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1. Getting Started Requires Researching Background Information

Before you begin to compose a message, you should conduct research to collect the necessary information. To avoid frustration and inaccurate messages, be sure to consider the receiver's position.

Which questions should you ask yourself before determining what and how to research? Check all that apply.

Can I access information electronically to speed up the research process?

Is it really important to be writing to this person, or should I call him or her?

What strategies should I use when looking up information in the library database?

What does the receiver need to know about this topic?

In order to effectively target your research efforts, evaluate the purpose of the message and the amount of existing knowledge you have before deciding whether to take an informal or formal research approach.

Read the scenario, and then answer the question.

The market analyst of a chain megastore bakery called More Dough asks you to find out why people are choosing to go to smaller bakeries rather than their megastore in the same area. She asks you to visit the smaller bakeries and observe the consumers and owners. After you observe and gather data, you are to bring your findings to a group of researchers who will establish controlled variables and conduct a series of experiments.

What research method did you use in this situation?

Formal research

Informal research

Read the following scenario, and then determine which is the best research approach.

While working for an international development agency, you must create a presentation about primary and secondary education in the Middle East.

Which is the best research approach?

To get a local perspective on Middle Eastern affairs, conduct a phone survey of people who live in the area. In order to get a balanced response, include survey respondents who have children and those who do not.

Using electronic databases, find statistics gathered by the United Nations that show the dropout rates of students by gender and age. Request that certain reports be sent to you so you can examine the data yourself.

Write an e-mail to your former professor who teaches courses on foreign policy, and ask his opinion on the subject.

2. Gathering Ideas and Organizing Information

After conducting research, you will need to generate ideas and organize the collected data. Simple organizational techniques will help provide structure and direction as you prepare to compose.

Generating ideas often includes brainstorming. Brainstorming can be an effective way to produce the best ideas if it is done correctly.

Read the scenario, and then identify how the brainstorming process could be improved.

Dina, a girls’ outdoor adventure leader, created a meeting agenda to address a problem her troop had. Their cookie fundraiser was in trouble: The mint chocolate chip cookies were not selling. Dina wanted the girls to come up with new cookie ideas and innovative ways to sell them.

The group began the session by yelling out cookie ideas ranging from real mud pies to snickerdoodles in the shape of a bear. It was an amazing session; everyone participated. The group came up with 50 new cookie ideas in less than 12 minutes, but they could remember only a few of them at the end of the meeting.

To improve the group’s brainstorming, Dina should encourage out-of-the-box thinking/ use flipcharts and classify ideas/ create an agenda.

To compose simple messages, you may need only to make a scratch list of your ideas before writing. Many messages, however, may require you to make an outline to organize your thoughts.

Use the scratch list to answer the question that follows.

The Boston Hotel
High-end linens
600-thread-count sheets
Coffee maker with selected teas
Imported beer
Fresh-squeezed juices
Food and drink
Double-thick bath towels
Silk pillowcases
Raw silk curtains with gold embellishments
$100/night four-star rooms
Free snacks, shampoo, and conditioner
Free wireless Internet

You have been asked to organize the items on the scratch list into an outline for your supervisor. You have completed the outline when your supervisor sends you a quick e-mail with the additional scratch list that follows. Your supervisor wants you to include the items on the new scratch list that fit into your existing outline.

Evening wine tasting
Sparkling water
Four-star hotel restaurant
Proximity to downtown shopping
Indoor pool

Which subpoints should you include in your outline?

Sparkling water, evening wine tasting, four-star hotel restaurant

Safety, indoor pool, proximity to downtown shopping

Safety, communication, cleanliness

Once you have prepared your outline, you need to put the information into an organizational pattern that you determine based on how your audience will react to your message.

Suppose you receive the following e-mail at work. Read the message, and then complete the sentence that follows.

You will receive a bonus in your next paycheck. The sales department exceeded its goals this month for the third time this quarter. Congratulations!

In this message, the indirect or direct organizational pattern is used.


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