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

If 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.

Use the bait your fish like … 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.

“My mind was blown in the first hour.”
— Kelly Whitman, senior marketing specialist, Magna International

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

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Think Like a Reader

Move people to act

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.

Think Like a Reader: Move people to act

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.)

Move readers to act with a four-step process for giving people what they really want.

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.
“I learned more about writing in two days than in four years of college and six years of practice.”
— Samantha Jorgensen, public relations and social media manager, Charles River Labs

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Go Beyond the Pyramid

Master a story structure 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.”

Go Beyond the Pyramid: Master a story structure that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers

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.

Grab readers’ attention, pull them through the piece and leave a lasting impression.

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.
“A great way for a seasoned writer to rethink my writing style and continue to improve.”
— Bonita Tillman, manager, corporate communications, Nestle Purina PetCare

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Cut Through the Clutter

Measurably boost readability with our targets, tips & tools

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.

Cut Through the Clutter: Measurably boost readability with our targets, tips & tools

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.

Increase clarity by 200%, 300% — even 1,200% or more.

But you will 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.
“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

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Lift Ideas Off the Page

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.

Lift Ideas Off the Page: Reach nonreaders with display copy

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.

People don’t read. So how can you reach them with words?

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.
“It’s a fantastic course that helped me improve my writing and get it approved by the powers that be.”
— Karen Saari, copywriter, Madison Area Technical College

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Get a Writing Workout With Ann

Make your message strong and lean

“Fantastic blend of teaching, real-life examples, group discussions, practice, and peer reviews.”
— Holly White, communications specialist, RETTEW

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.

Get a Writing Workout With Ann: Make your message strong and lean

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

Have your team members bring their laptops and a message 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.

Write, edit, get feedback — and leave with a totally rewritten piece.

“I loved receiving Ann’s individual attention; the one-on-one was super helpful!”
— Michelle Simon, media relations specialist, PBP Nation

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.
“The piece I worked on at the workshop has improved measurably.”
— Scott Worden, manager, corporate communications & PR, Magna International

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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

Get the word out 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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“Ann is brilliant and arms you with the tools to succeed.”
– Katie Anselmo, internal communication manager, Comcast


“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

Get your team on the same page with a one-day, 6-hour workshop:

  • Learn tips and techniques for Catch Your Readers. Includes workbook and handout masters for you to copy. They’ll learn how to:
    • Think Like a Reader: Move people to act
    • Go Beyond the Pyramid: Master a format that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers
    • Cut Through the Clutter: Make every piece they write easier to read & understand
    • Lift Ideas Off the Page: Draw readers in and reach nonreaders with display copy
  • See how your team is doing with customization. I’ll use your team’s writing samples as examples in the workshop.
  • Keep them learning after the workshop ends with a three-month membership to Rev Up Readership for up to 30 members of your team.

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Two-day Master Class

Help your team members master the techniques they learn in class with a two-day, 12-hour workshop:

  • Master the techniques they learn in class by applying them immediately, getting feedback from Ann and the group, and rewriting. That’s how we put the Master in Master Class.

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Webinar series

Save travel expenses and reach far-flung colleagues with a webinar series:

  • 4-session series covers the one-day workshop material
  • 6-hour session covers the Master Class material, but without the feedback and practice.

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Add writing guidelines

Want to get all of your communicators on the same page about what constitutes good writing? When your communicators walk out of our session with customized writing guidelines, you’ll be able to:

  • Tell your communicators what to do with “the book” of proven-in-the-lab best writing practices that I share in my Catch Your Readers workshop
  • Show your communicators how to do it with before-and-after examples of your content providers’ own work to illustrate each best practice
  • Help your communicators sell ideas to reviewers and approvers with brief summaries of the research behind the rules
  • Make it easy for communicators to implement the guidelines with four handy one-page cheat sheets that content providers can use to check their own work or to edit others’

BONUS: As I’ll be rewriting some of your team’s writing samples to illustrate the befores and afters, I’ll be able to show your participants “How Ann would have done it” in class — one of the biggest requests we get in feedback.

Learn more …

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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, webpages, 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.

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Free writing tips
  • Get tips, tricks & trends for Catching Your Readers
  • Learn to write better, easier & faster
  • Discover proven-in-the-lab writing techniques