Business Communication Center


Business Communication Center

The purpose of the Jindal School of Management (JSOM), Business Communication Center is to help students improve their writing and speaking skills in order to become more effective communicators. The ability to communicate clearly through writing and speaking is a key differentiator in the business world. Being smart and having great ideas is important, but the ability to communicate those ideas clearly will drive your success.

Make an appointment in the JSOM Business Communication Center and let experienced tutors help you strengthen your abilities to make smart choices when you write and deliver oral presentations. Read our Business Communication Center FAQs for more information.

Business Communication Center Locations

JSOM Addition 12.106 (New Addition, 2nd Floor)
Jindal School of Management SM 43
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
(972) 883-5385
Email

Thanks for seeking information about the JSOM Business Communication Center. Communication abilities, including writing and speaking, are rated as one of the most desired qualities in today’s job market. In your professional life, you will spend a great deal of time trying to explain, direct, and persuade other people through your writing and speaking skills. Your ability to do this clearly and effectively will have a direct bearing on your success in the business world.

The JSOM Business Communication Center is here to help you develop your writing and speaking communication skills. In your writing, whether you need help organizing your thoughts, tightening your sentences, improving the format, or paraphrasing properly, our tutors will give you the feedback necessary to help you improve the clarity and impact of your written work. To enhance your speaking skills, our tutors will help you to engage your audience with verbal and non-verbal skills, improve the structure and design of your PowerPoint slides, and gain confidence in your speeches. You can even practice your speech, individually or as a group

Appointments are not required but are strongly recommended so that you get the time you need. I encourage you to take the first step toward developing your skills as a business communicator and explore what the JSOM Business Communication Center has to offer.

McClain Watson, PhD

Director, Business Communication Center

Session Times

  • Sessions are 30 minutes long.
  • Students may book one, 30-minute session per day under the following guidelines:
    • Students who visit more than three times per week may be asked to visit with the coordinator and/or the director to assess student needs and best use of the BCC. Failure to comply may result in restrictions.
    • Students who visit more than three times per week may be asked to comply with a Writing/Speaking Improvement Plan to help the student improve and to ensure the BCC is meeting student needs. Failure to agree to and comply with the plan may result in restrictions.
    • Students booking second sessions for the same document/task must bring the following, and failure to comply will result in restrictions:
      • Comet Card
      • Printed, double-spaced copy of document to review
      • Original draft of student document with notes
      • Revised draft in which student has applied issues identified in first session
      • All tutor notes and Areas to Improve Feedback form

Items to Bring to a Session

  • Students are required to bring the following to every session, and failure to do so will result in a restriction:
    • Comet Card
    • A printed, double-spaced copy of the document to review,
  • Students should also bring:
    • The professor’s written assignment description, and
    • A writing implement.

Work the BCC Does Not Help With

  • Editing
    Tutors do not edit student documents. Instead, tutors help students identify issues in their work and find solutions. The goal is to help students learn to be better writers and speakers, not to fix student work to help students get better grades.
  • Proofreading
    Tutors will not proofread to edit, but they will provide proofreading tips based on the writing issues identified during a session.
  • Someone else’s work
    Tutors do not provide assistance to students with work that is not their own. The only exception to this rule is for format and citations in a group project.
  • Take-home exams
    Tutors assist students with take-home exams only with prior permission from the professor.
  • Competitions
    Tutors assist students with competition materials only with prior sponsor/advisor permission.
  • Job-search documents specifically designed to assess candidate’s writing skills.(The Southwest Airlines essay required for internship application is an example of this type of document.)
  • Job-search documents when the student has not attended a BCC workshop and POD. Only tutors may book appointments for job-search documents.

Group Projects

Because the BCC’s mission is to assist students in improving their communication skills, each group member is encouraged to attend the session addressing that member’s contribution to the project. However, the BCC recognizes that full attendance, while productive, is not always practical. Therefore, one group member may represent the entire group to gain feedback for the entire project in the following areas:

  • Format
  • Citations and References

  • Limited Group Feedback

    Tutors will not attempt to “hurry” through the entire document in order to edit. Tutors will not review the work of members who do not attend, and students who bring or send other members’ work for review, other than for the format and citations, will be in violation of BCC policy and incur a restriction.

