Building a Strong Paragraph
The need for effective business writing is a valuable commodity. Employees need to be able to craft strong and coherent paragraphs in business communication in order for a message to be understood and impactful. In this lesson, we will discuss the blueprints of how to create a memorable and professionally written document.
Bobby Crane is the construction supervisor for Build It Construction. He is managing the development of a brand new skyscraper in the city. He is an expert at construction knowledge but is weak in the area of business writing. He has heard that in order to be promoted, he needs to be able to write more professionally. Luckily, he has developed an easy way to remember how to create a strong paper. We will look at how Bobby uses his newfound writing tips to create a letter to management asking to use a new type of glass material for the skyscraper.
Three Parts of a Paragraph
There are three important parts of creating strong and coherent paragraphs in business communication. Each of the three pieces allows a cohesive, complete, linked sequence of thought to allow the reader to understand the flow and logic of a paper. Bobby has created an easy way to remember the three key pieces using the construction terms 'foundation,' 'walls' and 'roof.' He has a drawing in his office that shows the following information about developing a strong paragraph:
- Topic sentence, or the foundation of the paper: This is the sentence that reflects the main idea of the work and is placed somewhere in the beginning of the paper.
- Supporting sentences, or the walls of the paper: The supporting sentences are used to offer more evidence for the topic sentence.
- Transitions, or the roof of the paper: These are words or phrases that help link the paragraph together and provide flow.
The most crucial part of developing a strong paragraph is the topic sentence as it gives a summary of the rest of the paragraph. Bobby refers to it as his 'foundation' as it must be strong and effective in order to build the rest of his paragraph. It is also usually the very first sentence of the paragraph as it gives extremely detailed information to the reader. For example, Bobby's topic sentence is 'Build It should purchase a new type of glass for the skyscraper.' In this sentence, Bobby explains exactly why he is writing the paragraph, and in addition, it sums up what his proposal is about.
The second part of building a coherent paragraph is to develop excellent supporting sentences within your message. The sentences contain specific details that further expound upon the main idea. The purpose of the supporting sentences is to convince the reader to offer agreement of the topic sentence. In Bobby's case, he wants management to consider purchasing the new glass, so he must provide supporting documentation for this decision. Each reason will be a supporting sentence. Let's take a look at his paragraph:
'The first main advantage to using the new glass is it will be less expensive because it will cost less to maintain or replace. In addition, the new glass material is strong and will provide the ability to make the skyscraper taller and safer. Lastly, the glass offers sun protection and bullet protection at an affordable cost.'
Bobby regards supporting sentences as the 'walls' of the paragraph as they help make his foundation (the topic sentence) stronger. Each of the three supporting sentences expands upon the topic sentence and provides additional convincing information for the managers to approve of the new glass material.
The third piece of creating a strong paragraph is the ability to provide additional touches with the use of transitions. Bobby refers to them as his 'roof' because they are words or phrases that help make the paragraph coherent. Transitional elements can be:
- Connecting words, such as 'nevertheless,' 'however' and 'in addition'
- Repeated words or phrases from a previous paragraph, such as 'glass.' 'It would be an excellent skyscraper if we used the glass.' 'This glass would provide ultimate security.'
- Use of pronouns, such as 'Mr. Smith' also supports the use of the new modern glass. 'He' feels it will help the overall appearance.
In the workplace, business people expect to be able to read coherent and logical paragraphs. If the information contained in business writing is not organized correctly, there will be a loss in communication. The three key pieces of crafting a strong and coherent paragraph are:
- A topic sentence, which reflects the main idea of the work and is placed somewhere in the beginning of the paper
- Supporting sentences, which offer specific details that further expound upon the main idea
- Transitions, which are words or phrases that help connect and organize thoughts in the paragraph, such as 'however,' 'lastly,' etc.
Bobby was able to craft a message that impressed management and allowed him to order the new glass for his building. In addition, he was able to show that he had a command of writing for business.
At the end of the lesson, your knowledge on business communication should allow you to:
- Reproduce the three parts of a strong paragraph
- Understand the importance of the topic sentence and what it should include
- Identify supporting sentences and explain their importance
- Explain what transitions are and their purpose
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