!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: Sloan Course: "Communication for Managers"

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Sloan Course: "Communication for Managers"

The MIT OpenCourseWare site recently added materials for a Sloan School of Management course in Communication for Managers, taught by Neal Hartman during the Fall 2008 semester.

Though the materials are not complete — lecture notes for nine of the fourteen class meetings are missing — there are a number of items that anyone interested in this particular skill area will find helpful, even if only as a refresher.

I'd suggest starting with the notes for the course wrap-up (pdf), which provide an overview of the principles Hartman emphasizes in the course:
  • Four types of leadership:

    • Visioning.

    • Relating.

    • Inventing.

    • Sensemaking.

  • How to do a situation analysis as the basis for devising a communication strategy:

    • Define your purpose.

    • Analyze your audience.

    • Assess your credibility.

    • Analyze the cultural context.

  • Factors to consider in deciding on your communication strategy:

    • Managerial style — distinguished in terms of writer/speaker control and the degree of audience involvement.

    • Structure of the communication — direct statement of your main points or recommendation, followed by rationale vs. indirect approach that begins with subsidiary points or with arguments that set the stage for your recommendation.

    • Content.

    • Communication channel.

  • Robert Cialdini's six principles of persuasion:

    • Liking — People are inclined to say yes to requests of a person they know and like.

    • Reciprocity — People repay in kind.

    • Social proof — People follow the lead of others who are similar to them.

    • Consistency — In response to personal and interpersonal pressure, people tend to follow through on their clear commitments.

    • Authority — People defer to experts.

    • Scarcity — Opportunities seem more valuable when their availability is limited.

  • The Minto Pyramid (see graphic below, which you can click to enlarge) is a good device for organizing your ideas when you are recommending a change of some sort.

  • Principles of effective design of visual aids:

    • Consistency in formatting.

    • Appropriate titles.

    • Purposeful use of color and special effects.

    • Clear and uncluttered layout.

  • Principles of effective document design:

    • Use of subheads to show structure.

    • Use of lists to highlight important and conceptually parallel information.

    • Use of white space to highlight material and to create transitions through indenting, columns, and lines.

    • In-text highlighting of key words and phrases.

    • Use of tables and graphs to make evidence more legible.

  • Principles of effective cover letters for resumes.

  • Importance of awareness of values and perceptions that differentiate cultures around the world.

  • Developing your ability to listen actively.
Hartman provides several tools to assist you in preparing your written and oral communications, notably a Strategy Checklist (pdf), a Communication Planner (pdf), and a Presentation Planner (pdf).


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