Jack Whelan's Strategic Communications Site


Office: Paccar 529

Phone: 206 261 2495

Office Hours: see top of Courseblog

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"Forget the Money"

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"The Power of Talk"

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Thank You for Arguing

Silva Rhetoricae

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Office Hours:

Monday, 4-5; Wednesday, 4-5--or by appointment

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Midterm Study Tips

  1. Be familiar with these film clips
  2. Use the study guide!
  3. Review material presented on course website, particularly "Terms You Should Know".
  4. Be prepared for skill questions: passive voice identifying & flipping; rewriting wordy, static sentences; situation analysis; who/whom.
  5. Be prepared for concept questions: e.g., key phrase associated with ‘proactive’. Review coursepack and slides.
  6. PTO questions: Mainly correct usage mistakes. Review 'verbal abuse', 'comma sutra' & ‘saying is believing’.
  7. Presentation zen--especially stuff emphasized in class. Know what a 'slideument' is, for instance.

Clips shown in Class 14

Hans Rosling 1

Hans Rosling 2


Steve Ballmer

Tuesday, February 15, 2018

Clips shown in Class 13

Dick Hardt, "Identity 2.0"

Nancy Duarte on slide preparation

I'm also including some clips of students doing other parts of the business plan presentation. None of these are flawless, but each has virtues that I hope you can learn from.


Establishing Need

Meeting the Need

Market Strategy

Talking Money

Investor Pitch


Steps for raising sensitive issues:

    1. Ask for a time to meet
    2. Raise the issue in a yin tone
    3. Ask question to give him opportunity to explain
    4. Look for places to agree
    5. Present your pov
    6. Agree on a solution.

Steps for responding to criticism:

    1. Don't react defensively, no matter how outrageous the accusation.
    2. Try to understand what is at the heart of the other's complaint--ask questions.
    3. Look for places to agree.
    4. Accept or reject criticism.
      • If you accept, then agree on a solution
      • If you reject, give your reasons in as yin a tone as possible.


Check out this interesting story about popcorn Otaku, a Seattle gourmet popcorn business called KuKuRuZa.


How to Make a Good Speech Better

This time of the quarter is about integrating what you have learned. I recently came across an interesting five-minute speech by a very articulate high school student regarding teacher evaluations and the Common Core. I thought it might be useful for me to use the tools taught in class to evaluate it. Watch the clip, and then read my analysis that follows it:



Primary Objective: To argue against adoption of the common core and a rigid, test-based teacher evaluation system (Apex).

Audience: Primary: Not clear. Looks like a school board. Secondary: Teachers in audience. The rest of us in YouTube Land

Resistance Frames: People in the audience are likely influenced by those who think teachers are to blame for the educational achievement gap. They they think incentivizing teachers with carrots and sticks based on rigorous evaluations will improve teacher performance and close the gap. They need a way to measure performance, and the best way to do that is by quantitative measurement of student progress on standardized tests. The audience wants data because it can be objectively evaluated; the process is otherwise too subjective. If the goal is to get the audience to vote No on adoption of the common core and the Apex teacher evaluation system, you have to work within that frame or crash it.

Ethos: Student doesn't try to establish his own credentials; he relies on his passion and eloquence, pathos and logos, to establish his credibility. His credibility largely lies in his precocity--the smart, idealistic, articulate young person that adults love.

Counterframe Strategy: Three pronged:

First, attack legitimacy of the process by which the common core was developed and adopted. This part of the speech does not seek to challenge the Data-centered frame described above; it tries to show that there is no solid data or research that supports the common core, there was no democratic process to legitimate it, and suggests that the people pushing it have a conflict of interest. [I think this is a pretty powerful indictment, and should give the audience pause.]

Second, attack the effectiveness of the Apex teacher evaluation system by promoting a more positive image of teachers, and by ridiculing the idea of teachers jumping through flaming hoops by holding them accountable for something they can't control--the engagement and motivation of their students. [I think this section could have been stronger. I would have added arguments about teachers and intrinsic motivation a la Dan Pink. Carrots and sticks don't improve results for people who do high-level cognitive work.]

Third, crash the data-centric "industrial model" frame from which the proposed high-stakes testing and teacher evaluation systems have been developed. Argue that these systems are designed for what's good for bureaucrats and not for what's good for student learning. Plead for education policies that are designed for humans, not robots. Education is about creativity, appreciation, and inquisitiveness, not just job training. [I think this is the strongest part of the speech.]

Tactics: Lots of facts. Uses irony, questions, quotes, analogy, and impassioned (yang) delivery.

