March 31, 2015

Master the Art of the Storyteller

Engage readers with wordplay, metaphor, storytelling and more

“Ann’s process has changed the way I approach writing — I work through a method to a great idea rather than waiting for a magic light bulb of inspiration to turn on.”
— Sarah Hibner, The Berry Company

Master the art of the storyteller - creative writing workshopMy husband likes to quote Anonymous, who said: “If a man speaks in the forest, and no woman is there to hear him, is he still wrong?”

The corporate communication writer’s corollary: If you cover your terribly serious and important stories, and nobody pays attention, does your message still make a sound?

In this creative-writing workshop, your team will learn how to write copy that grabs attention, keeps it longer, communicates more clearly, enhances credibility and is more likely to go viral. You’ll walk away with techniques — not just what to do, but how — for painting pictures in your audience members’ minds so they understand your points faster, enjoy your information more and remember it longer.

Specifically, you’ll learn to how to:

Contact now button

“Great step-by-step instructions on how to do it right.”
— Stacy Mayo, assistant account executive, Rhea + Kaiser

Grab Attention With a Feature Story

Craft creative leads and kickers

Writers say, “We use the inverted pyramid because readers stop reading after the first paragraph.”

In new research, readers say, “We stop reading after the first paragraph because writers use the inverted pyramid.”

The feature story structure, on the other hand, has been proven in the lab to grab readers’ attention, keep it for the long haul and leave a lasting impression. In this feature writing workshop, you’ll learn how to organize a feature story in six easy pieces. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Easily craft a feature story with our fill-in-the-blanks template.
  • Write winning leads: Learn seven types of leads to try — and six common approaches to stop using now.
  • Increase reading and satisfaction by choosing the best story structure.
  • Avoid the “muddle in the middle” with five ways (some are better than others) to organize the body of your feature story.
  • End with a bang with our three-step test

Contact now button

Make Your Copy More Colorful

Engage readers with fun facts, juicy details

“Nobody ever sold anybody anything by boring them to death.” — David Ogilvy

Ogilvy was right. If you want someone to buy what you’re selling — whether you’re pitching products and services or programs and ideas — you must first engage them. And nothing draws readers in quite as well as creative material.

Creative elements grab attention, communicate more clearly and enhance credibility. In this creative writing workshop, you’ll learn how to write messages that paint pictures in your readers’ minds so they understand your points faster, enjoy your information more and remember it longer. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Change readers’ minds — and their behavior — with concrete details.
  • Deliver both color and meaning by scaling the ladder of abstraction.
  • Help readers “see” your point with six simple elements.
  • Test your story for reader interest. Are you losing them in the middle?
  • Add interest to tedious topics and dreary articles.

Contact now button

Play With Your Words

Spice up your headlines, leads and soundbites with wordplay

Wordplay can help you captivate your readers, get the media to steal your soundbites and make your messages more memorable.

The good news is that wordplay doesn’t take talent. It doesn’t take creativity. Instead, it takes techniques, tricks and time. In this wordplay writing workshop, you’ll learn techniques you can use to come up with the best headlines, leads and sound bites you’ve ever written. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Go beyond twist of phrase. Learn to flip phrases; compress details; sub soundalikes; list, rhyme and twist — even coin new words. The more techniques you master, the more engaging your message will be.
  • Work your word tools. There are so many great (free!) online resources for wordplay, busy writers need hardly trouble their pretty heads to write dazzlers. Get links to some of the best sources — as well as ideas for how to use them.
  • Get inspired by some of the world’s most creative headlines.
  • Lead better brainstorming sessions. Help your group dream up more bright ideas with one simple trick.
  • Stop writing groaners. Learn techniques that let you come up with surprising lines — and leave the clichés to the hacks.

Contact now button

Master the Art of the Storyteller

Tap ‘the most powerful form of human communication’

Storytelling is “the most powerful form of human communication,” according to Peg Neuhauser, author of Corporate Legends and Lore. Indeed, stories can help you get attention, boost credibility, make your messages more memorable — even communicate better.

In this storytelling workshop, you’ll learn to identify, develop and tell stories that will illustrate your points, communicate your messages and sell your products, services and ideas. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Find the ah-ha! moment that’s the gateway to every anecdote.
  • Elicit juicy stories with the key question to ask during an interview.
  • Organize your material into a powerful story in just three steps with our simple storytelling template.
  • Start an anecdote with a bang — instead of a whimper.
  • Find anecdotes in the making with “WBHA.”

Contact now button

Add Meaning With Metaphor

Clarify complex concepts with analogy

Human beings have always learned metaphorically: We add to our knowledge by comparing new concepts to those we already understand. Take computers: They have desktops, files, folder, documents and notepads — all analogies for offices.

These analogies serve as shortcuts to understanding. So when you want to help your readers understand new, technical or complicated information, metaphor is the answer.

In this metaphor writing workshop, you’ll learn to craft analogies to make your material clearer and more compelling. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Take the ‘Numb’ Out of Numbers: Develop analogies that help your readers understand your statistics.
  • Cut clichés from your copy by replacing them with a creative substitute.
  • Bring your tired topics to life with comparisons.
  • Get an analogy during an interview by asking one simple question.
  • Craft a compelling metaphor with our simple, fill-in-the-blanks formula.

