RE: If You Were Gonna Teach...

Subject: RE: If You Were Gonna Teach...
From: Marguerite Krupp <mkrupp -at- cisco -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Thu, 7 Mar 2002 11:44:13 -0500

Some thoughts about the 1-hour cram course in writing:

* If someone's asking, and they're willing to put money behind it, it's not
a stupid assignment (unless YOU think it is).

* To find out what to cover, ask the person who made the assignment what
s/he expects. Maybe all they want is how to write better emails. Ask
"friendly" members of the prospective audience what they'd like covered.
Think about the problems in their writing that YOU'd like to see them fix.

* Pick no more than three topics and phrase them as "tricks and techniques".
Remember that a golf pro doesn't try to correct all your problems at once.
If he did, you'd wind up like a golf-hating pretzel.

* If your company has templates that they're supposed to use, find out where
they are and look at them. They may be causing more problems than they

* Figure out "what's in it for them" (besides free pizza). Make it fun.

* Provide quick-reference style handouts - maybe as a FAQ - with lots of

* Get copies of stuff they write ahead of time, analyze it, and work that
into your workshop.

Two biggies that I see are problems with organizing material and
layout/design issues. Neither is "writing", per se. One company for which I
did a workshop like this had problems with its procedures. Envision
single-spaced, page-wide, numbered lists of steps covering most of two sides
of a standard sheet of paper. There was a handwritten title and a single
text paragraph above the steps, with no space between.

I made an overhead transparency of one side of this procedure, and in the
workshop, after first displaying it, I took out a scissors and announced
that I was going to do something that they'd probably never seen before... I
cut the transparency into three pieces [gasp!], positioned the pieces,
separated, on a blank one on the projector stage, and added titles with a
marker, maintaining the new spacing. Lightbulbs went on.

Just a suggestion or six!


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