Written Communications: Being Heard and Understood

Course No. 2086
Professor Allison Friederichs, PhD
University of Denver
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Course No. 2086
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Uncover the Secrets to Writing Successful Professional Communications
  • numbers Get Your Point Across-Properly, Professionally, Perfectly
  • numbers Master Professional Writing Techniques to Improve All Your Communications

Course Overview

We’ve all encountered bad writing at some point in our lives. We’ve possibly even authored some ourselves. And it’s pretty clear when writing is bad. Whether you’re writing business letters, memos, emails, reports, announcements, or some other professional communication, the pragmatic communicator can be far more effective than the multiloquent one.

Because we are judged by our ability to communicate with direction, focus, and confidence—along with inspiration and empathy, no matter who you are and what your goal is—getting the right message across is absolutely essential to achieving your objectives.

In the 12 rewarding lectures of Written Communications: Being Heard and Understood, Professor Allison Friederichs, Associate Teaching Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Denver, University College, will share the secrets to sharpening your written, oral, and interpersonal communications skills. She will show you how impactful communication isn’t really about you: It’s about your reader. Once you understand your audience, she’ll show you how to target the message, make appropriate word choices, incorporate sound logic, and untangle complex syntax using a combination of examples and activities.

Words Matter

People use words all the time, every single day, mostly without giving them much thought at all. But when you are writing words, you lose the context of vocal intonation, facial expression, and delivery. Your reader has to infer your intent and meaning and can only do so by the words you use. This ability to choose the right language is important because words are the most basic building blocks of communication. With two lectures of this series devoted to language and words, Professor Friederichs will provide you with exercises and toolkits for picking the right words every time. Consider “The Four C’s,” a framework that suggests your chosen words should be:

  • Correct. It’s important to use the correct word. People don’t always do this. Malapropisms are an example. They occur when a person uses a word that sounds like the word they mean but isn’t quite correct. Yogi Berra was famous for this; for example, he once said, “Texas gets a lot of electrical votes.” (He meant electoral votes.)
  • Concrete. One of the best ways to choose the right word is to understand the difference between concrete and abstract word choices. Choosing a concrete word means picking one with less possible variance in the connotative meaning. For example, if a person says, “I just heard my dog bark,” it’s fairly obvious that he or she is referring to the sound a dog makes rather than the exterior of a tree.
  • Clear. This speaks to ensuring clarity. There are three things to keep in mind to help you write clearly: writing concisely, avoiding redundancy, and avoiding jargon.
  • Contextually appropriate. If you don’t consider choosing the right word for the particular context, the risks can be much greater than misunderstanding. The wrong choice can have a profound impact on your professional relationships. When you write, you should place yourself in the context in which your message will be read, not the context in which it is written.

Professor Friederichs will also provide a deep dive into the intrinsic relationship between language and culture, considering an age-old issue about the nature of language, including the descriptive/prescriptive debate, as well as the two levels of meaning every word has: denotation and connotation. You’ll discover how meaning is culturally constructed and how meanings of words can shift across times and cultures.

The Misunderstood World of Punctuation

Once you’ve equipped yourself with the tools and skills to pick the right words, you need to present them in a professional and competent manner. Grammar and punctuation are challenging but important facets of writing. Nothing undermines your message more than the incorrect usage of a word, but even if you use the word properly, incorrect grammar and punctuation can change the entire meaning.

Professor Friederichs dedicates three lectures to ensuring you get it right, starting with the most commonly misunderstood rules of punctuation, such as issues around commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and dashes, as applied to Edited Standard American English. You’ll master noun and proper noun grammar rules such as when to capitalize, how to recognize pronoun case—possessive, subjective, and objective—how to spot misplaced and dangling modifiers, and how to untangle the often-confusing use of apostrophes. From there, you’ll cover the more complex world of verb and adverb usage—looking at passive and active voices, tense, and mood.

You may have bad memories of diagramming sentences for hours on end in grade school or getting otherwise grade “A” papers back with lower marks due to punctuation and spelling mistakes. Professor Friederichs’s manner and delivery will help you overcome any bad feelings you’ve harbored about grammar. She makes each of these lessons a delight, bringing plenty of humor and enthusiasm to explain the context for some of the rules that feel particularly arbitrary. With plenty of examples that make it easy to remember these often-confusing grammar rules, you’ll gain helpful tips to ensure your writing is always effective.

