Other Crazy Emails

In my classes, first-year composition and business writing, we talk about appropriate emails. Here are some additional examples I can use to perhaps catch their attention.

Email example 1:
Just got an email from a student at another university asking about graduate school in our department. The email has a range of questions such as:

-Do you like it?
-What’s the department budget?
-What is tuition?
-How do I get funding?

This was sent as a mass email to about half of the department graduate students.

Question: Name two (or five) problems with this email.

Email example 2:
After spending the beginning of two classes teaching and answering questions about citing research sources and providing students with extensive reading suggestions and handouts to help them, I received this message tonight about a major paper due on Tuesday:

[E-mail is prefaced with a note saying student knows the importance of citing information properly. Then…] “I was wondering what format are you looking for? Can I write it like this?

Name of the organization
Name of the person to contact
telephone number

Is that enough? or we need more information?”

Question: What was the student thinking? What is her/his background? Why did he/she write this?

Email example 3:
First day of class, I mention to them that the publisher neglected to include in the new edition of the textbook Chapter 17, on Important Topic, but they should have all noticed that a separate magazine-like thing was shrink-wrapped with their text. This is Chapter 17. Don’t lose it. If you do lose it, it’s available free as a PDF from the textbook’s website. Which has a direct link to it on the course website.

The remainder of the first two weeks, as they get their books, I remind them again.

When we finally get to Important Topic, I remind them yet again.

Tomorrow is the test that covers Important Topic. Guess what I got a voice mail at 8:45 this evening about?

“Uh, hi, Professor Hedgehog, this is Student from your class. Listen, uh, the review sheet said to study from chapters 8, 10, and 17, but in the book there is no 17, so I don’t know how you expect any of us to study something that’s not even there. If you can, give me a call back at 555-555-5555. Thank you.”

At least with voice mail, I can imagine the capitalization and punctuation to be correct.

Other professor’s similar experience
I got a similar email last year, asking how I expect them to do the assignment if the anthology doesn’t even have the full text blah blah blah. The student sent me two or three increasingly frustrated emails, and I still couldn’t understand what her problem was. In the end, I told her to bring her copy of the anthology to class the next day, so she could show me exactly what the problem was. Her last email read:

no. i read the text because i went on line to do so. but i don’t understand how you could possably assign readings that we do not have. the text lines stop at 190. the lines start up again at 703. there is nothing in between to read. so obviously it is not requiered by the school to read or it would b printed in the book. thanks for pointing out my gramor problems though. thats nice to see that when some one trys to tell you somthing you come back with a remark like that

Fast forward to the next class. Before class began, I asked her to show me the problem with her anthology. Since everyone else had the full text, I thought maybe she’d gotten the wrong edition or something. Nope. She didn’t even own a copy of the textbook. Hadn’t bothered to buy it. I guess that would explain why she didn’t have the full text, wouldn’t it?

From the CHE Fora

Visual Aids

sleeper“Most visual aids, unless simple and used sparingly, will kill a speech and deaden the attention of the audience” (Humes 67).

“If the picture is not self-explanatory and can’t be summed up quickly in a simple, catchy tag line, don’t trot it out” (Humes 67).

“[A visual] should not be your security blanket, but rather a handkerchief to pull out of your sleeve” (Humes 68).

“Visual aids should be a supplement” (Humes 69).

Humes, James C. Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln. Three Rivers Press.


“slides are like drugs” (Humes 64)

“Let your slides be a prop, not a crutch” (Humes 64).

science On_Crutches_SilhouetteBusiness Writing folks (and me, too, in that class) don’t do as well as we should with PowerPoint or KeyNote. So I thought these might be good things to keep in mind.

Humes, James C. Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln. Three Rivers Press.

Methods of Work

I was reading Peter Drucker’s Managing Oneself, wherein he gives three things you need to know: your strengths, your method of work and your values.

The methods of work were interesting.

Are you a reader or a listener?

Some people respond well to extemporaneous situations, while others need time to prepare. The prepare-people are readers.

As a teacher, I am often asked to be a listener. I joined Toastmasters to help me become better at answering unexpected questions.

How do you learn?

His options were

I think I learn best when I prepare to teach others, but I know that I write to learn (among other options). I am not sure that I totally agree with his options here.

Do you work better alone per with others?

If you work better with others, do you work better as a subordinate or a leader? Or as an equal member of the team? Or as a coach or mentor?

Are you a decision maker or an advisor?

In companies, decision makers are often CEOs and the #2 position is an advisor. That person often won’t make a good CEO, because they aren’t strong in decision making.

Do you work well under stress or do you need a predictable, stable environment?

Good test takers work well under stress.

Do you do better in a big or a small organization?

This one is causing me to reflect quite a bit. I am not completely sure of my answer to that yet.

I plan on using some of this with my business writing students.

Business Writing Info

I attended a meeting of the National Speakers Association North Texas chapter today. One member of the panel evaluating the websites, videos, and speech excerpts of the four professional speakers who “paid to play” had a handout called “Top 10 Ways to Work Effectively with a Broker.” In public speaking terms, a broker is the one who has clients who needs speakers and finds those speakers.

Number 3 was “Customize your submission for each gig.” –It’s a basic idea, but imagine rewriting not just a one page résumé and cover letter, but your speech to fit a particular audience. I think it is an interesting way to show that customization is important in any search for jobs.

Number 4 was “Mirror the communication mode.” This is also an important point and particularly useful for students who tend to think the world is a texting machine.

Writing Critically Important for Career Success

Communication skills are critically important for both academic performance and career success. Both educators and employers emphasize the importance of oral (Barker & Hall, 1995; Maes, Weldy, & Icenogle, 1997) as well as written (Bacon & Anderson, 2004; Quible & Griffin, 2007) communication skills. However, more emphasis has been placed on written communication skills in recent years as technological advancements such as e- mail, text messaging, and instant messaging devices have become more common, and as businesses focus more on knowledge and sharing (Brandt, 2005). While business educators and employers agree that effective writing skills are important in higher education as well as in the workplace (Kellogg & Raulerson, 2007), researchers suggest that many business students may lack this important skill (Ashton, 2007; Henricks, 2007; Quible & Griffin, 2007). (Weldy, Maes, and Harris 12)

Weldy, Teresa G., Jeanne D. Maes, and Jeanne D. Harris. “Process and Practice: Improving Writing Ability, Confidence in Writing, and Awareness of Writing Skills’ Importance.” Journal of Innovative Education Strategies 3.1 (September 2014): 12-26. Web. 17 September 2015.