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Government and regulators

We customize each workshop below after discussing your culture with you and analyzing your documents. The curriculum is not generic—it’s made up of practical tools your people can take away and apply immediately. The exercises, manual, PowerPoint, and even instructing style are tailored for the group of writers who will attend.

Effective Writing at Work

The Effective Writing at Work workshop is core training for all writers and our most popular session. This workshop covers the essential skills for writing successfully in the workplace: how to write stronger documents more quickly, create clear text, and review and edit efficiently. We deliver it either through:

  • a live webinar divided into three, three‐hour modules

  • an in‐person session over one‐and‐a‐half days

We can also offer any module as a standalone session. The content is practical, immediately applicable, and confidence building—participants in every session say they wished they had access to this information about writing years ago. More.

Module One: Write stronger documents more quickly
This session looks at the common problems that plague business writing:

  • documents that are too long and unnecessarily complex

  • confusing structure

  • underdeveloped analysis

  • hide‐and‐seek messages

  • a writing and review process that takes too much time

We give writers the tools to get clear about what they need to say and then deliver it in clear, efficient messages. We also teach people how to draft more quickly with much less stress. Participants say it takes them half as much time to write after this training. If you plan to book only one module, we recommend this one.

What Module One covers:

  • Adapting to the needs of different audiences and purposes

  • Structuring documents for readability

  • Avoiding common problem patterns in business writing

  • Building strong analysis

  • Learning a new process for writing

  • Drafting faster (and making the reviewers’ job faster too)

  • How to measure the success of a document

  • Creating usable documents

Module Two: Create clear text
This module teaches the clear, efficient style that’s highly valuable at work (and which many writers struggle to develop). This is nuts-and-bolts content about conciseness, clear sentence structure, effective word choice, and avoiding common problems that make writing confusing. These are not obscure principles of English—they’re practical plain language tips that create an impressive improvement in clarity.

What Module Two covers:

  • How style choices determine readability

  • Writing in a direct, reader-friendly way

  • Writing concisely on three levels

  • Translating specialized or technical content for a non-technical audience

  • Using verbs effectively, including active voice

  • Structuring sentences for precision and power

  • Perfecting tone in a document

Module Three: Review and edit effectively (for yourself and other writers)
Most writers exert superhuman effort to get a document “right.” Despite this, many managers end up editing and revising in after-hours time. This costs too much time and frustration for both. This session gives editors at both levels the tools to work much faster, more systematically, and more effectively. It also explains ways to divide up tasks between the writer and reviewer to make their collaboration smoother and more effective.

What Module Three covers:

  • A repeatable formula for editing more quickly and with less stress (for both writers and reviewers)

  • All the best editing tips and checklists

  • Effective proofreading

  • Using peer review to give and receive constructive feedback, why it matters, and a chance to see it work

  • Formatting documents to be clear and appealing

  • A quick refresher of key grammar and punctuation rules

General notes on all the modules
All modules include:

  • customized content that’s based on your input and documents

  • team teaching with two instructors to keep the pace lively

  • interactive rather than passive learning

  • exercises, before-and-after examples, rich visual content, conversation, and individual and small-group work

  • a printed manual and desk reminder card

Effective Writing Refresher

This half-day workshop follows up with writers who have been through Effective Writing. It reinforces, deepens, and applies concepts to real documents. More.

This is a working session in which attendees redraft key internal documents to refresh and apply skills learned in our core workshop. We cover the common writing and editing problems writers run across in everyday work. The session will:

  • reinforce and apply skills you learned in the core workshop

  • fill in gaps from the first workshop

  • resolve questions that came up after the core workshop

From participants:

Enjoyed trying to re-write real examples and applying the tools.

Very well done. The tips were presented clearly and in a way that resonated.

Content was meaningful and the classroom presentation was exceptional.

The instructors did a good job of integrating their best practices into our actual practices.

Effective Briefing Notes—Novice, Intermediate, or Advanced

It’s critical for decision makers to receive strong briefing notes. And most organizations expend a lot of frustration and time to generate these important documents. In this session, we lead writers through a process to resolve common struggles and produce clear and focused briefing notes under tight timelines. We also look at improving efficiency in the process of assigning, writing, reviewing, and approving BNs. More.

We customize each workshop using your content, process, and template. The workshop includes:

  • how to approach a briefing note methodically

  • creating strong analysis and delivering clear messages

  • understanding what decision makers are looking for

  • clarifying the issue

  • giving the right amount of analysis and supporting detail

  • a step-by-step process to reduce overall time spent on a BN

  • using templates effectively

  • having better lines of communication between writers and reviewers

  • avoiding common pitfalls

From participants:

This was a revolution! It completely changed my approach to writing briefing notes.

This was an incredibly effective half day. Content was department-specific and the course was well managed and organized.

The entire suite of information is easy to understand and very valuable.

I took a briefing note I wrote before that was 6 pages and reduced it to 2 pages, including all the essential information!

Facilitators were knowledgeable about government practices and adaptable to different scenarios and situations.

The amount of information was perfect for the time. The tools are ready to use and it isn’t an effort to remember to use them. Thank you so much!

