Today Steve and I taught group of local leaders about writing opinion pieces. It’s a gig we do twice a year for Leadership Triangle, and we really enjoy it. It’s so gratifying for us to help smart, engaged people harness the power of their passions and ideas to craft a solid piece to inform and/or incite.

We walk these folks through a straightforward thinking/pre-writing strategy (that we also use with kids as young as third grade in our work for Teaching That Makes Sense) that helps them quickly and concisely map out their audience, main idea and key details, and the purpose of the piece. We call it the Content-Purpose-Audience (CPA) strategy, and you can learn more about it here.

The experience for them is transformative on two levels. First, they find it empowering to get their thoughts and emotions on paper. Second, they can’t believe how easy the process is, even for those who “hate writing” or don’t think of themselves as writers. Gold!

One past participant was the mayor pro tem of Cary, N.C. Here’s an example of how Jack Smith took what we did in class and used it “in real life”:

Sometimes what I write is more for speeches I have to give – which have to be short and succinct. I used the CPA for…an after dinner speech at a WWII reunion of fighter pilots where I was to brag about Cary for 20 minutes. [The] document helped me personalize the presentation, make it relevant and tie it all back to Cary. Thanks again for being a very important and practical part of the Triangle Leadership program.

Other comments:

• Never thought it could be that easy.
• I plan to submit an op-ed immediately.
• Often my passions block my thoughts but today could put passion into words.

You can see why we love teaching this class. If you’re interested in having us present this or our other writing workshops to your company or civic or trade group, drop me a line at