As a newspaper columnist, a Senior Fellow at the University of Minnesota's
Technological Leadership Institute, and a professional writing consultant
who has offered on-site training programs for more than 25 years, I am
confident I can offer a useful, lively, and entertaining experience for you.
What I hear most often from people who participate in my
workshops is that I make learning fun.
Efficient training and
I design my workshop to
make the most of the time I have to work with participants.
Before we meet, I send
participants a proofreading exercise and a workshop
overview that includes an online exercise highlighting 10 common errors
in usage and grammar, plus a vocabulary-building exercise like the one
on my website.
To ensure that the workshop
itself is an active learning experience, I engage participants in a
series of entertaining and useful writing exercises. These exercises
include editing common errors, revising excerpts from writing samples to
improve clarity and emphasis, proofreading, and whatever additional
topics you want me to emphasize.
Because it takes time to make significant
improvement in writing skills, I emphasize the importance of follow-up
work. In addition to a hardcopy
version of my handouts, I provide participants with a longer PDF version
of topics that includes additional resources, searchable quick-reference
guides, and links to dozens of exercises, as well as a PowerPoint review
of my presentation. This document allows them to review the material and
virtually retake the workshop anytime they like.
participants make time in their busy schedules to continue working on
their writing, I provide them with a recommended reading and resource
list, and help them formulate a one-month self-improvement plan
involving six specific goals. They will find hundreds of other helpful
exercises and resources on my website as well.
For six weeks after the
workshop, I send
them weekly workshop
review lessons by email. Each set of exercises requires only 5 or 10
minutes to complete. For six months after the
workshop, I send
my weekly column on effective writing by email, a format that offers a
convenient and entertaining way to encourage workshop
participants to continue developing and refining their writing skills
over time. (Although my column appears every other week in
The Minneapolis Star
Tribune, I distribute it weekly.)
I'm happy to present my workshop
in any format you like, from a single two-hour workshop to a series of
three half-day workshops over three weeks. You may want me to offer a
perhaps six months after the initial series, to reinforce the writing
principles covered and to monitor participants’ progress. Whatever your
preference, I will tailor my workshop
to meet the your particular needs and interests.
My goal is to help workshop participants apply basic principles of effective
communication to the writing they do on the job.
of individual writing samples
The size of the group may vary according to your
needs. There is no limit to the number
of people who can attend and there are no per-person charges.
With groups of 15 or fewer, I review writing
samples from every participant. In addition to reading and providing
comments on each individual’s writing sample, I take excerpts, which
will be discussed – anonymously and courteously – by me and the workshop
participants. This approach ensures that each writer's particular
concerns, strengths, and weaknesses are addressed.
groups larger than 15, I ask you to provide me with representative
samples so that I can tailor my presentation to the type of writing the
participants are likely to be doing.
One approach for smaller groups that combines both group instruction and
individual attention is to offer half-day
workshops in the
mornings and to conduct one-on-one conferences with the workshop
participants in the afternoons. During the afternoon conferences I
return the participants' writing samples, discuss my comments and
suggestions, and invite questions from the participants, who may raise
issues privately they were not inclined to raise in the group sessions.
Praise for my workshops
have praised my workshops for their positive and constructive tone, their
liveliness, and their practicality. Custom Research Inc., one of my longtime
clients and winner of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige Award, describes my
workshop as being “among the best received trainings we have offered.”
According to CRI, “Everyone –
no matter what their writing style or skills level – has come away with ideas on
how to build on their strengths and improve their writing.”
Here are some comments from
"Great speaker – can really make this topic interesting."
flow and content. Very relevant to daily tasks."
of the most engaging presentations about writing I have gone to."
"Steve is a
great presenter and his humor helps drive home his points."
engaging the audience. Great take-aways."
incorporating examples [from our own writing]."
is an excellent instructor!"
"Now I know
what I didn’t know. Ignorance was bliss."
great workshop! Very valuable."
Good organization. Entertaining and informative."
through our own material was quite revealing. I appreciate how much Dr. W. does
his homework. I am motivated to do mine!"
presenter – funny and effective."
passionate about the topic."
smart and engaging. Definitely did his research on us to make it more relevant
Fast-paced. Humorous. Thank you!"
presenter has a very warm, engaging style."
personable and knowledgeable."
Stephen’s style and energetic attitude. He obviously enjoys his job!"
Additional comments from workshop participants
What I believe sets my program apart from others is the breadth of my
experience, the liveliness of my presentation style, and the emphasis I
place on urging participants to follow through in practicing and applying
the techniques encountered in the workshop. In addition to helping
participants formulate the self-improvement plan mentioned above, I invite
them to read my column and to consult my website on a regular basis. My
reason for emphasizing the importance of follow-through is
obvious: Long-term improvement requires long-term attention and commitment.
If you would like more information, please contact me at