I have designed and run three training courses for speechwriters at ABB’s headquarters in Zurich. As well as dealing with speechwriting techniques, these included role-playing exercises to help the speechwriters get good briefs from the executives they work with.
I interview experts and do my own research to write articles for Pantheon’s investors. These have to make very complicated and often very abstract concepts interesting, readable and easy to understand, without investors feeling that they’re being talked down to. Like all thought-leadership, they have to show just how much the company knows, without giving everything away.
The topics I’ve covered include the outlook for the economy, Latin America, investing in infrastructure, emerging markets, performance and the more technical subjects of exit uplift and strategic allocation.
I designed and ran a weekend workshop called Self-publishing Step By Step, as part of the Guardian’s adult-education offshoot, Guardian Masterclasses. I took participants through the process of choosing a printer, pagesetting (using Adobe InDesign), designing a cover, learning how to describe their book, producing an ebook, and doing the essentials of marketing. These were all things I’d learned for myself when I set up Albatross and published The Perpetual Astonishment of Jonathon Fairfax.
The feedback was very good, and afterwards one participant sent me this message: “Thanks for one of the best and most informative courses I have ever attended.”
I designed the course so that it’s organised around the three qualities that National Grid has chosen for its tone of voice: open, confident and visionary. I also made sure it incorporates the techniques I’ve developed that help people write more naturally and effectively. We ran several workshops in both countries and got great feedback – except in our second UK session, after which we made a few adjustments.
The participants were of all ages and levels, from young people in their first jobs to managers who’d been with the company for years. They worked in jobs including PR, customer services, corporate affairs and internal communications. Some of them loved writing, but a lot had found themselves effectively being professional writers without ever having been taught to do it. People appreciated being shown a simple, step-by-step way of producing the sort of writing the company wants.