Build Strong Arguments - Fast Forward MBA in Business communication

In addition to the use of organizational plans, we suggest building stronger arguments in your documents and presentations by eliminating two common logic and structure problems:

  1. Unsupported statements
  2. The so-what problem

Unsupported Statements

We often see inexperienced managers who fall into the trap of making unsupported statements: They state their ideas as facts; they fail to support their points with data; they use invalid data; and/or they fail to use appropriate statistical analyses of data.

As a result, readers are left floundering on their own to develop the missing data or analyses. Often, writers fail to supply the data to prove their point or to properly analyze it because they were not thinking clearly or had not properly evaluated the logic of their arguments. Remember, facts must be supported by verifiable information. Citing highly credible sources in your document strengthens your image and avoids any suggestion of plagiarism.

The So-What Problem

Larry Matteson, retired vice president at Eastman Kodak, while teaching at the Simon Graduate School of Business at the University of Rochester, often emphasized the ''so-what" problem to MBA candidates. As writers and as managers, we often fail to make connections among our ideas for our readers. We assume they know where we are going. We assume they know how to get there.

We even assume they agree we should go there! All these assumptions are faulty, and they prevent us from building organized arguments that help our readers see not only our end points, but also the processes and data that helped us get there. In addition, we fail to tell them the reasons we should get there the so-what!

Avoid the so-what problem. Make your statements, give your assumptions and supporting data, and eliminate extraneous information. Close the loop and make certain that your reader understands your point, your conclusion, the value you are trying to point out. Make certain your readers get to the end of your memos, reports, or proposals without a lingering, "So what?"

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