My Critique: I think this is a fine speech, but it could have been better if it followed the Ciceronian strategy I teach in class. The opening is weak. His comments about hoping he can be disproved, I guess, are intended to show he's open minded, but I think they waste time and muddy the waters. He does nothing to establish his credibility, but given the time constraints, it could be argued that his credibility is carried by his passion, his verbal agility, and his intelligence. He can get away with a weak opening because he will have no problem getting his audience's attention.

I think a bigger flaw lies in that his problem/solution dynamic is weak. His Narration section, where he lays out the "facts" about the illegitimate process by which the Common Core was adopted, makes no attempt to show that he understands the "problem" from the audience's point of view. He needs to address the pathos frame that the audience is living in, which is the desire to close the achievement gap. That should be the key to his developing a motivating problem.

The student speaker isn't addressing that as a problem or proposing an alternative solution. So it's easy for the audience to say, "I admire your convictions, but I'm still stuck with a serious problem, and while my solution isn't perfect, at least I'm trying to do something. What's your alternative." He has none, at least not one that he emphasizes. "Do no harm" is implied, but he needs to emphasize it more.

Regarding the close, Ben Franklin quote was a nice touch, and I liked his punchline last sentence, but I didn't find the longer McFarland quote helpful. Too much noise and not enough signal. What does he want his audience to do? It ends on a negative--not that, but then what? Vague change?

The student's argument lies on a demonstrative (values) level--it's about legitimacy, conflicts of interest, and robots v. humans. I agree with him (see below), but he needs to add a deliberative dimension (we can go this way or that way), even if it's to make an argument that to do nothing is better than to do something that has so much damaging potential. It's not clear what alternative action step he wants the board to take. If it's 'do no harm', he has to make that clearer.

I am sympathetic to the argument this student is making. But to a large extent it plays to the people sitting behind him more than it does to the people on dais before him. The people on dais are his primary audience because they are the ones making the decision. It might get some of the undecided board members to consider wanting more time to think before voting, but I think a more effective argument is possible.

I have made a very similar demonstrative argument here in Education Week. My goal in it is to crash the technocratic frame, and to offer a alternative humanistic frame. It is not policy oriented. If I were testifying before that board, I would focus more intently on a making a concrete policy choice: Don't go this way; go that way.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Two Drafts. I testified before the Seattle School Board some time ago. I don't think you need to understand the technical issues or the background. I offer these examples to give you some sense for how a first draft becomes a final draft.

My first draft is basicallly my organization of a freewrite, and its goal is to clarify for myself what I want to say. Several drafts ensued before getting to the final draft, but my revision goal was to empahsize one concern and deemphasisize the others.

In the first draft I gave equal treatment to four concerns about the amended Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): it's destablizing effect, its negative imapct on families; its being rushed; its lack of transparency. In the second draft, I reframed what I wanted to convey in light of my primary objective, which was to get a No vote on this amended MOU. So I emphasized only the third concern, unnecessary haste.

I felt that while the other concerns were important, they were tactically not as important in getting the No vote I was looking for. To frame a No vote as just asking for a delay is not the same as to ask for a wholesale rejection on the merits. I thought it should be rejected on the merits, but tactially, a delay was more easily achievable. If the request for delay succeeded, discussion of the validity of the other concerns could be postponed for another day.

My goal was also to avoid getting too fancy, to sound reasonable while emphasizing the basic points I wanted my audience--the school board--to understand and remember. So you will see rhetorical questions and repetitions, nothing more elaborate than that.

This speech had to be delivered in under three minutes, so it's shorter than the five-minute speech I'm asking you to write.

First Draft

Final Draft

Final Draft Annotated


Seth Godin Clip

Terms You Should Know:

Synathroesmus: piling up of adjectives or other modifiers for hyperbolic, often comic effect. Example: That worthless, dirty, rotten, good-for-nothing, thieving, mother-loving SOB!

Catalogues: Lists of objects, events, or ideas that add specificity and vividness to your writing. Example: It was your typical downtown, fair-trade kind of coffee shop, with a dog chained out front, students inside chained to their laptops, and a long line of hipster types waiting for their coffee.

Triad: Any list of words of clauses with three elements in it. I came; I saw; I conquered.



David Brooks on the importance of soft skills in a future shaped by artificial intelligence:

In the age of smart machines, we’re not human because we have big brains. We’re human because we have social skills, emotional capacities and moral intuitions. I could paint two divergent A.I. futures, one deeply humanistic, and one soullessly utilitarian.

In the humanistic one, machines liberate us from mental drudgery so we can focus on higher and happier things. In this future, differences in innate I.Q. are less important. Everybody has Google on their phones so having a great memory or the ability to calculate with big numbers doesn’t help as much.

In this future, there is increasing emphasis on personal and moral faculties: being likable, industrious, trustworthy and affectionate. People are evaluated more on these traits, which supplement machine thinking, and not the rote ones that duplicate it.

