Free Resources for
Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in China - by Paul Sparks
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Lesson 13 - Business Communications
Lesson Objectives: To increase the vocabulary of students using a business communication theme. To increase the students knowledge of how British business works.
Lesson Activities: Discussion about the methods of communication available for business.
The external communication of a business must also be efficient, communicating with customers and suppliers must be a top priority for any company. The main methods of communication for any business are as follows:
Written Communication (Internal):
Written Communication (External):
charges vary according to the type of call in the UK. A local call is the
cheapest, with a further discount after 6pm or at weekends. The advantages
of the telephone are that it is faster and more flexible than letters or
memos, you can be sure that the message gets to the correct person. However
the telephone does not keep a permanent record of the communication, so
sometimes it may be necessary to use letters.
A fax machine requires a telephone line in order to be used for communication. It uses the telephone line to transmit pictures from one fax to another fax machine or a computer. Like a phone call the communication is instant. Fax can be used to transmit graphs, charts, diagrams etc. The advantage is that a fax can be kept as a permanent record. Fax machines have been around in one form or another for over a century, and if you look back at some of the early designs you can get a very good idea of how they work today. Most of the early designs involved a rotating drum. To send a fax, you would attach the piece of paper to the drum, with the print facing outward. There was a small photo sensor with a lens and a light. The photo sensor was attached to an arm and faced the sheet of paper. The arm could move downward over the sheet of paper from one end to the other as the sheet rotated on the drum.
To transmit the information through a phone line, early fax machines used a very simple technique: If the spot of paper that the photo cell was looking at were white, the fax machine would send one tone; if it were black, it would send a different tone. At the receiving end, there would be a similar rotating-drum mechanism, and some sort of pen to mark on the paper.
modern fax machine does not have the rotating drums and is a lot faster,
but it uses the same basic mechanics to get the job done: At the sending
end, there is some sort of sensor to read the paper. Usually, a modern
fax machine also has a paper-feed mechanism so that it is easy to send
A business needs an "E-mail Client" this is a type of software (computer program) to enable a person to send and receive email. The most common email clients for business are Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express. The email client will do the following things:
It shows you a list of all of the messages in your mailbox by displaying the message headers. The header shows you who sent the mail, the subject of the mail and may also show the time and date of the message and the message size.
It lets you select a message header and read the body of the e-mail message.
It lets you create new messages and send them. You type in the e-mail address of the recipient and the subject for the message, and then type the body of the message.
Most e-mail clients also let you add attachments to messages you send and save the attachments from messages you receive.
Once a business has set up an email client it then needs to use an "E-mail Server". Most businesses will have their own web server for internet and email. If they do not have their own server they can use a free service such as "freeserve" in the UK or "163" in China.
For the majority of businesses in the UK the e-mail system consists of two different servers running on a server machine. One is called the SMTP Server, where SMTP stands for Simple Mail Transfer Protocol. The SMTP server handles outgoing mail. The other is a POP3 Server, where POP stands for Post Office Protocol. The POP3 server handles incoming mail.
Your e-mail client allows you to add attachments to e-mail messages you send, and also lets you save attachments from messages that you receive. Attachments might include word processing documents, spreadsheets, sound files, snapshots and pieces of software.
Considering its tremendous impact on society, having forever changed the way we communicate, today's e-mail system is one of the simplest things ever devised! There are parts of the system, like the routing rules in sendmail, that get complicated, but the basic system is incredibly straightforward.
Email has many advantages to business including the following:
America Online's Instant Messenger (AIM) program is one of the most popular instant messaging utilities available. In business, sometimes even the rapid response of e-mail is not fast enough. You have no way of knowing if the person you are sending e-mail to is online at that particular moment or not. Also, if you are sending multiple e-mails back and forth with the same person, you normally have to click through a few steps to read, reply and send the e-mail. This is why instant messaging (IM) has gained popularity.
Instant messaging allows you to maintain a list of people that you wish to interact with. You can send messages to any of the people in your list, often called a buddy list or contact list, as long as that person is online. Sending a message opens up a small window where you and your friend can type in messages that both of you can see.
Most of the popular instant-messaging programs provide a variety of features:
Instant messaging really exploded on the Internet scene in November 1996. That's when Mirablis, a company founded by four Israeli programmers, introduced ICQ, a free instant-messaging utility that anyone could use. ICQ, a combination of letters that is shorthand for the phrase "I seek you," is a real-time tool that uses a software application, called a client, that resides on your computer. The client communicates with an ICQ server whenever you are online and the client is running.
Not long after ICQ established the popularity of IM, AOL decided to enter the fray. Within a very short time, AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) supplanted ICQ as the leading IM utility. Like all of the other major IM utilities, AIM uses a proprietary protocol that is not understood by other instant-messaging services. A key reason why AIM is so popular is that it allows AOL members to communicate with non-members - other IM utilities have not been able to provide this link between AOL and the rest of the Internet. With more than 20 million subscribers to AOL, this is no small matter. In fact, one of the provisions of the recent AOL-Time Warner merger was that other services be allowed access to the AOL community and AIM protocol.
future of instant messaging is very bright. The Internet Engineering Task
Force (IETF) is developing a standard protocol for instant messaging, called
the Instant Messaging Presence Protocol. Business users are discovering
that instant messaging allows them to have virtual conferences and collaborate
on projects very easily. In other words, if you have not tried IM, you're
missing out on a whole new world of communication.