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 Rooms 1.213 and 1.218 (down the hall from Coffee Corner)
Jindal School of Management SM 43
The University of Texas at Dallas
800 W. Campbell Road
Richardson, TX 75080-3021
(972) 883-4875
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 assist you as you work to develop your writing and speaking communication skills. In your writing, whether you need help organizing your thoughts, tightening your sentences, improving document design, or proofreading, 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 strengthen your PowerPoint presentations, Toastmaster speeches, and other oral presentations. You can even practice your speech and get tips on how to make the delivery more effective. In addition, cameras are available for you to check out for class assignments.

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
Senior Lecturer, Organizations, Strategy and International Management

Email
(972) 883-4875
Office – JSOM 4.415

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Information for Students
  • Do I need to make an appointment?
  • Although you may drop into the Center anytime, priority is given to those who make appointments. You can book an appointment by clicking Book Now

  • 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, smooth out your sentences, or improve your grammar. 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 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.

  • Should I make an appointment EARLY in the assignment schedule?
  • Yes. The lab gets VERY busy right before writing assignments are due and so making an appointment early will ensure that you get help when you need it.

  • 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
  • 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.

  • Who are the staff?
  • The Business Communication Center is typically staffed by graduate students in Arts and Humanities. Tutors usually have at least two years of experience helping students improve their writing, and most have worked in bilingual contexts. You can be confident that your students will receive qualified help.

  • How can I encourage students to use the Center?
    • Include our link in your syllabus or assignments and encourage students to get the Feedback Form. The URL is http://bcc.utdallas.edu/”
    • 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 Business Communication Center’s 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 Business Communication Center’s services leads to higher quality papers. They can visit the Center every day for a half-hour session.
    • Tell students that we can help them strengthen their PowerPoint presentations and give them valuable tips to help them be more at ease during an oral presentation.

  • 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. Frequently, creating a polished paper requires a second appointment after the student has worked more on the paper. 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.

  • 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 Center 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 Center, 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 Center?
  • JSOM Students are welcome to bring any piece of writing or oral presentation including class assignments, application essays, cover letters, resumes, PowerPoint presentations, or even Toastmasters’ speeches. Group projects are also welcome. Tutors will approve hour-long appointments to discuss group project drafts, and as many of the team members as possible are encouraged to participate. Frequently, the tutor facilitates discussions about not only how to revise problem areas in the draft that may be written by different students, but also how to organize and format the entire paper. For this reason, it is important to have all or almost all group members attend the session.

  • Should I require tutor signatures on student documents as proof of visiting the Center?
  • As a regular service, tutors provide a signed Feedback 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 Center?
  • Requiring an entire class to attend the Center can sometimes backfire. The Center’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 Center have unrealistic expectations when visiting the Center. 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 Center, 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 Center early and regularly is a better way to ensure that class assignments will achieve higher levels of proficiency.

  • 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 homework assignments, students do not always bring these to the Center. As a rule, tutors will instruct students to cite, reference, and format papers using the APA Style Guide. If you prefer a different style guide or if you have specific areas of focus for the tutors, please contact the coordinator with your instructions at Elizabeth Bruce or 972-883-5385.

Items to Bring to a Session

  • Students are required to bring:
    • A printed, double-spaced copy of the document to review,
    • The professor’s written assignment description, and
    • A writing implement.

Work the Center Does Not Help With

  • 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 group projects
  • 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

Group Projects

Because the Center’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 Center recognizes that full attendance, while productive, is not always practical. Therefore, one group member may represent the entire group during an appointment.

Multiple Appointments Policy

Tutors may choose to give permission for multiple appointments but may limit or prohibit them during busy weeks.

  • Tutor permission is required.
  • Students must enter the tutor’s name in the additional information box when booking the appointment.
  • Tutors may give permission for:
    • Group projects
    • Theses or Dissertations
    • Multiple Documents

Late Policy

Students over five minutes late forfeit their appointment to non-scheduled, waiting students.

Students 15 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 Center at (972) 883-5385.

No Show Policy

Students who do not show for an appointment or who cancel with less than 12 hours’ notice are considered No Shows.

The restrictions for No Shows are:

  • First No Show
    • Student receives an email explaining the policies and restrictions.
  • Second No Show
    • Student’s existing appointments are cancelled.
    • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for one week.
    • Student receives an email describing the actions taken and future restrictions for repeated incidents.
  • Third No Show
    • Student’s existing appointments are cancelled.
    • Student is restricted from booking further appointments for two weeks.
    • Student receives an email describing the actions taken and future restrictions for repeated incidents.
  • 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.

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 Camera Check-out Form with you to the Business Communication Center.
  • A UTD Comet Card is required to check out cameras. The card will be held until all equipment is returned.
  • Check-out hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • Cameras must be returned by 4:00 p.m. the day of checkout. Students are expected to arrange return times with the coordinator.
  • The student will assume the cost for unreturned or damaged equipment.

There are hundreds of online resources that will help you to make smart choices when you write business documents. These resources are intended to provide general writing assistance, NOT to tell you how your instructor wants the assignment written. If you have a question about whether any of the advice given below is appropriate for your class assignment, ASK YOUR INSTRUCTOR.

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
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/8-faulty-speaker-assumptions/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rIABo0d9MVE
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/10-presentation-habits-unlearn-p1/
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/10-presentation-habits-unlearn-p2/

Conquering Nervousness and Bad Habits
http://www.dumblittleman.com/2010/02/how-to-finally-overcome-shyness.html
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/stop-um-uh-filler-words/

Reading Speeches
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/reading-your-speech/

Using Slides, Handouts, and Statistics Effectively
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/how-many-slides/
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/handout-distribution/
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/statistics-speech/

Dressing Professionally
http://sixminutes.dlugan.com/dress-public-speaking/

Meeting Strangers at Networking Events
http://www.personalbrandingblog.com/how-to-meet-people-in-a-room-full-of-strangers/

Supporting your claims and building credibility with readers is important in all kinds of writing. However, business students are often surprised to learn that the proper use and citation of sources can be as important on the job as it is in college. Supervisors, existing clients, potential clients, subordinates, professors, All readers need to know that what you write has been well-considered and is well-documented.

The following resources will help business students know how to properly document their writing using the APA style (the preferred style for business citation).