Worktalk customizes all training materials. Your examples and exercises will be drawn directly from writing samples that you send to us. Many firms charge hefty fees for customization; we include it in our reasonable rates. The training takes on added relevance as participants see "live" work being edited before their eyes.
The Core Business Writing Workshop consists of four half-day modules. The two-day format allows one half-day for each module and offers plenty of time for practice exercises and customization. Together, the four modules cover the full range of information necessary to become a clear, concise writer. Multiple group exercises also build the sense of camaraderie as well as teamwork as participants learn to work together to generate high-quality writing. We strongly recommend this format, as it allows more time for questions, practice and discussion. It also contains a comprehensive module on grammar and punctuation.
Module One: Shaping Your Message
- Cut Your Writing Time in Half
- Get the big picture first. Learn about the three stages of writing and the Three P’s: Purpose, Person, and Point. You’ll see how the “Three P’s Process” will enable you to jump-start any writing project and ensure that you are targeting your readers.
- Patterns of Organization
- The organization and structure of your document flow from its purpose. We’ll cover six core organizational patterns and see how and when to apply them.
- You’ll also make sure that you include all relevant information and organize it logically.
- The Organic Outline Brings Your Document to Life
- Learn the key distinction between organizing and writing. The Organic Outline process will enable you to get the right structure for your document the first time you outline it, and will ensure that your document fulfills its purpose.
- Make Your Reader Act by Using Strategic “Structuring”
- Learn how you can make your point just through the way your structure your document. This persuasive structuring approach adds a powerful tool to your writing arsenal.
Module Three: The Craft of Writing
- Make Your Sentences Pack Power
- The essential sentence is the North Star of every sentence. You will learn to find it and use it to craft powerful sentences. You’ll also learn the ideal sentence length to ensure maximal readability.
- Ten Ways Professional Writers Keep Their Writing Interesting
- These ten key ideas will guide you in writing clearly, concisely and powerfully in plain English. Examples and practice exercises will make each principle easy to understand.
- Avoid Sounding “Cold” or Impersonal
- Learn about the sentence structures and word choices that can make the difference between a warm, friendly tone and an impersonal one.
Module Four: Looking Again
- “Murder Your Darlings”: Learn the Secrets of Professional Editors
- “Writing is rewriting what has already been rewritten.” Much of your document’s success depends on how effectively you edit your early drafts. Here you will learn three secrets to professional-level editing. You’ll learn to identify grammar errors, eliminate verbal clutter, spot logical errors and omissions, and smooth out the tone of your work.
- Don’t Show Up With Ketchup On Your Shirt
- The format and presentation of your document are part of its success. Learn three formatting secrets that will help your message reach your reader. See how headings and sub-heads guide your reader through your document.
- Editing for Others With No Hard Feelings
- “The strongest urge in human beings is not love and it is not hate. It is one person’s desire to change another’s copy.” This section offers basic ground rules that people can use when assigning writing to others and editing one another’s work.
Core Business Writing Seminar
This one-day program gives an overview of the writing process.
- Overcoming Fear of Writing
- Identifying and overcoming signs of panic and writer’s block.
- The three stages of writing are: Getting Ready, which should take 30 to 40% of total project time; Writing the First Draft, which should take 15 to 20% of the time, and Revising, which should take the remainder of the project time.
- Purpose, Person and Point: These three elements of the document must be clear before any effective writing can be done. Clarifying these factors in advance can cut total writing time in half. We will look at examples of documents with various purposes and audiences and learn how to analyze them. Participants will write out the Three Ps for an individual in-class project.
- Basic Principles of Organization
- Participants will learn three key principles in structuring their documents.
- Put your main point first.
- Put your main point last if the reader will resist your message.
- Restate all requests at the end.
- Finding the Essential Sentence
- The core noun and verb, or subject and predicate, are crucial to the structure of even the most complex sentence. Learning to untangle them helps writers simplify unwieldy sentences.
- Five Key Principles of Good Writing
- Beginning with the value of writing with verbs and ranging through the importance of simplifying your sentences, participants will learn five vital principles to keep your writing crisp and clear. Training exercises are drawn from participants’ writing samples.
- Writing the Quick First Draft.
- The function of the first draft is to create something to revise. Participants will draft their personal project, keeping in mind the writing principles they have just learned.
- Professional editors know that they need to put work aside before they try to revise it. They also know that reading aloud is one of the main ways to make sure that their eyes are not deceiving them. These are just two of the important editing tools you will learn. After discussing these editing principles, participants will edit their projects and share their results with the group.
Extensive classroom discussion enables participants to embody each element of the training before moving on to the next point. Training exercises are drawn from “live” work submitted in participants’ writing samples.
