Writing Punchy Op-eds

Writing Punchy Op-eds

How to write short, sharp opinion pieces that persuade

Opinion pieces, or op-eds, can be a powerful tool to shift the debate, get your message across to a large audience and establish yourself as a thought-leader. But only if you take a strong stand, keep your focus and write convincingly.


This workshop will give you practical tips on how to write clear, succinct and punchy op-eds that grab readers quickly and don’t let them go. It is based on practice, not theory so we’ll look at lots of examples of good, bad and ugly op-eds and analyse what makes them work or not. And we’ll get you writing op-eds and give constructive feedback on them. Please note: this course is best done in two sessions to allow time for practice.



Day one

  • Finding an original angle and hook for your story.
  • How to write convincingly: having strong, clear messages and using evidence to back them up.
  • Structuring your op-ed: state your position, set out the problem, provide a solution.
  • How to grab readers quickly: writing catchy headlines and punchy leads.
  • Op-ed storytelling tools that work: making it personal, adding colour, acting as an eyewitness.
  • Using rhetorical devices to persuade: repetition, contrast, metaphors.
  • Learning what makes an op-ed different from a blog, feature, analysis piece or position paper.
  • Pitching your op-ed to the media/publishing it online.

Day two (optional)

  • One-on-one feedback: Line-by-line analysis of participants’ op-eds and suggestions for improving them. 30-45 minutes per person, depending on numbers.


This course can be done online or in person.


staff-garethGareth Harding has written op-eds for European Voice, POLITICO, Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Foreign Policy and others. He has delivered op-ed training for the European Institute for Security Studies, the German Marshall Fund of the US, the European Policy Centre and the Open Society Foundations. Gareth has also helped corporate clients such as Generali, Heineken, Qualcomm and the European Commission write persuasive op-eds, speeches and press releases.


What our participants say

"Hats off for upgrading the team’s skills! The recent op-eds by my colleagues were great. You really brought out their talents."Heather Grabbe, Director, Open Society European Policy Institute
"It was great. I got good tips on how to improve my writing style. And coming from an experienced journalist really brought added-value."Amanda Paul, Senior Policy Analyst, European Policy Centre
"Very insightful, I learned a lot. Great takeaway: You don’t need to be a native speaker to write good op-eds."Pauline Constant, Senior Comms Officer, BEUC


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