Contact now button

“Other writing coaches tell you what to do.
Ann shows you how.”
— Roberta Laughlin, vice president, Mutual Funds Marketing, Northern Trust

Hi! I’m Ann Wylie. So why should you learn to Master the Art of the Storyteller from me?

Reach Readers online with Ann Wylie image

The appliance of science Ann Wylie’s idea of a great Sunday afternoon is to curl up on the couch with a cat, a cup of tea and a great communication study.

That’s easy. Because I’m a nerd.

I’m a nerd.

I taught graduate writing classes at a university for 10 years in my “spare time” — in the evenings after I’d worked a full day as a business communicator and magazine editor. Since then, I’ve traveled from Hollywood to Helsinki to train tens of thousands of writers in more than 1,000 workshops at organizations like NASA, Nokia and Nike.

I’ve been designated an “IABC Recommended Speaker” for my top ratings at IABC International Conferences. And I serve as the Public Relations Society of America’s “national writing coach.”

I’m a trainer.

I taught graduate writing classes at a university for 10 years in my “spare time” — in the evenings after I’d worked a full day as a business communicator and magazine editor. Since then, I’ve traveled from Hollywood to Helsinki to train tens of thousands of writers in more than 1,000 workshops at organizations like NASA, Nokia and Nike.

I’ve been designated an “IABC Recommended Speaker” for my top ratings at IABC International Conferences. And I serve as the Public Relations Society of America’s “national writing coach.”

I’m a writer.

And I’ve tested my tricks and techniques in the real world. During my tenure as editor of Hallmark’s employee magazine, for instance, CROWN was named the best publication of its kind in the world by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC). Since then, my communications have earned more than 60 awards for excellence, including two IABC Gold Quills.

Today, one of the things that sets me apart from many writing trainers is that I practice what I preach. I actually write. In fact, half of my business is writing — newsletters, magazines, websites, brochures and the like — mostly for big, corporate clients. The other half is helping professional writers learn to write better.

Won’t you join me?

Frankly, you don’t have time to do a deep dive into writing tricks and techniques like I do. After all, you have a job. You have a life. You don’t have hundreds of hours to spend each year, digging into the research, finding ways to improve your writing.

Fortunately, all the years I’ve spent nerdishly analyzing, reading and researching writing techniques can cut hundreds of hours off your learning curve.

All you have to do in bring me in for an in-house Reach Readers Online workshop. I look forward to seeing you there!

Contact now button

“I learned more in this two-day class than I did in my two-year master’s program.”
— Rochelle Juette, communications specialist, Washington Closure Hanford

One-day writing workshop

  • Learn tips and techniques for Mastering the Art of the Storyteller in a customized, six-hour writing workshop.
  • Practice your new skills on your team’s own writing samples.
  • Continue learning after the workshop ends with a three-month membership to Rev Up Readership for up to 30 members of your team.

[Note: Discounted communication association workshops do not include customization or Rev Up Readership memberships.]

Two-day Master Class

In the crunch of writing headlines and meeting deadlines, it sometimes seems as if there’s not enough time to pause and consider how you’re doing. But in our two-day Master Class, your team members will get a chance to write, edit and rewrite; get and give feedback; and leave with a totally rewritten piece. In the process, they will:

  • Master the techniques they learn in the workshop by applying them immediately
  • Get feedback with specific ideas they can use to improve your work immediately
  • Gain valuable insights on their work from their peers and from Ann
  • Learn to analyze and improve each others’ writing — the best skill you can develop for improving your own work

Half-day seminar

Just have half a day? Let’s focus on Making Your Copy More Colorful, Playing With Your Words, Mastering the Art of the Storyteller and Adding Meaning With Metaphor.

Add writing guidelines

Want to make sure everyone’s on the same page with your new creative writing techniques — including your approvers and reviewers? Let Ann develop customized writing guidelines, based on best practices, for your team. This is “the book” that lets everyone know, “Here’s how we write it around here.”

Your creative writing guidelines will include before-and-after examples of your team’s own headlines, leads, links and other story elements. That means your team will not only find out what they need to tweak, but how Ann would tweak it.

Add templates

Ever wish you had annotated models and checklists for writing your online messages? Let us develop formulas, templates and examples to make your online communications more effective and less time-consuming.

Your team will walk away with fill-in-the-blanks outlines they can use to write your most common types of stories, whether they’re tipsheets, survey stories, HR stories, product releases, Web pages, brochures — you name it. Plus, you’ll get before-and-after versions of your own pieces illustrating each of the templates.

WWAD? Find out with this service.

Contact now button

“A semester’s worth of knowledge in a few hours.”
— Amy Kappler, communications specialist, Burgess and Niple

We recommend that every communication team start their training with Catch Your Readers. In this essential workshop, you’ll learn to use the bait your readers like — in print and online.

Contact now button

“If I were to write a headline and deck for Ann’s workshop, it would go something like this … ‘West Point for Writers: How to win the war for readers’ minds.'”
— Jim Rink, media relations specialist, The Auto Club Group

E-mail us.

Call us: 503/954-2289

Contact now button

Browse all in-house writing workshops