Executive Writing Skills
This course is aimed at all those working in the public sector who appreciate the importance of clear, concise and convincing writing and who want to get better at it. What we write creates a permanent record; how we write represents and defines us and our departments. Our writing reflects how clearly we think; how simply, informatively and persuasively we transmit our message. Good writing is generally best achieved through the use of plain and simple English, even though some writers believe that good writing in the public sector requires them to employ expressions they would never use in speech – to overdo the use of long, obscure words – to use wordy noun phrases – to write mainly in the passive voice because it appears more intellectual. None of this is necessary and most of it is counter-productive: writing in this manner not only muddies the message it mystifies the reader.
For us to write effectively and for our writing to achieve its purposes, we need to adopt a few simple strategies and to follow a number of plain, easily-understood principles. Doing this enables anyone to master the skills of effective executive writing. It empowers them to achieve clarity, impact and influence in anything they write. Computer technology also allows writers to verify that their writing is achieving its purpose and may be understood easily by the target readership.
Participants in this fast-moving, interactive yet informal workshop will learn how they may develop their skills as effective executive writers. They will be engaged throughout the day in more than a dozen interactive writing exercises designed to develop their skills and confidence and will finish the day by working (privately) on a substantial piece of their own writing. Participants will also take away a 40-page workbook which contains all the simple writing principles and techniques covered in the course.
- identifying the three essential strategies of executive writing
- working through the seven principles that infuse all writing with clarity, impact and influence
- what’s the point? Determining the precise purpose of any piece of writing.
- who cares? Identifying readers
- learning how to write for different target readerships
- deciding the most effective order of the writing to achieve its purpose
- understanding the difference between writing to inform and writing to influence or persuade: how the two may be combined
- writing for readers outside the department: turning jargon into common parlance
- examining twenty-two common areas of poor writing: from grammar and vocabulary to tone, style and proof-reading
- learning how to précis: turning long documents into short ones
- making the writing muscular: finding and eradicating the hidden 20% of fat in most pieces of writing: the soft, abstract noun phrases; the soggy adjectives and adverbs; the overuse of the passive.
After completing this course, participants should be able to:
- write shorter, clearer, more precise and reader-friendly reports, policy documents, manuals, memos and emails
- prepare and structure their writing in the order that best goes to its purpose
- write simple, effective and informative sentences that impart clear information or powerfully persuade
- edit out unnecessary words and phrases to achieve greater concision, clarity and impact in their writing
- target their writing to specific readerships
- know how to structure, revise and rewrite quickly and competently
Benefits to your organisation
Training staff to become effective executive writers:
- saves the department time and money
- reduces the substantial time and productivity costs of management seeking clarification of badly written communications
- saves senior executives’ time by reducing much of the editing and rewriting of badly written documents
- enhances the positive attitude that effective executive writing bestows on the department.
Benefits to you
- You will write less but be understood more.
- Effective writing will enable you to get to the point swiftly and succinctly,
- Less of your work will be edited and changed by other people
- Your writing will include better and more influential arguments
- Effective writing will enable you to anticipate queries and questions and to answer them before they are raised.