and then.

Adverbs tell us about the time, place, manner, quantity, reason and frequency of an action. They are recognized by asking certain questions to the verb.

Useage of Adverbs:

An adverb must be placed as near as possible to the word it modifies.

For example – He waited long.

If the verb is in the simple tense form, the adverb is usually placed between the subject and the verb it modifies.

For example – He often visits his home town.

If the verb is in the form of ‘to be’ (is, am was, are, were) the adverb comes after the verb. For example – She is a very sober girl.

If the verb is compound, the adverb comes after the auxiliary.

For example – He will always teach.

If the sentence is negative, the adverb of frequency follows ‘not’.

For example – They are not generally selfish.

If the sentence is interrogative the adverb takes position immediately after the subject.

For example – Has he ever spoken to you?

In case of infinitives (to + simple form of verb + do), adverb should not be placed in between ‘to’ and ‘do’.

For example – He refused to do the task quickly.

Use of ‘hardly – ‘Hard’ as an adverb usually follows the verb.

For example – He works hard to make both ends meet.

‘Hardly’ as an adverb conveys a negative meaning of scarcely or barely.

For example – Hardly had he spoken when the bell rang.

Use of ‘scarce’, scarcely’ – ‘Scarce’ as an adverb means hard to find.

For example – Coal has become scarce in England.

‘Scarcely’ as an adverb is almost synonymous with ‘hardly’.

For example – I can scarcely hear you.

‘Hardly’ and ‘scarcely’ are followed by when. ‘No sooner’ is followed by than.

For example – Hardly had the bell rung when the children ran out of the classroom.

No sooner had the bell rung than the children ran out of the classroom.

Now, adverb chapter is very clear to improve your communication skills. The chapter has been taken from Business Communication book of SMU MBA.

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