Executive Writing Skills

This course maps to capability:
COST Prices include GST and are subject to change
Corporate Member


Though we all appreciate the importance of good writing many of us find it difficult and write in a style that both mystifies the reader and muddies the message. What we write creates a permanent record; how we write it represents and defines us and our organisations, reflecting how clearly we think; how simply, informatively and persuasively we transmit our message. Some people believe that writing well requires a high level of education or to be very intelligent, so they tend to employ expressions they would never use in speech – to overdo adjectives and adverbs – to use wordy noun phrases – to adopt the passive voice because it seems more intellectual. None of this is necessary and most of it is counter-productive. To achieve its objectives all executive writing should be simple and it is possible for all of us to master the skills. In this informal yet intensive one-day workshop, John Harman teaches how anyone can write simply yet achieve clarity, impact and influence. Throughout the day, course participants will engage in more than a dozen separate, interactive writing exercises designed to develop their skills and confidence, finishing up with working (privately) on a substantial piece of their own writing.

 Course Content

  • the three essential pillars of professional writing
  • the constellation of seven major elements that infuse clarity, impact and persuasion into all writing
  • what’s the point? Determining the precise objective/s of any piece of writing and the most cogent order in which it may be written
  • who cares?  Identifying readers: writing to address, inform and appeal to differing target readerships
  • understanding the difference between writing to inform and writing to influence or persuade: how the two may be combined
  • writing for readers outside the organization: turning jargon into common parlance
  • examining twenty-two common areas of poor writing: from grammar and vocabulary to tone, style and proof-reading
  • learning how to précis: turning very long documents into very short ones
  • making the writing muscular: finding and eradicating the hidden 15% (at least) of fat in every piece of writing – the soft, abstract noun phrases; the soggy adjectives and adverbs; the overuse of the passive
Participants will be given a 40 page manual incorporating the simple writing techniques covered in the course, as well as a laminated fact sheet – a memory jogger for good writing principles – which may be kept somewhere handy around executives’ desks.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course attendees should be able to:

  • write shorter, clearer more precise reports, policy documents, manuals, memos and emails
  • prepare and order and then write any piece of writing that transmits information or seeks to persuade with powerful and informative sentences
  • edit out unnecessary words and phrases to achieve greater clarity and impact in their writing
  • target their writing to specific readerships
  • know how to structure, revise and rewrite quickly and competently

Benefits to your organisation

  • The course can save the organisation time and money. The cost incurred in time, effort and lost productivity through seeking clarification of the content of badly written communications is incalculable
  • Save senior executives’ time by reducing much of the editing and rewriting of policy documents and ministerial briefings
  • Well-written, succinct and grammatical communications reflect well on departments and the organisation.

Benefits to you

  • You will write less but be understood more. Simple writing enables you to get to the point swiftly and succinctly, cutting out all unnecessary phraseology which means less of your work will be edited and changed by other people
  • Through focus on your readers, and an understanding of the persuasive nature of words and phrases, you will be able to mount better, more influential arguments
  • You will be able to anticipate queries and questions and how to answer them, in simple English, before they are raised.