Communications Resources

Use this list of resources to learn more about communication skills and processes that are unique to engineering situations and requirements.

Our goal is to keep this list fresh and useful, so please visit and browse frequently.  If you have issues with any of these links and resources, or if you would like to recommend a resource, please contact aprestia@rice.edu.

Resource Categories

  • Core Communication Concepts—Apply these basics of communication strategy to written, oral, and interpersonal communications.
  • Oral Presentation Skills—Use these tips to engage your audience with confidence and impact.
  • Writing Skills—Review general writing skills and learn about engineering genres.
  • Graphics and Visual Communication—Support your points with data, graphs, and charts.
  • Interpersonal Communication—Engage others with confidence and personal presence.
  • Dictionaries and Tools—Refer to these tools to ensure that your communications are of the highest quality.

Core Communication Concepts

Use core communication concepts to plan and develop strategic communications that effectively convey your ideas to specific audiences.

Developing Communication Leadership Strategy
PowerPoint lecture extracted from Leadership Communication by Deborah J. Barrett, Ph.D.

The Minto Pyramid Principle
The Minto Pyramid provides a model for organizing your thinking, identifying your key message, and developing your content logically. The technique applies to emails, memos, reports, proposals, and oral presentations. 

Oral Presentation Skills

As a professional engineer, you will frequently be called upon to present your ideas and solutions to small and large audiences. You will engage your audience more effectively when you show confidence, professional presence, and advanced delivery skills.

 

Effective Presentations in Engineering and Science
Penn State University
This website contains information and examples of actual presentations that will help you develop strong presentations skills. Topics include presentation structure, speech and delivery skills, and visual aids.

Writing Skills

Strong writing skills are essential for professional engineers. In addition to the need to write clearly for technical and non-technical audiences, engineers often produce specialized documents such as reports, proposals, and summaries.

 

 

General Writing Resources
Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
This site contains extensive information that will help you strengthen your writing skills and answer your questions about grammar, mechanics, punctuation, and usage.

Writing Engineering Reports
Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
This PowerPoint slide presentation covers major aspects of writing reports in engineering. The presentation includes information about report purpose and planning, report format and organization (including a typical outline of topics), headings and language, visual design, source documentation, finishing touches.

Handbook on Report Formats
Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
This information covers general report content and structure. Topics include purposes and types of reports, reports and memos, report checklist, report sections, the report body, abstracts and executive summaries, mechanical elements.

Executive Summary
Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
This vidcast on YouTube provides an overview of executive summaries, which are essential components of many engineering documents. Prepared for the Purdue University Mechanical Engineering Writing Enhancement Program.

Executive Summary: A Closer Look
Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL)
This vidcast on YouTube provides an in-depth discussion of executive summaries. Prepared for the Purdue University Mechanical Engineering Writing Enhancement Program.

Writing Better Reports: A Handbook for Civil and Environmental Engineers=
Michigan State University, Civil and Environmental Engineering
This handbook offers hints on improving your technical writing style. [Need to check link]

Advice Table for Technical Memos
Michigan State University, Civil and Environmental Engineering
This table provides tips on how to produce strong technical memos.

Advice Table for Technical Letters
Michigan State University, Civil and Environmental Engineering
Technical letters are specialized business letters that focus on technical issues or content. This table provides an overview of the format typically used.

Acknowledging, Paraphrasing, and Quoting Sources
University of Wisconsin – Madison
When you borrow information from other sources, you need to be careful to acknowledge those sources appropriately so you are not guilty of plagiarism. This handbook tells you what you must document and how to do it.

Graphics and Visual Communication

Graphics can add interest and depth to oral and written communications. As an engineer, you must create visual representations of supporting data that communicate quickly, simply, and clearly.

 

Charts and Graphs: Choosing the Right Format
This basic overview from Mind Tools explains the value of using charts and graphs to represent data, and it defines the appropriate format to use for the message you are trying to convey.

How to Choose the Best Chart for Your Data
This blog from lifehacker points out that “data is only as good as how well you communicate what it means.” It provides an illustration of the best charts to use to show comparisons, distributions, composition, and relationships.

 

Interpersonal Communication

Engineers often work in teams where strong interpersonal communication skills support productivity. Also, engineers who advance into leadership roles need interpersonal skills to engage employees and develop working relationships.

Guide to Interpersonal Communication (Civil Engineering)
Rice University Cain Project in Engineering and Professional Communication
A short overview of key skills that are useful when working in teams.

Interpersonal Communication: Lifeblood of an Organization
IUP Journal of Soft Skills, IUP Publications Online
This article discusses the fundamentals of interpersonal communication.

A Crash Course in Communication
INC.com
Talking is easy; communicating is hard. This short article offers tips on how to hone your one-on-one communication skills.

Talk Targets: Becoming a Magnet
INC.com
This short excerpt from How to Work a Room: The Ultimate Guide to Savvy Socializing in Person and Online by Susan RoAne tells you how to become the kind of person others want to talk to so you can make connections and share your ideas.

 

Dictionaries and Tools

You may have the best ideas, but if you convey them with less than stellar quality, you can erode your credibility. These tools should be on every communicator’s virtual bookshelf.

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

American Heritage Dictionary

Rice University Fondren Library
Search the library’s resources, sign up for classes and workshops, and get help with research.

Rice University Center for Written, Oral, and Visual Communication
The CWOVC, located on the second floor mezzanine of Fondren Library, takes appointments from students to provide feedback on written documents and oral presentations.

 

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