Four women face sit around tables with laptops, looking at the camera and smiling.

Writer’s Toolbox 2023-2024

Explore Your Creative Side!

Polish Your Skills!

Learn Something New!

The Writer’s Toolbox examines different facets of the written and spoken word, introducing techniques and considerations that are both central to each topic and transferable to others. Taught by the staff of Princeton Writes and guest instructors from across our University community, these two-hour workshops are designed to help you become a more versatile and persuasive communicator.

Once enrollment opens, anyone with a Princeton netID may register by visiting the University’s Learning Center and selecting the Princeton Writes workshop(s) in which you are interested. If you find these workshops to be full, please join the waiting list, not only to take advantage of cancellations but also to help us gauge the level of interest in re-offering them.

Unless specified otherwise, all workshops will be held in person in B03 New South, Princeton Writes‘ new home, which can be accessed most directly from the basement entrance on the southern side of the building (facing the parking garage).

When Life Becomes Art: How to Create a Compelling Personal Essay

Have you ever tried to write about a life-changing experience or special moment but couldn’t get it onto the page? Whether you want to speak out about an issue, capture your favorite family stories, or enter the Princeton Writes Staff Essay Contest, this workshop can help you get started. We will pick up tips from some of the great essays of our time, dust off our own creative writing skills, and learn how to build a memorable personal essay. In this workshop, we will stare down the dreaded blank page and get some ideas on paper! Instructor: Stephanie Whetstone, Assistant Director, Princeton Writes

February 1, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

PowerPoint’s Not Perfect. But You Can Do It Better!

Here we are, in the third decade of the 21st century, and the phrase “Death by PowerPoint” is still in vogue. But take heart! Presentations using PowerPoint, Google Slides, and similar platforms can be effective and entertaining communication tools. In this lively intermediate-level workshop, we’ll examine strategies on how best to create slideshows that engage an audience, whether you’re presenting to a few colleagues in the office or to a packed lecture hall. We’ll explore how best to pair the visuals with your remarks as speaker, and you’ll get to try your hand at putting these techniques into practice. Instructor: Dan Day, Communications and Marketing, Office of Corporate Engagement and Foundation Relations

February 15, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Asking Nicely: Making Your Case for Support

Most people find it challenging to ask for money or resources, even when it’s for a demonstrated need or a cause about which they care deeply. In this workshop, we’ll try to alleviate some of this discomfort. We’ll explore the elements of an effective “ask” and illustrate the evolution of its scaffolding, from rough draft to polished final product. After reviewing and discussing examples, you’ll have the opportunity to make—and receive feedback on—your own case for support. Instructor: Adrianne DaPonte, Senior Associate Director, Fundraising Initiatives, University Advancement

 March 7, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Optimize Your LinkedIn Profile: Establishing an Authentic Professional and Personal Presence

The secret to success on the world’s largest professional networking platform is having a fully optimized LinkedIn profile that showcases your authentic professional and personal brand. An essential first step is creating a compelling profile that leverages the latest features and tools (including AI). This workshop is a great primer for those who want to learn how to create or refresh their profile, confidently generate posts or share content, and strategically expand their professional network. (For more advanced LinkedIn users, we recommend enrolling in “Stand Out Among the In-Crowd: Writing for Influence Using LinkedIn,” which will be offered next spring.) Instructor: Eva Kubu, Associate Dean for Professional Development and Director of GradFUTURES, Graduate School

March 14, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Writing an Email That Sounds Human

Too often, email communication is hampered by a stilted, overly formal mode of address. Thinking of the recipients of your words and how you want them to “hear” you is important for building relationships and for retaining the warmth and integrity with which we all want to work. This workshop offers tips and techniques for writing effective emails that address your colleagues as fellow human beings. We’ll practice drafting emails to share with the group for input.Instructor: Jill Dolan, Dean of the College

March 28, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Writing Is Thinking: The Secrets to Writing Well

Writing is not the unpleasant chore of translating thought into words. Writing is thinking. Until you have written it clearly, you have not thought it clearly. And there is no more persuasive evidence of an incoherent argument than incoherent prose. Beyond writing well, the peculiar challenge in non-academic communications at a university like ours is speaking to multiple audiences in a single document. Unlike faculty, professional communicators must engage a general-interest audience while simultaneously advancing a dialogue with experts who have specialized knowledge of the subject matter. This workshop will explore both pitfalls and tricks of the trade of professional writing in a setting like Princeton. Participants will leave with a series of checklists that can be used to improve any piece of writing, whether a decision memo, grant application, strategic plan, press release, or marketing communication. Instructor: Gadi Dechter, Vice President for Communications and Government Affairs

April 11, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Build the Plane as You Fly It: Communications Strategy on the Go

When was the last time you had ample time to prepare and strategize? As communicators, we are often tasked with making something happen and developing the plan to do it at the same time. In this interactive workshop, we will share practical tips to help you set clear goals, develop a mission and vision, identify your audience, and pinpoint ways to measure success. Instructors: B. Rose Huber, Head, and Gwen McNamara, Strategic Communications and Digital Marketing Manager, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

April 25, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Connection, Not Perfection: An Introduction to Public Speaking

The ability to speak effectively in public is a critical but seldom taught skill. Neglect is often compounded by anxiety, but with practice and guidance, public speaking can be an exhilarating experience for both speaker and listener. This workshop emphasizes the importance of forging a connection with your audience rather than achieving oratorical perfection. It explores 10 ways of enhancing your oral presentations, from the organization of your content to your method of delivery, with the ultimate goal of expressing yourself more confidently and persuasively at Princeton and beyond. Instructor: John Weeren, Director, Princeton Writes

May 2, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

How to Get What You Want: The Art and Practice of Persuasive Writing

Have you ever been passionate about an issue, topic, or idea but found it hard to convince others to feel the same way? Do you want to write an op-ed or craft an internal email that will encourage readers to embrace your point of view? In this workshop, you will learn how to use persuasive writing to get other people to care—no hypnosis or arm twisting required. Having explored the foundations of effective persuasive writing, you will have an opportunity to practice this important skill . . . with convincing results! Instructors: Gwen McNamara, Strategic Communications and Digital Marketing Manager, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and Stephanie Whetstone, Assistant Director, Princeton Writes

May 16, 2024, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.