Read the rest of the article if you want to know his ideas about the other soullessly utilitarian future.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Clips used in Class 11

Highlight Reel

Omare Stoudamire Hypophora

Clooney confronts his brother-in-law-to-be

Simon Sinek's Golden Circle:


Yes We Can. In class I excerpted a part of Obama's speech after his primary defeat in New Hampshire to provide an example of the use of the 'epistrophe'. This is one of Obama's best rhetorical moments.

Here's the original speech. You will also see that in other parts of the speechhe uses the yes-we-can repetition also as an 'anaphora'--beginning sentences and clauses. "Yes we can" is also what we might call a 'mantra'.

Here's the will.i.am version:

Compare with Clinton's conession speech in New Hampshire last year. (See below.) It's not a terrible speech, but it has no poetry. Clinton is trying to sell her formidable experience and competence--her ability to do a good job. That's very logos-y. And what have we learned about Logocentric arguments this quarter? There's some pathos in Clinton's rhetoric, but it feels, at least to me, to be forced. It's not who she is. She is someone who would make a very competent CEO, and people who think that's what a president should be are inclined to support her. Bernie Sanders's speeches don't have much poetry either, but they have a passion that is not at all forced, and he combines it with a Logos-y analysis that combines with pathos that creates a very powerful "mythos". He's truly angry about how the "establshment"--the colluson of pollitical and financial elites--has had such a destructive effect on American democracy. People who believe his story are inclined to support him.

Mythos comprises all the stories that we tell ourselves that give our lives meaning and purpose, a meaning and purpose that motivates action. Aristotle said that Logos gives us the facts, but mythos gives us the meaning. Mythos is the big story that a group's ethos is embedded in. Sanders has a story about how ordinary people have lost their country to a few very wealthy elites. He also is promoting a story about how ordinary Americans can take it back. Trump is telling a similar story, but in a more more a authoritarian, (i.e., less democratic) key. Trump's story is about making America great again. People who think that America is in decline as a world military and economic power are inclined to support him.

Clinton tried to argue in a logos-y way during the primary that Sanders's story is really a myth in the negative sense of the word, that it has no basis in reality, that he won't be able to deliver on his promises. Maybe she's right; maybe she's wrong, but people are far more excited about Sanders's message because he is a no b.s. believable messenger, and his message awakens the purpose motivation in a way that Clinton's messaging just does not. In that respect Sanders is more like Obama's and is giving trouble to Clinton in the same way that Obama did in 2008.

Obama's message in 2008 was very similar to Sanders's message last year in that he promised then to change the rules of the rigged game played in Washington. Many of Obama's supporters became disillusioned with his presidency because they came to believe that once elected Obama didn't even try to change the game. He accepted the rules of the rigged game and just did what he could to enact an agenda within the rules defined in a rigged system. He was logos-process oriented rather than pathos-purpose oriented. He did not govern the way he campaigned. I don't think that anybody who supports Sanders believes that if Sanders were elected that he wouldn't try to change the rules. He might try and fail, but he would try.



Terms You Should Know:

Anaphora: Repetitions in which the repeated word, phrase, or clause comes at the beginning. Example: "Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?" T.S. Eliot [This quote also uses erotesis.]

Epistrophe: Repetitions in which the repeated word, phrase, or clause comes a the end. Example: "Where affections bear rule, their reason is subdued, honesty is subdued, good will is subdued, and all things else that withstand evil, for ever are subdued." — Thomas Wilson

Symploce: Repetitions in which the repeated word or phrase comes at both the beginning and the end: “The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference.” Elie Wiesel [This quote also uses antithesis]

Another example: "There is no Negro problem. There is no Southern problem. There is no Northern problem. There is only an American problem." Lyndon Johnson [This quote also uses antithesis in that in contrasts the first three items in the list with the last.]

Hypophora: Rhetorical question that both asks an answers the question. Example: "Is this any way to run an airline? You bet it is.

Erotesis: For our purposes, a piling on of one rhetorical question after the other to create dramatic intensity. Example: See opening of Simon Sinek TED talk below.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Website for letterhead templates is Canva. Check it out

As background for the Gordon Gecko speech, I came across this 2012 Stephen Colbert interview with Jennifer Burns, a Stanford history professor who wrote a biography of Ayn Rand entitled Goddess of the Market. I think you'll see why the Gecko speech comes out of what I described in class as the Ayn Rand playbook:


In the New York Times: More on Sarah Palin's syntax. The NY Times' reporter should read Heinrich to understand better the logic of the identity strategy--then it all begins to make sense. Or see Taibbi quote below.


