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Business Administration

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BUS 850 - Business Communications C01

Academic Credit Value:
3 units
Course Delivery Mode:
Hours of Study:
39 hours
Course Prerequisite(s):
Course Anti-requisite(s):
Instructor Name:
Nerissa Knapp
Course Dates:
01/13/2020 - 03/30/2020

Required Course Materials:
Business Communication: Process and Product, 6th Brief Canadian Edition, Guffey, Loewy & Griffin. Nelson. 2019.
Optional Course Materials:
Course Description:

Canada’s business environment requires that business people communicate effectively, persuasively and ethically in written, verbal and interpersonal communications. During this course, students will learn how to plan, write and review a variety of business communications vehicles from presentations to letters to informational reports and business proposals.

Using a combination of teaching methods – lectures, discussion, small group, in-class writing and editing projects, and in-class tutorials, this course will help develop participant’s critical thinking and analysis, research, writing, editing and presentation skills. Special emphasis will be placed on developing appropriate business language skills (spelling, grammar, punctuation, voice and tone).

Any business person planning to grow in their career, who wants to be perceived as a credible and effective communicator, should take this course.

Learning Outcomes:

 Upon completion of this course, learners will: 

  • Demonstrate an understanding of basic communication theories
  • Recognize the components of a communication strategy for business
  • Critique communication strategies and techniques for business situations and contexts (group communication, listening, non-verbal communication)
  • Recognize the influence of culture & diversity on communication
  • Compose effective business writing projects in a variety of formats 
  • Identify, select and compile information using appropriate technology and information systems
  • Apply ethical standards of business communications to coursework
Course Evaluation

The final grade is calculated based on the following components:

Effective Presentations (20%)
Writing and Revising (10%)
Workplace Report and Executive Summary (30%)
Change Management Communications Plan (30%)

Participation (10%)


Assignment 1 - Effective Presentations (20%)

Assignment 1 is a team-based assignment, working in teams, as assigned.
Prepare and deliver a 20 minute presentation.

Assignment 2 - Writing and Revising (10%)

Assignment 2 is an individual assignment.
Revise and rewrite a previously written document, incorporating the 3 x 3 writing process.
Include all editing marks and show the final revised document.

Assignment 3 - Workplace Report and Executive Summary (30%)

Assignment 3 is an individual assignment. Write a formal analytical business report.

Assignment 4 (2 parts) - Change Management Communications Plan (30%)

Assignment 4 is a team-based assignment.

Change Management Communications Plan (20%)
Construct a brief Change Management Communications Plan that embodies the 3 x 3 writing process and a communication planning formula. Incorporate at least 5 samples of associated business communications that represent effective use of at least 5 different communications channels (i.e. corporate intranet blog post, company e-blast, 3-minute speech to employees, newsletter article, letter to suppliers to name a few.)

Change Management Communications Presentation (10%)
Deliver a 25-minute presentation (including PowerPoint) to the class, presenting the Communications Plan and a rationale for each change management communication activity, its merits and its message.

**Attendance is mandatory to participate and observe classmates’ presentations**

Details of the scope of the assignments will be posted on the class portal.

It is expected that all students will contribute to the learning environment and will actively participate in class, share insights and relevant examples, and ask questions of one another.

Participation (10%)

Students are expected to articulate their thoughts by applying the course material to relevant real life examples, references and resources for the benefit of everyone. Participation includes both in class and online discussions.

Course Format:
This course is designed to present the fundamental concepts and theories in business and promote the application to the workplace and professional practice. Course activities will include instructor presentations, required readings and experiential learning activities (i.e. case studies, group discussions, projects, etc.). This course emphasizes active student participation in classroom discussions. Prior to each class, it is expected that students will read the assigned chapters from the text and weekly assigned readings.
Assignment Submission:
Course assignments are submitted to the appropriate A2L Assignment folder by the specified due date
Late Coursework:
Late assignments will be subject to a 2% per day late penalty (includes weekends and holidays) for up to seven (7) days. After this date, no assignments will be accepted and a grade of zero (0) will be applied.  Extensions for course work must be approved by the instructor before the due date (see Academic Regulations below), and will be granted for illness or emergencies only. Students may be asked to submit supporting documentation for an extension request.  

Policy & Procedures:

Academic Regulations (Attendance, Coursework, Tests/Exams):

In accordance with McMaster University’s General Academic Regulations, “it is imperative that students make every effort to meet the originally scheduled course requirements and it is a student’s responsibility to write examinations as scheduled.” Therefore, all students are expected to attend and complete the specific course requirements (i.e. attendance, assignments, and tests/exams) listed in the course outline on or bythe date specified.

Students who need to arrange for coursework accommodation, as a result of medical, personal or family reasons, must contact the course instructor within 48 hours of the originally scheduled due date. It is the student’s responsibility to contact the Program Manager to discuss accommodations and procedures related to deferred tests and/or examinations within 48 hours of the originally scheduled test/exam, as per policy.

Failure to contact the course instructor, in the case of missed coursework, or the Program Manager, in the case of a missed test/examination, within the specified 48 hourwindow will result in a grade of zero (0) on the coursework/exam and no further consideration will be granted.

*Note: Supporting documentation will be required but will not ensure approval of accommodation(s).

Academic Integrity
You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: “Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty”), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:
Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
Improper collaboration in-group work.
Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations. 
Academic Accommodations:
Students with disabilities who require academic accommodations must contact the Student Accessibility Centre (SAS) to meet with an appropriate Disability Services Coordinator. To contact SAS, phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652, or email For further information, consult McMaster University’s Policy for Academic Accommodation for Students with Disabilities.
On-line Elements:
In this course, we will be using on-line elements, which may include email, Avenue to Learn, WebEX, and external web sites.  Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

In this course, we will be using a web-based service ( to reveal plagiarism. Students will be expected to submit their work electronically to and in hard copy so that it can be checked for academic dishonesty. Students who do not wish to submit their work to must still submit a copy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to McMaster Academic Integrity Policy.

