Professional writing programs are incredibly valuable for helping business writers – especially those whose core job functions may not actually include writing – to produce better writing faster and more reliably. Unfortunately, finding the right professional writing course can be challenging, especially as there are so many options available. Before you enroll your team in a professional writing program, evaluate if the programs you’re considering can genuinely help your team improve their writing skills. Here are five qualities that are characteristic of the most effective writing courses and services.
1: Multiple training formats are available.
Because there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to training, the right provider will offer the type of training you need. That could mean a variety of training formats, including packaged online courses, virtual instructor-led classes, live or recorded webinars, in-person instructor-led team courses, one-on-one instruction, etc.
This matters because it’s not just the need that can differ between organizations; so too can the organization’s setup and situation. Providing training to a small business that has gone all-remote versus a large enterprise with a centralized headquarters are very different scenarios in which budget, logistics, and class size can vary enough that a training framework that would work for one wouldn’t work at all for the other.
2: They are active and interactive.
There is almost nothing more important in successful skills development and long-term skills retention than practical application. Not all training formats can incorporate active exercises equally (e.g., a packaged online course will have limits in this area, while instructor-led courses can be designed specifically around participant activities and interactions), but they all should offer something.
The most robust learning experience is one in which learners spend time applying newly learned concepts to their writing while, ideally, getting real-time individualized feedback from the instructor. Breakout sessions where learners work in small groups can further cement learning outcomes.
3: They go beyond just the writing.
This item alone is going to separate a lot of the wheat from the chaff. A huge proportion of available writing courses are all about the writing. That’s what you want, right? Not so fast. Often, the writing problems at an organization are only partially due to a lack of skill in writing itself. Usually, those issues are married to process and strategy problems that create an unwieldy, ineffective writing experience that fails to produce desired results.
The best professional writing programs will result not just in better documents but also in a streamlined writing workflows that align with the organization’s larger strategic needs and objectives. Similarly, critical thinking and problem-solving skills are so foundational to good writing output that writing programs should emphasize the application of those skills to the writing process as well.
Consider reviewing as well: while many organizations focus on the writing, they may overlook the reviewing process. In other words, if what reviewers are reviewing for doesn’t align with the new skills that writers are learning, the time and money spent on writing courses could be for naught. An effective writing course will address goal alignment, including writing and reviewing.
4: They offer extensive customization.
Before you purchase, you should work with one of the company’s consultants to map your goals for the workshop. This consultant’s team should then analyze your team’s documents, evaluate your team’s specific skill gaps and understand the reasons for them, and tailor the training to address those gaps. The workshop itself should use your organization’s actual documents to customize.
In line with this point, this is also critical to ensuring the instructors can help with writing processes and strategies as well as skills. Then, once in the classroom, instructors work with the organization’s own writing samples, answering questions as they arise and facilitating learning participation.
5: The instructors satisfy due diligence.
It’s also worth mentioning that the service should be able to go above and beyond in satisfying your due diligence research on them. We live in a world in which it’s very easy to create training courses. The barrier to entry is so low it invites a lot of fly-by-night companies.
It also leads to many great writers who are not great instructors offering training. Remember, writing skills and teaching skills require two distinct skill sets, and a skilled writer may not be an effective instructor. In doing your due diligence, look for a company with a long history of teaching writing (and only writing), and one who has experience working with organizations large and small and in diverse industries (this may seem counter-intuitive, but a company with diverse experience is more likely to be able to handle a wide variety of writing issues). Of course, ask for references, check out the reviews on the company’s website, and ask for participant evaluations. Finally, ensure that actual instructors have the proper background and experience and aren’t just “talking heads.”
To learn more about identifying effective writing workshop options, contact Hurley Write for a custom, no-obligation consultation.