skills for speaking, writing, and presenting
John Seely is something of a specialist in writing guides to clear, efficient communication skills. This is one of a number of books he has published with Oxford University Press, and it’s a much-expanded version of his earlier Oxford Guide to Writing and Speaking. It covers how to structure a business letter and how to strike the right tone; how to format and follow the protocols of emailing; how to write a persuasive curriculum vitae, structure a job application, and prepare for the interview; how to prepare and deliver a PowerPoint presentation; how to organise and write a report; and how to prepare a press release when dealing with the media. Each chapter follows the same structure.
First there’s a summary of its main points; then the guidance is spelled out in short, clear paragraphs and bulleted lists. There are occasional self-assessment exercises; and then comes a numbered list of general guidance notes on the topic. After form, he deals withe the next two important features of efficient communication – audience and context. This involves adjusting your language and tone to suit your readership, plus keeping your subject and your purpose in mind. He also shows you how the same piece of information can be transmitted in a number of different ways.
The next part of the book focuses on the basics of English language – its vocabulary, spelling, grammar, punctuation, and even how it is spoken.
In the final section of the book he deals with writing as a process. This starts from the generation of ideas, goes through planning and writing drafts, then shows you how to revise and edit what you produce. The most valuable lesson which many people can learn is that writing is a process, not something you do at one pass.
If you want something shorter or pitched at a simpler level, try his other books on the same subject — Words, Writing Reports, or The A—Z of Grammar & Punctuation. This one will give you everything you need for everyday practical communication skills.
© Roy Johnson 2005
John Seely, Oxford Guide to Effective Writing and Speaking, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005, pp.310. ISBN: 0192806130