The Power of 5 Ws & 1 H in My Profession

By on October 28, 2012

I don’t really remember what grade I was in when I learned how to use the 5 Ws and 1 H (Who, What, Where, When, Why and How) to help focus my writing. I do know that after being in the workforce for longer than I care to admit, I continue to use this exercise weekly in my professional career. As a business development professional in a global corporate law firm, I work with attorneys to market their services and develop business for their practices.

As you can imagine, marketing lawyers can be challenging, especially given that I myself am not a lawyer. So, I have gone back to the basics and when I begin to write, I jot the 5 Ws and 1 H down the left-hand side of a piece of notebook paper. With a specific topic as my guide, I answer the questions, and from there I begin to craft a clear, compelling and cohesive message. The simplicity of answering these short questions has always kept me on the right track in my business writing.

Take, for example, LiteracyTA. Over the past several months, the co-founders and I have been brainstorming what makes LiteracyTA unique and special (and for full disclosure, this truly has been a labor of love because I am married to one of the co-founders). In other words, how do we fully convey all that LiteracyTA is to a teacher, a student or a parent? To focus the LiteracyTA message, I immediately took out my note paper, jotted down these questions and began to answer them (this exercise is definitely more of an art than a science!):

Who is LiteracyTA? Co-founders Jonathan LeMaster and Lee Ramsey each bring their complementary perspectives and backgrounds in education and technology to LiteracyTA. Jonathan is an English high school teacher with a Master of Arts in Rhetoric and Writing Studies, and Lee has a management and technology background with a Master of Business Administration. They have brought together a dedicated team of educators, teachers and principals who share the common vision of helping students grow, learn and achieve in what they have coined the “LiteracyTA Environment.”

What does LiteracyTA do? LiteracyTA creates a learning environment based on four pillars of instruction and achievement designed to accelerate student achievement: skill-based instruction, student-centered learning, 21st century engagement and academic excellence.

How does LiteracyTA help? Teachers and educators can transform traditional classrooms into powerful learning environments through LiteracyTA’s live and web-based training programs for teachers; its online TA (Teacher Assistant) product that includes “Skills In Action” tools and “Common Core Lesson Planner”; and literacy skills activity books.

Where is LiteracyTA? LiteracyTA training programs have been conducted in over a dozen schools in the U.S. in the past 18 months, and approximately 2,000 teachers have signed up for TA in over half of the U.S. and around the globe, including Europe and the Middle East.

When does LiteracyTA happen? Teachers and educators who have signed up for TA can access everything LiteracyTA has to offer whenever it is most convenient to them through

Why LiteracyTA? LiteracyTA believes that by supporting teachers in the delivery and reinforcement of literacy skills in action, students will be better equipped to effectively read, write and speak at all grade levels and across all content areas -- positioning them for success for whichever college or career path they choose.

I have remembered and used the 5 Ws and 1 H from my days as a student, and now I rely on them regularly for business writing in my professional career. This exercise for me has always been an excellent starting point to organize ideas, simplify thoughts and begin to craft a clear, compelling and cohesive message. Happy Writing!

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