Master the Art of the Storyteller

End mind-numbing, eye-glazing, business-repelling boring corporate copy forever

“Ann transformed my writing in a mere 12 hours.”
— Brent Buchanan, communication, advocacy & political professional, Cygnal

It ain’t fluff. Creative messages help people pay closer attention to your message, understand it faster, remember it longer and act on it more quickly.

Ann Wylie's In-house creative writing workshop: Master the Art of the Storyteller

Move readers to act Master the Art of the Storyteller with an in-house make-corporate-copy-creative Master Class.

As ad giant David Ogilvy famously said, “Nobody ever sold anybody anything by boring them to death.” Most organizations seem to have missed that memo.

But with a Master the Art of the Storyteller in-house workshop, your team will learn how to engage readers with creative elements like concrete details, description, wordplay, metaphor and storytelling.

“Very eye-opening. Who knew you could teach an old dog new tricks? I was humbled.”
— Larry Nuffer, manager, corporate communications, CDC Small Business Finance

Specifically, you’ll learn to how to:

“Excellent, kick-you-in-the-butt skills that I can use forever.”
— Patti Monsoor, public relations and marketing, Utah Valley University Woodbury School of Business

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

Color Them Fascinated

Concrete-comprehension connection

Talk about a superpower:

Color Them Fascinated: Concrete-comprehension connection

  • There’s a 1:1 correlation between concrete words and understanding.1
  • Concrete phrases are 400% more memorable than abstract phrases.2
  • Concrete details in legal arguments change jurors’ minds — and their decisions.3

In this session, your team will learn how to boost comprehension and retention — even move people to act — with juicy details:

  • Write like a roller coaster: Are you losing them in the middle? Test your message so you can spot and fix the boring parts.
  • Keep them reading longer: Where to sprinkle “gold coins” throughout your message to keep readers engaged.
  • Go from blah to brilliant in 15 minutes or less: Quick ways to add concrete detail to even the most tedious topics.


[1] Sadooski, Goetz & Rodriguez, 2000

[2] Allan Paivio, 1986

[3] Shedler & Manis, 1986

“The research Ann provided is going to go a long way in helping me support the strategic communications work I do!”
— Emma Cochrane, communications and government relations coordinator, NOVA

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Paint Pictures in Readers’ Minds

Make their brains light up

Think of description as virtual reality:

Paint Pictures in Readers’ Minds: Make their brains light up

  • Describe a scent, and your readers’ primary olfactory cortexes light up.
  • Describe texture, and you activate their sensory cortexes.
  • Describe kicking, and not only do you stimulate their motor cortexes, but you stimulate the part of the motor cortex responsible for leg action.

But write abstractly — aka, the way we usually do in business communications — and readers’ brains remain dark.

Want to stimulate some brain activity around, say, your CEO’s latest strategy or that brilliant Whatzit you’ll be releasing later this month? Description is the answer.

In this session, your team will learn to make your readers’ brains light up with description:

  • Dig up descriptive details: Try WBHA, the most overlooked reporting tool there is.
  • Tune in to sensory information: Use our travel writer’s tip for going beyond visual description.
  • Communicate, don’t decorate: Use this tip to avoid stimulating readers’ gag reflexes instead of their cerebral cortexes.
“Ann inspired me to exorcise the dusty demons of my journalism career and embrace a livelier and more agile writer within.”
— Laura Ingalls, senior manager, communications, PetSmart Charities

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Play With Your Words

Surprise and delight readers

There’s a little piece of your brain — it’s called the Broca’s area — that’s responsible for helping you sort through all of the many messages you get each day.

Play With Your Words: Surprise and delight readers

Well-worn phrases and familiar ideas don’t activate the Broca’s area. Plain old ‘splainin’ doesn’t do anything for it either. But creative techniques like wordplay do.

In this session, your team will learn how to tickle your readers’ Broca’s area — and cut through the clutter of competing messages — with wordplay:

  • Go beyond twist of phrase: Learn to flip phrases; compress details; sub soundalikes; list, rhyme and twist — even coin new words.
  • Find online tools that do most of the work for you: Walk away with links to some of the best (free!) wordplay resources — as well as ideas for how to use them.
  • Polish your skills in our wordplay workout: Get “recipes” for creating 14 types of wordplay, from anagram to etymology to oxymoron.
“I am a better writer today than I was two days ago.”
— Chelsea Didde Rice, communications specialist, Ascend Learning

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Make Magic with Metaphor

Charm readers with analogies and comparisons

It’s tempting to call metaphor the magic spell in a writer’s repertoire, the Penn and Teller of the page.

