Professor Patrick Barry presents two massive open online course series about the skills anyone can learn to be "good with words" in their writing and speech. Enrollment to these courses is open to anyone. Current students, alumni, faculty, and staff from the University of Michigan's Ann Arbor, Dearborn, or Flint campuses may earn a verified certificate for free upon successful completion when accessing the courses via Michigan Online. Visit https://online.umich.edu/faqs for more information.
Suppose you were good with words. Suppose when you decided to speak, the message you delivered—and the way you delivered it—successfully connected with your intended audience. What would that mean for your career prospects? What would that mean for your comfort level in social situations? And perhaps most importantly, what would that mean for your satisfaction with the personal relationships you value the most? This specialization is designed to help you find out. Based on an award-winning course and workshop series at the University of Michigan that has been taken by students training to enter a wide range of fields—law, business, medicine, social work, public policy, design, engineering, and many more—it removes the guesswork from figuring out how to communicate clearly and compellingly.
All of us have ideas that are worth sharing. Why not learn to convey yours in a way that people will appreciate, enjoy, and remember?
This series features the following courses:
Poise is not some elusive or innate characteristic. It’s a series of choices, all of which can help you better connect with your intended audience. This course will help you identify those choices and teach you how to make them in a way that consistently enhances the clarity of your message and the effectiveness of your delivery.
The hope good presenters project when pitching their ideas is not naïve hope. They’re not Pollyanna at the podium. Instead, the solutions they offer are supported by research, data, and expertise. This course will teach you how to merge hard facts with an imaginative vision in a way that at once resonates with and inspires your audience.
This course will teach you how to build persuasive surprises into your presentations, the kind of surprises that will change how your audience sees a particular situation or proposal and then gets them talking—in a good way. It will also identify several techniques you can use to start (and maintain) your own conversations, whether with a big group, a small group, or even just one-one-one.
To be an effective speaker you don’t need to overwhelm people with your intellect. You don’t need to dazzle them from start to finish. You simply need to give them the sense that what they are receiving was especially prepared with their interests and needs in mind. This course will help you develop the judgment and dexterity needed to craft a perfectly tailored message.
Perhaps the most important thing students and professionals of all kinds can do to improve their effectiveness is embrace the following advice: become good with words.
This series of courses targets the writing side of that recommendation. The skills it focuses on include everything from how to arrange a complex set of information in a reader-friendly way, to how to give and receive high-quality feedback, to how to consistently hit deadlines. This series features the following courses:
Part of Professor Barry’s proceeds from this course will be donated to the COVID-19 relief efforts of Ozone House, a shelter for homeless youth in Southeastern Michigan where he regularly conducts job-training workshops. These proceeds come from purchases of the version of the course that earns you a certificate. The course remains free for anyone who is simply auditing.
This course will teach you how to use your written words to become more persuasive. You’ll learn creative ways to use syntax, effective techniques for telling stories, and a clever method for arranging a complex series of information. You’ll also get a chance to both professionalize your use of punctuation and add a bit of style and sophistication to how you craft everything from sentences to slogans.
This second course in the Good with Words: Writing and Editing series will help you become an effective architect of information, both with your sentences and with your paragraphs. You’ll learn that the traditional advice to “Show, don’t tell” is incomplete and that skilled writers actually switch back and forth between showing and telling.
You’ll also learn more about the menu of time management techniques introduced in the first course of the series, including “deep work,” “studio time,” and “the Animal Farm Principle.”
This third course in the “Good with Words: Writing and Editing” series will give you a number of strategies to help with what is often the most intimidating, even paralyzing part of the writing process: getting started.
You’ll learn about the “planning fallacy” and “temptation bundling.” You’ll get a chance to experiment with “freewriting” and “writing before you are ready.” And you’ll continue to benefit, through our ongoing “Good Sentences” and “Takeaways” segments, from the models and advice of a diverse set of writers.
This fourth and final course in the “Good with Words: Writing and Editing” series will help you master perhaps the most important step in the writing process: revising. You’ll learn about the difference between editing and proofreading. You’ll practice “un-numbing the numbers” so that data and statistics you use are clear and compelling. And you’ll be introduced to a framework for giving and receiving feedback that helpfully systematizes what should be cut and what should be kept from each draft.
With all four courses in this series, you will get access to a wide range of books and other resources you can use even after you finish the course. These include: