Business writing is a skill that can be learnt
Think-write’s training course Writing well at work can help your people write business documents that are easy to read, get to the point fast and achieve purpose.
Writing well at work is designed to lift the writing skills of your people. Too often bright, capable, enthusiastic workers are let down by poor writing skills. Very few receive guidance about writing well during formal education – Writing well at work fills that gap.
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The need for writer training
Writing clearly, succinctly and persuasively is an important part of the work of nearly every public servant, manager or supervisor. The written word is the main way ideas are passed around and through your organisation.
You and your staff likely have considerable content expertise and are knowledgeable about the topics you write about. However, few authors have formal training in writing and communication. They rely on limited guidance provided during school and university, and whatever they have been able to pick up on the job or from other sources.
The benefits of training
This course helps participants to develop skills that will help them write a range of documents that are more effective and more efficient.
More effective – documents more easily read, understood and more likely acted on by the audience.
More efficient – documents written and read in less time. Less back and forth between authors and reviewers.
- understand the importance of having a user centred mindset
- be able to define the purpose and key message of a document
- be able to organise content in a ‘point first’ structure
- know the principles of writing in plain language and be able to correct poor text
- understand the components of persuasive communication and be able to include these appropriately in documents.
Thinking well and writing well are closely connected. The ability to organise ideas effectively and communicate them clearly, concisely and persuasively has significant career benefits for individuals. It also enhances the effectiveness and reputation of your organisation.
The course is delivered from the perspective of a practitioner sharing insights and has a definite ‘hands-on’ rather than theoretical approach.
Writing well is a complex capability. The course conveys basic knowledge of the writing process and the techniques involved in producing effective text. It focuses on helping participants develop text that is concise and clear, and includes opportunity to practise the craft of writing.
The course focuses on ‘functional’ documents. That is, purposeful documents that are intended to impact readers; to influence thinking, attitudes and behaviour. Writers are taught to generate text that is persuasive without being manipulative; material that is engaging to read and that makes good sense to the audience.
The learning program consists of three components:
1. Topic presentations
- What makes documents ‘better’.
Functional documents must achieve purpose
- The importance, act and role of writing.
How writing is connected to the thinking process.
- Defining purpose.
A clear purpose is essential for good writing. It also provides the basis for evaluation.
- Understanding your audience.
Having the needs of your reader (user) in mind. The entire course is presented from a ‘user first’ perspective.
- Defining the key message.
What is the single most important idea to convey.
- Developing content.
Discovering the content required to meet users needs; and what can be left out.
- Organising and structuring.
What is the best way to organise the content? Organising for different purposes.
- Chunking information.
Paragraphing and summarising.
- Headings and how to use them.
Using talking headings rather than bucket headings to aid scanability.
- Importance of plain language (plain English).
How plain language improves document performance.
- Word choice.
Preferring simpler, shorter words over more complex alternatives.
- Using the active voice.
Writing more directly and improving the clarity of sentences.
- Verbs not nouns.
Using a style to make content accessible and less bureaucratic.
- Trimming the word count.
Finding and destroying the flab in writing.
- Sentence structure.
Keeping sentences simple but interesting.
- Getting people to read your work
Injecting some passion into your writing.
- Reviewing documents.
Adding value to other peoples’ work.
Discovering what to improve in a document.
- Putting it all together
2. Learning by doing
During the course participants review and edit a document that is a normal part of work – a web page, briefing note, fact sheet, report or the like. So, in addition to developing writing skills, the workshop also improves a document, making it more useful.
3. One-on-one coaching
Think-write Consulting offers one-on-one coaching (by email) to refine the document commenced during the training. This coaching is available as an option for an additional charge.