Get Writing Right

The last half of this illuminating course spotlights how to improve your overall message by changing your writing lens to focus on your audience. Most people typically don’t take the time to consider their message when they sit down at a keyboard, but Professor Friederichs demonstrates why you must conduct an analysis about what you are about to write before you even hit the first key—and she shows you how.

Professor Friederichs adds another useful tool to your collection with the business-writing process called ACE, which stands for Analyze, Craft, and Edit. For each of these steps, Professor Friederichs provides a helpful checklist that you can refer to each time you sit down to write.

  • Analyze: Professor Friederichs provides the Analyze Checklist to help you to consider your purpose, your audience, what your purpose statement will look like, and the relevant facts that will be involved. It also provides you with an opportunity to develop an outline of ideas. The analysis stage will save you time by helping you craft strong documents from the start.
  • Craft: You’ll quickly see how the Craft Checklist is immensely useful as you work through writing your purpose statement, introduction, body, and conclusion. Professor Friederichs also outlines eight additional best practices that will help you craft a well-written draft.
  • Edit: Here is your chance to analyze your document with a reader-centric lens to ensure it says what you want it to say, in an organized, clear, and concise manner. While you are not proofreading your document at this point, the Editing Checklist helps you review organization, proper word choice, clarity and concision, punctuation, and grammar.

Along with activities to help you put this process into practice, you’ll soon learn how the ACE process can be an instrumental habit to implement every time you write a professional communication.

The concluding lectures take you through the final steps of the process. They also provide you with valuable techniques for overall writing practices, such as developing your professional writing voice, building or using a style guide, and building strong relationships through your writing. From how to write a subject line for an email to the best choices for a greeting and an ending, Professor Friederichs covers every step of executing successfully written communications with helpful advice, tips, and tools, all geared to help you become a better writer, in any situation.

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12 lectures
 |  Average 31 minutes each
  • 1
    Impactful Writing
    Get an introduction to what makes your writing matter and learn how to employ empathy in order to shift your perspective, so you are focusing on your reader not your message. Professor Friederichs provides engaging activities to help you improve your writing skills. x
  • 2
    How Language Mirrors Culture
    Starting with an overview of the descriptive/prescriptive debate, Professor Friederichs examines how language has changed and evolved—and why knowing about these changes matters when you write—highlighting the importance of syntax. x
  • 3
    The Importance of Word Choice
    Continuing the discussion of language and words, Professor Friederichs reviews the two levels of meaning that every word has: denotation and connotation. She provides a framework called “The Four C’s” to help you select the right word, so your message is correct, concrete, clear, and contextually appropriate. x
  • 4
    Mastering Punctuation
    Proper punctuation may seem challenging, but as Professor Friederichs notes, it can make or break your professional message. She provides clarity for the most misunderstood rules of punctuation, including issues around commas, semicolons, quotation marks, and dashes, as applied to Edited Standard American English (ESAE). x
  • 5
    Mastering Noun and Pronoun Grammar
    Professor Friederichs moves from commonly misunderstood components of grammar to more formal rules, including capitalization issues with proper nouns, subject-verb agreement, pronouns, possessives, and dangling and misplaced modifiers. x
  • 6
    Mastering Verb and Adverb Grammar
    Grammar can also help determine the mood of your communication. Professor Friederichs demonstrates how as she covers verb usage, including passive and active voice, tense, and adverbs. You'll see how mastering these seemingly small components can have a big impact on the success of your message. x
  • 7
    Analyze: What Your Reader Needs to Know
    Professor Friederichs introduces you to the business-writing process called ACE, which stands for Analyze, Craft, and Edit. She details the analysis phase of ACE—including a checklist—to help you organize your thoughts and write with purpose. x
  • 8
    Craft: Building the Bones of Your Document
    Examine the best practices for drafting a document as Professor Friederichs introduces additional checklists to help you transcribe your purpose statement, craft the body of your message, and draft your conclusion. She provides a helpful toolkit of eight best practices that will help you craft a well-written draft. x
  • 9
    Edit: Perfecting Your Prose
    Learn how the editing step of the ACE process does not mean proofreading, but instead ensuring you are analyzing your document to confirm it says what you want it to say, in a structured, clear, and concise manner. A checklist for editing helps you review your document for organization, clarity, proper word choice, grammar, and punctuation. x
  • 10
    Applying the Analyze-Craft-Edit Process
    Using two common, real-life examples, Professor Friederichs demonstrates ways to practice applying the ACE process. As she takes you through the construction of business memos and newsletter articles, you'll put all your previous lessons into practice. x
  • 11
    Developing Your Professional Voice
    As you move closer to mastering the fundamentals of professional communications, Professor Friederichs provides ways to help you develop your professional writing voice. She provides a list of ideas that can help you achieve consistency in your writing, as well as activities to help you utilize the tools and practice the skills you've gained. x
  • 12
    Building Relationships through Writing
    Professor Friederichs demonstrates how you can build strong relationships through your communication—including the importance of your responses to another person’s writing. You’ll learn how to build strong professional relationships by being a good listener and utilizing a collaborative approach in writing. x

