Practical writing skills

Getting your message across quickly and effectively when you write at work is more important than ever. In an academic setting, it can be vital to reach a wide audience who might have different needs, interests and levels of understanding.

The aim of this highly practical one-day workshop is to help participants to create clear, concise, well structured, polished writing. The focus is on ensuring all written materials are appropriate for their target audiences and meet their objectives.

This course is tailor-made. Practical exercises will be based on authentic material (which can include reports, emails and marketing materials). Reflective learning is used throughout – that is, participants are encouraged to reflect on how they will apply the skills and techniques to their own writing.

On successful completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Feel confident that they can create strong, readable, polished documents
  • Write with clarity, simplicity and brevity
  • Plan and write effectively – by focusing on the target audiences and the objective
  • Identify and avoid common errors of grammar, sentence structure, English usage and punctuation
  • Edit their own and others’ written work

Course content

Part 1 – Planning: Clear thinking leads to clear writing

  • Define your purpose and identifying your target audience
  • Create an effective objective
  • Step-by-step guide to planning reports, letters, emails etc.
  • Create a structured outline for public communications
  • Use mind mapping for content and structure
  • Write a first draft quickly: using a skeleton structure
  • Practice (applying the planning tools to real-life examples)

Part 2 – Writing effectively: Using strong clear English to meet objectives

  • Write in a suitable style and tone of voice for your target audience
  • Ensure busy readers get the message quickly:
    • Write in a suitable style and tone of voice for your target audience
    • Use clear, concise, accessible English
    • Use signposts and topic sentences to create an effective flow
    • Use headings and lists for accessibility
    • Make every word count / cut dead wood and waffle
    • Take care with jargon, ‘business speak’ etc.
    • Use strong, precise, active verbs
    • Identify commonly confused words
  • Presentation with impact – create documents that look accessible and readable
  • Practice (using your examples)

Part 3 – Editing: Polishing the document

  • Strategies for effective editing and proofreading
  • Identify common errors (grammar, punctuation, confused words etc.)
  • Resources – a comprehensive resource pack and useful links/books
  • Practice (using your examples)

Pre-course work
We ask participants to:

  • Complete a pre-course questionnaire about objectives, writing experience and issues they would like to cover.
  • Send examples of recent writing. They will be used in an individual editing exercise during the final part of the course (as a tool to measure progress and skills).

This outline is for a one-day course. It can also be delivered as a half-day course, but there will be less time for practical exercises. Please contact us for details.