This will really help reduce bloat in my BNs. I feel every member of our team could benefit from this.

I would love to take more Wordsmith workshops—I’m almost excited to write my next BN! The examples were relevant and helpful.

Plain-Language Decision Writing

Clarity and accessibility are essential when writing decisions in administrative law. More.

This workshop trains writers to deliver decisions that:

  • make clear you have heard the concerns of the parties

  • demonstrate fairness

  • show the logic of your decision

  • are accessible to all parties

  • act as a record of the process

  • refer to legislation in a way that’s effective for lay readers

  • include the right amount of information

  • organize evidence effectively for both the writer and various readers

  • build a tone that supports the message

We also discuss a step-by-step, proven process for writing decisions more quickly and efficiently (many clients have cut their writing process time in half). This includes how to organize data and evidence before you begin to write. For organizations that write collaboratively, we also look at creating decisions with multiple writers and reviewers.

From participants:

I am most impressed with the written feedback on our own writing. It is obvious that much thought and effort went into providing constructive feedback.

Very useful overall—far better than expected. The best aspect was the very practical, thoughtful, tailored approach that applied throughout. I would definitely recommend this for others within our organization or externally.

Instructors are obviously highly skilled. Presentation was professional, yet friendly and personable.

I think this workshop nailed all the key points. My writing will greatly improve after today.

Fantastic content. Great to have two very knowledgeable but different presenters. Very useful to use our own documents.

Effective Email Writing

People write more email than any other kind of document, and a great deal of work happens through email. But somehow, we treat email as if it isn’t real writing. More.

This workshop helps you rethink how to use email and delivers practical tools such as:

  • creating clear, focused messages

  • writing more quickly and purposefully

  • delivering messages people will act on or respond to

  • using formatting to shape how someone reads your email

  • moving from essay style to message style

  • avoiding the pitfalls common to emails

  • getting tone right—without agonizing over it

From participants:

This workshop is going to save me an amazing amount of time.

An extremely useful training that will directly impact my work (positively).

Wonderfully helpful workshop. Thank you for your relevant suggestions!

Emails are all I write, all day long—these tips will make a significant difference to my workload.

I especially appreciated the sections on creating an effective tone in emails and focusing on key messages.

Best Practices in Writing and Editing for Managers and Leaders

This is a condensed version of our longer workshop specifically for leaders with limited time. It covers the core content employees learn, to give everyone a common language and expectation around writing and editing in the organization.

It also includes high-level editing tools for managers and leaders to support their teams to deliver stronger documents faster (while avoiding many back and forth edits). Most groups find this workshop helps reduce process time and frustration. More.

The session covers:

  • the markers of clear writing

  • how to identify and resolve problems in documents

  • how to articulate what you expect from writers and why you make edits

  • core tools—conciseness, organization, sentence structure, language choice, tone

  • before-and-after examples

  • helping writers develop their strengths and skills

  • how to give feedback

  • effective (and ineffective) approaches to editing and reviewing

We can give each participant written analysis of one of their own documents, including a chance to discuss it with the instructor the morning after the workshop.

From participants:

I was concerned the course would drain my time but am actually excited to apply what I learned. The content was well-structured and very well presented. The feedback on my own writing was positive and invaluable for implementing what I learned. Thank you!

This will help give me much better feedback to my staff. I loved the very professional feedback on my writing, which pointed out things I didn’t know.

Examples were engaging, relatable and thought-provoking. Instructors were intuitive, context-sensitive, and responsive to discussion. I got great advice on changes to make with my own team. Thank you.

This course was fantastic! I found it to be extremely helpful in improving my writing. The hands-on exercises were particularly effective, and the instructors were knowledgeable, approachable, and truly addressed questions.

Report-Writing Intensive

This workshop introduces a step-by-step process for creating strong reports, from initial idea to completion. More.

This workshop covers:

  • creating well-organized, powerful reports

  • meeting the needs of the audience (or audiences)

  • working efficiently with a team of writers

  • organizing data or evidence before you write

  • writing clearly and concisely

  • organizing report sections

  • structuring detail and data to support your analysis

  • writing technical content for non-technical readers

  • assessing how much information to include

  • how and when to review, revise, edit, and proofread

  • removing stuck points to reduce overall process time (often by half)

From participants:

Content was spot on. Loved that it was customized to our needs and practices. Best training dollars we’ve spent.

This added a lot to my knowledge and understanding of good writing process, at the individual and organizational level. The instruction was phenomenal—both of you clearly know your stuff, are passionate about teaching and were super fun to work with. Wouldn’t change anything about how the course is delivered.

The workshop was very valuable and I learned a lot. The presenters were knowledgeable, friendly, and patient with us. It was well-tailored to our needs. I highly recommend this workshop to other organizations that deal with report writing. Thank you!

I highly recommend the course. I liked that you adjusted the content to our organization—both beforehand by creating a specific manual, and during the course.

Effective Technical Writing

Technical documents are not read only by technical readers. And even technical readers don’t all speak the same language. This session looks at how to build technical content that is accessible to a range of audiences. More.

