Catch Your Readers

Learn to move readers to act in this persuasive writing workshop

“I have been a journalist for 30 years, published more than 10,000 times, and I have learned more about writing in the past two days from Ann than I have in all that time. I so needed this!”
— Jim Masters, internal communications specialist, Accenture

Catch Your Readers: in-house persuasive writing workshop imageIf you want to Catch Your Readers, you need to think like a reader. Then you need to use the bait your reader likes, not the bait you like.

Problem is, many of the techniques we’ve institutionalized in business communication writing are not the bait the reader likes. In fact, some of the standards in the corporate communicator’s repertoire are more likely to hinder than help your chances at getting the word out.

In this persuasive writing workshop, we’ll debunk destructive writing myths. You’ll leave with scientific, proven-in-the-lab approaches for getting people to pay attention to, understand, remember and act on your messages. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

Make it a Master Class. Plus, when you make it a Master Class, you also:

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

Think Like a Reader

To move people to act, give them what they really want

It’s counterintuitive, but true: The product is never the topic. The program is never the topic. The plan is never the topic. The topic is never the topic. The reader is always the topic.

Indeed, the secret to reaching readers is to position your messages in your audience’s best interests. (Most communicators position their messages in their organization’s best interests. Which is fine, as long as you’re talking to yourself.)

In this session, you’ll learn a four-step process for moving readers to act by giving them what they really want. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Take advantage of the formula readers use to determine which messages to pay attention to (and which to toss).
  • Tap two rewards of reading you can use to boost audience interest in your message.
  • Answer the No. 1 question your reader is asking, regardless of your topic, medium or channel.
  • Make a two-minute perspective shift to focus your message on the value to readers — not on “us and our stuff.”
  • Use a three-letter word that magically makes your message more relevant to your readers.

Hook ’Em With a Savvy Structure

Master a format that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers

Writers say, “We use the inverted pyramid because readers stop reading after the first paragraph.” But in new research, readers say, “We stop reading after the first paragraph because you use the inverted pyramid.”

Indeed, our old friend the inverted pyramid hasn’t fared well in recent studies. Studies by the Poynter Institute, Reuters Institute and the American Society of News Editors show that the traditional news structure reduces readership, understanding, sharing, engagement and more. The pyramid doesn’t work well, these researchers say, with a little subset of your audience we call “humans.”

In this session, you’ll master a structure that’s been proven in the lab to grab readers’ attention, pull them through the piece and leave a lasting impression. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Grab reader attention with a lead that’s concrete, creative and provocative — and avoid making readers’ eyes glaze over by using one of the seven deadly leads.
  • Stop bewildering your readers by leaving out an essential paragraph. (Many communicators forget this entirely.)
  • Avoid the “muddle in the middle” by choosing one of five structural techniques from a rubric created by the founder of TED Talks.
  • Draw to a satisfying conclusion in the penultimate paragraph.
  • End with a bang, not a whimper by using our three-step test.

Cut Through the Clutter

Make every piece you write measurably easier to read & understand

Is your copy easy to read? According to communication experts, that’s one of the two key questions people ask to determine whether to read a piece — or toss it.

Fortunately, academics have tested and quantified what makes copy easy to read. Unfortunately, that research virtually never makes it out of the ivory tower and into the hands of writers who could actually apply it.

But you’ll leave this session with readability targets to hit to reach all of your audience members, tools to measure your copy’s readability and techniques for hitting those targets. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Apply a six-step system for making every piece you write clearer and more concise.
  • Use a cool tool (you probably already have it, but you might not know it) to measurably improve your message’s readability.
  • Drastically condense your copy using the fastest, most effective approach. (The way we do it every day takes far more time and makes your message less interesting.)
  • Hit the right targets. How long is too long for your paragraphs? Your sentences? Your words?
  • Increase reading by hitting one key on your keyboard more often.

