Saturday, January 28, 2006

Even the Pros Need Practice!

This past week, I had the pleasure of working with both engineers from New York City Transit and lawyers from the New York City Department of Homeless Services. As divergent as their fields are, these highly educated professionals share at least three challenges:
  1. They have to write a lot quickly.
  2. They have to keep their writing brief without sacrificing relevant content.
  3. They have to be clear about complex ideas for readers who may not share their expertise.

Much easier said than done. I designed the courses to address these issues (Executive Communication for NYC Transit and Legal Writing for the Department of Homeless Services), and I came away impressed by the course participants. They did not put on airs of superiority or excuse themselves from participating actively; rather, they focused on improving their skills for the eight hours we were together. They asked trenchant questions about tough writing situations and worked hard through all the course activities.

What does all this tell me? That all of us can stand a course designed to help us reflect on the writing problems we face at work. I thank the management that inspired and supported these programs and especially the participants who committed themselves to sharpening their skills! I am sure they know that I learned as much from them as they learned from me.

To purchase your copy of The Art of On-the-Job Writing by Philip Vassallo, click here: