The foundation of all of our workshops is plain writing. Put succinctly, plain writing (also called plain language or plain English) is communication your audience can understand the first time they read it. It is such an important concept that the federal government passed the Plain Writing Act of 2010, which in essence states that every document federal employees write for the public must be written in plain English.
Each workshop meets the communication core competencies for federal agencies, as well as for organizations in the private sector. Our full-day and half-day courses are held onsite, while our shorter courses and tutorials can be conducted either onsite or online depending on the needs of your group. Participants leave each of our workshops with easy-to-remember writing tips that they can apply on the very next documents they write.
We teach the rules-free process that professionals use to write smarter and faster in plain English. Our method is based on contemporary academic and workplace research, and introduces a new, simplified approach to writing. This approach includes a four-step process and does not require participants to “start from scratch” and learn a completely new way to write. Our course shows participants how to improve their business-writing skills by building on their current writing style and process.
This workshop teaches participants everything from the history and definition of technical writing to the five major technical writing problems and how to solve them. In addition, participants learn how to apply the basic elements of plain English to technical topics in order to create clear and concise technical documents.
We offer two Advanced workshops: Advanced Business Writing and Advanced Technical Writing. These workshops build on the concepts participants learn in the Business Writing and Technical Writing workshops. The courses are seminar-based with plenty of hands-on exercises, and are designed around the types of writing the participants do most often on the job. Prerequisite: Business Writing Workshop or Technical Writing Workshop.
Editing for Managers
Among other skills, this workshop teaches managers:
- how to spend less time editing
- a simple, two-step editing process
- the difference between editing and proofreading
- how editors at large publishing companies revise documents, and
- how to help the writers they edit to become better proofreaders
Based on the message/mechanics approach in Write Up the Corporate Ladder, participants learn grammar and proofreading skills, plus an innovative proofreading process that helps to ensure that the content of each document is clear and concise—and that the mechanics are grammatically correct.
This half-day course is divided into two parts: 1) Outgoing Email, which, among other topics, teaches participants when it’s necessary to respond to a colleague or client with an email, the importance of the Subject line, and how to write brief, clearly worded emails using a “reader-based” plain-writing style; and 2) Incoming Email, which explains proper email etiquette, how to manage a full inbox, and how to reduce the stress of replying to emails.
Custom Designed Workshops
Our customized courses address specific needs within organizations. We begin by conducting an assessment of your team’s writing needs. The assessment includes analyzing writing samples and interviewing stakeholders to discover the on-the-job writing issues they see everyday. Next, we develop a course based on this data that is tailored to improve the participants’ writing weaknesses and expand on their strengths. Here are just a few of the workshops that we have developed for our government and corporate clients: How to Write 510(k) Reviews, How to Write Deficiencies in Four-Part Harmony, How to Write Case Studies, Professional Writing for Junior Officers & Senior NCOs, How to Write Proposals, and How to Write Executive Briefs.
Each tutorial consists of one-on-one sessions that pinpoint a person’s writing strengths and weaknesses; the tutorial then addresses those weaknesses. We start by assessing the participant’s current writing style. Next, we design a curriculum to correct any problems we find during the assessment. The curriculum also includes tips and best practices used by professional writers to ensure that every document is clear and concise. In order to make the instruction as relevant and effective as possible, we incorporate the participant’s current on-the-job writing projects into the sessions, giving immediate feedback on how to improve the documents. Our tutorials can be held onsite or online, depending on which is most convenient for the participant. Tutorials can also be combined with a half-day online writing workshop to provide formal instruction in plain writing techniques.
Ten Reasons Why Our Workshops Will Improve Your Writing Skills
Our Custom Workshop for the SEALs
Poor Writing Can Cost Businesses Money But in the Military, Lives Are on the Line
Designing a workshop for the US Navy SEALs was an interesting, creative—and fun—challenge. Workshops are more effective if they are relevant to the participants. So we spent time researching writing samples that would mean something to the commissioned and non-commissioned officers taking the course.
We found just what we were looking for: poorly written military orders that, because they were misinterpreted by the officers who read them, led to the disastrous and infamous Charge of the Light Brigade during the Crimean War, Custer’s Last Stand at the Little Big Horn River, and to Napoleon’s defeat at a small farming village (population 200 in 1815) in southern Belgium called Waterloo.
We also discovered that some of the best generals—for example, Ulysses S. Grant and the Duke of Wellington—were clear and concise writers. One of Grant’s officers said, “There is one striking feature of Grant’s orders; no matter how hurriedly he may write them on the field, no one ever has the slightest doubt as to their meaning, or even has to read them over a second time to understand them.” The Duke of Wellington clearly (and quite literally) understood that the pen is mightier than the sword; he kept a pen in his holster, not a pistol.
The battlefield orders and writing habits of successful generals added a colorful and intriguing aspect to the workshop. Participants found them engaging and informative. Reviewing the poorly worded orders that caused such battlefield disasters was educational, and even though the writing samples were up to 200 years old, they drove home lessons that couldn’t be more current and in more demand: the benefits of clear and concise writing.
This is why we customize our workshops: to engage the participants and to make learning compelling, fun and relevant. Find out how we can do the same for you.