Chapter 15: Review and Exercise

Chapter Review

Key Takeaways

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  • What counts as being a good communicator in one business context doesn’t in another, so being able to adapt to various business settings and audiences will help you be more successful in your career.
  • Upward business communication involves communicating messages up the organizational hierarchy. This type of communication is usually the most lacking in organizations. However, since oral presentations are a “high-visibility” activity, taking advantage of these opportunities can help you get noticed by bosses and, if done well, can move you up the organizational ladder. Present information succinctly, in an executive summary format, building in repetition of main ideas in the oral delivery that aren’t necessary for the written version. Don’t just focus on the boss if there are other people present, but do connect to the vision and mission of the organization, since most managers and executives have a “big picture” view of the organization.
  • Horizontal communication is communication among colleagues on the same level within an organizational hierarchy. This type of communication helps coordinate tasks and lets people from various parts of an organization get a better idea of how the whole organization functions. Many workplaces are becoming more collaborative and team oriented, but make sure you share credit for ideas and work accomplished collaboratively so as not to offend a colleague.
  • Downward communication includes messages traveling down the organizational hierarchy. These messages usually focus on giving instructions, explaining company policies, or providing feedback. As a supervisor, make sure to encourage employees to ask questions following a presentation. Good information flow helps prevent employee errors and misunderstandings, which saves money.
  • Initial communication with clients, customers, or funding sources is usually persuasive in nature, as you will be trying to secure their business. Later communication may take the form of more informative status reports. Connect your message to their needs rather than focusing on what you offer. Use persuasive strategies like positive motivation and always have a “money slide” prepared that gets across the essence of what you offer in one attractive message.
  • When adapting business communication to intercultural contexts, take a “tools not rules” approach that focuses on broad and adaptable intercultural communication competence.
  • There are various types of business presentations for which a speaker should be prepared:
    • Briefings are short, two- to three-minute “how-to” or “update” presentations that are similar to factual bullet points.
    • Short oral reports can be past, present, or future focused and include status, final, and feasibility reports.
    • Trainings are informal or formal presentations that help get new employees ready for their jobs and keep existing employees informed about changing policies, workplace climates, and legal issues.
  • To have an effective meeting, first make sure it is necessary to have, then set a solid foundation by distributing an agenda in advance, manage the flow of communication during the meeting, and take note of accomplishments to promote a positive view of future meetings.



  1. Identify a recent instance when you engaged in upward, horizontal, downward, or intercultural communication in a business setting. Analyze that communication encounter based on the information in the corresponding section of this chapter. What was done well and what could have been improved?
  2. Prepare a briefing presentation on how to prepare a briefing. Make sure to follow the suggestions in the chapter.
  3. Think of a time when you received training in a business or academic setting. Was the communication of the trainer effective? Why or why not?


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Chapter 15: Review and Exercise Copyright © 2021 by Melissa Ashman; Arley Cruthers; eCampusOntario; Ontario Business Faculty; and University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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