Better writing

Crawford School of Public Policy | Executive course


In this course we look at great writing, good writing and terrible writing, and consider what makes it so. We talk about the obstacles to good writing in the organisations where you work. The course helps you recognise the traps to avoid and the habits to abandon. We also look at the mechanics of writing: what makes for effective writing, writing that engages an audience, writing that communicates and sinks in. You have the chance to think about the possibilities of language and writing, including the possibility of enjoying it.

Course date: 
9.30am–4.30pm 29 August 2018

Course overview

This course has three stages:

  1. The problems of public language. We look at the evils of management claptrap, cliché, slogans and jargon which drain the life from language and debilitate public discourse. We consider the proposition that language is the midwife of our thoughts and not just the means of expressing them. We consider examples of great writing, adequate writing and lousy writing.

  2. The context of writing. We discuss the problems you face in your work. Many organisations, and many executives and politicians seem addicted to jargon, ‘messaging’ and obfuscation. How can you gently lead them towards plainer and more engaging English? Much of your writing may concern humdrum subjects. How can you breathe life into it? Often you may be confronted with questions for which there are no clear answers. The task is sometimes delicate, the problem intractable. How can you find the right words?

  3. Analysis of writing. We look at documents your organisation has produced and consider ways to improve them.

Cost: $1,350 GST incl; Group discounts applicable.

Course date: 9.30am–4.30pm 29 August 2018

Venue:#132, Crawford Building, Lennox Crossing, ANU

Enrol now

Download registration form here

Complete your registration form and email to

We’ll contact you to confirm your enrolment. Invoices are raised post-course to cater for any changes or cancellations prior to the course date. If you would like an invoice prior to the course, please let us know when you send through the registration form to

For further enquiries, please email us or call 02 6125 2154.

Important information about your enrolment

All full day subscription courses are $1,350 (GST incl) unless otherwise specified. Maximum class size is 22 participants. Full day courses run from 9.30am - 4.30pm.

Group discounts are available for bulk registrations of 3 or more participants. To receive the group discount, registrations must include full details of all participants attending.

Cancellations or changes to course registrations should be provided in writing to at the earliest opportunity. Substitutions of registrants or shifting to other courses is permissible but subject to approval and may incur a cost.

Please view our Cancellation Policy for further information.

Course convenor

Dr Don Watson

Don Watson BA, Ph.D has won the Age Book of the Year (twice) the ABIA Book of the Year (twice), the NSW Premiers Book of the Year, the Alfred Deakin Prize, a Walkley, and many other awards. His best-selling books include Recollections of a Bleeding Heart: Paul Keating PM; Death Sentence:The Decay of Public Language, Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words; American Journeys and The Bush. He was Paul Keating’s speechwriter and adviser, and speechwriter for the Victorian Premier, John Cain. He has written films, political satire for television and the stage, countless articles for newspapers and periodicals here and abroad, and many speeches for Australian business leaders. Four of his books concern writing and language and the corrosive effects of ‘management speak’ and political spin, and he gives regular talks, workshops and master classes on these subjects to public and private sector organizations (Westpac, Ernst and Young, the Victorian Auditor General, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Library, the Fred Hollows Foundation, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Murray Darling Commission, among many others.)

Updated:  24 March 2017/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team