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...

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...

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...

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...

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,...

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...

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...

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. __...

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...

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?...

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...

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...

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