Seeing is Believing

In another part of my life, I’m a training developer. I create programs that teach business people how to write documents, presentations, even emails. Of all the topics I get asked to teach, the one I never would have guessed is at the top of the

A diagrammed sentence.

A diagrammed sentence.

list: grammar. Grammar is rarely taught in elementary or middle school anymore, so tomorrow’s leaders have to learn syntax and grammar quickly. And that’s what I do–invent creative ways to make grammar interesting.

When I call the Inner Hero book “my second book,” it’s with a touch of irony. In the last year, I’ve written half a dozen workbooks on technical writing, grammar, email communication and creative problem solving. But they aren’t sold in bookstores, so I rarely mention them.

Last week a client said something that made a lot of sense to me. “We offer a lot of classes, and we want people to take grammar, but they have to see the value in it. And grammar sounds boring.” Yes, yes, it does. She said, wistfully, “I wish you could do a cartoon instead of the outline of what’s in the class.” What a great idea my client had! So I sat down with the “boring” outline and made it visual.

begr_visualWe are visual people, and looking at something colorful and interesting makes grammar less threatening. Looking at a busy, colorful “map” of the course is a better way to sell it than an outline.

When I was done, I did one for Business Writing, too. I hope it helps the visual people see the benefit of the class. It doesn’t show everything we do in class, but it shows enough to pique interest.

biz_writing_visualUsing visual creative tools to explain everyday topics shows the utility in a new, fresh, appealing way. The client knows her audience. And now I have a new tool in my training tool box, too.

–Quinn McDonald loves mixing different skills to solve old problems.




12 thoughts on “Seeing is Believing

  1. The company I work for brings in people trained to create large picture/diagrams like this when we do large group problem solving sessions. The room they use for these meetings is wall-to-wall white board, and idea maps usually get pretty large. Talking about a solution is one thing; seeing the various diagrammed out in pictures brings a new level of clarity. I try to do it on a small scale with my own staff — I’m not nearly as proficient, but they’ve told me they like it.

  2. Grammar was taught when I was at school and I loathed it because I thought analysing sentence structure took away it’s magic. I can recall my eyes glazing over, the logical side of my brain shutting down and thinking how utterly boring it all was. Now, I just have to trust in luck and a big apple that I get it right often enough to be understood.

  3. What a great idea. Your example also makes a huge point about business communication. If your presentation and PowerPoint are not interesting people don’t listen and don’t get the point. Your cartoon is a fabulous illustration of this idea!

  4. I wish I got to learn grammar this way, it wouldn’t have been so boring! I didn’t know they weren’t really teaching grammar in elementary school anymore. That explains a lot! I get papers from university students and wonder how they got to higher education with sentence structure like that. They were never taught. It makes sense now.

  5. Bring back sentence diagramming! Make a game out of it! Invent a game for the internet, like Words for Friends. Make sentences fun!

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