Writing Skills Programs

Now that e-mail is an indispensable business tool, everyone is a writer. Yet, few can write well. My business writing programs are practical--designed for today’s business communicator. I’m not going to tell you how to “dress things up.” Instead, I’m going to show you how to get to the point efficiently and effectively, and how to eliminate the most common careless mistakes even careful writers make.

Business Writing in Plain English

Learn to Write Painlessly, Persuasively, and Professionally

Writing need not be difficult, but many people try to make it so. The process of writing should be natural, and the product should be clear and concise. By focusing on timetested, fundamental skills, you can learn to write effectively and efficiently in this practical program for today’s business communicator. Among the topics to be covered:

Getting started-fast
Organize your thoughts quickly without worrying about traditional outlines.

Using your natural voice to motivate a response
Discover how your personality and tone affect your ability to persuade. Learn the difference between your “speaking voice” and your “writing voice.”

Conveying your message with precision and tact
Learn how the “one-minute barrier” affects your opening paragraph. Discover where the “power positions” are in a letter and how to use them. If you have to divulge bad news, learn which sequence typically works best.

Editing for brevity, clarity, and power
Too much of today’s business writing is needlessly complex. Learn to simplify. Learn to eliminate pretentious and unnecessary words that can cause confusion.

Focusing your message on the reader’s needs
Discover the value of second-person pronouns in motivating a response. Learn to use journalism’s classic five W’s to help you identify your reader’s needs. Learn why the meanings of words lie in the mind, not in the dictionary.

Emphasizing essential elements of your message
Discover why your effectiveness can depend on the verbs you choose. Learn to put the important elements of each sentence in the proper positions.

Length of program: 1 hour, 2 hours, or 3 hours.

Goof-Proof Grammar

Eliminate Common Errors That Can Harm Your Professional Image

We were exposed to rules of grammar in elementary school, junior high, high school, and again in college. Yet we forgot most of the rules we learned, and some of the rules we remember may have changed. Here’s a chance to relearn the basics: the rules you should never break, the rules you can bend, and the so-called “rules” that aren’t really rules at all. Among the topics to be covered:

Common sense punctuation
With three or more items in a series, should you use a comma before “and”? Do commas and periods go inside or outside the closing quotation marks? How do you use a semicolon? And when should you? When is an apostrophe not needed to indicate possession?

Problematic pronouns
When should you use “who” and when should you use “whom”? Which is it: Bob or Gary will have to give up (their or his) office. When grappling with “I, me, or myself,” what determines the right choice?

Active vs. passive verbs
Grammar checkers always recommend active voice verbs instead of passive. Why? When is passive voice the better choice, no matter what your computer says?

Easily confused words
What’s the difference between affect and effect? Fewer and less? Farther and further? Do you lie down or lay down for a nap? And what is past tense of lie down? Do you feel bad or badly? What’s the difference between good and well?

The split infinitive and other myths
The split infinitive: what is it and how do you split one...or should you? Should you use contractions in business writing? How about sentence fragments? Is it wrong to begin a sentence with a conjunction...or end with a preposition?

Length of program: 1 hour, 2 hours, or 3 hours.

E-mail Etiquette

It may be sent electronically, but business standards still apply

Just because technology has changed the speed and method of delivery, the rules of communication have not. An e-mail is a piece of business correspondence, no matter how it is delivered. In short, e-mail is not an excuse for sloppiness or carelessness. Learn how you may be guilty of both.

Among the topics to be covered:

Emoticons: the Mark of a Truly Uninspired Writer
Man has written letters for centuries. The emoticon has been around less than two decades. How did we ever communicate with out them? Quite nicely, actually.

Sometimes It’s Quicker to Pick Up the Phone
“I’ll dash off a quick e-mail.” (Reply) “Now I’ll dash off a reply to their response.” (Reply) “Now I’ll respond to their reply.” When does it end?

I Got Your Answer; What Was the Question?
Learn why “Include sender’s message” is something everyone appreciates.

Not Everyone Wants to Hear From You
“Reply All” is frequently used but often unnecessary. Learn to keep your personal messages personal.

ALL CAPS Does Not Mean You Are Shouting
It just means you are lazy.

Note: This is not a program on how to use Outlook or similar e-mail programs. Instead, it is a program to encourage sound business communication principles, no matter how the message is delivered.

Length of program: 1 hour

Catch Mistakes Before They Catch You

Even if it's not in in your job description, proofreading is still your job

Up for a challenge? Proofread the following four sentences:
Neither Diane or Bob were able to attend the meeting. Bob sited 3 reasons he was not their. He said: “I except responsibility for my absense and will do every thing possibile to insure my my presents at the next one”. He said he felt badly about missing it since his vote could of prevented the dispersement of unecessary funds for what he considers a “wastefull use of taxpayers money.

If you didn’t find 20 errors, you need this refresher course.

Among the topics to be covered:

Where Mistakes Are More Likely to Occur
Most mistakes occur in two places in a document. Learn where and why.

How to Create a Favorable Proofreading Environment
Proofreading depends on attention to detail. Learn how to facilitate and enhance focus.

What Reference Materials Are Good to Have on Hand
Learn the three reference books or websites you can’t live without.

The 3-Step Approach to Proofreading
You’ll catch more mistakes if you focus on these three sequential steps.

The “Backward Way” to Catch Spelling Errors
Learn to force your brain to slow down and look at each word independently.

Length of program: 1 hour

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