Lift Ideas Off the Page

Draw readers in and reach nonreaders with display copy

Once you’ve written your headline, David Ogilvy famously said, you’ve spent 80 cents of your advertising dollar. That’s right: Display copy — headlines, captions and callouts, for instance — gets the biggest ROI of everything we write.

That’s why I’m often amazed that the same folks who spend hours polishing the analogy in the seventh paragraph of their message toss off a headline in the 17 seconds before happy hour on a Friday afternoon. Most of your readers will never read the seventh paragraph. But many more will read your display copy.

In this session, you’ll learn how to put your messages where your readers’ eyes really are — to use your display copy to pull readers into your message, make your piece more inviting and even communicate to flippers and skimmers.

Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Reach “readers” who spend only two minutes — or even just 10 seconds — with your piece.
  • Avoid dropping the piece of display copy that 95% of people read — but that many communicators forget.
  • Run a simple test on your message to ensure that even folks who will not read your message no matter how well you write it still get your key ideas.
  • Make your copy 47% more usable by adding a few simple elements.
  • Pass the Palm Test to make your message look easier to read. Because if it looks easier to read, more people will read it.

Get a Writing That Sells Workout With Wylie

Take your message from ‘meh’ to masterpiece

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 practice sessions, you’ll get a great opportunity for reflection and improvement.

Bring your laptop and a story to work on. In this master class, you’ll get a chance to write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece.

In these practice sessions, you’ll:

  • Master the techniques you learn in the workshop by applying them immediately. (That’s how we put the “Master” in the Master Class!)
  • Gain valuable insights on your work from your peers and from Ann.
  • Learn to analyze and improve others’ writing — the best skill you can develop for editing others or improving your own work.

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

About Ann Wylie

Ann Wylie photo

Reach Readers Online Leave with proven-in-the-lab best practices for reaching readers at Ann Wylie’s in-house writing workshops.

Ann Wylie runs a training, editing and consulting firm called Wylie Communications. She works with communicators who want to reach more readers and with organizations that want to get the word out.

Her workshops take her from Hollywood to Helsinki. There, she helps training clients at organizations like NASA, Nike and Nokia polish their skills and find new inspiration for their work.

Ann has earned more than 60 awards, including two IABC Gold Quills, for her communications. She is the author of more than a dozen learning tools that help people improve their communication skills, including, a toolbox for writers.

Learn more about Ann

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“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 Catching Your Readers in a customized, six-hour writing workshop.
  • Practice your new skills on writing samples customized to your team.
  • Continue learning long after the workshop ends with a three-month subscription to Rev Up Readership for up to 30 members of your team.

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 their 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

Two-day writing workshop + writing guidelines

In addition to everything in the two-day writing workshop, Ann will develop writing guidelines, based on best practices, for your team. Writing guidelines are the best way to get all of your writers on the same page and to sell these new approaches to management.

Your writing guidelines will include before-and-after examples of your team’s own headlines, leads, links and other story elements so you’ll see “how we apply it around here.” That means your team will not only find out what they need to tweak, but how Ann would tweak it.

Two-day writing workshop + writing guidelines + templates

In addition to everything in the two-day writing workshop + writing guidelines, Ann will develop templates for your most common types of stories. Your team will get fill-in-the-blanks outlines they can use to write, say, tipsheets, survey stories, HR stories, product releases — you name it.

Plus, you’ll get before and after versions of your own stories illustrating each of the templates. WWAD? Find out with this service.

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


None. We recommend that every communication team start their training with this essential, fundamental workshop.