    After an initial review of one group member’s writing, tutors may deem the writer’s skill level warrants a note in the student account that that group member may return for one visit for a review of the entire document. In this return visit, the tutor will review a small portion of each member’s writing, and note the most significant issue to relay to each writer.

Multiple Appointments Policy

Tutors may give permission for two appointments in one day but may limit or prohibit them during high demand weeks. This means that the student must have seen the tutor once so the tutor can justify and authorize the second appointment, and the tutor must note permission in the appointment memo box.

  • Tutor permission is required and must be noted in the appointment memo box when the permission is given.
  • Students must enter the name of the tutor who gave permission and a detailed reason for the second appointment in the additional information box when booking the second appointment.
  • Tutors may give permission for two appointments in one day for theses and dissertations.
  • Unauthorized second appointments booked for the same day will be canceled without notification and No Show restrictions may be applied.

Late Policy

Appointment times begin when students arrive with their Comet Cards and a printed, double-spaced copy of the document to review.

  • Students over five minutes late forfeit their appointment to non-scheduled, waiting students.
  • Students 10 minutes late are considered No Shows.

Cancellations

Students making cancellations with less than 12 hours’ notice will be considered No Shows and will incur restrictions. Appointments may be canceled by clicking on the “Manage your appointment” icon in your email appointment confirmation or reminder or by phoning the BCC at (972) 883-5385.

Improperly Booked Appointments

Improperly booked appointments will incur No Show restrictions. For example, job search documents, such as resumes and cover letters, cannot be booked in the class assignment category, even if that document is for a class. Only tutors may book job search document appointments. Improperly booked appointments for limited review documents may count as one of the total number of allowable reviews.

No Show Policy

Students who do not show for an appointment, who are 10 minutes late (even due to printing issues), or who cancel with less than 12 hours’ notice are considered No Shows. Appointments begin when students arrive with a Comet Card and a printed, double-spaced copy of the document to review. Second visits for the same document must also bring the original draft, the revision, and all tutor notes including the Areas to Improve form.

The restrictions for No Shows are:

First No Show

  • Student’s existing appointments are cancelled.
  • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for the rest of the week.

Second No Show

  • Student’s existing appointments are cancelled.
  • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for two weeks.

Third No Show

  • Student’s existing appointments are canceled.
  • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for three weeks.

Fourth No Show

  • Student’s existing appointments are canceled.
  • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for the rest of the semester.
  • Student receives and email describing the actions taken.

No Shows for appointments made for limited review documents count as one of the reviews.

Limited Review Documents

Because the BCC’s main focus is class documents, and because the BCC’s goal is to help students develop writing skills, not to edit work, only two reviews are available for personal statements (statements of purpose). All job search documents are booked by tutors following student attendance at workshops and small interaction groups (PODs) for resumes and cover letters. Once students have attended the resume and cover letter workshops and PODs, tutors may book one appointment for students for the following:

  • Resume
  • Cover Letter
  • LinkedIn Page
  • Elevator Speech
  • Possible Interview Questions

Students may not book appointments for resumes or cover letters. To attend a workshop, follow the directions on the Job Search Documents.

The BCC reserves the right to add, delete, or modify policies at any time during a semester. Website updates are submitted for revision once per semester, and the website may not include the mliost recent revisions.

Click on the question to view the answer.

Information for Students

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  • Do I need to make an appointment?

    Walk-ins are welcomed, but only at times when other students have not booked appointments or have canceled. You can book an appointment by clicking Book Now

  • Should I make an appointment EARLY in the assignment schedule?

    Yes. The BCC gets VERY busy right before writing assignments are due. Making an appointment early will ensure that you get help when you need it.

