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PPM-108: Communications Skills

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Normed Course Outlines

PPM-108: Communication Skills 

Description: This course is designed to equip public administration/policy students with practical communication skills that they will utilize in their respective jobs. Moreover, this course will familiarize students with communication challenges in the public sector and how strong understanding of communication skill will aid them in tackling these challenges.

Learning Outcomes: On successful completion of this course, students will be familiar with the concepts enumerated below and be able to apply the following concepts and ideas that will help them become an effective communicator.

  • Effective Rhetoric and Generating Emotional Impact
  • Writing Memos, E-Mails and Internal Documents
  • Writing Op-Eds, Blogs and Public Documents
  • Narrative and Storytelling
  • Empathy: Your Personal Credibility and Trustworthiness
  • Connecting with your Audience
  • From the Page to the Podium: Mastery Over Memorization
  • Speaking On the Spot & Thinking on your Feet: What to Say and How to Say It
  • Designing and Conducting a Presentation
  • Ceremonial Speaking: Toasts, Tributes and Eulogies
  • Dealing with the Media
  • Social Media and New Channels of Communication

Concepts to be learned: 

Normed Topics in this Normed Course Outline

  1. Effective Rhetoric and Generating Emotional Impact
  2. Writing Memos, E-Mails and Internal Documents
  3. Writing Op-Eds, Blogs and Public Documents
  4. Narrative and Storytelling
  5. Empathy: Your Personal Credibility and Trustworthiness
  6. Connecting with your Audience
  7. From the Page to the Podium: Mastery Over Memorization
  8. Speaking On the Spot & Thinking on your Feet: What to Say and How to Say It
  9. Designing and Conducting a Presentation
  10. Ceremonial Speaking: Toasts, Tributes and Eulogies
  11. Dealing with the Media
  12. Social Media and New Channels of Communication

Course Syllabi Sources for this Normed Course Outline:

Recommended Readings: Harvard (Kennedy): DPI-801, DPI-802M & MLD-717MD

Week 1:  Effective Rhetoric and Generating Emotional Impact

Aristotle on Rhetoric

Cuddy, Amy. (2012, June). Amy Cuddy: Your body language shapes who you are [Video file]. Retrieved from:

Heinrichs, Jay. "How Harvard destroyed rhetoric." Harvard Magazine 97, no. 6 (1995): 37-42.

Miller, Arthur. "AMERICAN PLAYHOUSE On politics and the art of acting."HARPERS 302 (2001): 33-45.

Orwell, George. Politics and the English language. Penguin UK, 2013.

Westen, Drew. Political brain: The role of emotion in deciding the fate of the nation. PublicAffairs, 2008. Chapter 1.

Haidt, Jonathan. (2012, December). Jonathan Haidt: How common threats can make common (political) ground  [Video file].

Weeks, Holly. “Creating Your Speaker Persona: A Little Larger than Life.” Harvard Kennedy School. Retrieved from:,%20Holly%20Weeks,%20HKS,%202012.pdf

Week 2: Writing Memos, E-Mails and Internal Documents

Behn, Robert D., (2012 August 18), Craft of Memo Writing. Retrieved from:,%20Robert%20Behn,%202012.pdf

Harvard Kennedy School. (2009, May 19), Raising the non- Resident Income Tax, Example for a Memorandum. Retrieved from:,%20HKS,%202009.pdf

Harvard Kennedy School. (2009, May 19), Checklist for Writing Action Memorandum.Retrieved from:,%20HKS,%202009.pdf

Stark, S., The Sixteen Rules of Writing Email. Retrieved from:,%20Steven%20Stark,%20from%20HKS,%202012.pdf

Week 3: Writing Op-Eds, Blogs and Public Documents

Seglin, Jeffrey. 2012. "How to Write an Op-Ed or Column." Harvard Kennedy School Communications Program.,%20HKS,%202012.pdf

Danziger, Marie A. "Some Rhetorical Uses of Story." Harvard Kennedy School.,%20Marie%20Danziger,%20HKS,%202012.pdf

Hannisian, Kate V. "Editing Yourself: How to Copy Edit Your Own Writing." Blue Pencil Consulting.,%20Kate%20Victory%20Hannisian,%20HKS,%202012.pdf

Week 4: Narrative and Storytelling

Iszler, Madison. “The Art of Narrative: Three Tips on Storytelling from WSJ Feature Writer Barry Newman.” Forbes.

Lautenslager, Martin. “Marketing 101: The Art of Storytelling.”

Gibson, Riley. “3 Reasons to Master the Art of Story Telling.” Inc. Online.

Guber, Peter. "The Four Truths of the Storyteller." HBR Online.

Gardner, Howard. "The Leaders’ Stories" In Leading Minds: An Anatomy of Leadership (pp. 41- 54).

Wilder, Lilyan. "Chapter 2 - The Key: Being Real" In Talk Your Way to Success.

Miller, Arthur. "American Playhouse: On Politics and the Art of Acting." Harper’s Magazine, June, 2001

Simmons, A. (2009). The Story Factor: Inspiration, Influence, and Persuasion Through the Art of Storytelling. Basic Books. Chapter 1 (The Six Stories You Need to Know how to Sell), Chapter 4 (How to Tell a Good Story) & Chapter 7 (Influencing the Unwilling, Unconcerned or Unmotivated).

Week 5: Empathy: Your Personal Credibility and Trustworthiness

Bariso, Justin. “Empathy: The Basic Quality Many Leaders Keep Getting Wrong.” Inc. Online.

Cohen, S., Eimicke, W., & Heikkila, T. (2008). The effective public manager: Achieving success in a changing government. John Wiley & Sons. Pages 231-232 on Chapter 10 (Shaping Organizational Goals & Strategies) & Chapter 11 (Communicating with the Media, Stakeholders, and the Public)

Ashkanasy, Neal M., and Catherine S. Daus. "Emotion in the workplace: The new challenge for managers." The Academy of Management Executive 16.1 (2002): 76-86.

Freshman, B., & Rubino, L. (2002). Emotional intelligence: a core competency for health care administrators. The health care manager, 20(4), 1-9.

Week 6: Connecting with your Audience

Raines, C., & Ewing, L. (2006). The art of connecting: How to overcome differences, build rapport, and communicate effectively with anyone. AMACOM Div American Mgmt Assn. Chapter 2 (Core Principles) & Chapter 3 (Pathways to Connection).

Barker, Eric. “Top 10 FBI Behavioral Unit Techniques for Building Rapport With Anyone.” Time Magazine.

Dreeke, R. (2011). It's not all about" me": the top ten techniques for building quick rapport with anyone. People Formula. Techninque 5 (Ego Suspension),Technique 6 (Validate Others), Technique 8 (Connect with Quid Pro Quo) & Technique 10 (Manage Expectations)

Sandoval, V. A., & Adams, S. H. (2001). Subtle skills for building rapport. FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, 70(8), 1-9.

Nick Morgan, “The Kinesthetic Speaker: Putting ACTION into WORDS,” Harvard Business Review, vol.79 issue 4, Apr 2001.

Marshall Goldsmith, “Try Feedforward Instead of Feedback,” from Leader to Leader, No. 25, Summer 2002.

Gulfo, Joseph. “5 Tips for Connecting with Your Audience” Inc. Magazine Online.

Week 7: From the Page to the Podium: Mastery Over Memorization

Schallert, D. L. (1976). Improving memory for prose: The relationship between depth of processing and context. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 15(6), 621-632.

Menzel, K. E., & Carrell, L. J. (1994). The relationship between preparation and performance in public speaking. Communication Education, 43(1), 17-26.

Lorayne, H., & Lucas, J. (2012). The memory book: The classic guide to improving your memory at work, at school, and at play. Ballantine Books. Skim through this short light technique book, but read Chapter 6 (Speeches), Chapter 8 (Names and Faces), Chapter 11 (The Peg) & Chapter 20 (The Politics).


Foer, J. (2011). Moonwalking with Einstein: The art and science of remembering everything. Penguin.

Higbee, K. L. (1977). Your memory: How it works and how to improve it. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.

Week 8: Speaking On the Spot & Thinking on your Feet: What to Say and How to Say It

Christoff, K., Gordon, A., & Smith, R. (2011). The role of spontaneous thought in human cognition. Neuroscience of decision making, 259-284.

Doidge, N. (2007). The brain that changes itself: Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Penguin. Chapter 3 (Redesigning the Brain)

Fernandez, A., Goldberg, E., & Michelon, P. (2013). The SharpBrains Guide to Brain Fitness: How to Optimize Brain Health and Performance at Any Age. SharpBrains. Chapter 7 (Manage Stress, Build Resilience) & Chapter 8 (Cross-Train Your Brain).

Hill, Ruth. “Thinking on your feet.” Mind Tools Toolkit.

CNN. 2008. “How How to think faster, better on your feet.”