Quote of the Day: Matt Taibbi on Sarah Palin's Use of Identity Strategy at GOP National Convention:

Before I have any chance of noticing it she’s moved beyond the speaking part of the program and is suddenly, effortlessly, deep into the signaling process, a place most politicians only reach with great effort, and clumsily, if at all. But Palin is the opposite of clumsy: she’s in the dog-whistle portion of the speech and doing triple lutzes and back-flips. She starts talking about her experience as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska:

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don’t quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their religion and guns when those people aren’t listening. We tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

The TV talking heads here will surely focus on the insult to Barack Obama and will miss the far more important part of this speech, the fact that Palin has moved from talking about small-town folks as They a few seconds ago to We now— We don’t know what to make of this, We prefer this. It doesn’t take a whole lot of thought to figure out who this We is. Certainly, to those listening, if you’re part of this We, you know. If you’re not part of it, as I’m not, you know even more. (From Griftopia, pp. 6-7)

Terms You should know:

Dog-whistle Language: political messaging employing coded language that appears to mean one thing to the general population but has an additional, different or more specific resonance for a targeted subgroup. The phrase is often used as a pejorative, because of the inherently deceptive nature of the practice and because the dog-whistle messages are frequently distasteful to the general populace. The analogy is to a dog whistle, whose high-frequency whistle is heard by dogs but inaudible to humans.

The term can be distinguished from "code words" used in some specialist professions, in that dog-whistling is specific to the political realm. The messaging referred to as the dog-whistle has an understandable meaning for a general audience, rather than being incomprehensible.

Journalist Craig Unger wrote that President George W. Bush and Karl Rove used coded "dog-whistle" language in political campaigning, delivering one message to the overall electorate while at the same time delivering quite a different message to a targeted evangelical Christian political base. William Safire, in Safire's Political Dictionary, offered the example of Bush's criticism during the 2004 presidential campaign of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision denying the U. S. citizenship of any African American. To most listeners the criticism seemed innocuous, Safire wrote, but "sharp-eared observers" understood the remark to be a pointed reminder that Supreme Court decisions can be reversed, and a signal that, if re-elected, Bush might nominate to the Supreme Court a justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade. This view is echoed in a 2004 Los Angeles Times article by Peter Wallsten. (Source: Wikipedia)


Usage Tip: Compound Adjectives

A compound adjective is an adjective that comprises more than one word. Usually, hyphens are used to link the words together to show that it is one adjective.


Please request a four-foot table.

It is a 6-page document.

Her fifteen-minute presentation proved decisive to the outcome of the case.

Claire worked as a part-time keeper at the safari park.

That is an all-too-common mistake.

The student decided to attend a school with a good legal-research-and-writing program.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity

(Source links here and here.)


Thursday, February 1, 2018

In the New York Times: More on Sarah Palin's syntax. The NY Times' reporter should read Heinrich to understand better the logic of the identity strategy--then it all begins to make sense.


More verbal incoherence from politicians. Start at around the 4 minute mark:


Clips used in Class 9:

Jason Streeet sells Joe a truck.

Gordon Gecko Greed Speech

Bush as genius of the "identity strategy":



Here's the link to the Alec Baldwin AIDA speech form Glengarry Glenross


Remote Area Medical is not the Dr. O'Mara model for delivering healthcare to people who can't afford it, but it gives you an idea why something like it is needed, and not just in southern Georgia. From Sixty Minutes.

Here's another link with information about Remote Area Medical.


Quote of the Day: Joel Garfinkle

Two studies conducted by Cameron Anderson and Gavin J. Kilduff in 2009 found that people who speak up and act dominant will be perceived as competent even if they aren’t. They merely appear so because they believe so completely in their own competence. So what does this teach us? Speak up. Speak first. Speak often. Stop overthinking and delaying what you want to say. Stop being fearful; instead, trust in yourself. Have confidence in your knowledge. Focus more on what you know and less on what others think. Identify two different situations in which you decide to speak up and speak often. You might have to leave your comfort zone, but do it. You’ll be heard and seen as competent, and you’ll notice others’ perceptions of you starting to shift favorably as you contribute more often.


Terms you should know:

Political Correctness: Mainly, rules of behavior and speech--i.e., an etiquette--designed to minimize offense between groups with different values and worldviews that live side by side in a pluralistic society. Political correctness rules are generally resented by legacy groups that feel they should be playing a dominant role in the society and that others should adopt their legacy attitudes and behaviors, and resent giving equal status to groups they consider outsiders or newcomers. There is some room for disagreement where to draw the line between legitimate frank speech and speech that is obsessively overconstrained for fear of giving the least offense. Common sense and common decency should govern what is appropirate, but often does not.

