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Writing style

How NOT to open a speech + some inspiration

When you’re preparing an important speech or keynote presentation, do you tend to default to one of these four opening lines? You begin with a long line of thank-you’s to people we may or may not know. You tell a joke you found online the night before. You share the process you used to prepare […]

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6 questions to ask before you start to write

I’m often asked, “What’s the biggest mistake people make when they write?” The answer? They simply start writing – and fail to do their best thinking first. Here’s a fix: Before you start to write anything, always take a moment to answer these six questions: WHAT is the point? WHO will be interested in this? […]

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8 ways to improve your writing in 5 minutes

1. Circle every weak “to be” verb: be, am, is, are, was, were. Rewrite as many as you can using action verbs. 2. Make two sentences out of one long sentence. 3. Circle every pronoun: he, she, it, we, they, them. Which ones confuse? Rewrite those sentences. 4. Highlight every general statement. Which can you replace with something colorful […]

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One slippery slope: Don’t let unlimited online posting palettes make you a sloppy writer

Hammered hard into my head during journalism school was the Write Tight mantra.  Back then paper didn’t stretch; the online world didn’t exist. So your story had to fit the space on the page.  Only seven column inches? Then maybe you had 250 words. Not 300 words. Not 350 words. Just 250. So Write Tight […]

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Policinski: ‘We need people in the creativity business’

I enjoyed hearing veteran journalist Gene Policinski of the Newseum Institute talk about “The Future of Principles” at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., last month. Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute and its First Amendment Center, gave the keynote address at “A Capital Event,” a one-day conference by the American Society […]

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Writing to persuade? (Invoke Cialdini)

Do you rely on electronic communication as your “first touch” when marketing to prospective customers or clients? If so, consider applying Robert Cialdini’s Six Principles of Influence when crafting your message, and see if you get better results. Every day HR pros around the country recruit “passive” candidates by sending targeted emails and LinkedIn messages […]

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More on “Keep it Sticky!” (How to Make Your Next Speech the Talk of the Town)

I was thrilled to share six ways to make speeches “sticky” with 80 attendees at the Women in Business Networking Lunch ‘N’ Learn Tuesday. (Translation: A sticky speech has the power to help people hear, understand and remember – so it has the power to help people change the world.) Here’s a bonus example I didn’t […]

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‘To infinity … and beyond!’

“Real Entrepreneurs Don’t Go It Alone” – a keynote address written in April for a Dayton-area client – drew upon a local historical event to anchor the opening and closing remarks. One entrepreneur attending the event rushed up afterward, greeted the speaker and said, “You made me feel like an astronaut!” Here are two excerpts […]

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Stuck on how to craft some clever opening lines for your next speech?

Try making it personal. Start with a story. This is how I engaged my audience last week with a speech about speech giving — tips on how to “woo, win and wow!! your next audience”: I’ll never forget the advice I got decades ago from one of my crusty old journalism professors during my first newspaper […]

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Sink your teeth into this

Every once in a while, we writers get the chance to flex our creative muscles in an attempt to make our everyday work for clients even better. Here’s a creative experiment I tried and shared today with my Downtown Morning Toasters group of Toastmasters International. Enjoy! “CAN YOU HANDLE THE TOOTH?” (A Tooth Fairy Roast) […]

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