Communication Fundamentals

Communication Fundamentals

Author: Ron Benton

The purpose of this packet is to inform GM550 students how to communicate well.  This packet covers three fundamental communication practices:

  1. Command Attention
  2. Organize for Success
  3. Sequence for Retention
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Sequence for Retention


The Audience Memory Curve summarizes research on what your audience is most likely to remember from your message. 


What does the Audience Memory Curve imply?  First,  you should never bury important ideas in the middle of your message.  Second,  you need to keep your audience’s attention throughout by using the audience motivational appeals: 

  1. Audience Benefits – WIIFM

  2.  Credibility – Build common ground

  3.  Utilize Message Structure – Opening, Body, Ending

Third,  your opening or introduction is extremely important.  Finally,  you should state your important ideas prominently  --  either at the beginning or at the end (or both).


Source:  Munter, Mary. 2002. Guide to Managerial Communication, 6th Edition. Upper  Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall., pp. 15 -19

Source: Source: Munter, Mary. 2002. Guide to Managerial Communication, 6th Edition. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall., pp. 15 -19

Organize for Success


•Use the introduction to command attention. Our audience determines the effectiveness of our communication. 
• Show we  understand our audience by  meeting their needs. 
•Clarify the purpose by stating  a business objective that adds value for them.
•Give them a WIIFM that has value for them.
•Introduce three key points. 
•We begin by telling them what we will tell them.
•This is the first step of three that helps our audience remember our key points.
•People can remember three points.  More than three becomes confusing.
•This gives a mental outline our audience uses to organize the information.
•Introduce each of the three key points using the same word choice you used in the introduction.
•We tell them what we’re going to tell  them in the body of our  presentation.
•Give sufficient detail to support each of the three points.
•KISS (Keep it short and simple) – Less is More!  Your audience can always ask for more detail
•We tell them what we told them.
•Use the same word choice for each of the three key points to insure clarity.
•Do not introduce any new information.  This leads to audience confusion.
•Repetition does not insult an intelligent audience.  Repetition insures we get our message across.
•Make your recommendation an action request by asking for a specific response that meets your stated business objective. Specify  a time when you expect a response.

Command Attention


The most precious commodity today is time.  How does that impact communication? 

Our communication must command attention within 60 seconds (or less!) if we want our ideas to be considered.


In traditional writing courses, we are taught to write so that we build up to the conclusion.  To command attention, we need to reverse that in business.

Do you read the newspaper?  Do you read everything in the newspaper?  How often do you read entire articles?  How do you choose which parts of the newspaper or which articles to read?


Newspaper writing uses headlines and an inverted triangle approach to convey  95 per cent of the information in the first paragraph.  The challenge is to answer the five W ’s:  Who?, What?, Where?, When? Why? and How? in 30 words.


When we do this with our business communication, we honor the reader’s/listener’s time - the most precious commodity!  An audience can always ask for more information. 

Communication Fundamentals


Implement Fundamentals

•Command Attention!
•Organize for Success
•Sequence for Retention

Our audience determines the effectiveness of our communication.  We can make sure our audience rates our messages (memos, presentations, meetings, reports and one-on-one conversations) by using the fundamentals every time we communicate.


The next trhee pages discuss the three  fundamentals:

•Command Attention! 
•Make our communication stand out in a world overloaded with information.
•Organize for Success
•Help our audience remember what  we told them.
•Use the classic approach of training:
•Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em
•Tell ‘em
•Tell ‘em what you told them
•This has nothing to do with intelligence.  It has everything to do with repetition.  Do you know the telephone number of Empire carpet?
•Sequence for Retention
•Use the natural points of emphasis:  opening and closing to give your key points
•Keep the middle portion short – the audience won’t remember anyway


Use these fundamentals consistently.  Our audience will remember our communication skills as being above average!



Source: Ron Benton, GM550 Instructor, DeVry University, GM550 Week One Presentation