tips

Speakers Toolkit (emergency version)

Maybe you have to speak in a meeting, lead a workshop, or present to a crowd; whatever the reason, here are 7 lifesaving tips. There’s a longer version of this, called Speakers Toolkit: How to give great speeches & presentations; read it when you’ve got more time. For now, here’s what you need to know….

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Speakers Toolkit: How to give great speeches & presentations

Being nervous when you have to give a presentation is normal—even experienced speakers break a sweat. Two things will help calm those butterflies: Remembering that this is not about you. Your content is the star; you’re simply delivering it. Preparation, which boosts your confidence. The 9 Steps to Successful Speeches & Presentations will help you prepare and deliver…

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Adding Silence: How to improve workshops, speeches & conversations

Silence is like flipflops for the brain; it helps us slow down and relax. Consider these 5 reasons to include silence in your speeches and conversations: Silence draws attention. Pauses emphasize what you’ve just said or alerts the listener to what you’re about to say. Silence helps listeners digest. Listeners get a moment to fully digest what…

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Personal Anecdotes: 6 Pro Tips for teachers, trainers, speakers and leaders

I was the wittiest teacher in town until that day. Mid-joke, I suddenly realized that my students laugh because I control their grades. Damn. I shut my mouth and got serious about my job. Which isn’t to say I’m solemn now—keeping things light helps learning, and personal anecdotes add depth to speeches. But my job is to…

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Teenagers: 15 Tips for Peaceful Communication

Sometimes it seems that all teens do is communicate—texting, instagramming, skyping. But when adults try to talk to teens, both sides often end up frustrated, annoyed or bewildered. How can we bridge this gap? First, Understand your Audience Consider what it is to be teenaged. Teens are in transition between childhood and adulthood. They look…

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Personal, Active & Brief

We pay more attention when someone speaks directly to us. Salespeople know that, so do good writers, speakers, teachers and leaders. Write Like You Speak, and Speak Directly to Your Audience. Be personal—write or speak directly to your audience, readers, or participants. Although school trained us to be formal and impersonal, it’s better to use direct…

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Layout Basics: Making your document attractive & usable

Effective layout and formatting make documents easier to scan, read and use. Effective document layout improves your reader’s first impression of the document, expectations, ability to quickly and easily find what they need; and their ability to use what they found. 7 Steps to Clear, Useful Documents Write and edit your content. Then review your document, looking…

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Kids and Swearing: How to get the little ones to stop talking sh*t

Ahh the power of words: to inspire, teach and offend. Nothing beats the precision of a well-placed profanity, but swearing is like hot sauce—a little goes a long way. I hate hearing kids curse. Although it’s a natural part of their development, swearing is a harsh reminder of lost innocence, especially when it’s your own kid. I…

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Conversation Skills: Are you sharing or monopolizing?

Sitting in a coffee shop listening to two women talk over each other, I am reminded of that apt analogy of two TVs, both turned on and facing each other. Lots of words but little communication. We’re all guilty sometimes of talking at rather than to our listener; of delivering monologues instead of mutually exploring…

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Teaching & Training Skills: How to present information

I once had a prof who was a total geek; she loved her subject so much that she overwhelmed us with information. While her enthusiasm added interest, it was exhausting. Worse, it was incoherent. Even those of us who took copious notes were unsure of the key points. The instructor failed in 3 ways: She didn’t…

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How to Write Clear Instructions: 6 easy steps

Use lists where possible. Use a separate point or sentence for each action. Make the text large enough for visually impaired readers. How do you know it’s big enough? Test it. Know your audience—who will be reading these instructions and in what situations? Write inclusive instructions; make them simple and clear enough for lower literacy…

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Teaching & Training Tips: Successful assignment briefs

Good for you. You started your course or program by telling everyone what they need to know about the course, and where to find that information when they need it. Now it’s time to talk about assignment briefs. Assignment briefs document everything students need to know about the assignment. A brief should be a complete,…

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Clear Writing for Schools: Communicating with your Student Body

I’ve attended several post-secondary institutions. All were wonderful places, run by motivated, caring administrators, but most failed at providing information. To clarify, they failed at providing student-centric information. Many schools suffer the same problem. The Problem Before a term starts, students receive numerous emails and letters containing time-sensitive information about registration, payment, accommodations and course materials. They also receive…

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Communication Skills for Creative Professionals: How to attract & manage clients 

You’re not a writer and never claimed to be one. You’re a designer, artist or developer. Your clients hire you for your unique vision, not your ability to write. But are you sabotaging your career with poor communication skills and habits? Strong communication builds healthy studios and loyal clients. When you communicate well, you reduce mistakes,…

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Is Your Document Clear? A Checklist

This is a brief checklist to help you make sure that your document is easy, enjoyable, and rewarding to use. Layout—does this look readable and informative? __ Easy to see where to start. __ Paragraphs are short. __ Blocks of text are broken up by white space. __ Bullet points are used where appropriate. __ Type…

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Attract Your Audience with Powerful Titles

Good headings describe the contents of your presentation or document; great headings also entice your audience. I once read an article entitled Human Trafficking and Taco Bell Sauce only because of its intriguing title. Titles are the first impression of your speech or article. They can attract or repel an audience, so take care to create…

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Plain Language: Can You Draw A Picture Of Your Sentence?

In the quest for clarity, I’ve devised a simple test: Can you draw a picture of it? If you can easily turn your words into images, it’s a safe bet that those words are clear, simple and efficient. Imagine drawing this sentence: I walked to the store with my big ugly dog and bought oranges. Easy, right? The…

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Are You an Interrupting Cow? How to be a better listener, and more popular too

Knock, knock. Who’s there? Interrupting Cow. Interrupting Cow wh– Moo! Are you an interrupting cow? How often do you allow a pause after someone’s finished speaking? Be honest, how often do you let people finish speaking? Interrupting is such a deeply ingrained habit for some that we don’t even notice when we do it. Kicking that habit…

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Apostrophes, Contractions And Plurals (Oh My)

Apostrophes are running wild. They’re often used incorrectly or absent when needed. Some writers seem to insert them randomly, as if hopeful that a few might land in the right place; a prophylactic peppering of punctuation. For the sake of clarity and your readers’ sanity, here’s a cheatsheet on when, why and how to use…

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Activate Your Verbs!

Active verbs make speaking and writing clear, efficient, and more interesting. Active verbs are usually easier to understand, which is important for international audiences. Wordy and inactive: Better: They made a commitment. They committed. (or They committed to…) They reached a decision. They decided. The program has ceased to operate. The program ended. Her cake was…

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7 Swift Steps To Better Communication

Identify your goal—what exactly do you want your audience to know or do? Identify your audience—who are they, what do they need to know, what do they already know, what’s their preferred method of communication? Outline your message—are the important points included and in a logical order? Respect your audience—you are using moments of their…

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