Writing with Power Using PIER


For several years I was able to attend and often teach at CLASSeminars. Led by best-selling authors and popular speakers Florence and Marita Littauer Tedder CLASSeminars taught us so, among many topics, several techniques and insights to help us improve our speaking and writing.[1] These invaluable lessons have stayed with me and guided my personal and contracted writing.

One technique I’ve found invaluable to my writing is PIER, an anacronym for Point, Instruction, Example, and Reference. Let’s dive into this helpful writing tool, and hopefully, knowing and following PIER will improve your writing, speaking, and presentations.

I receive many manuscripts to review, and sometimes I ask the author, “What’s the point?” It’s not that their topic is wrong. The issue is that in the book, many of their chapters, or even paragraphs within chapters, there is no central driving point. They wander, and the book has no main theme. They write stories that don’t support any topic they are presenting (more on that later). Friends, it’s critically essential for your book; chapters and even paragraphs within chapters have a point. Leave rabbit trails and forest wanderings for hikes when you need a break from writing. The point is your main idea(s). Your point keeps you focused and helps your audience, whether readers or a physical audience, remain with you and understand your presentation. Can you have multiple points? Of course, you can as long as they stay within the core point you’re trying to make. Writers and presenters need to keep focused.

Instruction is what you’re trying to teach the reader. It applies to both fiction and non-fiction books. This particular Blog’s instruction is for you to develop an outline. Treat your main point as a tree trunk. Out from the tree’s trunk are branches (chapters) that feed from the main trunk. Pull all those subpoints together into an outline that logically helps your audience discover your main point—the primary reason they came to hear you speak or bought your book. An effective outline should help you cover your topic in a book, a presentation, or a two-minute media interview.

Examples are ideas or stories that illustrate what you are saying or writing. They help the reader to understand your instruction and points better. Here’s an example for this particular Blog. For a recent book project, the author had a specific topic he wanted to write about. His first book covered the general topic, but he wanted to get more specific. We began assembling an outline. We changed it a few times, but the outline and what became chapters all pointed toward or supported his main point. I often use Excel to create the outline and populate the Excel spreadsheet with quotations, citations, thoughts, etc., under each relevant chapter. This spreadsheet gives me one place to look; I can merely cut and paste the quote and citation if I use the reference. In this Blog, I used a story that’s an example of the instruction I gave.

The last idea is reference. References help the audience see that others share your opinion. They support your points and sub-points. They fall into research that supports your point(s). Research needs to be done carefully. If you’re writing a book about life in California, don’t mention plants that only grow in Maine’s climate. Do your research to find out what plants are native or grow easily in California. And, please, whenever you can, use primary sources. Secondary sources sometimes aren’t correct, so it’s best to find a primary source. This particularly applies if you’re writing a reference or a non-fiction book for scholars or teachers. In these cases, I’d recommend never using secondary sources. And, please, whatever you’re writing, never use Wiki or ‘brainy quote” type resources as they tend to devalue your writing. Seek primary research resources that make your writing sparkle.

So, that’s PIER. It’s an incredible formula to help guide you through the writing process.

If you have questions, please get in touch with me directly at info@waynehastings.com. I’ve also written two books on writing which are available on Amazon. There are also other writing Blogs on my website: waynehastings.com.


[1] CLASSeminars stands for Christian Leaders and Speakers Seminars. Marita’s book, Communication Plus, is available from Amazon.


5 Responses to “Writing with Power Using PIER”

  1. Lauren Briggs says:

    Thank you for sharing this concept…and crediting it’s original source. I will cross post on our pages as well. We appreciate you. I love your sentence about secondary sources devaluing your writing and making your writing sparkle. Well done!

    • Wayne says:

      Thanks, Lauren. You all taught me so much. I’m grateful to have been a small part of CLASS. Love you all as well.

  2. Lynn D. Morrrissey says:

    Thank you mille fois for this excellent article and timely reminder. I owe much to Florence Littauer and Marita Littauer for their expert instruction (and fun!) through CLASSeminars. I took their training and later served as a group facilitator when CLASS came to St. Louis. As I have written and spoken professionally over the years (thank you, Flo!), I have used their unique Pier method. Have other trainers taught this concept? Perhaps. No doubt they cite several of these techniques as helpful; but it’s the Littauers succinctness in a creative mnemonic, the order in which it is presented, and the imagery which “pier” evokes, that sets it off. (I seem to recall Marita having said that she visualized walking onto a pier into a sea of people, her audience, to relate more personally to them, which captured both my attention and memory).

    Wayne, I greatly appreciate this “blast from the past,” which is eternally timely for the serious author and speaker.

    May I add that Florence offered me my first publication with an article I wrote about her? One of her salient quotes, which I will never forget, is this: “What do you have to say, and does anyone need to hear it?” While authors and speakers, prolific wordsmiths that we are, have lots to say, when one considers publication, the second question is paramount. Does anyone really need to hear it, and, who might that be? Good food for thought (and successful publishing)!

    Thanks again for sharing and attributing this relevant concept. Don’t get me started on sloppy attribution, no attribution, or plagiarism! I could write a book about that! 🙂

    Lynn D. Morrissey

    • Wayne says:

      Lynn, thank you for your kind words. Flo and Fred Littauer had a tremendous impact on my professional and personal life. Flo could reduce concepts and make them highly teachable. I like your article topic. I have authors who send me manuscripts to review, and that’s my question to them: will anyone buy your book? Thanks again for your comment.

      • Lynn D. Morrrissey says:

        Ah, yes, Wayne, will anyone buy your book–that all-important slant! So happy to meet a fellow CLASSmate still appreciating and utilizing the wonderful skills we learned from all the Littauers. I thank God for authors and speakers whom God uses to share His truths. And, just think, books live on, so even after we are with Jesus eternally, He still uses our work to His glory!

        Keep doing what you do so well!


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