Cut Through the Clutter in Chicago

Learn to make every piece you write easier to read and understand
in this two-day, hands-on tight-writing workshop

“The most concise, outstanding ‘short course’ on cleaning up copy.”
— Kevin Trenga, manager, marketing communications, The Raymond Corp.

Read it and weep: More than half of all Americans have basic or below basic reading skills, according to the Department of Education’s latest adult literacy test.

That means they can sign forms, compare ticket prices for two events and look up shows in a TV guide. But they have trouble finding places on a map, calculating the cost of office supplies from a catalog and comparing viewpoints in two editorials. How well are we reaching these folks with our messages?

In this tight-writing workshop, you’ll learn how to make every piece you write easier to read and understand. You’ll walk away with secrets you can use to reach more readers, measurably improve readability, sell tight writing to management — even help your company save time and money with tight writing.

Specifically, you’ll learn to how to:

Fee: $895-$1,795 | Early-bird sold out! Group discounts available

Browse all public workshops.

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

Write for Readability

Craft messages that get read & remembered

If you write at the 11th grade level, 97% or more of U.S. adults won’t be able to understand your copy, according to the Department of Education’s latest adult literacy test.

So: Are you smart enough to write for a 5th grader?

In this tight writing workshop, you’ll learn how to write easy-to-read messages that get more people to read your piece, read more of it, read it faster, understand it better and remember it longer. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Save up to 40% of the cost of business communications by making them easier to read. (FedEx, for instance, saved $400,000 a year by rewriting operations manuals.)
  • Increase reading by up to 75% by making one simple change to your copy.
  • Use a cool tool (it’s free!) to measurably improve readability.
  • Analyze your copy for 34 readability metrics — and leave with quantifiable targets, tips and techniques for improving each one.
  • Measure, monitor, manage and report readability — your No. 1 tool for making your messages more effective.

Cut Through the Clutter

Make every piece you write 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 “the numbers” you need to measurably improve your copy’s readability. Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How long is too long: For your paragraphs? Your sentences? Your words?
  • Three ways to shorten your copy — and which is the most effective way
  • How to avoid causing your reader to skip your paragraphs
  • A tool you can use (you probably already have it, but you might not know it) to quantifiably improve your copy’s readability
  • A seven-step system for making your copy clearer and more concise

Start Making Sense

Get the gobbledygook, jargon & gibberish out of your copy

Jargon. Buzzwords. Acronyms. They’re things that make your reader go “huh?” And we need to get them out of our copy.

Indeed, jargon makes your copy longer, irritates your reader, makes your website harder to find and demonstrates your lack of knowledge about the topic. It may even suggest that your company is in trouble.

In this session, you’ll learn how to translate the language of your organizations into the language of your readers. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Determine when to use jargon to streamline communication — and when to avoid it at all costs
  • Run a simple test to decide which terms to use to or with industry insiders
  • Get accessible language through the approval process
  • Define terms the reader friendly way (Hint: It’s not the way we learned to do it in Journalism 101.)
  • Steal techniques from Warren Buffett to make complex technical information easier to understand

Take the ‘Numb’ Out of Numbers

Make statistics interesting and accessible

“Numbers without context, especially large ones with many zeros trailing behind, are about as intelligible as vowels without consonants,” writes Daniel Okrent, former New York Times ombudsman.

Indeed, poorly handled, statistics can make your readers’ eyes glaze over. In this program, you’ll master the art of making numbers interesting as well as understandable. Specifically, you’ll learn how to:

  • Avoid statistics soup and data dumps
  • Help readers “see” your message: Make data visual
  • Create meaningful — not discombobulating — charts and graphs
  • Make readers care about your statistics with a simple reframing process
  • Find free tools that create attractive charts for you

Transform Your Story From “Meh” to Masterpiece

Leave with a totally rewritten piece

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. We’ll give you 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
  • Get feedback with specific ideas you can use to improve your work immediately
  • 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 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

Hi! I’m Ann Wylie. So why should you learn to Cut Through the Clutter from me?

Ann Wylie photo

Get the word out Leave with proven-in-the-lab best practices for reaching readers at Ann Wylie’s Master Classes.

That’s easy. Because I’m a nerd.

I’m a nerd.

I was never happier than when I was in graduate school, gathering information for my journalism thesis. Today, my 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.

I love researching best practices, formulating techniques and sharing those approaches with others. So I’ve built a career that allows me to do just that.

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 join me at my two-day Cut Through the Clutter Master Class. I look forward to seeing you there!

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“Makes me want to go back and revise everything I’ve done in the past three years.”
— Blythe Campbell, director, Communications & Marketing, NANA Development Corp.

Meet me in Chicago

I love you, Portland, but I’ve got to say, I think Chicago is the most beautiful city in the United States. You’ve got the history of 20th century architecture reflected in a glittering river. You’ve got buildings by two of my favorite Franks, Mssrs. Lloyd Wright and Gehry. And then there’s that magnificent ‘bean’!


Cool bean Get the best #Selfie ever at ‘the bean’ in Chicago’s Millennium Park after our spring writing workshop. Photo by Ben Grey

Why not make a long weekend of it?

I, for one, will be winding down from the workshop by taking an architectural riverboat cruise, spending my retirement savings on The Magnificent Mile, catching the latest shows at Steppenwolf and Second City, eating whatever Rick Bayless sets in front of me at Topolobampo and ogling the Impressionists at “the best art museum in the world” (TripIt), the Chicago Art Institute.