Rhetorical Frame: It's the dominant ideas, values or emotional framework within which a persuasive message is presented. A logos frame appeals to facts, analytical prowess, competency, practicality, getting things done. An ethos frame appeals to the speaker's power, credibilitiy, likability, charisma, attractiveness, humor, good guyness, which can often trump a logos frame. Pathos frames work with the desires and fears of the audience. Ryan uses a pathos frame for Bob in the Up in the Air clip when he reframes Bob's pity party as an opportunity to do what he's always wanted to do, and as a more effective way to win the respect of his children.

Identity Strategy: Deployed when goal is to win over your audience by using ethos-centric rhetorical techniques designed to show the audience that you are one of them, that you can be trusted, that your values align wih their values. It uses tribal language, code grooming (shibboleths, dog whistle language, etc.)

Denotation & Connotation. Denotaton is the dictionary definition of a word; connotation are the ideas and feelings that are associated with a word. 'Fortuitous' denotes by chance or accident, but it connotes good fortune. Don't use a word to convey its denotative meaning if it's likely to be understood by its connotative meaning.

Code Grooming: Using language that has special resonance or meaning with your audience that it would not have for people outside who don't "get it". It's a tactic for deploying the identity strategy.

AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. Think of each as successive stages moving your audience from resistance to compliance. These steps are the basic logic of most persuasive written messaging, and are implied in much face-to-face persuasive messaging as well.

Motivating Problem: What you seek to establish in the Interest phase of AIDA. It's about focusing audience awareness of a problem they may only be dimly aware of or feel is not worth paying attention to. The goal is to fan a low-heat problem into a high-heat problem so as to make audience so uncomfortable that they are desperate for a solution.

Primary Benefit: Part of the Desire phase of AIDA. It's whatever it takes to prove to your audience that your solution solves the motivating problem.

Secondary Benefit: A sweetener that adds inessential value. When deciding between two vacuum cleaners for the same price that do an equally good job of solving the motivating problem, you might decide on the basis of secondary benefits, perhaps one has an attachment that adds value the other does not.


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Is "who" used correctly in this sentence?

The plan was hatched by “smart” Republicans like Paul Ryan, who the media never tires of painting as the wonky intellectual of the GOP.

Clips used in Classes 5 & 6

Kawasaki on Mantras

Cody Phillips on building team identity


Interesting article here on 'body language'. Learn how to read other people's body language, and to control what you communicate with your own.


Terms You Should Know:

Mantra: For our purposes a phrase or slogan that verbally identifies the "crux", the energy center of a group, a project, or a business. It uses language that is brief, unique, and memorable. "Fight for the inch", "Fast, healthy, food", "Democratize design". It achieves with maximum signal and minimum noise what a mission statement usually fails to do.

Conjunctive Adverb: Like coordinating conjuctions, they connect independent clauses. Typical conjunctive adverbs are however, nevertheless, moreover, therefore, and so on. Because they are followed by a comma, they need to be preceded by a semicolon when they introduce and independent clause that comes in the middle of a sentence.

Direct Informative Message: The most common message sent in email, memo, or letter formats. They are direct because they identify their primary objective in the opening after a background statement.

Bad News Message: An indirect informative message used when conveying information that is likely to have a negative emotional impact on your audience, whether that impact is milldly disappointing or devastating. It is indirect because it postpones stating the primary objective until after the reasons for it are explained.

Parallel Structure for Lists Rule: 1. No list item should be more than one line longer than the shortest list item. 2. All list items should be syntactically similar. The verbal structure should look the same from list item to list item.


Quote of the Day: John Humphrys

If the semicolon is one of the neglected children in the family of punctuation marks these days, told to stay in its room and entertain itself, because mummy and daddy are busy, the apostrophe is the abused victim.

Weird Al on Grammar


Hilda Black Tips

Hilda was a client in the past, but she chose not to use your tax prep services this year. She tried to save money by preparing her taxes herself.

You have the conversation in question recorded, so there is no dispute about what actually was discussed in the phone conversation in April. You need to find a proactive approach. Don't be defensive or reactive.

The mistake Hilda made was to think that her bond mutual fund account was in an IRA or 401K. If it was, she could have rolled it over into another tax-deferred account. It wasn't tax-deferred, so she had to pay taxes on the capital gains that have accumulated since she invested in the mutual fund. The IRS is penalizing her because she didn't pay the tax on capital gains.

One of the major objectives of this assignment is to show you can use emotional intelligence in your communication with Hilda. That means you have to manage your own emotions in response to her threat to sue you, but also to manage her emotions by helping her see a positive way forward.

Your grade on this assignment will depend more on the effectiveness of your sentences. Show me you've learned something from our discussion of sentences in class next week.


EQ Tip of the Day:Take control of your Self Talk. Research suggest the average person has about 50,000 thought every day. Every time one of those thoughts takes place, chemicals are produced in your brain that trigger reactions felt throughout your body.

