Draw people in, move them to act
It’s the secret of effective persuasion: 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.
Problem is, many of the writing processes we’ve institutionalized in PR, marketing and corporate communications are not the bait the reader likes. In fact, some of the standards in the 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 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.
No matter what type of writing you do — from blog posts to PR pieces, from opinion pieces to persuasive essays, from email newsletters to content marketing pieces — in this persuasive-writing training program, you’ll learn how to:
- Think Like a Reader: Move people to act with persuasive writing.
- Go Beyond the Pyramid: Master a structure that reaches more readers.
- Cut Through the Clutter: Make your message easier to read & understand.
- Lift Ideas Off the Page: Reach nonreaders with display copy.
- Get a Writing Workout With Wylie: Go from “meh” to masterpiece
I’m ready to learn to draw readers in and move them to act. I’d like to:
Think Like a Reader
Move people to act with persuasive writing
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.
In this persuasive-writing class, 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 decide what to read.
- Tap 2 rewards of reading to boost interest in your message.
- Answer the No. 1 question your reader is asking.
- Make a 2-minute perspective shift to focus your message on reader value — not on “us and our stuff.”
- Use a 3-letter word that magically increases relevance to your readers.
Mini lessons: Craft a walkaway sentence, or thesis statement, for your persuasive piece.
“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
Go Beyond the Pyramid
Master a structure that reaches 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.”
“A great way for a seasoned writer to rethink my writing style and continue to improve.”
— Bonita Tillman, manager, corporate communications, Nestle Purina PetCare
Indeed, our old friend the inverted pyramid hasn’t fared well in recent studies. Research shows that the traditional news structure reduces readership, understanding, sharing, engagement and more.
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:
- Pull readers in with our checklist of good lead approaches.
- Stop bewildering readers by leaving out a key paragraph.
- Avoid the “muddle in the middle” with our menu of structural approaches.
- Draw to a satisfying conclusion in the penultimate paragraph.
- End with a bang, not a whimper by using our three-step test.
Mini lessons: Use a graphic organizer to break your message into fill-in-the-blanks writing units.
Cut Through the Clutter
Make your message 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.
“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
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 6-step system for measurably boosting readability.
- Use a cool, free tool to measure and manage reading ease.
- Quickly cut copy in half with our menu of approaches.
- Hit the targets. What’s the best length for paragraphs? Sentences? Words?
- Increase reading by hitting one key on your keyboard more often.
Mini lessons: Boost readability by 20%, 200% — even 1,200% — in our Readability Smackdown.
Lift Ideas Off the Page
Reach nonreaders with display copy
“Readers” don’t read. Even highly educated web visitors read fewer than 20% of the words on a webpage. That’s the good news: They average 11 seconds — enough time to read 36 words — on an email blast.
“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
So how do you reach “readers” who won’t read?
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:
- Communicate to people who spend just 2 minutes with your piece.
- Avoid dropping the piece of display copy that 95% of people read.
- Make sure people get your key ideas without reading the paragraphs
- Increase readership by making your message look easier to read.
Mini lessons: Work with fellow students to write headlines and other display copy.
Get a Persuasive Writing Workout With Ann
Make your message strong and lean
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 this persuasive-writing workshop, you’ll get a chance for reflection and improvement.
“The piece I worked on at the workshop has improved measurably.”
— Scott Worden, manager, corporate communications & PR, Magna International
Bring a laptop and a message to work on. You’ll 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.
Mini lessons: Work with other students to share and critique persuasive writing pieces.
I’m ready to learn to draw readers in and move them to act. I’d like to: