Professional and Analytical Skills

Analytic Writing 101

Techniques to Master Writing

Instructor: Chris Savos

Who Is This Course For?

If you’re expected to provide insightful written products to your executives or external customers, then you’ve come to the right place. This course is for any professional whose writing could use improvement, which, if we’re being honest, is almost everyone.  Whether you’re evaluating policies, assessing risk, or analyzing foreign countries, this course will help you create clear and concise written products. Its 10 tips target common writing problems and will quickly raise your writing game.

The tips come from the instructor’s nearly 30 years of experience creating, reviewing, and teaching others how to write effective analytic products for demanding customers in the public and private sectors. If you consistently follow these tips, you’ll avoid the majority of pitfalls that lead to extensive edits and products that go unread or misunderstood.



Most undergrad and grad students rarely receive training in how to write like a professional instead of an academic. As a result, they face a steep learning curve when starting their careers. This course offers a head start in honing professional writing skills before the first day on the job. It will also help students create stronger papers that will stand out to professors tired of reading sloppy prose.



Any professional who writes for a living—and most analysts fall into that category—can stand to improve their writing. New professionals mounting that just-mentioned learning curve can accelerate their development with this course, and experienced ones can always use a quick refresher.



To effectively review professional writing, you must focus on the big picture as well as the details, and this course will help you do both. A critical part of being a reviewer is teaching through your edits, and the 10 tips provide a simple framework for developing your employees’ basic writing skills.

Win Over Your Skeptical Customer

Your customers have a host of reasons not to listen to you.  For you to succeed as a professional, you must overcome these reasons, and the 10 tips will help you.

They must read

Your customers are very busy and looking for any excuse not to read yet another paper or memo. If they don’t take the time to read your work, you have failed to help them and wasted your time.  This puts a premium on your being concise.

They must understand

If your customers decide to read your product, but they are confused by your prose and arguments, you have failed to provide value. Your writing therefore must be clear.

They must believe

Even if customers read and understand your writing, if they doubt your arguments, evidence, or attention to detail, they will not believe you, and you will have wasted their time. You and your writing must be credible.

What You'll Get

Video Content


Course Transcript




Downloadable Extras

Summary Tips

What You'll Learn

In this course, you’ll learn:

  • The proper mindset a professional needs when approaching any writing assignment
  • The challenges of a skeptical customer and how to overcome them
  • The fundamental elements of all good professional writing
  • How to avoid the most common mistakes in professional writing
  • The picky elements of writing that can destroy your credibility with your customer if you get them wrong

Course Content


Tip 1 – Adopt the Proper Mindset

Tip 2 – Embrace the Inverted Pyramid

Tip 3 – Use Evidence Effectively

Tip 4 – Prune Your Prose

Tip 5 – Use Passive Language Carefully

Tip 6 – Avoid Squishy Words

Tip 7 – Choose the Right Word

Tip 8 – Punctuate Properly

Tip 9 – Beware Pronoun Confusion

Tip 10 – Minimize Unit Modifier Mayhem

Bonus Tip – Self-Edit Like a Boss


Meet Your Instructor

Dr. Chris Savos

Dr. Chris Savos is dedicated to helping analysts everywhere build great careers.  In addition to developing courses for Proficiency1, he designs and delivers unique in-person leadership, analytic, and professional skills training programs to a range of clients in the Intelligence Community and the private sector.

Chris has extensive experience as an executive manager, leader, and analyst with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), where he worked for 22 years and earned the Distinguished Career Intelligence Medal, the Agency’s highest award for career service.  Chris successfully led analytical units that covered sensitive issues in the Middle East and South and East Asia. He was also the CIA’s first Lead Talent Officer for the Directorate of Analysis and oversaw talent management and development programs for the Agency’s analytic workforce.

Chris knows what makes analytic products work, what causes them to fail, and how to teach analysts to improve their writing. He has reviewed thousands of products as a leader of analytic units at the CIA and many more as an analytic writing instructor since leaving the Agency.

Chris earned a BA in government from Dartmouth College and a PhD in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. You can learn more about him at

Chris Savos

Try a sample lecture

Professional Writing Is Different Than Academic Writing

This lecture is part of the JTG Proficiency1 course Analytic Writing 101: Techniques to Master Writing with your instructor Chris Savos.