Good and bad business communication examples can serve as effective teaching aids. The hard part is finding the examples. Search no more.
In my teaching, I love to teach a principle and then show illustrating examples in authentic documents.
The problem is that authentic examples are hard to come by.
To help remedy this issue, I created the list below to serve as a link repository where business communication and technical communication instructors can find examples.
To keep things simple, I’m keeping the detail in the list short and to the point. If you need to find a specific genre, audience, format, or industry, consider using CTRL-F (or CMD-F) and to search this page for the keyword you’re interested in.
Remember that what constitutes effective or ineffective communication hinges upon many factors, including the criteria set forth in the textbook you’re using. Therefore, I recommend determining your criteria for what good and bad examples will look like before you begin searching for examples. This practice should save you some time and ensure that the examples you find reflect the principles you’re illustrating to your students.
I’ll continue to update the table with other examples that I find.
I welcome your comments below with any other examples to add to the collection.
I hope you’ll find it useful.
Also, if you or your students need a great resource for document conventions, take a look at the free business document formatting guide available on our site.
From the site: “Search 111,928 annual reports from 9,179 global companies.”
Tips: The search bar is right on the home page. You can search by company name or ticker symbol.
From the site: “Browse our library of over 500 business plan examples to kickstart your own plan.”
Tips: These plans are not authentic business plans, but they provide numerous examples across many industries, so I think they’re worth including here. To find the plans, click on the “Sample Plans” link located at the top of the page and then browse for a plan of interest by industry.
From the site: The site’s mission is to “provide a common website for federal agencies to post discretionary funding opportunities and for grantees to find and apply to them.” In essence, the site houses grant opportunities from the U.S. government.
Tips: Use the search field in the top right-hand corner of the site to search for grants including the keyword of your choice. On the results page, select the link in the “Opportunity Number” column for your grant of choice. You’ll see a synopsis of the grant, but you can click on the “Related Documents” tabs to find links to the entire grant.
Library of Congress
From the site: “The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, newspapers, maps and manuscripts in its collections. The Library is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office.”
Tips: You’ll see a search bar at the top of the page. If you’re looking for a specific document type, such as memos, letters, or emails, type it in the field. On the results page, you can then filter based on the type of data you’d like to see, such as PDFs. You can find some interesting things here, such as the Enron email dataset or historical NEH grants. (I tried downloading the Enron email dataset, and please be aware that it’s an enormous file.)
NASA Technical Reports Server
From the site: “Conference papers, journal articles, meeting papers, patents, research reports, images, movies, and technical videos – scientific and technical information (STI) created or funded by NASA.”
Tips: Use the search bar at the top to find resources. The search results page includes additional search filters. Once you find a document you want to download, click the download icon in the bottom right-hand corner of the search result. Also know that because this is government-generated content, it’s in the public domain.
From the site: “Anyone interested in doing business with the government can use this system to search opportunities.” In essence, whereas Grants.gov focuses on listing grant opportunities, Sam.gov lists requests for proposals (RFPs) for companies seeking to complete contract work for the U.S. government.
Tips: Click on the “Search” tab located in the middle of the screen. In the search field, click on a keyword of interest. In the results, click on the title of a contract opportunity that interests you. The detail of the opportunity with then be displayed in your web browser, but please note that statements of work (SOW), requests for quotes (RFQ), and other documents can be downloaded in PDF format at the bottom of the web page.
From the site: “TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).”
Tips: Click on the “Watch” menu to search for talks. Advanced search options are available.
From the site: “I'm a seasoned white paper writer who’s done hundreds of B2B content projects.”
Tips: Click on the menu and find the “Samples” area. You’ll find numerous examples of white papers in PDF format.
UCSF Industry Documents Library
From the site: “The Industry Documents Library is a digital archive of documents created by industries which influence public health, hosted by the University of California, San Francisco Library. Originally established in 2002 to house the millions of documents publicly disclosed in litigation against the tobacco industry in the 1990s, the Library has expanded to include documents from the drug, chemical, food, and fossil fuel industries to preserve open access to this information and to support research on the commercial determinants of public health.”