It covers:

  • assessing documents based on how effective they are for their audiences and purposes

  • differentiating between real technical language and unnecessary complexity

  • translating specialized language for people who aren’t specialists

  • being technically precise while being accessible

  • how to organize your report so it’s easy to use for different purposes and readers

  • deciding how much information to include

  • writing and formatting tips for making complex content clear

From participants:

The workshop was very valuable and I learned a lot. The presenters were knowledgeable, friendly, and patient with us. It was well-tailored to our needs. I highly recommend this workshop to other organizations that deal with report writing. Thank you!

I highly recommend the course. I liked that you adjusted the content to our organization—both beforehand by creating a specific manual, and during the course.

Your presentation was interesting and helpful. The day flew by. I like your process steps and checklists. I didn’t think I would enjoy this workshop as much as I did.

Instructors were excellent. Great to work with specialists in the field.

The workshop exceeded my expectations. It was refreshing to have very practical tips and tools to use. This helped me understand my habits and writing methods.

Writing Persuasive Documents

We’re often writing to persuade—directly or indirectly. More.

This workshop illustrates the skills to make writing more persuasive by:

  • clarifying your purpose

  • identifying your reader’s perspective

  • creating a structure with clear key messages, ordered from the reader’s point of view

  • preventing common patterns that weaken writing

  • finding the right style and tone for the specific kind of document

  • organizing main arguments, supporting evidence, and lower level detail

Wordsmith customizes this workshop depending on the kind of documents you’re interested in. Common examples are proposals, reports, decisions, court briefs, briefing notes, consumer complaint responses, and web content. We build the content using examples and input from you.

From participants:

Clear, plain-language instructions. The real work product examples made it relevant for the group. I liked the list of steps to transform the structure and key messages of our documents.

Very good use of our organization’s documents. Much easier to see common flaws when you’re looking at documents you know well.

The instruction and new information was captivating and highly relevant.

Excellent, concise content. I would like more courses like this.

Great before-and-after examples that showed how to change our investigation reports.

Editing and Proofreading Intensive

This workshop is for those who edit and proofread their own work or who review other people’s writing. More.

This session will:

  • explain how to edit more thoroughly and quickly

  • give tools for analyzing problems with a document

  • break editing into manageable stages with strategies at each stage

  • differentiate editing and proofreading

  • share top proofreading strategies

  • explain peer review and how to use it

  • illustrate how to build editing and proofreading checklists

Wordsmith reviews your organization’s documents before the workshop. We then customize the workshop based on your document types, writing patterns, and goals.

From participants:

Knowledgeable instructors with tons of practical experience in this type of high-level editing work. The example edits of our documents were spectacular!

Content was fantastic—very clear. Activities were directly related to our work. Excellent, engaging instructors.

I feel motivated about editing because I know what to do now. Unstuck feels good!

Really enjoyed this workshop—the time went by too quickly. Great advice on workflow of editing.

Top marks. Instructors are organized, prepared, and well informed. Content, exercises, and activities were all relevant and audience-specific.

Good overview of the process. I liked the clarification on common issues Good proofing tips Patient instructors Appreciate before-and-after examples Identifying my role as an editor versus writer was useful

Grammar and Punctuation Intensive

This two-hour workshop is a practical tour of the most common errors in grammar, punctuation, and usage for business writers. The content applies immediately to everyday work, and we customize to your organization’s conventions. More.

We refresh you on common questions that people wonder about and update grammar myths that may have stuck with you. Participants are often taken aback by how much they enjoy this workshop.

From participants:

This was a great way to get us thinking about principles and rules of grammar. The content is fantastic and very well suited for what we do.

The exercises and activities were fun. Yes, fun! I really liked the competition spotting errors on the slides.

I finally understand rules I’ve learned ten times before.

How to Capture the Right Tone

Tone is a subtle, powerful influence on how people read and respond to documents. Writers often find tone one of the hardest elements to craft in a document. More.

This workshop gives tools to:

  • understand what builds tone

  • adapt tone for audience and purpose

  • identify the best tone for different documents

  • avoid language that creates an unhelpful tone

  • know when to work on questions of tone as you write and edit

  • adjust level of formality, technical language, and authority as appropriate

  • deliver negative messages effectively

Tone needs to respond to your organization, your purpose for writing, and your document type. As a result, we heavily customize this workshop based on your input and documents.

From participants:

This was a great way to get us thinking about principles and rules of grammar. The content is fantastic and very well suited for what we do.

The exercises and activities were fun. Yes, fun! I really liked the competition spotting errors on the slides.

Peer Review Intensive

One of the best, most cost-effective ways to improve a document’s quality is to have a second set of eyes to review it. This half-day workshop trains participants to build peer review into the writing process in a way that builds confidence and ability in writers. This training is most often used as part of a culture change program. More.

Participants develop new skills and then review documents in small groups. They learn:

  • why peer review matters and what it accomplishes

  • when to use peer review

  • how to analyze documents and what to look for

  • a common language for resolving issues in documents

  • how to give practical, constructive feedback

  • how to identify and problem solve tricky issues

From participants:

I would highly recommend this workshop to anyone looking to improve their writing style, tone and technique.

This is all immediately applicable. I can go back to my desk and use everything I’ve learned.