Writing clearer summaries and sharper reports
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This is a one day course about how to write for business readers clearly and persuasively.
The course is aimed at those who write or edit reports, proposals, or presentations and want to learn how to write shorter, clearer documents that more people will read. It will show you how to write for busy readers (pretty much anyone in any business or organisation), and give you practical pointers on how to get your message across.
By the end of the course you will know how to:
- Recognise the habits that make business-writing so tiring to read (eg overly formal language, long winded 'introductions', buried key-points and conclusions)
- Use techniques that help you get your message across clearly and quickly (eg straightforward language, conclusion-first structure, helpful tables and flowcharts)
- Put together simple tables, graphics, and flow diagrams that will help readers get your message.
The programme for the day, broken up with hands-on exercises is as follows:
- How people read and remember, and what makes writing easy to read
- How readers think, and what readers need in order to keep reading
- The problem: the way you're taught to write at school and university (and many workplaces) makes business-writing hard to read, and tends to bury your key messages
- How straightforward writing (eg The Economist, The Financial Times) uses less formal language than typical business writing
- Before-and-after examples that show how a conclusion-first structure, straightforward language, and 'signposts' make your message clear to busy readers
- How to use 'message' headlines, standfirsts, and subheadings that tell readers what’s coming next in your document
- Five tips for straightforward language (practical pointers, not technical points on grammar)
- Examples of easy-to-produce tables, graphics, and flowcharts
- Tips on how to put together graphics and flowcharts
- Tips on how to put together text-tables
- Checklists: plain language; clear structure; tables; graphics and flowcharts
- One-to-one feedback on attendees' writing samples
During the day you'll see before-and-after examples that show how the ideas in the session deliver real results. The hands-on exercises will show you how to:
- Use a conclusion-first structure to write clear summaries; no more 'conclusions' that bury your key points, no more long winded 'introductions' that slow readers down
- Write for the reader - how to give readers what they need to know, and not leave questions hanging in the reader's mind
- Let go of over-formal language; you'll learn why long words and complex sentences slow readers down
- Put together easy-to-produce tables, graphics, and flow diagrams that help you explain and emphasise your key points.
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Workshop style, a detailed work book (contains the ideas and the exercises), and lots of hands-on exercises.
If you send examples of your writing ahead of the workshop, you can have one-to-one feedback and pointers at the end of the session.
who should attend?
You should come on this course if you:
- Regularly write or edit reports and proposals
- Would like to develop a writing-style that uses plain language, short sentences, and always puts the conclusion or key points first
- Find tables, graphics, and flowcharts useful when you read documents, and would like to learn how to use them in your own documents.
You don't need specialist writing, language, or editing skills to attend, or Word and PowerPoint skills, and you won't use a computer in any of the exercises. The workbook will cover the basic points on how to create tables, graphics, and flow diagram in Word and PowerPoint.
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