Lecture Titles

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What's Included

What Does Each Format Include?

Video DVD
Instant Video Includes:
  • Ability to download 12 video lectures from your digital library
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
Video DVD
DVD Includes:
  • 12 lectures on 2 DVDs
  • Printed course guidebook
  • Downloadable PDF of the course guidebook
  • FREE video streaming of the course from our website and mobile apps
  • Closed captioning available

What Does The Course Guidebook Include?

Video DVD
Course Guidebook Details:
  • Printed course guidebook
  • Photos & illustrations
  • Suggested readings
  • Questions to consider

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Your professor

Allison Friederichs

About Your Professor

Allison Friederichs, PhD
University of Denver
Allison Friederichs is an Associate Teaching Professor and the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the University of Denver, University College. She earned her PhD in Communication Studies from the University of Denver. Dr. Friederichs has taught communications courses for more than 20 years and has earned the University College’s Master Teacher designation for continued professional development. In the academic...
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Reviews

Written Communications: Being Heard and Understood is rated 4.0 out of 5 by 7.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Although the aim of this course is to improve written communications (e. g., memos, email, reports) in a business context, it actually generalizes well and is helpful for any form of writing including poetry and song lyrics. The course traverses three general topics: prescriptive grammar (Lectures 2-6); Analysis, Crafting the Document, and Editing the Document (ACE) Framework (Lectures 7-9); and putting these principles to use (Lectures 10-12). DO NOT BE PUT OFF BY LECTURE 1, which came across to me like a bad infomercial; the rest of the course is well worth it. Dr. Friederichs has an easy-to-listen-to style. It was rather refreshing that she did not use one football illustration, although she did use illustrations about fashion, decorating a house, and shoes. I used the video version but audio-only (e. g., while jogging) was just fine.
Date published: 2020-10-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Course I was surprised that the focus of this course is emails, memos, and business reports. I would have appreciated it being more stressed in the description. However, I'm glad I did take the course! The information applies to many types of writing and Prof. Friederichs presents it in a cheerful, easy-to-understand format. I would definitely recommend this course in business writing.
Date published: 2020-10-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The director needs to re-do the filming... Whoever the director of filming was needs to be red-flagged in that the professor doesn't follow the camera when the camera changes to another camera--major no-no and major distraction in the presentation. How did they miss that?
Date published: 2020-09-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Practical and Useful Straightforward and practical in this approach to impactful business writing. Useful to return to periodically for a refresher course
Date published: 2020-09-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from If you take it, you'll make it. I’m glad I’ve bought this course: it’s engaging as much as it’s insightful. Driven by self-development goals, I’m always on the lookout for courses on writing and communication, a field so crucial for both professionals and academics. After completing the course, I gained a much deeper understanding of the nuts and bolts of written communication. This is a truly multifaceted course. It brims with valuable and commonsensical guidelines on a wide range of topics: grammar, punctuation, voice, to name a few. Owing to this course, those who are good at written communication may fill in their knowledge gaps, while those who are not so good can dramatically improve it. Additionally, I wish the course had highlighted some discourse or pragmatics issues (e.g. Grice’s maxims, Austin’s speech act theory); however, its 12-lecture format, understandably, dictates some space restrictions. Dr. Friederichs is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable expert, who provides excellent explanations and gets to the point. If available, I’d take more of her courses. I strongly recommend the course and intend to revisit it in the future.
Date published: 2020-08-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from What to write and how to say it. Very clear explanation of what to write and how to write it. Even explanation of punctuation, like where to place commas, very well done. This makes your writing say what you really want it to.
Date published: 2020-08-25
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