Professional Rhetoric

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 2.14.41 PMAs millennials about to join the real world, it is important that we understand how crucial it is to express ourselves in a professional manner. We have been doing a great deal of research and reflection on how individuals who are not a part of the millennial generation perceive us. One of the biggest criticisms that we receive is the laziness or lack of professionalism amongst people of our age. What better way to change that than to be aware of what the professional world is looking for in terms of written communication? Digital Writing 101 describes rhetorical awareness as “being aware that any act of communication you engage in has an audience and a purpose, and that the success or failure of your communication is based almost entirely on how well it meets the needs of that audience and fulfills that purpose.” I have looked at multiple articles and I think this is a great way to look at rhetorical awareness. To be rhetorically aware is to be purposeful when trying to prove a point. My greatest piece of advice when being purposeful is to simply get to the point. In school we are told again and again how long papers should be, how long responses should be, but in the grand scheme of things, you want to be concise and to the point. You are writing a composition (whether that’s a resume, business plan, etc.) to receive something from it. There is no need to fluff it up with unneeded information when the person reading just wants the “why”, not a “who, what, when, and where”. With that being said, it is important to give enough information to convince the reader of what you are presenting.

In addition to being purposeful, you must be knowledgeable. There are plenty of instances when we write and are unaware of who the audience is. Let’s think of a cover letter for example. The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself, as well show the company that you are interested in what they do and their core values. A lot of the time our generations just throws some words together and hope that it sounds good and fills the page. Although you want to be purposeful, you absolutely want it to make sense. If you are familiar with subject of your letter as much as the reader is, that chances of them enjoying your composition is much greater. An article from Ladders explains what it means to know your audience.

Another essential part of our generation creating that rhetorical awareness that employers are seeking is to incorporate user-centered design. Knowing little about user-centered design, I learned that a simpler word to describe it as is “usability”. This function is so important when outside sources are trying to access, use, and analyze the information that you are trying to display.

This article by usability.gov ackwknolwgdes all the different ways for millennials to reach that rhetorical awareness. There are four stated ways for one to reach that: specify the context, specify the requirements, create the design solutions, and evaluate the designs. My advice would be to explicitly follow these. This processes is set in place to only help us succeed. Although these processes are a little different amongst who uses them, the ideas are virtually the same. Having worked in an agile software company, I know what it takes for companies to rely on these processes in a true business setting. Every company has different needs and it is important for them to understand what they need to improve those functions to meet those needs. When you’re are writing in a business setting, the same applies. The user-centered design is so focused but there is a definite reason for that and it makes a difference when we are trying to develop a composition in a professional ma

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4 thoughts on “Professional Rhetoric

  1. Taylor,
    Your quote that you start with was a great way to round out everything we’ve learned from writing this blog post. I love your advice about being concise and about how we need to transition from (most) things we learned in the classroom about writing. Things like page minimums and lengths for responses or counter arguments. I also really like how you changed “user-centered design” to “usability. I feel like it makes the skill more relatable and easier to remember when applying it in practice. Great job!

  2. Hey Taylor,
    I really like your first piece of advice to just get to the point. Their are few things more frustrating than people beating around the bush, especially in the workplace with emails, reports etc… You make some really good points with cover letters too, I think people often feel they need to fill the page with random words, but if you are not knowledgeable on your writing it is all pointless.

  3. Taylor,
    Good post, I think that you make some great points about how we need to be purposeful in our writing. I like that you have turned user-centered design, a rather technical sounding term, into “usability”. Usability is exactly what it is, when writing a document you should always be thinking of how the end-user could find this valuable or informative. This brings back the point of purpose in the sense that you must realize what its purpose is and then tailor your writing to that purpose.

  4. Taylor,
    Another great post! I like your ideas throughout and the advice for how we can better ourselves through User-centered design. By writing clearly and concisely, and focusing on the reader while formulating our writing, I think we can improve as we begin our professional journeys.

    -Aaron Berns

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