Write like a pro

10th November 2020 |   Dr Christine Eastman

Write like a pro

As a sales leader you may be a great talker, but how do you find your written voice?

No matter how skilled you are as a practitioner, no matter how you have grown and flourished professionally, if you cannot express yourself with simplicity, in language unencumbered by business jargon, your work counts for little. Nowhere is this more evident than in leadership where the art of communication is vital. And this applies especially to how we communicate in writing.

The increasing expectation for salespeople is not only for them to be on top of their game but to be able to demonstrate their expertise, knowledge and excellence through a published piece of work that will bring them global recognition. Finding Your Written Voice (FYWV) will help you to become a published writer and a master communicator by focusing on the use of language to improve your writing skills.

Who is FYWV for?

FYWV has been designed for you, as a sales leader, to become a more discerning reader with the ability to recognise quality prose and to join the exalted ranks of published writers. FYWV will help you to realise your full potential as a leader in your industry by getting you to reflect deeply on how you communicate. Here are some typical group session discussions:

  • What are your goals for writing?
    a. Purpose – what effect do you wish to achieve?
    b. Structure – how can you incorporate research and maintain the aesthetic value of your work?
    c. Audience – what do you want your audience to feel and to believe after experiencing your work?
    d. Ethics – who is implicated in your writing?
    e. Craft – how will your voice work in your piece?
  • How will you use metaphor? Because metaphor percolates into all communication, we need to be aware of its awesome power.
  • Biography has a central role in coaching and leadership. How does it work? You will learn how biographers draw on the accumulation of detail and personal knowledge in order to give a rich account of human behaviour, and to be able to incorporate their techniques into your own writing. How can we articulate our own experiences so that we can incorporate our identity and the versions of our past that shape and construct our present?
  • How is an academic journal article structured? Let’s examine the following elements: asking questions to the reader, bringing in an “expert” to underscore authority, describing your thinking journey, defining your terms, and answering the “so what?” question. Is there anything else essential to the well-constructed article?

What do participants say about the programme?

“Did the course meet my expectation? Absolutely! I had no doubt that I would learn new techniques and discover new styles of writing. I did. I had no doubt that Christine would be a fabulous facilitator and lecturer, and coach us well through our efforts. She did all of that and then some.

“What I wasn’t expecting was to conclude the course with such a burning desire to learn and experiment and create more. On reflection, maybe that which shines brightly shines even brighter in the darkest of times. Dr Eastman uses different ingredients to create memorable experiences and to whet their follower’s respective appetites. For anyone who hungers to become a more thoughtful writer, or to create more impactful messaging and images through attention-grabbing text, the syllabus for Finding Your Written Voice will guide you along your creative journey, but be warned: you might find it addictive.”

Assistant Vice-President, Strategy, National Accounts

“I’ve had an interest in writing for as long as I can remember. Prior to taking the Finding Your Written Voice course, I possessed zeal without skill. The knowledge of the art of writing that I received from FYWV not only increased my skill level of writing, it also gave me confidence in myself. I now have confidence and belief in myself to finally write the book that is within me.

“FYWV tremendously impacted the way I write. Prior to the course, my writing could be viewed as a means to an end. I now write using observation, reflection, and critical thinking.

“FYWV would not be as successful without Christine Eastman. She is a wonderful teacher, mentor, coach and encourager! She made the course interesting and fun. The intimate class size allowed me to be comfortable and build relationships with the other learners. Finding Your Written Voice is a course I highly recommend for anyone who wants to take their writing to the next level.”

Senior Consultant, Sales Coaching and Development

“It equipped me/us with another set of skills which make us better writers. This writing could be for a novel, a scientific journal, a thriller, a script for a speech on stage or a newsletter to your team. The experience was similar to a workshop which trains your voice and breathing, which also helps for all the occasions when you need to speak.

 “What did we learn? The focus was to write something such as a book proposal or journal article. That was for me the focus and I accomplished this mission.

 “I would recommend this course to comms people or chiefs of staff as they usually are in charge of organizational communication.”

Senior Global Vice President, Customer Success

“The brilliance of Christine’s course curriculum is that she not only presented specific writing assignments to stretch our individual creativity, but she also introduced us to stellar writing technique through reading the esteemed works of essayists and novelists. These written voices were occasionally humble, sometimes provocative, always intriguing.

“Not unlike good sales practices, we really needed to listen to what the author was saying. We needed to look for clues in how their words were used, and when. It was easy to draw quick conclusions if a paragraph, or even an entire chapter, left us feeling unsure or uneasy, but we learned the importance of patiently engaging in the full story and the technique in which it was being told before a final assessment could be made.

