Once we settled on “Business Writing” as the theme for this cycle, we narrowed down our list of activities from the stuff we brainstormed.
A few activities came to the surface.
Activity 1: Business Writing Mentoring
At first, we considered creating a formal mentoring program made up of “the best writers in the Division”. Then we thought – “Wait a second…we work for a University! There is an English department! And, likely, a Writing Center!”
Sure enough, we DO have a writing center.
And they were absolutely thrilled that we wanted to use them.
I went for an exploratory visit to see how they operated and the experience.
Professional, positive, and incredibly helpful.
Plus, having people outside the department + writing being what they DO is a huge plus in the credibility department.
Activity 2: A Business Writing Workshop – customized for us
At first, we investigated having the Writing Center create a workshop for us.
They wanted a nominal fee. ($20 per person – REALLY reasonable for a custom workshop)
We gave it to our executives.
They went bananas over us asking for money.
So much for that.
Lesson learned. Everything we do must be “free”
Activity 3: Create our OWN Business Writing Workshop
Our Communications Specialist decided to put together her own Business writing workshop.
And did a bang-up job.
She focused on “our” voice and why we phrase things a certain way.
Provided concrete examples from our own writing.
Asked them what made an effective communication (vs an ineffective communication)
Provided guardrails and guidelines that were easy to remember.
Had a really interesting exercise where they had to compose a tweet for an application outage.
And did all of that in the time allotted without overwhelming them with information.
The audience enjoyed the class. (We actually had 9 people!!!! Voluntarily!!!!!! During LUNCH!!!!)
And I got some super-positive feedback later from the folks that attended.
As I write this, I’m reminded that I need to circle around to the Communications Specialist and the attendees to see whether what they learned is in use.
Activity 4: Curated Business Writing Resources
We have 3 training content libraries. So the team picked through the libraries + other free resources we have available and put together a curated list of resources. Stuck that list on the training portal and announced it in the Division newsletter.
At some point, I need to run the reports to see whether traffic increased to those materials.
Activity 5: Templates
This one was hotly debated and I am not sure anything really came of it.
The main stalling point was that some groups already use templates (mostly for planned outage announcements and project communications) and didn’t want to go through the effort of creating a common template library. Nor did they want to share their template.
I get it.
The potential impact is not worth the cat-herding effort.
Activity 6: Surveys
We put a survey at the bottom of our Infomail template.
We hoped to measure whether anyone found these communications understandable and useful.
We did it for 3 months.
We had no takers and canned it.
It has been a month or so since we closed out this phase of our efforts.
On our to-do list is the measurement of whether any of this had an impact.
– On our Communications Specialist – Is she not having to work so hard to rewrite our stuff for human consumption and to provide that “common” voice.
– On the awareness of our services. We need to discuss how we want to do this. Another committee spun up specifically to talk about Communication and Collaboration, so we might just leave it to them. They have another survey out now to measure how the Division communicates and collaborates. Since I’m on that committee too, I might talk about that later. Or not.