I recently attended an online session of Business Writing for Results via Fred Pryor Seminars.
The class was presented as a webinar. My session was scheduled from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., with 7-minute breaks every hour and one hour for lunch. From what the instructor said, our session had 26 students.
Things I liked
- Seminar platform. The seminar platform itself is hosted on a customized GoToWebinar platform. I particularly liked the “Screenshot” tool, which made it easy to take screenshots of material. These were downloaded to the desktop.
- Resource list. From a link I received via email, I was able to access all webinar materials, including the link to the webinar. Materials included a pre-assessment, guidebook for the class, and supplemental material.
- Regular breaks. As mentioned above, we took a 7-minute break every hour.
- Good overview of content. Most of this content was familiar to me, but I appreciated the refresher.
- Inexpensive. I believe this webinar was $200.
Opportunities for improvement
- Best in-person. I understand that COVID changed face-to-face learning, but the activities for this class would be better in-person with group activities and sharing.
- Not interactive. The webinar was setup so that we participants did not have a group chat. I like to see different responses and find that chat is a great way to foster more of a classroom feel. However, all chat responses were sent only to the instructor who determined what to share.
- Incomplete. The instructor did not complete all of the content modules.
- Instructor preferences. At one point in the webinar the instructor discussed the benefits of using a thesaurus. I entered a “chat” comment that I like Word Hippo. Word Hippo – in my opinion – is a great thesaurus tool because it breaks down synonyms by various noun and verb tenses. It is far more comprehensive than a standard print thesaurus. However, the instructor commented about how print versions are far superior to online versions.
- Assessing readability. In the back of the guidebook is an appendix that includes step-by-step instructions to manually calculate readability. No one will do this. Instead, the editors should have included websites where readability can easily be calculated. Two of these are Word Count Tool and Hemingway App.
- Email writing for results. The content focused writing emails. I guess this was the case because we all write emails, so everyone is covered. I write documents and training guides as well, so it would have been nice to consider longer writing projects.
Behavioral styles. This was my greatest take-away from the class. Based on research, recipients can be categorized as relators, socializers, thinkers, and directors. When sending to only one recipient, obviously you just need to address the characteristics of that individual’s style. However, when writing to a group, you should include elements so that each recipients from each style get what they need from the email.
Reader-centered. Since the goal of writing a letter or email is to elicit a response, the best strategy is to write so that the reader will want to respond. Tips include …
- Write from the reader’s perspective.
- Guide your reader on a journey.
- Use cues to get a response.
- Write naturally. Simple, conversational writing works best.
Skimmable. Write emails that readers can scan quickly. This includes drawing attention to key content and using white space, paragraph spacing, and lists to facilitate easy reading.
Writing process. The instructor recommended a process to write, pause, and review writing. I’ve personally found this process useful. I often write something, set it aside for some time, and then review/revise it.
While the content was matched to the price, I strongly recommend waiting to take this class in-person, if that ever happens.