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You’ve Got Email!: Writing Messages that Get Responses

On average, North Americans spend close to 30% of their workweek reading and writing email, and yet complaints about poor or improper uses of email are widespread, particularly in academic and business environments.  All too often, an inappropriate tone, word choice, or subject line leads to misunderstanding or even offence, while an unnecessarily long or poorly formatted message may generate reader fatigue or inaction.  So too, incorrect grammar or punctuation may leave a bad impression of the sender's basic communication skills and potentially impede the desired outcome of the message.  This course responds to these concerns by enabling participants to learn, practice, and apply established principles of effective writing for the online communication context.

In "You've Got Email!," we will consider email as a combination of traditional letter and memo, as a "live" document with digital capabilities, and as an archive for future reference.  Our primary focus will be on email recipients' needs.  Accordingly, classes will be organized with audience size in mind:  individual, group, broadcast.  Each class will involve writing and peer review activities.  Upon completion, you will have developed improved online communication skills and strategies that can be immediately applied to a variety of audience types in any professional context.

Date: Wednesday, April 30, 2014
End Date: Wednesday, May 21, 2014
Time: 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Duration: 4 weeks
Location: Burnside Hall, Room 1205
Course Fee: $125

Pre-requisite: Strong English language skills

Click here to register


Objectives

Participants will learn to:

  • analyze audience by type and size
  • undertake writing as a draft process
  • structure and format messages effectively
  • adopt the appropriate tone
  • make informed decisions about organization and flow
  • make clear requests for action
  • improve clarity, coherence, and precision

Outline

  • Overview of the history and anatomy of email
  • Determining audience needs based on type and size
  • Using classical rhetorical strategies to inform and/or persuade
  • Establishing the appropriate voice and tone
  • Developing strategies to match communicative goals
  • Creating a story arc, even in a brief message
  • Making the best use of formatting options
  • Practicing brevity and concision as rules of email communication
  • Crafting longer emails that focus and maintain the reader’s attention
  • Grammar and mechanics (including sentence forms, sentence variety, and punctuation)

Who Should Attend

  • Those who routinely write emails for professional purposes in any major sector: business, industry, government, academia, not-for-profit.

Lecturer

Diane Dechief is the author of many, many emails—of increasing effectiveness.  She wrote these as a mid-level manager, first at a software training company, then at a public college, and now as a lecturer at the McGill Writing Centre.  Diane has organized research teams and academic conferences—both requiring copious email exchanges—and has consulted for the federal government on immigrant settlement and labour integration policies.  Diane has been teaching Communication in Engineering at McGill University for the past several years and is currently completing a doctorate in Information Studies at the University of Toronto.


Cancellation Policy

All cancellation requests must be made in writing on-line: click here to cancel. Please note that you will be required to quote your registration reference number.

If you cannot attend the course but wish to send someone in your place you must make a request for the substitution in writing to mwc [at] mcgill [dot] ca.

The following cancellation policy applies:

Up to 14 days prior to the start date: Full refund
Up to 7 days prior to the start date: Refund minus $100 cancellation fee
Within 7 days prior to the start date: No refund

If no notice is given prior to the start of the course and you fail to attend, you will be liable for the full course fee.

The MWC reserves the right to cancel this course up to 5 days prior to the event.


Contact Information

Telephone:  514-398-7109
Email: mwc [at] mcgill [dot] ca