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An often-forgotten key to event success

Posted on Thu, January 7,2016 @ 11:00 AM

Susan plans a continuing education opportunity for company employees. She has great ideas for everything from engaging subject matter to a smooth registration process. Now comes the part she has been putting off as long as possible: a ton of writing. She must craft promotional communications, curriculum, presentation materials, follow-up documentation and other items she hasn’t yet thought of. Writing is a critical part of any training success, but it’s often among the last parts of planning and promotion anyone thinks about.

One reason is difficulty. As William Zinsser wrote in his classic book On Writing Well, “If you find that writing is hard, it's because it is hard. It's one of the hardest things that people do.” Anyone who says writing is easy does not write or writes poorly. But know this: Good writing is critical to the success of your endeavor. It can mean the difference between engagement and ambivalence/confusion. If you cannot quickly communicate the purpose of your event to your intended audience, expect registration and attendance to flag. If you communicate poorly during and after the event, you could jeopardize its long-term effectiveness. You may also jeopardize participation in future endeavors.

We offer a few tips based on decades of writing experience:

RetroReporter.jpgDon’t bury the lead*
Traditional newspapers may be an endangered species, but concepts that make for good journalism remain. They cross over to event communication. When you promote your training, immediately make clear its purpose to the most casual observer. Get to the point quickly.

*Or lede if you’re old school.

Snappy headlines and titles
The subject line of an introductory email, for example, may be your only chance to hook someone. Don’t waste your chance with vanilla or, worse, complex verbiage. See if this title, slightly edited to hide the culprit's identity, excites you:

Ideations on Conceptualizing and Actualizing Culturally Relevant Pedagogy vis-à-vis Relevancies in the Modern Classroom Setting

Didn’t think so.

Do declare
You don’t have to write like Normal Mailer. You are not crafting the Magna Carta. Skip fancy words. Use short, declarative sentences. Avoid lots of dependent clauses. Make reading easy for your audience. Read your work aloud to ensure it sounds good to your ear. Active verbs good. Passive bad.

Let it simmer
As with revenge, writing is a dish best served cold. Good writing needs time to percolate, to ferment. Write your first draft and set it aside. Come back later and try again. Continue to edit. The simplest recipe for solid writing is re-writing.

A second set of eyes
If you can, let a colleague look over your efforts before you finalize them. If anything confuses them, you know you still have work to do.

What’s in it for me?
Finally, always keep perspective in mind. Why is your training/webinar/class/meeting important to attendees? What's in it for them? How will their time commitment be rewarded? How does this event complement previous opportunities or lead to future ones?

That’s a small sampling of writing tips. If you want to share tips that work for you, or if you have questions about registration management software, please use the form below.



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