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Giving Instructions & Summarizing. Mr. Valanzano Business Communications. Important Things to Remember When Giving Instructions. Length – keep instructions brief and to the point; overly long instructions are less likely to be read thoroughly
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Giving Instructions & Summarizing Mr. Valanzano Business Communications
Important Things to Remember When Giving Instructions • Length – keep instructions brief and to the point; overly long instructions are less likely to be read thoroughly • Word Choice – Keep the vocabulary in terms your audience will understand; define technical terms when necessary • Language – write in clear, concise language that is easily understood; conversational tone; steps written as commands • Design – Make sure the page is easy to read and information is easy to locate; use visuals when necessary • Accuracy – Instructions need to be accurate and complete; find out any facts your are uncertain of before giving instructions • Presentation – Choose whether oral, written, visual (demo), or a combination will be most effective
Content • Title (purpose of instructions) • Introduction (overview, define the task, explain a process) • Definitions (define any terms your audience may not understand; use a glossary or define the term after the first time it is used) • Preparations (anything that is necessary to do before the instructions can be followed) • Warnings/Precautions (give audience a heads up of any problems that may arise when following your steps) • Steps (the order in which the task needs to be done) • Closing (how to test results, summarize main steps)
Use Precise Language • What is the difference between these 2 pictures? • Besides the fact that one is a bird and the other is royal headgear, in writing the difference is only 1 letter. • At work, almost the right word, is the wrong word.
Use Concise Language • Extra words, sentences, and information can clutter writing and make it unnecessarily long and confusing. • If any words or sentences can be removed without changing the meaning of your message, remove it. • Examples: • Revolutionary new can be changed to new • Terminate can be changed to end • In the year of 2011 can be changed to In 2011 • Completely finished can be changed to finished • During the time that can be changed to while
Chronological Order & Command Forms • Instructions should be carried out in the order that they are given. • Instead of saying “before you open the lid, turn the machine off” you should say “turn the machine off before opening the lid.” • Steps in instructions are always written in the second person as a command. • Using the second person (“you”) allows direct addressing of whoever is being instructed. • Examples: • Clamp the board to the bench. • Please fill out an insurance form.
Parallel Structure • Steps in instructions should have the same sentence structure. • Example of parallel structure: • 1) Insert disk in CD drive, 2) Close drive door, 3) Press ENTER • Example of NOT parallel structure: • 1) Disk inserted in CD drive, 2) Drive door must be closed, 3) Press ENTER.
Giving Effective Instructions • 1) Analyze who your are giving instructions to • 2) Research the subject • 3) Organize • 4) Make notes • 5) Prepare visual aids (if necessary) • 6) Practice • 7) Presentation
Designing an Effective Page • Layout – spread material evenly over the whole page, place visuals where they are easy to find, make important information stand out, be organized • Headings and Print – headings help the reader find information quickly, use print that is large enough to see and easy to read • Sequence – instructions must be written in the same order as the reader’s actions
When to Use Visuals • A visual should be included with your instructions if you answer yes to any of the following questions: • Will a visual help to understand the purpose of the instructions? • Will a visual help to identify parts or equipment? • Will a visual help to understand a specific step or series of steps? • Will a visual help to avoid injury or increase safety? • Will a visual help to successfully complete the task?
Giving Warnings • The listener or reader of your instructions need to be warned of any hazards that may come up as your instructions are followed. • Signal Word – Use words like DANGER, CAUTION, WARNING, STOP, or IMPORTANT written in large letters to grab attention; using a color like red, orange, or yellow also helps • Identify the Hazard – tells whoever is following your instructions what to be aware of (electric shock, radiation, toxic gas, etc.) • Result of Ignoring the Warning – what will happen if the warning is ignored; explain the damage the hazard can cause • Avoiding the Hazard – give detailed instructions on how to avoid the hazard using simple, direct language
Summarizing • Summary – shortened versions of speeches, writings, and events • The original source is reduced but the main idea is included and restated in a summary • Major points and important details can be included as long as they are essential to the central idea • A summary can be as brief as 1 sentence or as long as several pages
Subject, Audience, & Purpose • The subject of what is being summarized will affect how long the summary is. • Example: a 90 page report will take more time and more words to summarize than a 1 page article • A summary must be an accurate representation of the original source. Whoever uses the summary should not have to refer to the original source to understand it. • The audience and purpose will determine the length and presentation of a summary.
Characteristics of a Summary • An effective summary should be ALL of the following: • Brief – short and to the point • Well Written – the summary needs to be understandable with the most important points highlighted throughout • Independent – clear, stands alone from the original, contains main idea(s) of the original, should not have to refer to original to understand • Accurate – provide understanding of original, clearly reflect the author’s intent, does not distort the meaning
What to Include in a Summary • From the original: Include what is necessary after reading or listening to the original more than once • For a general audience: a summary for a general audience translates whatever information is being summarized into plain language • For specialists: provide enough information for the needs of the audience, often with recommendations and/or results so that a specialist as enough information to make a decision
Types of Summaries • Informative – condenses main ideas with no explanation or detail • Explanatory – contain only information with no analysis or opinions added • Analytic – used if the summary’s purpose is to interpret, evaluate, or criticize the facts of a source; observations and criticisms can be added
How to Summarize • Choose and Arrange Main Points – find the author’s organizational pattern; signal word clues will help find the main points • Highlight and Take Notes – highlight and take notes on main points based on the summary’s audience (about 10% of original should be included) • 1) Read/Listen to original, 2) Find main ideas, 3) Highlight and take notes, 4) Support main ideas with facts from original
Writing an Effective Summary • 1) Preview (skim original for main points) • 2) Read/Listen to original • 3) Highlight and/or take notes • 4) Identify main idea • 5) Find supporting facts (direct quotes and paraphrasing) • 6) Organize and write summary • 7) Edit (eliminate unnecessary words and repetition) • 8) Document (give credit to original source)