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Business Communication Chapter 12

Techniques for analyzing raw data
1. Tables
2. Measures of Central Tendency
3. Correlations
4. Grids
5. Decision Matrices
1. use column and rows
2. some data becomes more meaningful when cross-tabulated
3. help you compare multiple data from questionnaires and surveys
Cross-tabulating data
allows analysis of two or more variables
6 Tips for Converting Raw Data
1. Tabulate the responses
2. Calculate total percentages
3. Round figures to once decimal whole numbers
4. Arrange items in logical order
5. Prepare title of table
6. Include the total number of respondents
The table title tells things such as
who, what, when, where and why
Disadvantage of the mean
extremes at either end cause distortion
When is the median useful
when extreme figures warp the mean
its advantage is that it is easily determined

useful when we’re trying to determine things like group preferences

When are mean, median, and mode figures are especially helpful?
1. when the range of values is also known
2. it enables readers to put these figures into perspective
relationships among two or more variables that help explain the findings

Ex: a correlation exists between years of education and starting salary

How to present a correlation as a possible relationship
1. by using cautious statements followed by explanations
2. it will gain you credibility and allow readers to make their own decisions
3. “The data suggest that beginning salaries are related to years of education”
1. Helps split complex verbal data into concise, manageable chunks of data
2. Readers can immediately see which points are supported and which are opposed
3. Also help classify employment data
Arranging data in a grid also works for what?
feasibility studies and yardstick reports that compare many variables

Consumer Reports often use grids

Decision Matrices
A special grid that helps managers make the best choice among complex options

Designed to eliminate bias and poor judgement

6 Tips for creating a decision matrix
1. Select the most important criteria
2. Create a matrix
3. Evaluate criteria
4. Assign relative weights
5. Multiply the scores
6. Total the scores
Analyzing Data to Arrive at Conclusions: General Info
1. Each conclusions relates to the initial report problem
2. many report writers explain the conclusion section by explaining each item and citing supporting evidence
3. list each item separately and use balanced sentence structure
Analyzing Data to Arrive at Conclusions: Objectivity
1. Goal is to remain objective
2. Don’t manipulate findings to achieve a preconceived purpose
3. Make report more objective by using consistent evaluation criteria
What else do you need to avoid when analyzing data to arrive at a conclusion
1. Don’t sensationalize or exaggerate your findings/conclusions
2. be careful of words like “many, most, and all”
3. instead use words like “some of the respondents felt”
1. Tell how to solve problem
2. they want to know exactly how to implement suggestions
3. specificity of your recommendation depends on your authorization
What indicates how far you should develop your recommendations
your intuitions and your knowledge of the audience
6 Tips for writing recommendations
make specific suggestions
avoid conditional words
present suggestions as commands
number the recommendations
If requested, describe how to implement recommendations
when possible, arrange the recommendations in an announced order
5 Common Methods of Organization
1. Time
2. Component
3. Importance
4. Criteria
5. Convention
1. establishing a chronology of events
2. beware of overusing as organizational method
3. tend to be boring, repetitious, and lacking in emphasis
What kind of things are organized by time
1. agendas
2. minutes of meetings
3. progress report
4. procedures
components such as location, geography, division, product or part

works best when classification already exists

Importance: most important to least important
always keep in mind the reader’s priorities and expectations

busy readers appreciate seeing important things first

Importance: least important to most important
reader is more likely to remember the most important item

but you might loose their attention along the way

helps writers to treat topics consistently as well as make comparisons
1. follows a prescribed plan that everyone understands
2. management gets exactly the info it needs in an easy to read form
3. simplify the task of organizing
What kind of reports may be organized conventionally
operational reports
recurring reports
Both formal and informal reports use what kind of devices to keep readers from getting lost?
1. Introduction
2. Transitions
3. headings
Introduction does what 3 things
1. Tells the purpose of the report
2. Describes the significance
3. Previews the main points and the order in which they will be developed
Good introductions do what?
set up a contract with the reader

the reader wants the topics to be developed as promised

How to maintain consistency in the introduction
delay writing it until after you have completed the report
tell the readers where ideas are headed ad how they relate
1. highlight major ideas
2. allow busy readers to see the big picture at a glance
3. may use functional or talking headings
Functional Headings
1. show the outline of a report but provide little insight for reader
3. useful for routine reports
4. appropriate for sensitive topics
Talking Headings
Provide more info and spark interest

Unless carefully written they can fail to reveal the organization of a report

Points for creating headings
try to balance headings within levels
for short reports use firth level or first and second level headings
apply correct punctuation
keep headings short but clear
Capitalizing and emphasizing for a heading
1. All capital letters for main titles (report, chapters, unit titles) but capitalize first letter of main words for non main titles
2. No capitalization for articles, conjunctions, and prepositions
Applying correct punctuation
Omit end punctuation in first and second level headings