Course Changes:
The instructor reserves the right to modify elements of the course and will notify students accordingly. 
Course Withdrawal Policy:
Policies related to dropping a course and course withdrawals are posted to the Centre for Continuing Education’s program webpage, FAQs & Policies ( 
Storm Closure Policy:
In the event of inclement weather, the Centre for Continuing Education will abide by the University’s Storm Closure Policy:, and will only close if the University is closed. All in-class courses, exams and room bookings by internal and external clients will be cancelled if the Centre for Continuing Education is closed. On-line courses will take place as scheduled.
Grading Scale:



Equivalent Grade Point

Equivalent Percentages








































Course Schedule:


Learning Goals


Readings / Resources





Business Communications in the Digital Age


1. Construct common ground and set goals to work effectively

2. Understand different communication styles

3. Understand the nature of communication, its barriers and tools to manage effective communication

4. Explain how communication skills fuel career success

5. Describe significant trends and technologies in today’s dynamic, networked work environment

6. Examine the internal and external flow of communication in organizations through formal and informal barriers


Discussion Forum




Chapter 1




McMaster's Academic Integrity Video


Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week





Professionalism: Team, Meeting, Listening, Nonverbal, and Etiquette Skills

1. Understand the importance of teamwork and the phases of team development. What fuels positive team performance?

2. Discuss effective practices and technologies for planning meetings

3. Apply active listening skills

4. Explore the impact of nonverbal communication

5. Practice business etiquette skills using tools to guide ethical decisions in the workplace


Chapter 2




Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week





Intercultural Communication and Diversity


1. Understand the powerful effects of globalization and the major trends fuelling it

2. Define culture, and its 5 key dimensions

3. Apply strategies for enhancing intercultural effectiveness and communication

4. Explore strategies to improve communication amongst diverse workplace audiences

Discussion Forum

Chapter 2 (continued) and Chapter 3




Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week



Effective Business Presentations


1. Prepare effective oral presentations

2. Organize content for impact

3. Apply techniques to build audience rapport and manage audience challenges

4. Design effective multimedia presentations

5. Use PowerPoint effectively

6. Devise strategies to manage stage fright and maintain control when speaking

7. Polish your delivery techniques

Assignment 1


Effective Presentations


Chapter 14




Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week





Business Presentations (continued)


1. Polish your delivery techniques



Assignment 1


Team Presentations


Chapter 14 (continued)



Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week



Planning Business Messages (Chapter 4)


1. Summarize the 3x3 writing process and understand how it guides a writer

2. Analyze the purpose of a message, anticipate its audience, and select the best communication channel

3. Employ expert writing techniques and professional language skills to adapt to your audience

4. Track changes and other editing tools


Organizing and Drafting Business Messages (Chapter 5)


1. Apply Phase 2 of the 3x3 writing process. Research and collect background information

2. Generate ideas via brainstorming and organize information to create a topic outline

3. Select the appropriate strategy; Direct or Indirect to frame your message accordingly

4. Improve writing techniques with various sentence types, structure, the active and passive voice, parallelism and avoid modifiers

5. Build well organized paragraphs





Chapters 4 and 5




Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week





Revising Business Messages (Chapter 6)

1. Polish business messages by revising for conciseness

2. Improve clarity in business messages

3. Proofread to catch errors

4. Enhance readability through document design

5. Evaluate a message to judge its effectiveness


Chapter 5 (continued) and Chapter 6




Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week





Workplace Communication


Short Workplace Messages and Digital Media (Chapter 7)


1. Incorporate the 3 x 3 writing process to create effective business emails and memos

2. Identify effective workplace blogging


Assignment 2 Due

Writing / Revision Assignment



Chapter 6 (continued) and Chapter 7




Business Reports


Proposals, Business Plans, and Formal Business Reports (Chapter 13)


1. Identify the components of effective business plans

2. Analyze components and purpose of the front matter, body and back matter in formal business reports and how they further the purpose of the report


Reporting in the Workplace (Chapter 11)


1. Apply the 3 x 3 Writing Process to reports

2. Distinguish between formal and informal reports

3. Analyze the problem and purpose of reports

4. Identify secondary sources and conduct primary research

5. Prepare a Work Plan

6. Evaluate the appropriate strategy (Direct or Indirect) for report writing

7. Identify proper techniques for citing and documenting

8. Create effective graphics

Online Discussion Forum





Chapters 13 and 11




Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week



Business Reports


Informal Business Reports (Chapter 12)


1. Interpret and organize data

2. Draw meaningful conclusions and make practical report recommendations

3. Organize report data logically and provide reader cues to aid comprehension

4. Prepare short analytical reports


Assignment 3 Due

Workplace Report and

Executive Summary




Chapter 13 (continued) Chapter 12




Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week



Positive Messages (Chapter 8)


1. Analyze the structure of effective business letters and correspondence

2. Compose messages that make direct claims and requests

3. Change Management Communications


Negative Messages (Chapter 9)


1. Change Management Communications

2. Understand the strategies of business communicators in conveying negative news

3. Apply the 3x3 writing process when conveying negative news effectively

4. Distinguish between the direct and indirect strategies in conveying unfavourable news

5. Apply effective techniques for delivering bad news within organizations


Assignment 4 Due

Change Management

Communication Plan and Presentations



Chapters 8 and 9




Assigned readings posted in A2L for related week




Assignment 4

Change Management

Communication Plan and Presentations


In-Class Presentations Due