Management 306

Week 02

Welcome to Management 306. This is the organization lecture. The PowerPoint slides are up on the website as a link, you can see them. I'm not going to be repeating them or reading them back you. You can read them on your own. What I do, and this is exactly the same thing I do in the classroom, is I bring in some additional discussion and sort of an explanation that works with the material, but it is not just a direct, you know, recitation of a slide you can read off the screen. Now, organization is one of the most important things you as a writer can do. And the reason for that is readers have certain expectations of how you're going to organize your ideas. Organization simply means the arrangement of your thoughts, your ideas, the sequence, as it not just as it flows, you know, from word the word in a sentence, but as each sentence flows down the page or down the screen. And I use the word flow for a very good reason because I want you to understand, when somebody reads a piece of writing, it's a very linear experience. That is, you read a sentence and then you read the next sentence and you read the next sentence. So, it's your responsibility as the author to understand that and to arrange the things you want to say in a sequence so that one follows the next follows the next in something in a pattern. That people can understand and take in. If you jump around a lot and we do call it, you know, things like lapses in logic and so on, you just confuse people. They get lost. This is one of the key ways that you can either make an effective piece of writing, that people can under read it and understanding we go oh I get it, or people can read it and go, oh I'm confused, I'm lost. So, organization is extremely important and there's different levels of organization. There's the words within a sentence, there's the sentence without paragraph. There's the paragraphs within the page and so on. So, I'm just going to talk briefly about the broad ideas of organization and really, it's a question of you practicing as a writer too, you know, to get an understanding of how it works. I can tell you that the simplest way for you to understand the difference between good organization and bad organizations. Strong organization/weak organization, is to imagine that you are the reader, reading it for the first time. So, what's the first question you have in your mind? Or what's the first thing you need to say? And then what is the next thing you need to say? And then what is the next? You have the ideas in your mind as the author, but you have to understand the person who's taking in your words, doesn't know anything until you say it, and then they're literally having to build. So, it's a layering process. Anyway, and if that lost you a little bit and I, you know, if I'm not clear on what that means, hopefully as I continue to discuss this, it might help you understand. But understanding the view of your ideas from the reader's point of view is the key to getting good organization. Now there is a classic structure that you've been taught, you were undoubtedly taught it back in middle school, high school. It's called the five-paragraph format. It simply says that you have an introductory paragraph, the introduction or intro paragraph, three body paragraphs and a conclusion paragraph. So, the total of five paragraphs. Introduction paragraph will tell the reader what it's all about. Each body paragraph, these are the next three paragraphs that follow will simply tell the reader what your ideas are. One idea per paragraph. And then the conclusion paragraph, the fifth in this sequence of five paragraphs, will simply tell the reader what they just read. It will just be a summary of the very ideas you just, you know, just wrote above and that's called the classic five-paragraph format. You're not going to actually write the classic five-paragraph format very often. This is a starting point for you. This is an approach for you then to adapt it and to adjust for whatever specific writing task you have. So, I'm going to talk about this general template or this general view of how to organize your ideas, how to organize those words on the screen, and then you have to look at the specific thing you're trying to accomplish and then, you know, change it. Adjusted it. Adapted it. But understanding like, the basic way to start is the key. So, let me keep going. Now, I am actually going, there are slides here that correspond somewhat to exactly what I'm saying, and some are additional material. So, you're welcome to sort of roll through the slides on your own or try to follow along. But I'm not tying my comments to a direct slide. I'm tying them to like a section of slides. The introduction paragraph has several things in it. So, this is the very first words that you present to a reader whether it's the top of a screen or the top of a page, those very first words are very important words. What they do is they are the first impression. So, imagine that you're on a date, right? Just college students, right? Hopefully you have some kind of a social life, though I know plenty of students who are so busy they don't have much of a social life. But imagine you're going on a date with someone and it's a blind date, so you've never met. So, that first date creates a first impression. The first things you notice, the first things that are said, the first behaviors, the first mannerisms, right? How does this person act? Let's say you're meeting for coffee at a Starbucks or something, how does this person act? How do they treat the waiter or waitress? You know well there's not a Starbucks but, the barista, but the point is those first impressions create an image or an idea of someone and then you go from there. Those first impressions are very powerful and very strong and it's very tough to overcome. So good first impressions, absolutely get you off on the right foot. Bad first impressions, are very tough to change. And people make impressions pretty quickly. The exact same situation applies to writing. Your first words, the very beginning of whatever is you written that somebody's