Outline – Writing Skills

Suggested Length: Six half-days

Improving Staff Writing Skills

Part 1 – The Writing Process

  • Planning – Establish a standard of writing • Take time to choose a topic • Choose a lead writer • Pre-writing activities
  • Understanding the Purpose – Determining the Fit • Purpose drives the writing tone
  • Organizing – Different techniques for organizing your thoughts and your writing • Choosing the best method of organizing for your project
  • Analyzing your reader’s needs and expectations
  • Exercise: Become your reader • Check your work

Part 2 – Writing Style

  • Getting started – Overcoming writer’s block • Should you try to be a Hemingway or a Faulkner?
  • Content – The choice between formal and conversational style • Your choice of words and their impact on the reader • Determining the expected reading level • How to develop clarity of expression • Concise, tight wording
  • How do you get past the reader’s preoccupation? – Creating strong openings and headlines • Maintaining interest through variety • Facilitating the task of reading • Building a case or argument
  • Concluding your work – The effect of your writing on your organization’s brand image • Check your work

Part 3 – Mechanics

  • Common problems found in the mechanics of writing
  • Building blocks for more effective writing – Active and passive voice • Agreement – pronouns • Agreement – nouns • Clauses • Cliches and idioms • Dangling modifiers • Paragraphs • Parallel structures • Phrases • Pronouns • Punctuation • Sentences • Spelling • Verbs • Word choice
  • Effective use of tables, charts, graphs, and graphics • Presenting statistics
  • Format – Formatting options • Proper forms for citations, footnotes, and endnotes
  • Tips for cleaning up your writing style
  • Editing and proofreading – Distancing. Stepping back • Review-Revise-Proof
  • Coaching employees to write better – Guidelines for coaching people • Coach and train for better writing skills • Check your work

Putting New Skills to Use

Exercise: Bring a job-related writing assignment to each session (report, white paper, proposal, grant, etc.). Participants will have an opportunity to work on their writing assignments and apply the principles covered in each session.

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