Category Archives: 4. Classroom Exercises

Polishing Parallelism

Although parallelism sounds as if it might be a gymnastic feat, it is a writing technique that involves skillful, balanced writing. Sentences written so that their parts are balanced or parallel are easy to read and understand. Parallelism satisfies our basic love of symmetry. We remember expressions such as of the people, by the people, for the people and Seeing is believing (not Seeing is to believe).

To achieve parallel construction, use similar structures to express similar ideas. For example, the words computing, recording, and storing are parallel because the words all end in ­–ing. To express the list as computing, recording, and storage is disturbing because the last item is not what the reader expects. Try to match nouns with nouns, verbs with verbs, and clauses with clauses. Avoid mixing active-voice verbs with passive-voice verbs. Your goal is to keep the wording balanced when expressing similar ideas.

Lacks Parallelism Achieves Parallelism
Candidates must be reliable, creative, and show enthusiasm. Candidates must be reliable, creative, and enthusiastic.
The committee is expected to monitor timeliness, quality is to be verified, and provide feedback. The committee is expected to monitor timeliness, verify quality, and provide feedback.
Our advertisements have three objectives:

(a) We want to increase product use.

(b) Introduce complementary products.

(c) Our corporate image must be enhanced.

Our advertisements have three objectives:

(a) Increase product use

(b) Introduce complementary products

(c) Enhance our corporate image

Not only must we check our website, but also monitoring the entire internet is a necessity. Not only must we check our website, but also we must monitor the entire internet.

Improve the following sentences by perfecting opportunities for parallelism.

  1. My boss is well-informed, witty, and she is fair.
  2. Business messages must be concise, correct, and written with clarity.
  3. In preparing to write a business report, you should determine the report purpose, identify the relevant issues, and then information must be collected.
  4. Good listeners do the following: (a) They usually stop talking, (b) Remove distractions (c) Questions are asked but they must be relevant.
  5. Guidelines for improving workplace safety include changing locks before moving into a new office, interior lights should be left on even when the business is closed, and fire exits must always be kept unlocked.
  6. Not only do we design and support your new wireless network, but also troubleshooting and free consulting are provided by us.
  7. The most important considerations for today’s job candidates are the salary, the environment of work, and candidates give special consideration to career advancement opportunities.
  8. This week’s program is all about money—earning it, investing it, and how you will spend it!
  9. A high-powered MBA costs hundreds of dollars an hour. Our program covers the same sage advice (a) Starting a business (b) You will learn information about writing a business plan and understanding taxes (c) How to write a marketing feasibility study (d) Employment benefits plans and licensing requirements are studied.
  10. Not only were the training sessions stimulating, but also they were a challenge.
  11. The proposal will elaborate on (a) dealing with the public, (b) how to obtain corporate contributions, and (c) the timing of a marketing campaign.
  12. One way small businesses can attract talented employees is to provide opportunities to telecommute, working in virtual teams, and encourage employees to collaborate online.
  13. Classes will be available in training for strength, being flexible, reduction of stress, and aerobic/cardiovascular conditioning.
  14. We have hired a consultant to help managers stay on track with the new organizational plan, team resources must be developed, and they will monitor customer feedback.
  15. [Convert to a vertical list.]  To make a YouTube video you should first obtain a video recording device such as a cell phone, webcam, or camcorder. The most popular YouTube videos are video blogs, comedy skits, how-to videos, and travel videos. Decide what you want to make. Remember that your video must be 10 minutes or less for traditional YouTube membership accounts. You will want to create a video with good light quality, and that usually means daytime recording. Finally, be sure to use computer editing software to change or delete anything.

Polishing Parallelism Exercise

Key-Polishing Parallelism

Goal Setting for the Business Communication Course

Instructors: Talk to your students about setting personal learning goals in your business communication course, referring to our article Set Goals, Improve Focus as a starting point. Then ask students to commit their goals to paper using the BizComBuzz downloadable assignment at the end of this post. Return to the goals mid-way through the term and again at the end so that students can adjust their action plans and measure their progress.