Make Magic with Metaphor: Charm readers with analogies and comparisons

Metaphor has the power to persuade far better than literal language. It lets you say in five words what would otherwise take five paragraphs to explain.

It makes readers’ brains light up, helps them think more broadly about your message — even (ahem!) makes you look more attractive.

But, as with other forms of magic, your team will want to master a few tricks before you step onto the stage:

  • Get the zombies out of your message: Don’t let Dead and Dead2 metaphors eat your readers’ brains.
  • Craft a compelling metaphor with our fill-in-the-blanks formula.
  • Polish your metaphor: Learn which kinds of metaphors to choose, which to avoid and where in your message to place them from 41 academic studies covering 50 years of research.
“I loved every nano second. I gained my youthful confidence back. I can’t wait to get to work tomorrow!”
— Gary Burris, public relations director, Tec Labs

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Master the Art of the Storyteller

Tap ‘the most powerful form of human communication’

It’s “the most powerful form of human communication,” according to Peg Neuhauser, author of Corporate Legends and Lore.

Master the Art of the Storyteller: Tap ‘the most powerful form of human communication’

Indeed, stories can help you grab attention, boost credibility, make your messages more memorable — even communicate better.

In this session, your team will learn to find, develop and write stories that engage readers’ hearts and minds:

  • Find the aha! 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.
“Utterly worthwhile, both to career copywriters and people who just want to communicate more effectively.”
— Meg Elison, social media marketing, Ripple

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Get to Aha!

Master a creative process that works with — not against — your brain

Want to come up with fresher, faster, more inspired story ideas and writing insights?

Get to Aha! Master a creative process that works with — not against — your brain

Welcome to the wonderful world of the creative process.

In this session, your team will master a five-step creative process that helps you produce more and better ideas:

  • Write while washing the dishes: Find out why taking a walk, a nap or a break is actually part of the creative process.
  • Treat writer’s block, procrastination and formulaic thinking: When you understand the creative process, you can end-run some of the common problems that writers and editors face.
  • Avoid “creative incest”: Stop creating communications that are dull replicas of the same thing you did last year — and the year before that.
“I can use these tools right away, right now!”
— Dorothy Tate, public relations manager, Iowa Soybean Association

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Think Outside the Pyramid

Choose a structure that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers

You wouldn’t tell the Cinderella story by leading with the bottom line: And they lived happily ever after.

Think Outside the Pyramid: Choose a structure that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers

It’s a sad fact: Storytelling and the inverted pyramid are mutually exclusive.

In this session, your team will learn a structure that will help you make all of your messages more fascinating and engaging:

  • Organize your story in six easy pieces with our fill-in-the-blanks template.
  • Test your lead’s attention-getting power against our checklist of elements of a great lead.
  • Walk away with award-winning lead examples to model.
“Fantastic! Often times, I come to these workshops and speakers give good ideas but aren’t always scalable to a company as large as the one I work for. These tips are relevant regardless of audience size. So helpful!”
— Angelica Kelly, lead consultant, internal communications, AT&T

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Get a Creative Writing Workout

Take your story 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.

Get a Creative Writing Workout: Take your story from meh to masterpiece

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

Have your team members bring their laptops and pieces to work on. They’ll get a chance to write and rewrite, get and give feedback, and leave with a totally rewritten piece.

In these practice sessions, they will:

  • Master the techniques they learn in the workshop by applying them immediately. (That’s how we put the “Master” in the Master Class!)
  • Gain valuable insights on their own work from their peers and from Ann.
  • Learn to analyze and improve others’ writing — the best skill they can develop for editing others or improving your own work.
“I feel invigorated and excited about writing again. I like that you incorporated participation, so we could immediately put into practice what you were teaching.”
— Danielle Rush, communication specialist, Indiana University Kokomo

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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 Mastering the Art of the Storyteller. Includes workbook and handout masters for you to copy. They’ll learn how to:
    • Master the Art of the Storyteller: Whoever tells the best story wins
    • Make Magic with Metaphor: Charm readers with analogies and comparisons
    • Play with Your Words: Cut through the clutter of competing messages
    • Master the Storytelling Structure: Hint — It’s not a triangle
  • 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:

  • Learn additional tips and techniques. The two-day workshop includes additional modules:
    • Color Them Fascinated: Tap the 1:1 concrete-comprehension connection
    • Paint Pictures In Readers’ Heads: Make their brains light up
    • Get to Aha! Master a creative process that works with — not against — your brain
    • Get a Creative Writing Workout: Take your story from meh to masterpiece
  • 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