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What grads say about Catch Your Readers

Rating: 4.8162 reviews4.8-star rating
“Hugely valuable! Fantastic insight, anecdotes backed by science & a great sense of humor, delivery.”
– Tamara Hargens-Bradley, associate director, Strategic Communications, OHSU

“It’s not my first Wylie course & hopefully not my last either. It always improves my writing.”
– Kelsey Huwaldt, senior communications specialist, OHSU

“I gained a lot of practical tips and useful ideas for making my writing more effective. I can’t wait to use them!”
– Jennifer Smith, senior communications specialist, OHSU

“I’m empowered to say less with more meaning. In six hours, Ann made me a measurably better writer.”
– CJ Anderson, marketing specialist, Adventist Health

“Excellent. I learned a ton even after 14 years of professional writing.”
– Kate Natoli, senior communications specialist, OHSU

“Ann Wylie helped instill a whole new perspective in us writing for the readers and not for us and provided a top-notch course worthy of a graduate-level seminar.”
– Michael Close, Associate Director, Global Communications, Merck

“I thought it was a great way for a seasoned writer to rethink about my writing styles and continue to improve.”
– Bonita Tillman, manager, Corporate Communications, Nestle Purina PetCare

“Excellent. Worth your time away from work, because you’ll be a better – and smarter – writer when you get back. Ann focuses on real skills and has the data to back it up.”
– Mary Schumacher, director of communications, Saint Meinrad Archabbey

“I will highly recommend to all my colleagues! Even the most experienced writer has something to gain from this course.”
– Michelle Banks, public affairs specialist, Natural Resources Conservation Service

“Great way to take a deep dive on your writing skills.”
– JuliAnn Graham, communications supervisor, TCEC

“I will share the info with my entire office. It was so applicable to our everyday work.”
– Nicki Donnelson, assistant director, University Communications, Missouri State

“Some of the most valuable, actionable information I’ve ever taken away from a conference. Well worth the time and investment.”
– Lindsey Foss, PR manager, Iowa Soybean Association

“Every writer should take this class!”
– Ciji Taylor, public affairs specialist, USDA NRCS

“I loved receiving Ann’s individual attention, which was a great amount, but the one-on-one was super helpful!”
– Michelle Simon, media relations specialist, PBP Nation

“Nearly everything discussed was fresh or vital.”
– Michelle Simon, media relations specialist, PBP Nation

“Every press release I’ve ever written needs to be completely rewritten!”
– Jennifer Cole, public affairs specialist, USDA NRCS

“LOVE IT! Ann is hilarious, interesting and very insightful.”
– Zack Orsborn, senior marketing communication specialist, Morris Marketing Group

“A thorough examination of the communication and grabbing attention.”
– Eric Jones, social media analyst, St. Jude

“Excellent! Best workshop I’ve attended – EVER!”
– Patty Iannotti, manager, Employee & External Communications, FM Global

“Fantastic! I’ve been writing for years and often feel like there’s nothing left to learn. Boy was I so wrong! Great job, Ann!”
– Tomeeka Miller, social media consultant, FM Global

“Mind-opening. I feel I have many new tools to use to make my communications more effective. I am armed with more tools and reminded of their importance.”
– Judy Downey, senior communications specialist, FM Global

“Ann’s knowledge, experience, research and talent can help any writer tangibly improve. She delivers it all dynamically and gives you plenty of useful materials to take with you.”
– Steve McGrath, vice president, Brodeur Partners

“It’s fantastic. I’ve always been a strong writer, this workshop made me realize how I can become a strong PROFESSIONAL writer.”
– Elizabeth Beaver, communications specialist, San Diego Gas & Electric

“Fantastic. I’ll definitely be taking these concepts back to my organization.”
– Scott Miller, security communications specialist, Raytheon

“This was such a great workshop and I learned so much in 48 hours than I did for the past two years writing for my company.”
– Jeanina Miniano, strategic communications specialist, Maxim Healthcare Services

“Excellent training. This training will immediately help me in my job and save me time writing, organizing, and getting the word lifted off the page.”
– Craig Balben, public affairs representative, San Diego County Water Authority

“I loved it. Very engaging and I love that it was backed up by so much research. It will make our jobs easier when we go back and sell these ideas to our organization!”
– Emily Linendoll, assistant director of communications, Northeastern University

“Thoroughly researched and masterfully presented.”
– Aimee Thunberg, VP, Communications, Auburn Seminary