Worktalk Customizable Writing Webinars
All programs are available in either customized or non-customized formats. The customization takes two forms: content and practice exercises. I add to or adapt the program materials based on the issues that you and your managers see as most important or irksome. Many program exercises and examples are customized based on writing samples you submit from your organization. Non-customized examples are drawn from my files. Both formats allow opportunities for participants to ask questions.
3Ps, Three Principles of Writing and Three Principles of Editing
This program offers a quick overview of the writing process. We begin with the basic planning tool, the Three Ps (purpose, person, point); this tool helps writers produce more polished first drafts and cuts substantially the total amount of time needed to write any document. We then cover three basic principles of clear writing, and talk about three basic editing principles. Each principle is illustrated with examples and practice exercises.
Planning and Formatting Your Writing
This program supersedes the “Three Ps, Three Principles” training and delves more deeply into the topics of planning, organizing and formatting. We begin with tools to overcome fear of writing and procrastination. We then cover the Three Ps (purpose, person, and point), basic patterns of organization, key principles of organization, and organizing for maximal persuasion. We follow this with elements of proper formatting such as using ample white space and integrating subheads and headlines. The customized format enables you to include give specific instructions for document formatting, and allows participants to work on “live” examples from their daily writing.
Grammar and Punctuation
This webinar covers capitalization (including problematic words like state, federal, and city), pronoun reference, run-on sentences, use of which and that, distinction between its and it's, and proper punctuation. We cover the use of the comma, semi-colon, colon, hyphen, apostrophe and quotation marks. If you choose the customized program, the contents of the course would be adapted if your managers are concerned about specific points of grammar and punctuation or fine points that are unique to your profession or organization.
Ten Keys to Successful Writing
This program supersedes the “Three Ps, Three Principles” program in that it includes ten tools for writing successfully. (The other program includes only three.) We will also learn how to find the essential sentence in order to reduce errors in singular-plural agreement and problems of verbosity. Writing principles include: (1) Write with verbs. (2) Use the active voice. (3) Use parallel construction. (4) Omit needless words. and (5) Simplify your sentence structure.
“Writing is rewriting what has already been rewritten.” This program includes the editing principles contained in the “Three Ps, Three Principles” training and builds on it, offering useful suggestions for editing the work of others, assigning writing tasks to others, and proofreading effectively.
Ten Principles of Smart Email
An on-line ten-part email course is available for free through my web site, www.worktalk.com. Ideas include (1) Be sure email is the right medium. (2) Use the subject line wisely. (3) Include a greeting. (4) Be polite. (5) Remember that emails are public documents. If you are interested in having a fuller discussion of the Ten Principles of Smart Email, and wish for your people to be able to ask questions, this webinar might interest you.
Editing and Email
This program combines the material on effective editing with the ten principles of smart email.
Core Webinar Program
Four 90-minute webinars
If you want to offer your participants a complete overview of the writing process, schedule the webinars in
- Planning, Organizing and Formatting;
- Grammar and Punctuation;
- Ten Keys to Successful Writing; and
- Editing and Email.
This course draws on elements of the Core training, linking them to the specific challenges of technical writing. It is for people who work in technical fields such as engineering, computer science, or financial areas that require them to use specialized language. This course teaches them how to make their ideas understandable to readers who are not familiar with their field.
In addition to the material in the Core training, you will learn how to avoid using jargon and explain complex ideas in simple language, how to decide how much technical information to include, how to write an executive summary, how to use graphs and diagrams to get your message across, and how to make sure that your reader understands the value of the technical work you do.
The Technical Writing training adds one half-day to the Core program.
Emails are careening through cyber-space at an ever-increasing pace. This training will help you make sure that your emails are read and understood. You will learn the ten key principles of smart email writing. During the course, you will learn the three mistakes to always avoid and find out how to see an email from your reader’s point of view, to convey your point clearly, to control the tone of your email and to make sure that you are using email appropriately.
This module can be added to the Core or Technical Writing training program or it can stand alone as a two-hour presentation.
Refresher Course for Graduates of Core Program
Over time, people need reinforcement of the skills they gain in training programs. This course is designed for those who have taken Worktalk’s Core program within 12 to 18 months. Course content is largely determined by the results of a customized assessment process. We determine which areas are most in need of review and tailor the course to your organization’s ongoing communication needs and goals.
Imagine having the writing coach all to yourself for an hour so you can ask all the questions you want. This service might be appropriate for an executive or senior employee who does not feel comfortable attending a group seminar, someone who does an unusual kind of writing, or an employee who needs extra personal attention.
Coaching is available in person, by phone, or by a combination of phone and e-mail. Private coaching offers the highest possible level of customization.
Worktalk develops training programs that meet your specific objectives. We will talk with you about your organization’s strategic and training goals and design a program that will meet them.