Recently I was asked by the Hannah Grimes Center in Keene to provide some writing tips for instructors trying to create compelling descriptions of their workshops or seminars. The following 10 quick writing tips focus on workshop and seminar descriptions but they also apply to other types of writing.
1. Don’t use exclamation points.Instead, answer your audience’s most important question: What will I got out of this workshop? What will it help me to do or become?
2. Don’t rely on the jargon of the moment (“become more proactive,” “learn state-of-the art techniques”). Think about people searching for your workshop online: does anyone ever search on “proactive” or “state-of-the-art”?
3. Don’t congratulate yourself (“the best workshop you’ll ever attend”). If you have a short testimonial from a past participant, use it.
4. Write like you talk. Pretend you are describing your workshop to someone standing next to you. What words did you use? Those words are golden; write them down.
5. Be brief. Describe your workshop or seminar in 200 words, then cut back to 100 words. Then write a Tweet about it. You’ll discover what is essential in your 200 words and what you can easily delete.
6. Count syllables. Circle any words that have 3 syllables or more. Replace as many as possible with 1 or 2 syllable words (for example, replace “utilize” with “use”—that works every time).
7. Count words in a sentence. Count 18 words from the start of the sentence. No period or colon (:)? Your sentence is too long. Anything under 18 words is fine. After 24 words, you’re in trouble.
8. When writing a title, go for clear before cute. Make sure the title tells people what you are going to talk about. The last sentence you write in your workshop description will probably contain your title (one of those oddities of life).
9. Proofread on paper. Never proofread on the computer screen. Online spell-checkers are okay but online grammar-checkers are terrible.
10. Ask one person to read and comment on your description. Don’t ask 4 people. You’ll get 16 contradictory opinions.
If you need help describing your workshop or seminar–or a group of abstracts for a major industry event–please contact TWP Marketing & Technical Communications.