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Writing for Impact 101

Facilitator: Lauren Cannon

Goals for this Class

During this class you will learn:
To write more clearly and concisely, while making a bigger impact
How to actually get your messages read, and save time for you and your readers
Ways to craft your messages so your audience will respond effectively

Writing for Impact

"Writing effectively is not an academic exercise; it is a business imperative." ~Stuart Z. Goldstein
Your personal success and the success of your business are enhanced when you can communicate with others and get them to take action. This course will help you convey your written message or request in a clear, concise, and easily understood manner that will make an impact.
In this session, we will share ways to get your messages read and acted upon while saving time and frustration for both you and your readers. The tips and techniques apply to all writing situations personal and professional.


What frustrates readers? I hate getting emails or messages that .

Ask yourself:


Give your subject line as much PAD as possible. The following emails need effective subject lines written.

“Jill had mentioned that you offered to guide one of our internal research team members with business writing coaching. I think this training could also be valuable to our personal care team. Could you call me by Friday to discuss?”
“The earliest available date on everyone’s schedule for our next team meeting is Tuesday
June 11th at 4:30pm, or Thursday June 13th from 3pm-5pm. Everyone shows available.”
“The accounting department needs a copy of all vendor invoices from May and June for the upcoming audit. The copies must be sent in by July 15. They need hard copies, not scans.”
“I need a record of how many members of your department were present for today’s writing course. That data will go in my next team report on Thursday.”

EXERCISE: PAD Your Subject Lines and Share Before and After

EXERCISE: PAD Your Opening

Critique the writing sample you brought to class. Rewrite your subject line and/or opening paragraph to add some PAD.

Stick to the Point

What information do you need to include? How can you say the same thing with less?


Use what you have learned today to rewrite the writing sample you brought to class.

Visual Impact

Headings create a road map for readers
Bullet points/numbers make information easy to find Tables/charts simplify large amounts of information White space makes the page more inviting, easier to read
Bold/colored text pulls the reader’s eyes to key information
Images/graphics add visual interest, are memorable

Use Email Effectively

How you use email can affect your impact as much as the text within the email. Be sure to establish a reputation for using email with your reader in mind.
General Use
Minimize the use of
Think before using
, and “Reply to All”
Reply within
Remember that attachments won’t always display on mobile devices

Wrapping Things Up

What stood out for you today?
List 2-3 key takeaways from the session and note what you will do to use what you have learned.
Key Takeaways
Action Items
There are no rows in this table

Homework: Practical Application and Assignment

In our next class, you will be asked to provide three specific examples of when you applied something you learned in class today.

Session 2

Write with the Reader in mind.

Because focusing on audience will enhance your writing, your process, and your finished product, you must consider the specific traits of your audience members. Use your imagination to anticipate the readers’ demographics, education, prior knowledge, and expectations.
Demographics. These measure important data about a group of people, such as age range, ethnicity, religious beliefs, or their gender. Some topics and assignments require these kinds of considerations about your audience. Regardless, it is important to consider demographics when you begin to think about your purpose for writing.
Education. If your audience has earned a doctorate degree, for example, you may use different language than someone still in college or with no formal education. As a rule of thumb, write so the least educated member of your audience will understand. An audience member’s major or emphasis may also dictate your writing.
Prior Knowledge. If your readers have studied certain topics or already work in the same industry, they may already know some terms and concepts related to the topic. You may decide whether to define terms and explain concepts based on your audience’s prior knowledge. For instance, a nursing major would presumably know more about health-related topics than a business major would.
Expectations. These indicate what readers will look for while reading your assignment. Readers may expect consistencies in the assignment’s appearance, such as correct grammar and traditional formatting, and legible font. Readers may also have content-based expectations. Remember to write an effective email Subject Line, so it directly reflects the body/content of the message.


Use one of your writing samples you provided for our class as the target message for this exercise. Generate a list of characteristics under each c ategory for each audience. What would your message look like when being sent do different audiences? This list will help you start to shift your perspective so you can craft your messages to better write with your reader in mind.

Open with your Purpose and a Call to Action

Our audience needs us to be friendly and focus on relationship building, but also to quickly get to the point. How long does it take you to get to the point when composing a written message?
Tone identifies a speaker’s attitude toward a subject or another person. You may pick up a
person’s tone of voice fairly easily in conversation. A friend who tells you about her weekend may speak excitedly about a fun skiing trip. An instructor who means business may speak in a low, slow voice to emphasize her serious mood. Or, a coworker who needs to let off some steam after a long meeting may crack a sarcastic joke.
Just as speakers transmit emotion through voice, writers can transmit through writing a range of attitudes, from excited and humorous to somber and critical. These emotions create connections among the audience, the author, and the subject, ultimately building a relationship between the audience and the text. To stimulate these connections, writers intimate their attitudes and feelings with useful devices, such as sentence structure, word choice, punctuation, and formal or informal language. Keep in mind that the writer’s attitude should always appropriately match the audience and the purpose.
Read the following paragraph and consider the writer’s tone. How would you describe the writer’s attitude toward wildlife conservation?
“Many species of plants and animals are disappearing right before our eyes. If we don’t act fast, it might be too late to save them. Human activities, including pollution, deforestation, hunting, and overpopulation, are devastating the natural environment. Without our help, many species will not survive long enough for our children to see them in the wild. Take the tiger, for example. Today, tigers occupy just 7 percent of their historical range, and many local populations are already extinct. Hunted for their beautiful pelt and other body parts, the tiger population has plummeted from one hundred thousand in 1920 to just a few thousand. Contact your local wildlife conservation society today to find out how you can stop this terrible destruction.”


Think about the assignment and purpose of your message. Now, examine your tone.


Consider the following messages and their tone. Depending on your audience, you may need to send the same information but with a different tone. Rewrite the following messages with a softer tone.
The problem we have at hand is...
I am unable to provide the report before Wednesday afternoon.
You did not submit the report this week.
They failed to meet the deadline for submitting quotes.
Joe Smith was fired.

Hot Sheet


Why am I writing this?
Who needs to know?
Why do they care?
How much do they already know?
What type of reaction do I expect?
2. GET TO THE POINT – As early in your message as possible
3. Purpose Action Deadline - YOUR SUBJECT LINE and OPENING
4. USE WORDS OF CERTAINTY. Avoid these if a stronger word would work:
1) About 2) Almost 3) Basically 4) Could 5) Fairly 6) In a sense 7) Likely
8) May 9) Might 10) Moderately 11) Most 12) Often 13) Probably 14) Quite
15) Rather 16) Relatively 17) Reasonably 18) Seems 19) Some 20) Somehow 21) Somewhat
There are no rows in this table
Headings create a road map for readers
Bullet points/numbers make information easy to find
Tables/charts simplify large amounts of information
White space makes the page more inviting, easier to read
Bold/colored text pulls the reader’s eyes to key information
Images/graphics add visual interest and are memorable

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