Kinds of Details you Can Use to Prove Your Case


Facts and Figures:

 "Last month, sales were strong.  We have received three new contracts worth $8 million and have a good chance of getting another with an annual value or $2.5 million."

Most common form of detail in business messages.  Adds more credibility than any other form of development.  May become boring if used in  excess.


 Example or Illustration:

 "We’ve spent the past four months trying to hire recent accounting graduates for our internal audit staff, and, so far, only one person has agreed to join our firm.  One woman told me she would love to work for us. But she can get $5,000 more a year elsewhere."

 Adds life to a message, but one example does not prove a point. Idea must be supported by other evidence as well.



 "Upscale hamburger restaurants are designed for McDonald’s graduates who still love the taste of a Big Mac but who want more than convenience and low prices.  The adult hamburger establishments feature attractive waitresses, wine and beer, half-pound burgers and substantial side dishes, such as nachos and potato skins.  “Atmosphere” is a key ingredient in the formula for success."

 Useful when you need to explain how something looks or functions.  Helps audience visualize the subject by creating a sensory impression.  Does not prove a point, but clarifies points and makes them memorable.  Begins with overview of object’s function; defines its purpose, lists major parts, and explains how it operates; relies on words that appeal to senses. 




Under former management, the company operated in a causal style.  Executives came to work in blue jeans, meeting rarely started on time, and lunch rarely ended on time.  When Mr. Wilson took over as CEO, however, the company got religion—financial religion.  A Harvard MBA who favors Brooks Brothers suits, Mr. Wilson has embarked on a complete overhaul of the operation.  He has cut the product line from 6,000 items to 1,200 and has chopped $12 million off expenses. 


Good for attracting attention and explaining ideas, but lacks statistical validity.


Reference to Authority:

I talked with Jackie Lohman in the Cleveland plant about this idea, and she was very supportive.  As you know, Jackie has been in charge of that plant for the past six years.  She is confident that we can speed up the number 2 line by 150 units per hour if we add another worker.

 Bolsters a case and adds credibility.  Works only if “authority” is recognized and respected by the audience.


Visual Aids:


Graphs, Tables, and Charts


(See Visual Aid Information and Visual Aid Types)

Essential when presenting specific information.  Used more often in memos and reports than in letters.


Back to Assignment #2


Handout compiled from Courtland L. Bovee and John V. Thill, Business Communication Today, (Upper Saddle, NJ, Prentice Hall, 2000), 135.