“EXCELLENT! I can put all information gained in this class to work right away in all my writing!”
– Susan Sanborn, director/curator, Toyota USA Automobile Museum

“The workshop was fantastic. I called my boss halfway through and told her our whole team needs to do this.”
– Brian Jacobson, public information officer, City of Roseville, CA

“I thought it was excellent. Ann used the time well to give us a combo of teaching and practice time. I have a massive list of takeaways to bring to my agency that I think would improve many aspects of the way we communicate to our target audiences.”
– Amy Watson, copywriter, Verdin

“I cannot believe the amount of information I learned and applied in two days. I know my pieces will improve significantly.”
– Nikki Santillana, communications coordinator, LuLaRoe

“Awesomeness! It exceeded my expectations and more. Ann is resourceful. She really knows her stuff.”
– Diana Meza, public affairs officer, Riverside Community College District

“I have never been so grateful to Clorox (other than hiring me) for giving me an opportunity like this. Once in a lifetime workshop. I’m a better writer than I was even at the beginning of the 2nd day.”
– Ashley Brolin, corporate communications specialist, The Clorox Company

“Top notch! I would recommend it for any writer and only wish I had attended sooner.”
– Andrea Smith-Ruff, communication specialist, University of Michigan

“So great! In many ways it’s a reminder and validation of the things we know about writing, but have had beaten out of us by our bosses, and clients, and technical experts over the years.”
– Amy Resseguie, marketing and publicity specialist, City of Fort Collins

“It was really great. We talked about a lot but it was so interesting, useful and I have learned so much in a short time.”
– Jennifer Robinson, web producer, KPBS

“These are fresh ideas.”
– Kristie Garcia, communications specialist, New Mexico State University

“Ann’s teachings of feature story structure, cutting through the clutter and FABs/BAFs resonated with me. I know I’ll be taking all of her teaching materials to my job tomorrow.”
– Ashley Brolin, corporate communications specialist, The Clorox Company

“I’m no longer a content creator but an attention creator! Understanding story and feature structure is what I will work on. Super helpful and meaningful. Great examples and tips!”
– Jennifer Robinson, web producer, KPBS

“It was perfect.”
– Dan Earle, SAE, Arketi Group

“I never imagined there would be so much new information about writing, story structure and readers. I also appreciated it was all backed by research.”

“I wish I had attended this workshop years ago!”

“Hands down the most valuable workshop I’ve ever attended. Although sitting and listening is not my strength, I was riveted the whole time.”

“It was excellent. I had high expectations but the workshop surpassed them.”

“Fantastic. Among the most applicable, relevant, and engaging workshops I’ve ever attended.”

“It made me totally rethink the way I write, and I think the info will be top of mind the next time I sit down to write, as well as several years from now.”

“Fantastic and very useful for me. It helps make a non-writer a writer.”

“One last comment about the workshop and it’s the first time I can say this: Over the two-day workshop, I may have gotten tired, but I was never bored!”

“Fantastic! Within 90 minutes I was applying the ideas Ann presented.”
— Jennifer Uschold, senior manager, Internal Communications, Direct Energy
“I have been a journalist for 30 years, published more than 10,000 times, and I have learned more about writing in the past two days from Ann than I have in all that time. I so needed this!”

“I write almost every day as part of my job. With the knowledge I gained during these two days I am going back to work a much more effective writer and communicator.”

“Amazing. Made me feel energized and excited about writing again.”

“The content was immediately applicable. I used it mid-way through day one during a break on an article about to be published.”

“This workshop should be taken by any communications professional. It told me what I was doing wrong and right with my writing. This gave me the tools to do more right things. I enjoyed it very much.”

“Simply eye-opening.”

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Catch Your Readers Hundreds of communicators have learned to get the word out at Ann Wylie’s Master Classes.

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“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

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Wylie Communications
949 NW Overton, Ste. 1102
Portland, OR 97209

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