Maybe we’ll run into each other!

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“Absolutely the best money I’ve ever spent. I learned more about writing for my audience from Ann in one day than I have in any other seminar.”
— Carie Behounek, marketing communications coordinator, COPIC Companies

Select your VIP level

Silver ($1,195)

  • Two days of training
  • Lunch each day (Please do let us know about your dietary issues and aversions when you register)
  • Coffee and tea each morning
  • Workbook for capturing your ideas and insights

Gold ($1,295)

Get $225 worth of learning tools for just $100:

Platinum ($1,395)

Get $297 worth of additional learning tools for just $100:

  • Everything at the Gold level
  • 12-month subscription to Rev Up Readership, a $297 value

Diamond ($1,795)

Get follow-up support — plus an exclusive conversation with Ann:

  • Everything at the Platinum level
  • A 30-minute one-on-one phone consult with Ann after the workshop

Sorry: only 10 Diamond tickets available!

Save up to $300, earn bonuses.

  • Save $100: book one of the 20 Early Bird tickets. Sold out!
  • Save $50: book one of the 20 Early Bird 2 tickets. Sold out!
  • Save $100 if you’re a Rev Up Readership member. (Join Rev Up Readership.)
  • Save $100 each when you bring two or more colleagues.
  • Save $50 each when you bring one colleague.
  • Make the most of your Master Class. Save up to $700 on follow-up learning tools, subscriptions — even an exclusive, private consult with me — when you upgrade to a Gold, Platinum or Diamond ticket.
  • Earn a free, three-month Rev Up Readership subscription (or extension, if you’re already a member) — a $100 value — when you refer a friend.

To summarize:

VIP Level Non-memberRev Up Readership or PRSA member
SingleDouble3 or moreSingleDouble3 or more
SilverEarly Bird 2 ticket$1,145$1,095$1,045$1,045$995$945
Regular ticket$1,195$1,145$1,095$1,095$1,045$995
GoldEarly Bird 2 ticket$1,245$1,195$1,145$1,145$1,095$1,045
Regular ticket$1,295$1,245$1,195$1,195$1,145$1,095
PlatinumEarly Bird 2 ticket$1,345$1,295$1,245$1,245$1,195$1,145
Regular ticket$1,395$1,345$1,295$1,295$1,245$1,195
DiamondEarly Bird 2 ticket$1,745$1,695$1,645$1,645$1,595$1,545
Regular ticket$1,795$1,745$1,695$1,695$1,645$1,595

Big group?

Do you have 10 or more colleagues who would benefit from training? Contact Ann to schedule a customized, in-house writing workshop.

Don’t miss your chance.

Our Master Classes sell out quickly. If you’re interested in attending, please act now.


You’ll receive confirmation of your registration by email. Please white-list and to make sure you receive your registration materials. If they don’t arrive within an hour of your registration, please contact us directly.


Can’t make it?

  • Send a colleague. We’ll miss you! But please feel free to send a friend in your place. No charge for substitutions.
  • Transfer to a different Master Class. Choose one of our other workshops. No charge to transfer.
  • Don’t cancel! But if you must, please cancel via email:
    • By March 11, 2016, to receive a full refund, minus a $50 handling fee.
    • By April 11, 2016, to receive a 75% refund.
    • Sorry, no refunds after April 11, 2016.


What grads say about Cut Through the Clutter

Rating: 4.8 – ‎30 reviews4.8-star rating
“Learning how to think like a reader instead of a writer has been extremely helpful. The last press release I wrote was 20 percent shorter, had a catchier headline and short, punchy paragraphs.”

“An honest and pragmatic approach to writing and editing. You’ll leave with concrete skills to use immediately to improve your messages. I’ve started haunting my team with reminders of what not to write.”

“I am deleting more words, phrases or entire sentences to reduce clutter and boost meaning. A Program Manager asked me to write a brochure for him last week. I showed him the chart comparing average number of words per sentence with the percentage of comprehension. That helped persuade him to keep the text simple and to the point.”

“I’ve noticed that both my writing and editing have become cleaner and more concise. I’ve received unsolicited, favorable comments from numerous colleagues regarding pieces on which I’ve used these techniques.”

“Useful tips to help you achieve the goal of ‘quit whining, start measuring.’”

“Our payment processing company loves multi-syllable words stuffed into multi-phrase sentences. Now we have better tools, such as the funnel system, to work through the clutter. The best result is that our V.P. of Sales and Marketing is thinking about readability now, too! (We had a nice little talk after I edited a 26-word sentence down to 15 and told him why!)”

“My copy is tighter. More succinct. The ideas are still there, but the filler is gone or trimmed considerably (and better off for it). The other night I was proofing my latest blog entry and I thought, ‘What would Ann think about that second paragraph?’”

“I got a new client by applying one of Ann’s principles. [Cut Through the Clutter] was a breakthrough for me.”

“The most concise, outstanding ‘short course’ on cleaning up copy.”

Ann Wylie's writing workshops photo

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

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“Fantastic! Within 90 minutes I was applying the ideas Ann presented.”
— Jennifer Uschold, senior manager, Internal Communications, Direct Energy

Beane Hall

13th floor, Lewis Towers 6
111 East Pearson Street

Chicago, IL 60611

Campus map (PDF)

More parking options

Loyola University Chicago - Water Tower campus photo

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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

Hotels near the Master Class

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Please contact hotels directly for room rates and booking.

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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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Chicago tight writing workshop

May 11-12, 2016
$895-$1,795: Discounts available

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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