  • Will the tutor edit my grammar and punctuation?

    No. Tutors do not “fix” or edit student papers so they are ready for class submission. Instead, tutors will help you to identify patterns of errors in your work so that you learn to identify and correct errors yourself.

  • What happens when I meet with a tutor?

    Tutors will help you in any way you need help. If you want help with your writing, they will help you invent a paper topic, organize your document, or smooth out your sentences. If you want help with your presentation, they will help you improve the script, strengthen your PowerPoint slides, or invent helpful notecards. You can even practice your speech. It all depends on what YOU need.

  • Will the tutor write the paper for me?

    NO

  • Will the tutor correct all my mistakes?

    No. Tutors do not edit student work. To help students become more skillful and independent writers, tutors help students identify issues (normally two or three per appointment) that need attention.

  • Will the tutor help me get a better grade on my assignment?

    Not necessarily. The tutors will help you to strengthen your documents and practice your presentations skills, but instructors assign the scores. If you have any questions about how your work will be evaluated in an assignment, meet with your instructors and ask them. THEN you should make an appointment with the Center and communicate that information to the tutor. Your chances of success are much higher if you clearly communicate the assignment instructions and expectations to the tutor.

  • How often can I visit the Center?

    You may visit the Center every day, but only once a day for one, thirty-minute appointment unless you have prior tutor authorization.

Information for Faculty

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  • Are the services for undergraduate or graduate students?

    Any JSOM student can use the Business Communication Center, but our focus is the Undergraduate Program. Although tutors are not content experts, they are skilled writers with training in tutoring, so they are able to help graduate students with communication issues that do not require advanced subject knowledge. Foreign language learners often work with our tutors on general issues such as grammar, word choice, sentence structure, punctuation, and effective PowerPoint slides and presentation techniques. However, grammar will not be the first issue addressed if a document needs to be rewritten because of Higher Order Concerns such as a lack of clarity, improper paraphrasing, or abstruse organization.

  • Who are the staff?

    The Business Communication Center is typically staffed by graduate students in Arts and Humanities. Tutors must demonstrate writing proficiency and pass an exam to assess their tutoring skills prior to employment. Occasionally, undergraduate students who receive a faculty recommendation because of excellent communication skills serve as tutors. You can be confident that your students will receive qualified help.

  • How can I encourage students to use the BCC?

    • As part of your writing assignments, explain to students that their best work will rarely be their first draft. Remind them that getting the perspective of a second reader will help them write better papers.
    • Tell students about online writing tips and reference materials on the BCC web site. These are useful as students draft papers and, later, check final revisions.
    • Tell students you have noticed that taking the time to use the BCC services leads to higher quality papers. They can visit the BCC every day for a half-hour session.
    • Tell students that we can help them strengthen their PowerPoint slides and give them valuable tips to help them be more at ease during an oral presentation.
    • Include the following verbiage and link in your syllabus or assignments:

    BUSINESS COMMUNICATION CENTER

    JSOM New Addition: 12.106
    972-883-5385
    http://bcc.utdallas.edu

    The Business Communication Center is dedicated to helping JSOM students develop important professional communication skills. Appointments are filled quickly, so to ensure you get the space you need, try to book over a week in advance. You may book an appointment at bcc.utdallas.edu

    TYPES OF BCC ASSISTANCE

    Written assignments

    Tutors will help you at any stage of your writing, from organizing and developing your topics to paraphrasing and citing your sources in APA style. These issues may take more than one appointment, and after you have revised your document to address these issues, we can discuss the grammar. Although BCC tutors will not correct the grammar, they will help you to identify patterns of errors in your work, explain grammar rules to help you resolve these issues on your own, and give you helpful proofreading tips. For group projects, one team member may receive assistance on his or her own portion of the writing, APA citations and references, and format, but not on other team members’ writing.

    Presentations

    Tutors will help you improve the content and visual appeal of your slides. You can even practice your presentation – as a group or individually – and receive valuable feedback on improving your delivery!

