Writing with Force: Trading a Nerf Pen for a Light Saber

In early November, I was privileged to conduct an education session on copywriting for about 30 leaders with Toastmasters International. I covered the prime directive and nine supports, including how to put the customer in the experience (see how this applies to the Toastmasters value proposition).

"Writing with Force" training session led by Commercial Copywriter John Michael O'Leary, Wordman Inc.

District 11 Toastmasters hone their light sabers in the education session, “Writing with Force,” Photo: Steve Clevenger, ALS/District 11 Toastmasters.

Using examples from the Toastmasters International website, I demonstrated how the prime directive can guide copy revision. The hour concluded with a spirited Q&A session. By the way, Toastmasters are fanatical about evaluation. When the event organizers send me the feedback, I will share it here.

7 thoughts on “Writing with Force: Trading a Nerf Pen for a Light Saber

  1. John Michael, your presentation provided great tips for writing with more power and effectiveness. I appreciate you sharing your knowledge and expertise.

  2. I almost always glean a few nuggets from any training session. I have to say that I felt like almost every word you said had value. The content was rich and concise. The examples were useful and relevant. It forced me to rethink how I approach any message that I want to deliver in any format. This was one of the most enjoyable sessions of enlightenment that i have experienced in a long time. No fluff. Pure useful knowledge. Thanks for the effort.

    • Great add to the comments. I also thought it was brilliant how he actually used the nuggets he was presenting in his own presentation. It wasn’t just theoretical, it was a training in action.

  3. John Michael,

    It is not often I feel compelled to comment on the many seminars and trainings I’ve attended. Trading a nerf pen for a light saber training you gave at the Fall Conference is one of those compelling moments. Your message still lingers, long after the conference. The brilliant insight into creative word selection and phrasing to unleash the energy I want to infuse into my audience, still lingers. What an inspiring and empowering training!

    Please add me to your mailing list. I would love to attend any training you may be presenting in the future.

    Thanks again,

    Mike Woodall
    Speak a world worth having into existence.

  4. Having attended many Toastmasters workshops, this was the best of the best. This presentation drove a clear point home with many examples that turn weak composition into powerful communication that speaks to your audience and gets results.

  5. I received the feedback today. Twenty-five participants submitted written evaluations, rating the course from 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest) for the following criteria.
    Met Participant Needs: 4.95 (22 responses)
    Course Content: 4.88 (25 responses)
    Course Material: 4.84 (25 responses)
    Organization: 4.96 (25 responses)
    Presenter: 4.96 (25 responses)
    Activities/Exercises: 4.67 (18 responses)

    Comments…
    “He asked questions of the audience, which was good. Could have used more interaction.”
    “Couldn’t be improved—it was fabulous and helpful.”
    “It would help to use the presentation as a handout.”
    “Longer would be good—or to slow down to absorb more.”
    “The Q&A period at the end was very helpful”
    “Too rushed—didn’t show slides long enough to take notes.”
    “Great material—sometimes a little wordy and had to digest it all, moving along quickly.”
    “Great discussion at end.”
    “Can’t be improved.”
    “Give a handout so we can jot notes on it—the material was great but I would have liked a copy during the presentation.”

What do you think?