There is a strong relationship between what you think and how you feel, both physically and emotionally. Because you are always thinking (much like breathing), you tend to forget that you are doing it. So if you have some self-talk bad habits, it might help to change them. For instance, instead of "I always" or "I never", say "Tthis time" (I screw up); instead of "I'm an idiot, say "I made a mistake".


Another example of how not using the Oxford Comma can get you in trouble:



For those of you who would like a quick link to answer all your punctuation questions, this site is a useful one.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

More on Decorum:


Memorize model sentences like the ones listed below in order to remember how to use problematic words correctly. It's llke learning idioms when you study a foreign language.

The dog often lies here by the fire.

The dog is lying by the fire.

The dog lay by the fire for over two hours.

The dog has lain by the fire since breakfast.

The counselor's advice affected my thinking about dropping out of school.

The CEO effected significant changes in budgetary policy within a week of his taking office.

His chewing me out had quite a negative effect on my motivation.

I don't like your affect, you ill-tempered, surly grump.

The team comprises fifteen members.

Fifteen members compose (not comprise) the team.

The team is composed of (not comprised of) fifteen members.

There are fewer houses for sale now than last year.

There is less housing available now compared to last year.

The nauseous fumes made me feel nauseated.



Clips used in Classes 5


Terms you should know:

Coordinating Conjunctions: The seven conjunctions: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so--or FANBOYS. Use them with a comma to join two independent clauses.

Oxford Comma: The comma used to set off the item in a list that precedes the 'and' before the last item in the list. (e.g., the comma that follows 'oranges' in the following list: apples, oranges, and grapes.

Emotional Intelligence: The ability to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of oneself, others, and groups.

Empathy: The ability the imaginative act of getting into the mind of another person and to see and feel the world as he or she does.


Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Is this sentence correct?

In the season 2 opener, a convalescing Carrie and Congressman Brody must reckon with who they really are.


Terms you should know--

Forensic, Demonstrative, and Deliberative Arguments: Forensic is the argument that focuses on marshalling evidence from the past. Demonstrative focuse on the values and beliefs we hold now in the present, and Deliberative focuses on weighing a choice about a course of action that will take us into the future. Pacino is demonstrative when he is trying to build team identity around the core value of fighting for the inch, and deliberative when focusing his team on the choice to stay in hell or climb to the light, to come together as a team or die alone.

Decorum: behavior that fits or is appropriate for a given social situation. Vinnie had very poor courtroom decorum in the My Cousin Vinnie clip we watched. He didn't know how to dress, when to stand or sit, or basic courtroom procedure.

Strategy: How you organize your resources to accomplish your objectives.

Composition: The raw content of your message--the resources that your strategy seeks to organize into an effective meesage. The situation analysis, crux, and freewrite are compositional tools insofar as they help you to understand what you want to say.

Memory Curve: People are paying most attention at the beginning and end of a message, and so tend to not remember and understand material presented in the middle of a presentation. Make you openings and closes count, and break up long chunky sections.


Practical Wisdom: The ability to use common sense to get things done in dealing with people within the social systems they inhabit. Practical wisdom is street smarts. Uses both EQ and SQ. Someone with practical wisdom, says Heinrich, is known for his track record in getting things done, knows when to bend the rules, and knows how to present his solutions as taking a sensible middle course.

Reluctant Conclusion: A tool used when you have to tell an audience something it doesn't want to hear. You start off aligning yourself with the hopes of your audience, then you start preseenting evidence that shows that the hoped-for outcome is unattainable, so another undesirable but necessary course of action must be taken.


Clip used in Classes 4:


Wednesday, January 11, 2018

Whoever at the Office:



Here's the table I promised on Tuesday:




1st Person I, we me, us
2nd Person you you
3rd Person he, she, it, they him, her, it, them
relative pronoun who, whoever whom, whomever

Clips used in Class 3

Terms You Should Know:

Credibility: It means 'believability'. It's the measure of trust that your audience has in you, so it is in turn the measure of receptivity that your audience has for your message. People with low credibility can have great ideas for which audiences will have little receptivity, and people with high credibility will find audiences accepting even silly or stupid ideas.

Primary Audience - Secondary Audience: You design your message to obtain a thinking, feeling, or action response from your primary audience; you don't expect a response from your secondary audience. The secondary audience can be people you send the message to, as in a cc, and it can be anybody who reads the message whether you intend them to read it or not.

Primary Objective - Secondary Objective: The primary objective is reactive; it's about putting out the fire. The secondary objective is proactive; it's about looking for ways to go forward once the fire has been put out. Every message has a primary objective; not every message has a secondary objective. In my revision of the Goodwin message (see below), I make clarifying the misunderstanding the primary objective. The secondary objective is to sell him an overdraft line of credit or perhaps have him consolidate accounts with my bank. The original messages 1 & 2 had no secondary objectives.

Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases: Prepositions introduce phrases that play a modifying or descriptive function in a sentence, the way adjectives and adverbs do. In the sentence 'The dog under the table' is chewing a bone. The preposition is 'under' and the prepositional phrase is 'under the table'. The prepositional phrase plays the role of an adjective here. It's as if you're saying 'The under-the-table dog is chewing a bone'. Prepositional phrases always have objects, and when those objects are pronouns, they are in the accusative form: 'under him', 'between you and me'.

Tactical Flaw: (Aporia, Dubitatio): Presenting oneself as having weaknesses or peronsal flaws, or being ignorant or in a state of doubt, in order to create a space for your audience to become more engaged or to take more responsibility. Use it to lower expectations or to take a more human, humble stance before your audience, especially if you are perceived by it as arrogant or successful. Clooney Character: "i'm not really the one you would ordinarily talk to about things like this, but . . ." In Al Pacino clip shown in Class 3?

Tactical Concession: In an argument or attempt to persuade, a move to give up a short-term advantage in order to procure one that is long-term. Instead of challenging your opponent's facts or assumptions, you concede that he is right. This has a disarming effect, and makes him feel that he has been heard and is well understood.


Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Memo Punctilio Assignment

Analysis Hints: Use the Situation Analysis form at the top of the column to the right, and just fill in the blanks. Don't worry if parts of it don't make sense. I'll explain it next class.

  • When you are trying to define the issues, look at them in this case as being arranged concentrically, with some issues more at the periphery influencing the most important issue in the center. Which one is the crux?
  • When defining objectives think about them in two categories: reactive--what you have to do at a minimum to put out the metaphorical fires--and proactive--what possibilities are there to go beyond the status quo ante.
  • When defining the audience, the most important element is to define the audience's need, because what you choose to include in your summary should be determined by its usefulness in meeting your boss's need.

Remember, your goal in this assignment is to create a document that will be more useful or helpful for your boss than the original article.


Goodwin Revision

Dear Mr. Goodwin:

I am writing in response to your August 15 email questioning the $108.00 in overdraft fees charged against your account. After receiving your email we investigated to learn why you were charged, and we learned that a miscommunication between you and the United Oregon Bank led to the imposition of this fee.

In your email, you mentioned that you had instructed the United Oregon Bank to transfer $45,000 to your account here on August 1. It did not, however, make the transfer until August 10--which explains why on August 8 we charged your account for the overdraft.

We value your account with us, Mr. Goodwin. You have been one of our most reliable and valued customers, and we understand that miscommunications like this happen from time to time. On this occasion we are happy to refund to you the $108. But please contact United Oregon to be sure that they send future transfers on the date you specify.

Perhaps an overdraft line of credit would be appropriate if you anticipate this kind of miscommunication in the future. You might also consider consolidating your accounts in such a way as to make these transfers unnecessary.We’ll have one of our personal bankers contact you in the next week to see if we can help you to meet your banking needs in a more streamlined way.


Note that this revision makes the misunderstanding issue the "crux", and adds a proactive dimension by seeking to flip the problem into an opportunity and move with Mr. Goodwin beyond the status quo ante.


Who/Whom: you can practices the three-step process taught in class by going here and here. Use all three steps when you practice:

    1. Bracket the dependent clause that follows the who/whom.
    2. Insert a pronoun into the dependent clause that makes it into a complete sentence.
    3. If the case of the pronoun is nominative, use who; it the case is accusative, use whom.

More on who/whom:



Go the source link for more on these other uses of who and whom. These rules are fine for when you have a who or whom that begins a sentence (or is used in any other role except introducing a dependent clause), but you have to use my three-step method when a who or who is a relative pronoun introducing a dependent clause. You might otherwise be misled to think that it would be ok to say "Give the prize to whomever you think deservers it." Give the prize to him, right? No.It's not right.


Terms You Should Know:

Extrinsic motivation: Carrots and sticks, desire and fear--the promise of reward or the threat of punishment from a source outside of oneself. Extrinsic because you need some kind of external positive or negative stimulation to motivate you to act.

Intrinsic motivation: Autonomy, mastery, and purpose. Intrinsic because they are motivators that arise from within the person without external stimulation. Intrinsically motivated people do what they do because they have an internal drive that works independently from the crowd, that wants to improve their skills, or because of ideals or internal desires that are meaningful to them.

Tactical Concession: In an argument or attempt to persuade, a move to give up a short-term advantage in order to procure one that is long-term. Instead of challenging your opponent's facts or assumptions, you concede that he is right. This has a disarming effect, and makes him feel that he has been heard and is well understood.

Clause: A verbal construction that comprises both a subject and a verb. They come in different varieties. You need to understand the difference between an independent and dependent clause.

Nominative: Case for nouns and pronouns that function as subjects in clauses.

Accusative: Case for nouns and pronouns that function as objects of verbs and prepositions.

Analysis/synthesis: Polarity defined by, on the on hand, breaking things down to understand the whole in its parts, and on the other, the process of understanding by assembling the parts into an integrated, functioning whole.

Crux: The core energy center of your message. Your message might have a lot of parts to it, but there is almost always one part that is more interesting and more important. That's where the energy is. In the Goodwin messages the energy for message 1 focused on the 'angry customer issue'; message 2 focused on the 'future accountability issue'. The approach here would have been better if it focused on the 'misunderstanding issue'.


Links to Class 2 movie clips:

Monday January 8, 2018

Terms you should know:

Ethos--the values world that shape what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior and attitudes. One is ethical or unethical, admired for ones virtues, or shamed for one's vices depending on the ethos of a group. What is virtue for the mafioso is vice for the law-abiding citizen.

Commonplace--values and 'truth' accepted by a community without question or critical analysis. It's just true that the early bird gets the worm, right?

Style--The lens through which the substance of your message is projected. Ideally it should enhance the effectiveness of your message, but often it distorts and obscures it.

Yin--a style that is cool, indirect, subtle, complex, sometimes mysterious or seductive. It's the jazz musician with the soft voice and the mirror sunglasses. Academic style has a bias toward the yin.

Yang--a style that is warm, direct, obvious, accessible. It has strong signal and minimal noise. It's the drill seargeant shouting at a recruit. Business style has a bias toward the yang.

Analysis--Breaking a big issue down to understand it better in its constituent parts.

Synthesis--Pulling together the parts into an integrated whole. Connecting the dots.

Exposition--Content in a message that is primarily informational, the facts without interpreting them. It's the data dots required to be connected when you want to deliver an insight.

Insight--the experience of "getting it". A common example is getting a joke or any time you get a satisfying answer to a question or solution for a problem. It's when you see the pattern that connects the dots.

Relaxed intensity--The ideal stance any performer takes during a performance. It comprises both a loose, comfortable body posture at the same time as having a mindset that is highly focused and committed to performing the task at hand.


Thursday, January 4, 2018

Dan Pink video clip on motivation:

Terms you should know:

Ethos--the values world that shape what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior and attitudes. One is ethical or unethical, admired for ones virtues, or shamed for one's vices depending on the ethos of a group. What is virtue for the mafioso is vice for the law-abiding citizen.

Style--The lens through which the substance of your message is projected. Ideally it should enhance the effectiveness of your message, but often it distorts and obscures it.

Yin--a style that is cool, indirect, subtle, complex, sometimes mysterious or seductive. It's the jazz musician with the soft voice and the mirror sunglasses. Academic style has a bias toward the yin.

Yang--a style that is warm, direct, obvious, accessible. It has strong signal and minimal noise. It's the drill seargeant shouting at a recruit. Business style has a bias toward the yang.

Analysis--Breaking a big issue down to understand it better in its constituent parts.

Synthesis--Pulling together the parts into an integrated whole. Connecting the dots.

Exposition--Content in a message that is primarily informational, the facts without interpreting them. It's the data dots required to be connected when you want to deliver an insight.

Insight--the experience of "getting it". A common example is getting a joke or any time you get a satisfying answer to a question or solution for a problem. It's when you see the pattern that connects the dots.


December 28, 2017

Welcome to Strategic Communications for Winter Quarter 2018. I'll be using this space as the quarter progresses to summarize and amplify points that I make in class with verbal commentary, video, and other supplementary materials. Check in at least once a week to make sure you're up to speed.

It will probably take me until the week before classes begin to get all the relevant links updated, but you can explore the ones that are live now if you want to get a feel for the resources available here.

The assignment links will be activated the class day I introduce the assignment. Even if you miss class, you should know what the assignment is.




Situation Analysis Form

1st Assignment Prompt

1st Assignment Rubric

2nd Assignment Prompt

2nd Assignment Rubric

Team Charter

Charter Sample

Information Interview

Information Interview Memo

3rd Assignment Prompt

3rd Assignment Rubric


Raising Sensitive Issues

Work Plans

Business Plan Rubric

Problem Solving

Persuasive Talk Prompt

BCMU for Artists 1

BCMU for Artists 2

Story board

Armada Karaoke Slides

Armada Karaoke Video

Cascadia Slides

Cascadia Video

Content, Clarity, Correctness


Study Guide

Class Slide PDFs

Class 1

Class 2

Class 3

Class 4

Class 5

Class 6

Class 7

Class 8

Class 9

Class 10

Class 11

Class 12

Class 13

Class 14

Class 15







Film Clips










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