Business Writing Workshop

with Patricia Kantor & Jill Hamburg Coplan

Business Writing Workshops

Writing for work is a challenge and a skill. In this age of instant digital communication, everyone has become a writer. It takes concentration, mastery of your subject matter, even willingness to endure personal risk. And the stakes are high with a global workforce handling emergencies and crises—across cultures, languages and time zones. Bad writing can be costly to organizations. When employees wrote clearly and persuasively enough to move their readers to take necessary actions, studies by the insurance industry showed it saved millions of dollars. Writing well is essential and our stimulating one- or two-day workshop helps everyone learn how.

Our goals

Our custom-tailored workshops begin with input from the client, allowing us t build a course that matches their needs. Shortly before the workshop, participants send two writing samples (formal and informal documents) and get back diagnostic feedback, identifying their strengths and weaknesses. The workshop itself, a carefully structured progression of exercises and individual and group activities–interspersed with one-on-one coaching—ratchets their writing up to a new level of mastery. Participants learn to translate specialized jargon, select what matters, be clear and direct without coldness. They pre-write, organize and revise. They get templates (visual designs and narrative structures) for e-mail, memos and other documents that boost their logic and power. Participants receive workbooks with grammar and punctuation worksheets, checklists for self-editing, and a style guide of common errors. The takeaway is a new understanding of the writing process and greater writing skill.

Our partnership

Patricia has worked coaching and instructing high-level international professionals in presentation skills on several continents, including at many sections of the UN, the Institute for International Education, and at global corporations. Jill filed stories from around the world as a news reporter, served as a UN editorial and publications consultant, and is a member of New York University’s journalism faculty. Together, we’ve created a partnership melding our verbal and writing skills, and our appreciation for the unique challenges UN staff members face. We understand the organization’s style and culture, and can tailor our workshops for international professionals so participants (at UNDP, UNOPS, IIE) get exactly what they need most.

Modules from a recent SAS workshop

  1. Finding Fluency, Meaning and Focus. Creative writing techniques and group work helps students learn to meet the blank page with greater ease and avoid misunderstandings.
  2. The Rules of Business Writing. The basics are brevity, directness, a cordial tone and an airy format.
  3. Reaching Your Audience. We focus here on targeting readers, connecting to their needs, with attention to cross-cultural issues (hedging and softening, ambiguous words) and giving instruction effectively.
  4. Cut the Jargon! Insider lingo can be a smokescreen obscuring rather than helping convey information. We work on awareness and then finding more powerful words to use as substitutes.
  5. Writing Effective E-Mail, Letters and Memos. This varied module considers everything from tone to coping with adrenaline rush to using key terms consistently.
  6. Lost in Translation: Cross-Cultural English Business Writing. We look at how writers’–and readers’– values, beliefs and rhetorical heritages shape the way they formulate, and receive, messages.
  7. Writing Bad News. A special module we created for Human Resources professionals. We custom tailor, as needed, to include other topics.
  8. Mastering Eight Common Grammatical Problems. Students come away understanding, for example, why “An evaluation was undertaken” is weaker than “We evaluated.” Then we explore the six-word memoir.
  9. Secrets of Persuasive Writing. A higher-level skill, we take it apart and learn the elements, drawing on Aristotle as well as advertising.
  10. Revising for Greatness. Using checklists and tips, students review their work, turning negative phrasing into positive, eliminating redundancies and examining white spaces as well as words.  

What workshop participants have said

“I would like to thank you for the Presentation Skills and Business Writing training we had with you over the past two weeks here in Copenhagen. Both trainings were extremely useful and the lessons learned can be applied right away.” UNDP/SAS