    Job search documents

    Students no longer book appointments for resumes, etc. Instead, they sign up for workshops and small group interaction sessions (PODs) to receive information on how to create an ATS format-friendly resume, build a three-part bullet point, and write an employer-focused cover letter. Only after attending these sessions will students be authorized to sign up for individual sessions with tutors.

    Register for our workshops by logging into CometCareers and clicking on Career Events. Be sure to register for the workshops that state, “Presented by JSOM Business Communication Center” because the BCC workshop content is different than – but consistent with – the Career Management Center’s.

  • Why do the papers of some students who visit the Center still have errors?

    Tutors do not edit papers because the primary goal of the Business Communication Center is to help students improve their writing. Ideally, a conversation about a draft begins with larger issues of structure, clarity, and effective argument, with the tutor and student taking time to work through revisions. Then the conversation moves on to finer points, with the tutor highlighting patterns of error or offering revision guidelines, still coaching the student in improving the writing. Since polished papers may require many rewrites, neither professors nor students should expect perfection after only a few visits. Final papers may have errors for several reasons:

    • The draft has too many issues to work through in the course of one tutoring session.
    • A student applies revision guidelines, reworks the paper after the session, but does not spend enough time on final editing.
    • A student comes in one or two hours before the paper is due, so there is time to work on only selected issues.
    • The tutor and student may work through part of the paper, and then the student will take the paper home to finish. The student who is still learning may make a few errors.
    • Some foreign language learners have clarity issues in their papers and may have difficulty verbalizing the meaning of a passage or even a sentence to the tutor.
  • Can the Business Communication Center help students avoid plagiarism?

    Yes, in these ways:

    • Many students, even graduate students, do not understand how to use and document sources correctly. Tutors can introduce this skill and provide illustrations and resources.
    • When students copy and paste passages, tutors will often recognize the problem simply from changes in writing style. This creates an opportunity to work with students on paraphrasing and citing sources correctly.
    • Expectations about documenting sources vary across cultures, and the tutors are prepared to explain to students what they need to do to adapt to U.S. academic conventions.
    • Ask the BCC to present its 1.5-hour guest lecture in APA citations and paraphrasing. The presentation includes a group activity so your students can practice.
  • Sometimes student writing is discouraging. How can I get better papers?

    • Get help from a peer tutor in pushing students beyond Google to do research. To supplement Ms. Henry’’s introduction to library research tools, ask a student who has already taken your class to come in and give a quick talk from the student perspective about how useful the library tools can be.
    • Take another look at how your assignments are designed. Often students struggle with assignments because they do not understand the expectations or simply do not know the standard forms of writing in a new context. Be sure the assignment specifies the audience (possibly a hypothetical audience), the role of the writer, the purpose for writing, and the kind of document to write. If you do not provide a model, consider referring students to the BCC or its website for models of formats, for example, a memo. We can work with you to provide an appropriate model that you can use as a handout or include in your syllabus. For more information on effective assignment design, see the following sites:
    • Make the criteria for success part of the assignment. List the characteristics you will look for when grading and, if appropriate, describe in specific detail different levels of achievement that correspond to different grades. Being explicit about grading criteria helps students understand what success looks like, which the students are still learning. The following websites give examples of different kinds of grading rubrics that make it easier to communicate criteria for success: www.writing.umn.edu and www.tcnj.edu/~writing/faculty/rubrics.html
    • Build a draft and revision step into assignments. To keep feedback and grading time manageable, try one of these options:
      • Give credit for a complete draft, but do not give students feedback on it. Instead, suggest they take the draft to the BCC, or include peer feedback as part of the assignment. Explain to students that you are requiring the draft to help them do their best work.
      • Give students comments on the draft so they can apply your suggestions as they revise. Grade, but give minimal comments on the final paper. Your comments at that point make much less difference in student learning.
    • Create multi-step assignments. Instead of giving students assignments on unrelated topics, create a series of assignments in which the writing and thinking on one prepares students to take on the next assignment. Usually the final paper will be a larger project that pulls together the thinking skills and content areas of the previous papers.
  • What kinds of assignments can students bring to the BCC?

