The CEO calls you (the HR Manager) and expresses his concern that most of the employees are unable to write a decent email to their customers, clients or colleagues. Often, the message in the email is not clear. They want to convey one thing, but the recipient understands something else altogether, resulting in avoidable confusion. A lot of valuable time is wasted by the managers in vetting the emails of their juniors. Moreover, it projects a very poor image of the company amongst customers. Hence, the CEO wants you to fix the problem and get the employees trained in email writing skills. There are time constraints; the training needs to be done in a workshop style format over a weekend at most. You identify 25 people to be trained for the initial batch. You hunt around for trainers who can teach English Writing Skills. After meeting a few trainers and institutes, you pick one that is ready to meet your training needs, and at a reasonable cost. That usually means they will train all 25 together in one big batch in a one-day workshop. Perfect. The trainer conducts the workshop on the appointed day. You are happy that the training has been ticked off, the participants are happy because they get a day off from work, and the CEO is happy believing that the problem has been nailed. Most happy of all is the trainer who gets paid a nice sum for a day’s work! But, have the emails benefitted? Or do they remain as difficult to read as ever? The truth is that more often than not, such shotgun approaches to training do not work. So what goes wrong?   First, let’s ask a question. If you were entertaining guests and had to cook dinner to impress them, would you put the chicken, the meat, and the fish in one big pot with all the vegetables and hope for the best? Quite the contrary! You would give due respect to each dish and follow recipes to cook each of them to perfection. It’s helpful to think about training with the same amount of care too. After all, the training needs of 25 individuals can vary widely and addressing these may require more than just a lecture or two. Here is a the 5 Step guide to organizing a good English Writing Skills workshop that enumerates the basics: Step 1: Ideally, a language audit should be carried out to identify the current language-level and the passive knowledge of each participant (as a pre-workshop task). In some cases, participants may be below the threshold level for a English writing skills workshop. For such participants, it is important to lift their core language-level with a foundation course before subjecting them to techniques and tips on the nuances of writing styles. Step 2: Samples of the emails written by the participants should be evaluated to identify training needs, keeping in mind the context of the environment and culture of the organization. Due consideration can be given to specific terms or vocabulary that is essential for the job. These can be used to customize the content and delivery of the workshop/s. Step 3: Participants should be grouped according to their language-levels or training needs, as the smaller the difference in language-levels between participants, the easier it is to sharpen the focus of the workshop, and achieve better results. Step 4: The workshop should not just be a lecture; the word ‘workshop’ implies interaction and exchange of information in small groups. Therefore, it should be designed to be high on interaction, with lots of participation from the participants. For optimum learning outcomes, a batch should not consist of more than ten participants. Step 5: Any English writing skills workshop should be accompanied by access to an online resource so that participants can continue learning and correcting themselves. If possible, in the weeks following the workshop, writing assignments should be given by the trainer and corrected remotely via email. This will close the loop of learning for the participants most effectively. This 5-step approach will certainly give you optimum results from any writing skills workshop. Final Words:Many times, you will be tempted to go against this advice because of costs. But, remember, you may actually be penny wise and pound foolish. Shotgun workshops may still burn up your training budget – but leave you married to the problem!   Herman heads inlingua’s corporate training business for Delhi. He can be reached at

Herman Siquiera, 24 July, 2017 (7:50 AM)

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