Setting specific and measurable goals is the best way to assure you will improve areas of weakness or attain important knowledge. Goals are best when they meet SMART criteria:

Specific: Goal is clearly stated

Measurable: Goal includes ways to measure success

Achievable: Actions to meet goal are realistic and attainable within the set time frame

Relevant: Goal states how it will improve your academic and workplace career

Timeframe: Goal attainment has specific completion date

Example of ineffective goal attainment plan

Goal Action Plan Resources Completion Date
Learn about commas (goal is not specific or measurable; does not explain how it will improve academic and future career) Look up comma rules while I write assignments (plan lacks specific actions that will net results)


Google searches

(non-specific; may yield questionable resources; provides no learning activities)


By end of term

(not naming a specific date hinders motivation to complete the task)

Example of effective goal attainment plan

Goal Action Plan Resources Completion Date
Apply all comma usage rules correctly on business communication assignments to improve my grades and help my prose be professional 1.     Review comma rules

2.     Complete practice worksheets

3.     Create “cheat sheet” to use when writing


1.     Course textbook

2.     Campus writing center


November 30, 2021

Your task. Choose 4-5 SMART goals specific to business communication to work toward this term. Goals you may choose to pursue can involve improving grammar and usage (i.e. Learn how to use commas) or specific genres (Learn to create effective résumé). Use the table your instructor provides to commit your goals to paper.

Student Goal Worksheet

To Quote or Not to Quote

[Instructors: PDFs for the exercise and answer key are at the bottom of the post.]

In the business world, quotation marks are sometimes used haphazardly. Here is a quick review of the rules governing correct use of quotation marks.


Use quotation marks to enclose direct quotations.

“Honesty,” said the president, “is the best policy.”

Do not use quotation marks for paraphrased remarks. These remarks are often introduced by that.

The president said that honesty is always the best policy.

Use quotation marks to enclose short expressions such as slang, jargon, nicknames, words used in a special sense for humor or irony, and words following stamped or marked.

Josh was called a “pizza pirate” because he refused to chip in for the delivery. [Slang]

A great fear in business is having your business or service “commoditized.” [Jargon]

Frank Sinatra was also known as “Ol’ Blue Eyes.” [Nickname]

The former CEO could not find a job because she was “overqualified.” [Irony]

The box was stamped “Fragile.” [Words following “stamped”]

Use quotation marks or italics for words being defined or used as nouns.

The expression de facto means “in practice but not necessarily recognized.” [Italics for word being defined and quotation marks for definition]

One of the most frequently misspelled words is calendar. [Word being used as a noun within the sentence]

Do not use quotation marks haphazardly.

When you arrive, go to the Customer Service Department. [Do not use quotation marks around a destination or name of a unit within an organization.]

You are cordially invited to our exciting spring sale. [Do not put quotation marks around spring or any word to give it special emphasis.]

Try your skill by placing quotation marks or italics where you think they belong in the following sentences. Remove any quotation marks incorrectly used, and write “Correct” if the sentence is properly punctuated. You may use underscoring to indicate italics.

  1. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, I have a dream.
  2. Albert Einstein said that the true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination.
  3. Verbing is defined as the process of turning a noun into a verb.
  4. All of the mailing cases were marked Glass—Handle With Care.
  5. Our annual “Fall Extravaganza” is the biggest and best sale in the region!
  6. His presidential address was marred by many uhms and ahs.
  7. Businesspeople often use the term best practices to mean the most effective techniques in a field or an industry.
  8. Senior executives want anything brought to their attention to be “high level”; that is, they want it neatly summarized and free of technical terms.
  9. Rock star Sting got his nickname from wearing yellow-and-black jerseys that other musicians thought made him look like a wasp.
  10. Happiness, said comedian George Burns, is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.
  11. During the summer extensive changes will be made to the “Human Resources Department.”
  12. The word secretary has a long and honorable history, but many office professionals now use other titles.
  13. The expression cook the books is not what we want to hear when a government investigation begins.
  14. Did the manager say that she wanted me to merge documents with our database list?
  15. Our copyeditor Angela said that she would scream if she saw another report with the expression “at this point in time.”

To Quote or Not to Quote Exercise

To Quote or Not to Quote-Key