Writing Workshops & Seminars               
Copyright by Stephen Wilbers, Ph.D.



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As a newspaper columnist, faculty member in the University of Minnesota's Technological Leadership Institute, and 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 fast-paced writing workshops is that I make learning fun.

Efficient training and long-term learning
I design each workshop to make the most of the time I have to work with participants. Before we meet, I send workshop 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 my workshop 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.

To help 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.)

Workshop format
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 follow-up workshop, 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.

Review 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.

With 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.

Individual conferences
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
articipants 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 past participants:

"Great speaker – can really make this topic interesting."

"Good flow and content. Very relevant to daily tasks."

"One of the most engaging presentations about writing I have gone to."

"Steve is a great presenter and his humor helps drive home his points."

"Good job engaging the audience. Great take-aways."

"Appreciate incorporating examples [from our own writing]."

"Dr. Wilbers is an excellent instructor!"

"Now I know what I didn’t know. Ignorance was bliss."

"Once again, great workshop! Very valuable."

"Great tips. Good organization. Entertaining and informative."

"More, please."

"Working through our own material was quite revealing. I appreciate how much Dr. W. does his homework. I am motivated to do mine!"

"Great presenter – funny and effective."

"Very passionate about the topic."

"He’s so smart and engaging. Definitely did his research on us to make it more relevant for us."

"Good style. Fast-paced. Humorous. Thank you!"

"WONDERFUL – presenter has a very warm, engaging style."

"Very personable and knowledgeable."

"I enjoy 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 wilbe004@umn.edu.




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