End punctuation is required for 3rd level headings

Informal report readers
don’t usually have to be persuaded

usually neutral & receptive

Informational reports
need little background material or introductory comments b/c readers are familiar with the topics
1. compress the main points
2. saves time
3. reduces report by 85 to 95%
5 Points in Summary Guideline
1. present the goal or purpose
2. Highlight research methods, findings, conclusions, and recommendations
3. omit illustrations, examples, and references
4. Organize for readability by including headings and bulleted lists
5. Include your reactions or an over all evaluation of the document
Executive Summaries
summarizes a long report, proposals, or business plan

concentrates on what management needs to know from a longer report

Periodic/Activity Reports
1. keep management informed and help them solve problems if needed
2. some of these simply contain figures
3. more challenging one require descriptions and discussion of activities
4. typically sent by e-mail
3 things periodic reports usually do
1. summarize regular activities and events
2. describe irregular events deserving of management attention
3. Highlight special needs and problems
Trip, Convention, and Conference Reports
1. inform management about new procedures, equipment, and laws.
2. As well as info affecting products, operations, and service
3. best not to use chronological sequencing
Hardest part of writing trip, convention, and conference reports
selecting the most relevant material and organizing it coherently
4 points in the general outline for a trip, convention, and conference report
1. begin by identifying the event and previewing the topics you will discuss
2. summarize in the body 3-5 main points that might benefit reader
3. itemize your expenses on a separate sheet
4. close by expressing appreciation, suggesting action, or synthesizing the value of the trip/event
Progress and Interim Reports
often required for continuing projects in order to describe their status

may be internal or external

Typically follow what 6 point pattern of development
1. specify the purpose and nature of the project in the opening
2. provide background info
3. describe work completed
4. explain the work currently in progress
5. describe current and future problems and remedies
6. discuss future activities and provide expected completion date
Investigative reports
1. deliver data for specific situations without offering interpretation or recommendations
2. nonrecurring reports
3. generally arranged using the direct strategy with 3 segments
3 segments of investigative reports
Direct Strategy
for nonsensitive topics and recommendations that will be agreeable to readers
5 Steps in Direct Strategy Sequence
1. identify the problem or need briefly
2. Announce the recommendations, solution, or action concisely with verbs
3. Explain more fully benefits of recommendations or steps to solve problem
4. Include discussion of pros, cons, and costs
5. Conclude with a summary specifying the recommendation and necessary action
Indirect Strategy
when readers may oppose a recommendation or when circumstances suggest caution dont rush to reveal recommendations
7 step sequence for indirect strategy
1. Refer to the problem in general terms in the subject line
2. Describe the problem or need. use specific examples, stats, and quotes
3. Discuss alternative solutions, beginning with one least likely to succeed
4. Present the most promising alternative last
5. Show how the advantages of your recommendation outweigh disadvantages
6. Summarize your recommendation.
7. Ask for authorization to proceed
Feasibility Reports
Answer the question: “will this plan or proposal work?”

Typically internal reports

Written to advise on matters like consolidating departments, offering wellness programs, etc..

Who else might write a feasibility report
consultant hired to investigate problem
6 steps in writing feasibility report
1. Announce your decision immediately
2. Provide background and problem necessitating the proposal
3. Discuss benefits of proposal
4. Describe the problems that may result
5. Calculate associated costs
6. Show the time frame for implementing proposal
Yardstick Report
1. examine problems with two or more solutions
2. writer establishes criteria to compare alternatives
3. the criteria acts as yardstick against which alternatives are measured
4. advantage is that alternatives can be measured consistently
5 Steps for Writing Yardstick Report
1. begin by describing the problem/need
2. explain possible solutions and alternatives
3. establish criteria for comparing alternatives. tell how you selected it
4. discuss and evaluate each alternative
5. draw conclusions and make recommendations
You have just interviewed candidates for a sales position and you must reccomend one candidate for hire. You want to summarize each candidates key points, including experience, skills, education and other employment related info. What form should you use
The conclusion of a report should do what?
analyze info logically and show how the data answers questions
Direct pattern of organization is appropriate for reports whose audience:
is receptive to the info contained in the report
The indirect pattern of organization is best for readers who
must be persuaded
Melinda must submit a sales report each week that contains headings established by her manager. This recurring report is organized by:
Progress and Interim Reports:
describe work completed, anticipated problems, and discuss future activities
Do correlations prove cause and effect relationships
Can any set of data produce only one set of conclusions

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