Category: Writing Skills

Short and Simple

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Ann Wylie, a guru of PR writing, offers a great newsletter. In a recent issue she advised using shorter words and simpler statements and quoted Pulitzer price-winning humorist Dave Barry in support of her recommendation. Dave Barry told Time Magazine: “I’d lecture a bunch of chemists or engineers about the importance of not saying, ‘it would… Read More »

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Email Missteps

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How did we live before email became the communication mode of choice in the business world? It’s immediate, easy to produce, free, and you can easily include numerous people on a given communication. All good, right? Well, it depends on what you do with it. I work on a regular basis with an administrator who… Read More »

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Married To Your Words

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When clients are deciding what information to include in their presentation or speech, I always recommend a bullet-pointed/short-phrase “data dump”. I suggest putting each idea on a separate index card or sticky, which can later be organized into a cohesive narrative. Nevertheless, many clients instead start by writing out long narratives about their topic. Now everyone… Read More »

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Is the Devil Really in the Detail?

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It has been said that, “God is in the detail.” A variation on that saying states, “The Devil is in the detail.” Translation: attention to small things can bring substantial rewards, yet beware the details: mistakes are usually made in the small details of a project. Whichever way you look at it, details matter. And… Read More »

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Tips for Presentations…and Wedding Toasts!

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Have you ever made a toast at a wedding? Spoken at a memorial service? I’ve helped speakers prepare for all sorts of private events but now it seems to be a cottage industry! An article by Bruce Feiler in the New York Times describes how these specialists approach the task, say, of writing a toast… Read More »

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Openings and Closings

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When you hear a joke, what do you remember about it? For me it’s the set-up and the punch line. My poor joke telling skills center around having to fudge the middle because I simply can’t remember it. How about a story? I remember the beginning and the ending but please don’t quiz me on… Read More »

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Another House Analogy

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I recently worked with six executives from a large company who were preparing for their Investor Day. Each would give a 20-45 minute PowerPoint presentation to a live audience of about 100, with a simultaneous webcast. All of the presenters received from their Investor Relations VP the same general outline of what to cover. Once… Read More »

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8 Tips for Better Business Emails

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We casually send off hundreds of work-related emails each week. However, communicating by email presents some challenges. There are none of the physical or vocal cues of an in-person or telephone conversation to add feeling and context to the content. The tone of our message is not always accurately communicated to the recipient and we… Read More »

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Speak To Their Humanity

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William Zinsser, author of the classic book “On Writing Well,” wrote that the four basic premises of writing are clarity, brevity, simplicity and humanity. Today, let’s examine “humanity,” defined by the Merriam Webster Dictionary as “the quality or state of being human.” What does “humanity” mean in the context of writing a presentation? For me,… Read More »

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Keep It Simple

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Have you heard of “KISS?” (Keep It Simple Sweetie!) Here is what some famous authors have said about simplicity. They all support the notion that short and sweet is the way to go. “I never write ‘metropolis’ for seven cents when I can write ‘city’ and get paid the same.”
– Mark Twain (1835-1910) “The most… Read More »

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