Boyd, Stephen. 2007. “Adapting on the Spot.” Public Speaking Tips Online.

Desmarais, C. 2014. "How to Think on Your Feet Under Pressure: 6 Tips" Inc Magazine Online.

Week 9: Designing and Conducting a Presentation

Hug, Lauren M. (2014). The Manager's Guide to Presentations. Packt Publishing Ltd. Chapter 3 (Practicing Your Presentation) – Chapter 4 (Giving Your Presentation)

Donovan, J. (2014). How to deliver a TED talk. McGraw-Hill Education. Skim Part II: Delivery (pp. 113-160) and read Part III: Design (pp. 161 – 181).

Gallo, C. (2010). The presentation secrets of Steve Jobs. McGraw-Hill. Read Act II Scene 10 (Use “Amazingly Zippy Words”), Scene 11 (Share the Stage) & Scene 12 (Stage Your Presentation with Props). Act III Scene 14 (Master Stage Presence) & Scene 15 (Make it look effortless) are optional chapters.

Duarte, N. (2008). Slide: ology: The art and science of creating great presentations.Toronto, ON: O'Reilly Media. Chapter 2 (Creating Ideas, Not Slides) & Chapter 12 (Manifesto: The Five Theses of the Power of a Presentation).

Week 10: Ceremonial Speaking: Toasts, Tributes and Eulogies

Detz, J. (2014). How to write & give a speech: a practical guide for executives, PR people, the military, fund-raisers, politicians, educators, and anyone who has to make every word count, 3rd Ed. Macmillan. Chapter 9 (Special Occasion Speeches)

Siv, Sam. Wedding Speeches - A Practical Guide for Delivering an Unforgettable Wedding Speech. Create Space IPP. Chapter 1: Order of the Speeches (1-6), Chapter 2: How to Deliver a Great Speech (7-12), Chapter 15: Tips for Best Man Speeches (74-78), Chapter 16: Example of Best Man Speeches (79-83), Chapter 17: Tips for Maid of Honor or Bridesmaid Speeches (84-88) & Chapter 18: Examples of Maid of Honor/Bridesmaid Speeches (89-93).

Fountainhead Press. “Ceremonial Speeches.”

Schaeffer, G. (1998). A labor of love: How to write a eulogy. GMS Pub. Introduction & What to Write About (pp. 3 ~ 14) + Read samples chosen of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. & Mohandas Gandhi.

Week 11: Dealing with the Media

Hesmondhalgh, D. (2005). Media and cultural policy as public policy: the case of the British Labour government. International journal of cultural policy, 11(1), 95-109.

Strömberg, D. (2001). Mass media and public policy. European Economic Review, 45(4), 652-663.

Walsh, K. (1994). Marketing and public sector management. European Journal of Marketing, 28(3), 63-71.

OECD (1996), “Effective Communications Between the Public Service and the Media”, SIGMA Papers, No. 9, OECD Publishing.

Livingstone, S. (2004). Media literacy and the challenge of new information and communication technologies. The Communication Review, 7(1), 3-14.

De Courson, R. “How to Survive a Media Scrum.” AFP Blog Online.

Levine, A. (1996). Scrum wars: The prime ministers and the media. Dundurn. Preface (The Battle of the scrum) ~ Prologue.

Week 12: Social Media and New Channels of Communication

Ellis, V., & Richards, J. (2009). “Chapter 15: Creating, Connecting and Correcting: Motivations and Meanings of Work Blogging Amongst Public Service Workers?” IN Work Matters: Critical Reflections on Contemporary Work.

Skeels, M. M., & Grudin, J. (2009, May). When social networks cross boundaries: a case study of workplace use of facebook and linkedin. In Proceedings of the ACM 2009 international conference on Supporting group work (pp. 95-104). ACM.

Bryer, T. A., & Zavattaro, S. M. (2011). Social media and public administration: Theoretical dimensions and introduction to the symposium. Administrative Theory & Praxis, 33(3), 325-340.

Picazo-Vela, S., Gutierrez-Martinez, I., & Luna-Reyes, L. F. (2012). Understanding risks, benefits, and strategic alternatives of social media applications in the public sector. Government Information Quarterly, 29(4), 504-511.

Mergel, I. (2010). Government 2.0 revisited: Social media strategies in the public sector.

Mergel, I. (2011). The use of social media to dissolve knowledge silos in government. The future of public administration, public management, and public service around the world.

 Page Created By: James Ban on 6 August 2015

Important Notices
© University of Toronto 2008
School of Public Policy and Governance