“As the cohort members shared their observations, we discovered a number of ‘ah-has’, often resulting in new perspective or understanding of the author’s intent and style. Just as in sales engagements, the conversations translated into fascinating journeys of discovering human needs, values, drivers, and motivation. Sometimes the dialogue was delicate and subtle. Sometimes it was in-your-face bold. As readers, not unlike a great salesperson, we needed to reflex accordingly in order to stay in tune and to truly understand the message. We then attempted to mimic what we learned in each new writing assignment.”

Vice President, Customer Retail

What are the benefits of FYWV?

For sales leaders, FYWV provides an opportunity to become a published expert on a topic about which you are passionate: leadership courage, generational differences at work, agile organisations, positive habit formation, mid to late career goals, storytelling. Those who have completed FYWV have gone on to secure major publishing contracts, had papers accepted in peer-reviewed journals, and have found themselves confident enough to pursue public speaking engagements.

  • You will be able to probe your assumptions, values and grow exponentially from the experience.
  • You will learn how to hold a reader’s interest, to create emotion in your reader, and to express yourself with flair in your own voice.
  • You will enjoy collaborating with others in the small group and hearing each other’s contributions. Everyone brings a gift of his or her own to FYWV.

FYWV will help you to realise your full potential as a leader in your industry by getting you to reflect deeply on how you communicate.

How long is FYWV?

There are two intakes a year for FYWV: in October through to January or in March through to June. This elite course takes only a handful of students in order to foster trust and intimacy online, and to give you as much time and attention both in the small group sessions and on one-to-one tutorials. There are nine hour-and-a-half workshops and at least five-hour long tutorials over the four-month block. Dates and time are to be advised.

How and what will you learn?

FYWV is run on Zoom. Our sessions aim to be a supportive, intimate, and safe environment for you to discuss the assigned reading and your research and writing progress. You will learn to hone your expertise and credibility in your topic area, which may already be informed by your final Master’s project.

Or if you are not studying and simply want to write better and publish your ideas, FYWV is your vehicle for doing so. You will learn the techniques of how professional writers craft their work so that you will be able to communicate your own writing in a confident, self-assured and persuasive manner.

There is reading, but the reading assignments are spaced apart so that you have time to digest the work with understanding and pleasure. The reading has been chosen to challenge, entertain and intrigue you – it is never dull and tired. The writing commitment is manageable: there are brief, well-spaced-out exercises that will support your skills, nothing onerous or hugely time-consuming.

You will learn how to hold a reader’s interest, to create emotion in your reader, and to express yourself with flair in your own voice.

Are there any specific requirements to getting onto FYWV?

Passion, intellectual curiosity and a commitment to maximising your reading and writing skills are the requirements for this course. You will be encouraged to engage with voices of distinguished thinkers, both contemporary and in fiction and non-fiction: writers such as James Baldwin, best-selling African-American essayist and critic; Willa Cather, Pulitzer Prize winning American novelist; Edward Saïd, political writer on cultural criticism and Palestinian issues; Irvin Yalom, novelist exploring existential psychotherapy and the meaning of existence; and William Styron, one of the greatest novelist of his generation.

You will also read more about your topic. What does the academic and business world say about motivation or agile organizations or inter-generational coaching, for example?

We will work at your pace. You will read as much as you need to and be given “the freedom to go down rabbit holes” as a former student memorably observed. You will engage with fresh and creative perspectives to the world and will learn how to pay close attention to others’ and your own stories, a habit which lies at the heart of this transformational course.

For more information on how you can join FYWV, please contact Will Squire: wsquire@consalia.com.

Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University’s Business School

Dr Christine Eastman is a senior lecturer at Middlesex University’s Business School and an associate lecturer at CETAD, Lancaster University. She has worked as the Director of Applied Professional Practice and as a literature lecturer with a special interest in 19th century American literature at the University of Kent. She has over 30 years’ experience in education which include developing and running programmes for corporate client groups from the Halifax plc, Nationwide US, SAP, Sony, and Toshiba. For the past seven years Christine has been a programme leader for the MSc Professional Practice in Leading Sales Transformation, and has run a very successful CPD course on publishing and writing for alumni from this programme and other coaching programmes.

She holds a post-graduate coaching diploma from Nottingham University and recently published Coaching for Professional Development: using literature to support success (Routledge, 2019). Her previous book Improving Workplace Learning by Teaching Literature (Springer, 2016) details how she endeavours to support professional practice students to express themselves in a personal way with verve and vigour.