Yesterday was a bit of a red-letter day. It was my husband’s birthday (and he thanks you kindly for all the good wishes, both here as well as on Twitter), which is a pretty big deal in and of itself.

Over and above that, though, IABC/DC Metro (y’all know I’m current president, right? Disclosure and all…) hosted a very special event: a three-hour writing workshop, sponsored by Johns Hopkins University (additional disclosure, I teach there) and Marketwire, with the renowned Ann Wylie, who promised to teach us all to “Think Like A Reader” and “Cut Through The Clutter.”

I’ve been a fan of Ann’s writing and teaching for years, but this was the first time I got to meet her in person.

Quite frankly: she’s amazing. She’s friendly, down-to-earth and has a fabulous dress style (and her hair is pretty fabulous as well).

As you may have seen, I live-tweeted a fair amount of her workshop (with Ann’s permission). There were so many nuggets that it’s tough for me to give you all of them, but here are a few:

  • “Irrelevant information is not benign; it hurts. It costs attention, and that’s one thing no one can afford to spill.”
  • “Would you put a stamp on it?” That’s a good rule of thumb to help you decide whether to send a communication or not.
  • The definition of a paragraph: cover one idea, and then hit “return.” So think about packaging your information into smaller ideas.
  • “Go from we to you. Stop talking about yourself. ‘You’ is the most re-tweeted word in English.”

If you haven’t already, you should definitely sign up for Ann’s writing tips via her free e-zine or, better yet, Revving Up Readership. And no, she didn’t ask me to say that; I really think you should.

Here are a few more tips from the master. I’d say “mistress,” but somehow that doesn’t feel right…

Shonali Burke
Founder and publisher of Waxing UnLyrical, Shonali Burke helps purpose-driven brands bring big ideas to life. She teaches at The Johns Hopkins University, has gone back to school herself with the Harvard Business Analytics Program, and is creator/lead instructor at The Social PR Virtuoso® online training hub , where ambitious PR pros learn how to unleash their inner Social PR superheroes. Owned by Lola the Basset Hound, she's mad about ABBA, bacon, cooking, dogs, and Elvis, though not necessarily in that order. Wouldn't you like to be in her kitchen?
Shonali Burke
Shonali Burke