Good writing is good business.At Lauchman Group, helping professionals improve their writing is our only business.
If you've recognized a need for better writing in your organization, we can help. We offer a number of practical solutions:
- Customized writing workshops
- One-on-one tutorials
- Plain Language coordination
- Numerous consulting options to streamline an organization's writing process
With management's support, we can help improve the writing in your organization. When managers encourage reader-directed writing, the battle is already half-won.
In the workplace, writers struggle for a host of reasons. In some cases, their competence with language may not be what it should be. It's important to understand that most professionals have all the language skill they need. They simply don't use it to advantage, and here's why.
- They've accumulated dozens of crippling assumptions about what constitutes good, proper, or "formal" style.
- They've unconsciously picked up a number of bad habits. These habits often result in "correct English" that's far more difficult than it needs to be.
- They've never been taught to view their writing from the reader's point of view, as opposed to the point of view of an editor or English teacher.
- They're uncomfortable with plain words and prefer impressive-sounding phrases, especially when they see impressive-sounding phrases in the documents their managers write.
- They believe there's a one-size-fits-all approach to writing, and don't understand that word-choice, tone, degree of formality, organization of ideas, and formatting must vary as occasion, purpose, and audience vary.
In addition, workplace writing ushers in a unique set of complications. Writers not only face the pressure of deadlines and constantly changing audiences, but they are expected to emulate traditional models of documents, even when those models fly in the face of common sense. And sometimes, unfortunately, managers fail in their responsibilities to writers.
These problems complicate writing in most organizations. Practical training can fix them.
We conduct customized, on-site workshops for clients in business and government. We've trained thousands of professionals nationwide, introducing practical techniques that enable your employees to write more clearly, with less effort, in less time. We offer six distinct frameworks for writing workshops, each with a different focus.
Business writing workshops come in two forms: open- enrollment, and on-site.
Open enrollment. An open-enrollment workshop usually lasts one or two days and is presented in a hotel meeting room. Participants may pick up some useful tips, especially if they need to learn about grammar and usage. But any training that is open to everyone, regardless of the participant's profession, grasp of language, or specific needs, can address only the most general aspects of writing.
At prices ranging from $500 to $750 per day (for one employee, and not including travel costs), an open-enrollment workshop gets expensive in a hurry.
On site. An on-site workshop lasts as long as you want it to, is formatted to fit your employees' schedule, and takes place at your facility.
A good on-site workshop is adjusted in scope to address your precise objectives for the group. It's tailored so that every aspect of instruction provides an exact "fit" with the sort of writing conventional in your profession. It takes into account your organization's preferences of usage and style. And it is heavily customized to focus on the documents the participants actually write on the job. When examples and exercises come from your organization's own writing, participants can instantly see how to apply the instruction.
Customizing a workshop takes time, yes, but it's the only way to ensure that the training is realistic, relevant, and immediately useful.
And you may be pleasantly surprised at our price. For the expense of sending four or five employees to an open-enrollment course, you could provide customized training for twenty.
In many cases, the answer is no. If you have only a few people who need to improve their writing, it may be more economical to have them tutored. If a few employees need help with the basics, it would make sense to enroll them in a college class, to enroll them in on-line, self-paced training, or to send them to one of the many open-enrollment workshops offered regularly in cities around the country.
Suppose you have 20 employees to train. A single workshop would be a waste of time and money if ten need help with grammar and ten are familiar with the mechanics of language. A good instructor wishes to answer honest questions about how to form possessives, but if half of the group already knows that and is interested in tactics for being persuasive, he cannot accommodate the needs of everyone. Participants will come away with some useful guidance, but not as much as they could. Efficiency is relative. We want you to get the most out of every dollar you spend.
But if you have a group of 15-20 people, all of whom share roughly the same grasp of language and would benefit by learning a number of specific techniques, an on-site workshop is by far the most cost-effective solution. And it will result in more improvement than any other form of writing training.
We don't offer workshops that are open to the general public. We tailor every program, not only for a particular organization, but for a particular group within that organization. In one month in 2008, we designed training for acquisitions management professionals at Federal Emergency Management Agency, for medical researchers at the National Institutes of Health, and for retail leadership trainees at Chevy Chase Bank.
In each case, we used the framework supplied by Effective Writing for Professionals – but the workshops were as different as night and day. The writing exercises we designed for FEMA used jargon unique to federal government contracting and would have made no sense to the participants at NIH. The exercises developed for NIH used the specialized terms of medical science and would have seemed like a foreign language to participants at Chevy Chase Bank.
The format varied as well. One organization preferred a 2-day program on two consecutive days, one preferred a 3-day program on Monday-Wednesday-Friday of a single week, and the third opted for a 3-day program over three consecutive days.
Some clients ask us to design a pre-class writing assignment and give a short homework assignment or two. Some routinely schedule a follow-up session a few months after each class. Some ask for a one-day workshop for the full group, followed by an hour or two of individual tutorials for each participant.
Your needs are unique, and no single approach fits perfectly in each case. We'll work with you to design training that accomplishes your objectives while respecting your budget and accommodating your employees' schedule.
Dr. Richard Lauchman develops and facilitates every workshop.
Dr. Lauchman has been training professionals, solely in the area of writing, for over a quarter century. He's the author of three books on writing in the workplace – Plain Style, Write for Results, and The Blacksmith's Comma (to be published later this year). He is also the author of The Plain Language Handbook, a resource widely used throughout the federal government, by state agencies, and by private sector organizations as diverse as Toyota Motors and the Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Lauchman is familiar with the specialized language and terms of art used in a number of professions. This experience is a big advantage in the classroom, and for two reasons. First, it enables him to distinguish an appropriate use of jargon from just plain difficult writing; when a convention is clear to the intended audience, he doesn't waste time trying to change it. Second, his experience enables him to attack the problems your writers face from the point of view that matters – the reader's – and not from the point of view of an English instructor.
He teaches in plain words, understands the special task of language in the workplace, can anticipate the questions that participants are reluctant to ask, and has at his disposal hundreds of examples of usage that instantly clarify the most complex matter.
We haven't invented any clever names for our workshops. We don't pretend there are astonishing new breakthroughs that can magically transform your writers into masters of style.
There are no easy shortcuts to the task of writing well. There are simply good ways and bad ways to teach the age-old stuff that works.
We can show your writers how to avoid time-consuming missteps as they plan and draft any document. We can introduce them to dozens of techniques that change their writing from a rambling monologue into a lively, engaging dialogue with the reader. We can acquaint them with formatting options that instantly show how their ideas fit together. And we can teach them, in language they understand, how to stop complicating what they're trying to convey.
Thanks for visiting! We hope you'll explore the site. Give us a call if we can help.