reading, the first words, the first sentence, the first couple of sentences, create an impression, create a first impression. If it's a good first impression, your reader is going to be very forgiving for mistakes later on. If it's a bad first impression, your readers going to be very critical of mistakes made later on, or even, not even not even give you credit or some of the things you do well later on, because that first impression is very powerful. Readers make a decision very early on. There's a study, I think it's in a later slide I have somewhere. One of these sets of slides. I have, I believe bad news. Readers make an impression, get an impression very early of you, your ideas in your expression from your first words. So that intro paragraph actually matters in terms of the effect you have on people who are reading your writing. Now, business writing has the benefit of just being very clean and clear and straightforward. It doesn't necessarily mean really short. I've had people come in and say, you know, it should only be a few sentences, a few paragraphs. That may be something specific, you know, some supervisor of yours wants in some place, but not necessarily. I was a tech writer for years. I actually got hired for my writing skills in the business world and, you know, the length just determined is based upon the requirements of that particular assignment the audience and so on. So, it's not automatically short but what it is, is to the point. It's very clean and very clear. There are other kinds of writing. There's the writing you might do say in a creative writing class or a literature class or you know, various technical writing. There are other kinds of writing, but the kind of writing you do for business writing is you know, get the information across very clearly. So, your first words really and I recommend this, you don't have to do this, but I recommend this, should be what's called thesis statement, which is what's the point. You know, just tell the reader why, what you're writing about. In other words, if you should be able to tell me in one sentence what you're about to tell me in the next five paragraphs or four paragraphs to follow. I'm going to give you an example in it that I'm then used for the rest of this discussion. So that I can just keep referring back to it. Suppose you have a job and you don't earn enough money and it's not fair and you would like a raise. So, you have decided that the best approach for you or maybe the only approach, is to write a memo to your boss/ supervisor or whoever it is and say, I deserve a raise, or I would like a raise, or you know, please give me a raise. However, you want to phrase that. So, let's use that as an example for this discussion. So, my recommendation is that you literally and this is because it's business writing, it's a specific kind of writing. You start out literally saying, you know, I would like a raise as your first sentence or I believe I am entitled to a raise, or you know, I want you to consider you me raise. However, you, whatever specific word you choose, make your point, make it right away, right in the game because the person reading it wants to know what is this? What is this memo about? Why am I reading this? What's your point? So, answer that. Answer that as your very first point so that's your thesis. It's called a thesis in English class. Then, the rest of that paragraph, the introductory paragraph, typically contains what's called a roadmap or blueprint. That's simply a summary of your main points. Now if we're using the example of, you would like a raise, you're going to come up with some reasons why you would like a raise. In English class we also call those points. So, you deserve a raise for some reasons and you're going to express those reasons. So here in the introductory paragraph you would simply summarize what those reasons are. I believe I'm entitled to a raise for the following reasons. First, I have been working since you didn't fill that open position, I have been doing the work of two people, but I've only been paid, you know, the salary of one. Second reason why, and then you have three reasons and that would be your introductory paragraph. These would-be summaries. Now these reasons or what we also call points, would then be expanded bellow. Each one of these would turn into a separate paragraph that you would then go into more explanation and detail on them. But you would simply summarize it in your introduction and that's typically what goes into an introduction paragraph. There's an optional aspect to the introduction paragraph which is where you can put in where you try to hook or get the reader interested in what you have to say. I always think that's a good idea for the business world, is explain to the person reading it why they should keep reading. You know, give them a reason to follow along. So, if we're using this example I would say something along the lines of, you know, by providing me a raise, you will allow me to continue to grow and evolve and look in the business and contribute even more. You know, something along those lines. Okay, so that's your introductory paragraph again you can take a look at the slides and you can see I have more specific information in there, but that's basically the elements of the intro paragraph. Is you want to up your thesis, you want to have what's called a roadmap or a blueprint, just the summary of your main points, and then finally you want something that catches the reader. Gets them wanting to read more. Now, in the classic five paragraph format, you have three paragraphs to follow that. Each paragraph is going to be a separate point, but using this example of asking for raise, it would be a separate reason why you deserve a raise. For why you should have a raise and as you started the very first paragraph with the overall reason for the whole piece of writing, each paragraph is going to start with the reason in that paragraph. So that's called a topic sentence and it's exactly the same. So, the first sentence of the entire piece of writing summarizes what the whole writings about. The first sentence of each body paragraph summarizes what that body paragraph is about. Same idea. So, you might start the second paragraph, which is your first body paragraph with the statement that, the first reason why I deserve a raise is that I have been doing the work of two people, period. Then typically now the rest of that paragraph, would then have the details, the examples, maybe a statistic or our story. So, you would follow it with something like, for example comma, when you did not fill the position of you know, assistant clerk last month or you know, three months ago, you asked me to, you know, assume those duties and I have been doing that satisfactorily and so on. And then you would get into specific details. So, you start to paragraph with what's called a topic sentence and then the remainder of the paragraph is an example or examples. Just more information. But stick to the point. Don't change, don't get into your next reason or your next point. Keep that. When you're ready to move on and get to know your next reason for a raise, start a new paragraph, and then when you explain that and give some examples and whatever, then you are ready for your third reason why you deserve a raise. Again, start a new paragraph. That's how you get to your three body paragraphs. That's how you get to a five-paragraph format. So, the same structure for each paragraph, you know. The three body paragraphs and you're going to then have your three points. Maybe get down to the bottom and you have a conclusion paragraph. Now what I say in the conclusion paragraph is don't start anything new. Don't throw anything new and at that point. If you had anything you wanted the reader to know, say it earlier because by the time you get down to the conclusion, you're just going to be summarizing, basically just restating exactly what you just said in a very short summary of a few sentences. And then you stop. And that's how you write the five-paragraph format. Now, for the homework assignment you'll see that you should organize it the same way that you're being presented, and I say that in the assignment instruction itself. So, the homework assignment does tie in to this lecture in that it's a question of making sure that you organize your writing in a way that the reader expects. To go back to what I started the whole lecture talking about, it all has to do with what the reader expects. You as an author are arranging your ideas and arranging your words. There's a person who's reading it. That's the whole point and especially in business communication, there is somebody' who is going to be reading it. The person who is reading it has a certain understanding of how things are organized, and your job is to present it in a way that they can follow and understand. If you don't put things in an order that makes sense for the reader, the reader will get lost in and confused and you have failed in your task as a writer to communicate effectively. Now, I'm going to end this, since I'm talking about organization with a little example from a movie. I hope you were able to see Pulp Fiction because Pulp Fiction is a very cool movie. If you haven't seen it, you won't recognize this reference, but if you have, hopefully you will. Typically, movies and there's lots of exceptions of this by the way, but typically movies are presented in chronological order. They are presented, and time goes forward. So, whatever is going on, whatever action or characters are doing on the screen, you know, five minutes later in the movie, it's at least five minutes later in their lives or maybe longer. Maybe there's been a jump and it's now like an hour later or day later or sometimes a year later. But time moves forward. There are movies that don't always do that, but typically that's what most of them do and the audience expects that. They expect that you to be telling a story in chronological order and times moving forward. There are however exceptions. One of them is Pulp Fiction. So, Pulp Fiction was deemed, you know, brilliant filmmaking by, and you may or may not have liked it, I don't know. But if I thought it was a brilliant movie then many of the critics did as well. But one of the thing is that the director Quentin Tarantino did was he jumped around in time quite a bit. And I remember specifically one scene or sequence of scenes where he showed the character played by John Travolta getting killed and then the next scene he was alive. And that made it extremely obvious that you know, he didn't just come back from the dead, it's like a zombie movie which would be a different movie entirely. What Quentin Tarantino had done is simply jumped to an earlier moment in his life before he had died. One of these very effective things, very effective storytelling techniques that you can do. So, if you're going to and I have, I really do have a point from that little anecdote trust me, if the reader expects certain things, for typically with a movie the reader expects you to, you know, follow chronological order. If you deviate from what the reader expects, or the audience expects, you have to really know how to pull that off. In other words, you have to have a really good command of organizing your writing, if your writer, organizing the movie if you're a director, but you have to really understand because if you defy the normal presentation that most people expect, you can get away with it and you can even be deemed brilliant. But you have to understand how to do it and how to pull it off. So, my advice is, if you do know how to organize writing differently than the five-paragraph format and the standard structure, feel free, but just make sure that what you end up with works. In other words, somebody doesn't get lost. And the way you keep people from getting lost when you're presenting a lot of information, is you have to be very clear about telling them what you're talking about and where you are. And if you lose them, they don't think it's brilliant, they just go this is confusing, I don't understand. So, that's why organization is very, very important for you as a writer. Okay. Thank you very much for listening.