The TWP course is STA’s flagship offering for teaching professional writing skills to analysts or to anyone who must think critically and communicate thorough written products to demanding customers. We stress the importance of presenting the bottom line up front (the BLUF) and of focusing every element of a product on the specific needs of the intended audience. Our mantra throughout the class is that every element of a product must be relevant, clear, concise, and credible to that audience.
Our instructors draw on their professional experiences serving the most demanding customers during international crises, where the need to produce precisely written analysis quickly is at a premium. They have spent years as analysts and also as reviewers of other’s products, and they know how to bring out the best in every author.
TWP has three classroom days with discussion and exercises plus an additional day of instructor time to edit student writing samples and provide feedback. The course has four main elements:
This session focuses on how professional writing is different from academic and scientific writing and what it means to add value for your customer. It includes 10 strategies to ensure professional success as an analyst and address topics such as objectivity, timeliness, intuition, an analyst’s mindset, and effective teamwork.
This block looks at how to conceptualize and structure a product, formulate the right key intelligence question for your customer, build and support a credible argument, and deal with cognitive biases and uncertainty. We also cover the inverted pyramid writing style and how to provide a clear bottom line up front.
This section covers the critical details of writing that, if handled improperly, can destroy a product’s credibility. We address the basics of grammar, punctuation, word choice, passive vs. active language, and self-editing. The goal is to help students write clear, direct sentences where the only meaning the reader takes away is the one the author intends.
The Exercise pushes students to practice all course elements as they produce a three-paragraph analytic product in response to a fictitious customer tasking. We provide a package of source material they must mine to produce well-crafted paragraphs with clear BLUFs and strong supporting evidence. Students take part in a peer review session on an initial draft and receive detailed comments from the instructor on their final draft.
We’ve designed the course to have six students to maximize discussion and instructor interaction and feedback, but we can take up to two more students at an additional charge. We have a standard Capstone Exercise but can customize the writing prompt, topic, and product format to meet specific customer needs. We can even customize the entire course to reflect the specific roles students play in your organization. We’ve taught everyone from intelligence analysts, physical security specialists, and investigators to healthcare professionals and program managers.