Program Description

This two day program (one day group workshop, one day individual coaching sessions) is designed to introduce participants to a new approach to technical writing that will enable them to write more persuasively and more quickly, often cutting writing time by 20% or more. The workshop portion of the program emphasizes:

One-on-one coaching sessions on the second day deal with participants' individual writing issues.

Program design

This workshop stresses preparation -- "thinking before you write" -- because a systematic approach to writing is the best time management tool there is (for both writer and reader) and because the effectiveness of any written communication depends on the quality of the reasoning behind it. Our insistence on creating customized exercises from the organization's own materials means that participants find it easy to see how the system can work for them on the job. The combination of a workshop session for the whole group and individual sessions with the instructor provides for interchange of ideas and more detailed feedback.

Program development

To customize the workshop, we will meet with appropriate people in the organization to determine needs and get ideas for examples and exercises. We will also request three technical writing samples from each participant before the program. Participants will be asked to read the first four chapters of Writing for Decision Makers by Marya Holcombe and Judy Stein, to introduce them to the concepts of logical structure which will then be covered in detail in the workshop. They will also be asked to consult with their managers to choose a writing assignment to work on during the workshop.

Assignment Send instructors three samples of writing; read first four chapters of Writing for Decision Makers; select a writing assignment (in consultation with your manager) to be worked on in the workshop

Discussion: Writing to meet the reader’s need; the special needs of technical audiences for complete documentation
Exercise: In-box

Discussion: Work through the process of developing a logical argument using participants’ own work
-- focusing on the reader’s needs
-- organizing support around criteria
-- constructing a logical structure using a logic tree
-- writing to consistent guidelines

Create organization structure for own assignment

Put trees on transparencies for review by the group

Working lunch Apply principles to another assignment

-- writing beginnings and endings
-- turning the structure into a document

Fill out audience profile, establish criteria, develop logic tree, and write up own assignment

Discussion: The importance of correct grammar and usage; the process of efficient revision
-- Active versus passive
-- Using the correct tense
-- Common grammar errors
-- Overly elaborate language

Stump the instructor

Discussion: Using the process to evaluate your own and others’ writing

Switch work with a partner and evaluate

Summary and wrap up

Individual sessions with the instructor are scheduled for the next day.

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