Course Resources

Primer on Professional Writing

Communicating effectively through writing will benefit you wherever life takes you. The purpose of this primer is to provide lessons for mastering the craft of professional writing. To get this far in your education, you have completed English grammar and composition training in elementary and secondary schools as well as a freshman English composition course at the college level. These courses provided you with a basic foundation for proper use of the English language but likely stopped short of emphasizing the techniques of professional writing. The lessons in this primer will take you to the next step of improving your ability to write clearly, concisely, and with focus. The return on mastering these lessons will be greater academic achievement and more opportunity to make a difference in our world. We divided the primer into eight sections and begin with an overview of each: 

  • In Section I, we outline the sequential steps for preparing a professional paper. Following these steps will help you maintain proper focus on any writing assignment and facilitate completion of a quality product. 
  • An important function of professional papers is to synthesize the knowledge of others. In Section II, we explain how to properly credit these sources. 
  • Tables and graphs can add clarity to what you are sharing, but only if they are properly structured. We share tips on how to do this in Section III
  • Some writing problems are universal. In Section IV, we share eight common problems and show how to avoid them. 
  • A good writer gets to the point. In Section V, we provide advice on how to enhance your ability to write concisely. 
  • A good writer also chooses the right words to convey information. Section VI contains correct definitions of terms that are often misused. 
  • In Section VII, we share six final thoughts about writing to help you develop a full perspective of the craft of writing. We hope you will adopt these ideas as your own. 
  • We end the primer with Section VIII, a list of resources that provide additional advice about writing. We recommend that you refer to the websites often and invest in at least one of these books as a resource to help you improve your writing. 

Primer on Public Presentations

Like the skill of writing, being able to speak to the public in an effective and compelling way is essential for gaining support to accomplish your professional goals. By “public,” we mean all persons interested in what you do or produce. The thought of speaking to an audience often elicits fear and trepidation. In particular, there are concerns about boring or confusing the audience, saying something that results in a negative reaction, or making an erroneous statement. In reality, there is no need to be inordinately fearful. Done right, public presentations are an outstanding method of participating in a two-way exchange of information and ideas. By “done right,” we mean that your presentations should be: 

  • Informative: They provide all the necessary information to convey your main point. 
  • Creative: They are interesting to see and hear. The format and graphics contribute to understanding the information you convey. 
  • Compelling: They command attention and respect. 
  • Thought-provoking: They elicit new ways to think about your subject and results in constructive ideas that will help you achieve your goals. 

In this primer, we will provide information on how to (1) structure an effective presentation, (2) create interesting and informative visual graphics, and (3) speak so that your message is well-received and provides a springboard for building support to achieve your goals. Our desire is that you will be able to develop your ability to speak before audiences such that oral presentation becomes one of the most valued items in your professional toolbox.