    JSOM Students are welcome to bring any piece of writing or oral presentation including class assignments, PowerPoint presentations, or even Toastmasters speeches. Group projects are also welcome. Although tutors will not review portions of the writing when the writer of that portion is not present, they will review the entire document for format and APA citations and references when one writer brings the document for the entire group.

  • Should I require tutor signatures on student documents as proof of visiting the BCC?

    As a regular service, tutors provide an Areas to Improve form. This form offers suggestions for some areas that require further attention and serves as a verification that the student received assistance in the Center.

  • Should I send my whole class to the BCC?

    Requiring an entire class to attend the BCC can sometimes backfire. The BCC’s mission is to assist students in improving their communication skills, not to edit student papers. Students who are threatened with the possibility of a lower grade if they do not visit the BCC have unrealistic expectations when visiting the BCC. Such students are anxious to have their papers “fixed” and often are not focused on learning, making them unreceptive to tutor coaching. In addition, when instructors require an entire class to go to the BCC, more motivated students who are working to improve their skills are unable to obtain appointments.

    Helping students to understand that tutors will not edit their papers and encouraging students to visit the BCC early and regularly is a better way to ensure that class assignments will achieve higher levels of proficiency. If your entire class needs assistance, consider scheduling a guest lecture for a particular assignment or skill. Contact Elizabeth Bruce at 972-883-5385 or Elizabeth.bruce@utdallas.edu to schedule one of the following or to discuss a new topic for your class!

    • Resumes
    • Cover Letters
    • LinkedIn
    • APA Format
    • APA Citations and References
    • Plagiarism
  • How can I ensure that tutors will instruct my students according to specific parameters I have set for the assignment?

    Although tutors ask students for the written assignments, students do not always bring these to the BCC. As a rule, tutors will instruct students to cite, reference, and format papers using the APA Style Guide because APA is the approved style for all business documents, not only at JSOM but at every university in the country. If you require a different style guide, tutors will advise your students to consult you with questions. For FASB, IRC, and other board standards with their own citation style, students will be advised to consult their textbook and professor.

The Center has three cameras available for student use for oral presentation assignments. Please observe the following guidelines:

  • To check out cameras, phone the Center at 972-883-5385 to ensure that the equipment is available and that the Center Coordinator will be available to assist with the checkout.
  • Bring the completed General Sites

    Business Writing Blogs

    Job-Related Writing

    The best way to get personalized help on your cover letter, resume, or other job-related writing is to make use of the UT Dallas Career Center and JSOM Career Management Center. Please visit their webpages for more information.

    Business Writing Resources

    • Why Cite? Working with sources can inspire your own ideas and enrich them, and your citation of these sources is the visible trace of that debt.

    • How to Critically Evaluate Sources In the research process you will encounter many types of resources including books, articles and websites. But not everything you find on your topic will be suitable. How do you make sense of what is out there and evaluate its authority and appropriateness for your research?

    • What is Plagiarism?

      Academic versus Popular Journals – When you select articles from an online search you need to make a distinction between scholarly and popular material.

    • Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing This handout is intended to help you become more comfortable with the uses of and distinctions among quotations, paraphrases, and summaries. This handout compares and contrasts the three terms, gives some pointers, and includes a short excerpt that you can use to practice these skills.

    View “Your Writing, Not Someone Else’s,” produced by the Business Writing Center at the University of Washington

Online sources can assist you in preparing more effective speeches. While these resources provide general advice, your professors’ instructions should be your first source of direction for your presentations. If you have questions concerning the appropriateness of any of the following links, ASK YOUR INSTRUCTOR.

Avoiding Common Presentation Mistakes

Conquering Nervousness and Bad Habits

Reading Speeches

Using Slides, Handouts, and Statistics Effectively

Dressing Professionally

Meeting Strangers at Networking Events