Tips: The search bar at the top includes an advanced search option.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
From the site: “The Bureau of Labor Statistics measures labor market activity, working conditions, price changes, and productivity in the U.S. economy to support public and private decision making. . . . The first BLS Commissioner, Carroll D. Wright, described the Bureau’s mandate as ‘the fearless publication of the facts.’”
Tips: To begin your search, click on the Publications link at the top of the page. In In my teaching, Know that part of the site is dedicated specifically to teachers as well. In my teaching, I’ve used this site primarily for data displays.Because this is government-generated content, it’s in the public domain.
U.S. Government Accountability Office
From the site: “GAO provides Congress, the heads of executive agencies, and the public with timely, fact-based, non-partisan information that can be used to improve government and save taxpayers billions of dollars.”
Tips: To get started in your search, click on View Topics at the top of the site. Also know that because this is government-generated content, it’s in the public domain. In my teaching, I’ve used this site mostly for example reports, but it also includes other genres such as blog posts and videos.
Three Essential Social Networking Skills for Business and Professional Communication Students
Staying current on the ever-changing features of social networking sites (SNS) can be daunting for anyone who teaches business or professional communication. Shifting focus from site features to student skills can help.
In a study led by Alexander J.A.M. van Duersen of the University of Twente, the researchers propose three groups of SNS skill for professional communicators:
Communicating: The researchers assert that SNS communication skills involve both communicating so others can understand you, and listening so you can understand others. Specific communication skills include effectively using SNS for external and internal correspondence, writing understandable narratives, understanding others’ emotions over chat, and participating in forum discussions.
Creating: Creation skills involve knowing how to create and publish professional SNS content for your organization. The researchers highlight skills of creating online media that communicate and align with your organization’s brand and values, and creating and publishing content in a way that enables and receives positive engagement from other users.
Strategizing: Strategy skills focus on making decisions, which includes gathering and analyzing SNS information and then using that information to achieve organizational goals. Specific strategic skills include using SNS for gaining customers, increasing profitability, getting ahead of competition, and enhancing relationships with stakeholders.
By focusing on the skills of communicating, creating, and strategizing, business and professional communication instructors can stay focused on what really matters: helping students gain skills that will transfer beyond the next site update.
Read the entire article “Social Network Site Skills for Communication Professionals: Conceptualization, operationalization, and an Empirical Investigation” by Alexander J.A.M. van Deursen, Carla Verlage, and Ester van Laar to learn more about essential SNS skills you can teach your students.
To learn other tips for teaching students about social media communication, take a look at Chapter 6 in our textbook Writing and Speaking for Business.
Source: IEEE Transactions on Professional Communication
Image by Gerd Altmann
Developing Credibility and Trust
The current election contest between Trump and Clinton serves to remind us of the importance of developing trust in our relationships. Public-opinion polls show that both Clinton’s and Trump’s trust ratings are below 50 percent. News media report that some voters are feeling compelled to choose the lesser of two evils, rather than the better of two good options.
The causes of this erosion of trust highlight the importance of one of Aristotle’s three time-proven modes of rhetoric—ethos. Ethos reminds us that the message content intertwines with who and what the speakers are themselves. Ethos requires that the audience must trust not just the speakers’ knowledge, skills, and abilities, but also the speakers’ genuineness, integrity, and honesty.
Examine your own ethos within your organization and between you and your clients. What can you do to earn and build other people’s level of trust in you? Here are a few suggestions.
Consider three additional ideas that can help build trust when you use social media:
According to George MacDonald, “To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.” Therefore, always seek to develop high trust in your relationships. Further, seek never to lose the trust you have earned, because trust is much easier to gain than to regain once it is lost.
Apply these suggestions in your own workplace and personal life. You’ll find that the resulting increased ethos will give you additional persuasive power as you seek to influence others.
We're Bill, Matt, and Vince, and we hope these posts will help you more effectively teach business and professional communication. If you like what you read, please consider teaching from our business and professional communication textbook.