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.
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 Storytelling 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:
- Color Them Fascinated: Concrete-comprehension connection.
- Paint Pictures in Readers’ Minds: Make their brains light up.
- Play With Your Words: Surprise and delight readers.
- Make Magic with Metaphor: Charm readers with analogies and comparisons.
- Master the Art of Storytelling: Tap ‘the most powerful form of human communication’.
- Get to Aha! Master a creative process that works with — not against — your brain.
- Think Outside the Pyramid: Choose a structure that’s been proven in the lab to reach more readers.
- Get a Creative Writing Workout: Take your story from meh to masterpiece.
“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
“Great step-by-step instructions on how to do it right.”
— Stacy Mayo, assistant account executive, Rhea + Kaiser
Color Them Fascinated
Talk about a superpower:
- 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.
“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
Paint Pictures in Readers’ Minds
Make their brains light up
Think of description as virtual reality:
- 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
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.
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
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.
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
Master the Art of Storytelling
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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
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.
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
“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 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 RevUpReadership.com, a toolbox for writers.
“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
- 1-day workshop: Learn best practices in corporate storytelling in a 6-hour workshop covering Think Outside the Pyramid, Color Readers Fascinated, Make Magic with Metaphor, Master the Art of Storytelling.
- 2-day Master Class: Cover more content and build in time for practice and feedback in a 12-hour writing workshop. We’ll also cover Play With Your Words, Paint Pictures in Readers’ Minds, Get to Aha! and Get a Storytelling Workout.
- 1-hour keynote covering Master the Art of Storytelling.
- Conference breakouts. Bring Ann in for 6 hours of breakout sessions covering Think Outside the Pyramid, Color Readers Fascinated, Make Magic with Metaphor, Master the Art of Storytelling.
- Half-day chapter workshop covering Master the Art of Storytelling and Color Readers Fascinated.
- Storytelling workshop in San Diego, Feb. 19-20. Cover all the content and get time for practice and feedback.