WGTD Program Design

The following activities ensure mastery of this program.

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Pre-seminar Analysis: Prior to the seminar, each participant submits a writing sample for review. We suggest ways to highlight key ideas and simplify the organizational style.  This analysis and feedback prepares participants with specific writing skills/learning objectives to work on and makes the transfer of learning quick and easy.

Seminar Session: The focus is on improving participants’ actual on-the-job writing skills. Participants are amazed at how quick and easy it is to rewrite their pre-seminar writing samples using our feedback and seminar content as a guide to write more clearly. 

Follow-up Support:  In keeping with our commitment we offer numerous resources and opportunities to help seminar participants work with us to ensure their success in becoming more productive and successful.  Along with critiquing post-seminar writing samples, we’re very excited about our soon-to-be-released Student Resource Center with customized software and online job aids.

Our History Working with Municipalities

The Writing to Get Things Done program and the online course have honed its success for helping the City of Richfield’s drive toward excellence through its history of helping many other metro municipalities improve the clarity of their communications. Since the 1990s, these have included the city governments of Bloomington, Brooklyn Park, Chrystal, Eden Prairie, Edina, Minneapolis, and St. Paul.

Also, since 2003 The Minnesota Chapter of the American Public Works Association, the primary source of professional consulting expertise for city public work projects, has offered Writing to Get Things Done numerous times, with great results, as it raises the effective communication for successful leadership of its members.

Finally, the breadth and dept of WGTD has been perfected by the feedback of over 100,000 participants from Fortune 500 companies.

We would love to help your company create the same success!


WGTD v. Writing Style Taught in Schools


Although the difference between these two examples is stark, it is by no means unusual. It is, in fact, universal in all organizations around the world. People unwittingly paragraph each other into confusion to the point where readers stop reading.

This exhibit also illustrates the difference between a pre-seminar writing sample and the writing skills taught in WGTD: framing content for busy readers and complying with the Federal and State Plain Language Guidelines mandated by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton for state, county and city governments.

Writing Tip:  Put what you want to get done in paragraph one

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Adapted from Writing to Get Things Done® seminar

Productivity Tip

To pique the interest of your readers, give them your “bottom line” up front. This writing tip is common sense, but not common practice. 

Common Sense

It’s common sense if you want to get things done.  You get things done by being up front and clear with the reader. Put your most important idea in the opening paragraph, and then make everything that follows support it.

It’s common sense if you want to be read. The first questions readers ask of any document are, “How does this document affect me? Do I have to do anything?”  When readers can't find these answers quickly or clearly, they stop reading. They put it down in their “to read later” file with good intentions.

Not Common Practice

This writing tip is not common practice – which is unfortunate for readers, writers, and the organizations in which they work. Look at most of the emails and other documents that you read (and maybe write!).  Most business professionals put the most important thing to the readers – what they need to do – in the most difficult to find place: in the middle, near the end, or absent all together. Only a tiny percentage of emails – even those written by senior executives – state what needs to get done in paragraph one. This results in confusion that hinders progress and derails projects.

Try It and See What Happens

Putting what you want to get done in paragraph one is a simple yet effective way to get things done. This common-sense tactic is rarely used. Make it common practice and see what happens.


Berry Writing Group Writing Tips

  1. Use a Forecasting Subject Line 
  2. Put What You Want to Get Done in Paragraph One
  3. Five Ways to Make It Easy for Your Readers
  4. Avoid Worn-out Clichés in Your Opening Sentence
  5. Avoid Worn-out Clichés in Your Closing Sentence
  6. Follow Basic Email Etiquette for Greater Productivity
  7. The Harmful Effects of Rambling Prose
  8. A Strategic Advantage that Begins at the Keyboard
  9. Use Plain Language
  10. Use Short Sentences
  11. Use Short, Simple Words
  12. Write in Active Voice
  13. Avoid Hidden Verbs
  14. Finesse With Tone
  15. Find Your Hidden List
  16. The Productivity Checklist
  17. How to be Read in Government and Corporate America—Use the Models of Writing to Get Things Done® (WGTD)
  18. Clear Communication Drives Productivity
  19. With Procedure Writing, Point of View is Everything
  20. In the Heat of the Moment—If It Feels Good, Don't Do It
  21. Make Your Procedure a Thing of Beauty—Use an Appropriate Format
  22. Make Your Procedure a Thing of Beauty—Use an Appropriate Format (Example 2)
  23. A Tribute to the Gregg Reference Manual—the gatekeeper of business grammar since the 1950s
  24. The Benefits of Writing—Supported by a Phone Call


Stan Berry has devoted over 35 years to improving the writing skills of over 100,000 business and government professionals. After completing his Master’s degree from Yale University, he co-authored five books on writing that he uses in his seminars. He’s been a member of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) since 1975 when he served as the newsletter editor and on the Board of Directors for the Twin Cities Chapter. Stan can be reached at www.BerryWritingGroup.com or 612-578-1487.