Rhetorical Strategies

Cognitive Biases in Technical Communication

How aware are you of your cognitive biases and how they can impact your reception and delivery of communication? In a paper to be delivered at ProComm2020, Quan Zhou categorizes and outlines over twenty cognitive biases that can play into the communication act. 

The Cognitive Bias …

Flatten the Curve: Why certain messages catch on

When communicating about risk, the hope is to craft appropriate messaging to motivate appropriate action and understanding by the public. This is often challenging, particularly when there is so much scientific uncertainty involved in the risk. Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, many messages have been developed …

Communicating Leadership in a Crisis

Photo: Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we have witnessed many stark examples of strong, responsible leadership – and some examples of not so responsible leadership. This leadership has been demonstrated through legislative action, but also through acts of communication …

Using Data AND Story to Persuade Readers

For a technical audience of engineers, quantitative data often holds the key to persuasion. For more general audiences, however, narrative or storytelling has been shown to potentially hold greater sway. In addition, the effectiveness of both techniques is context-based and contingent on the type of …

Tell your Story: Understanding Narrative to Engage Audiences

One of the most frequent things we hear from audiences – both of reports and presentations – who fail to engage with and understand the content being communicated is: “What’s the story?” It may seem like an odd request, since engineering communication may not seem …

The Impact of Indirect Speech Acts on Professional Communication

We don’t always say what we mean …

In fact, we often avoid direct speech acts – saying what we mean – in the service of politeness and conflict avoidance, relying instead on indirect speech to communicate complex thoughts. An indirect speech act, according to linguist John Searle, …