Tag: writing

12 Elements of a Great Blog

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Hmm…there is so much that makes a blog great that I am challenged to fit it all into 700 words or less.  That is not to say you have to incorporate a lot of elements to create a great blog but there are so many easy, intuitive things you can do that I want to share them all with you.  So no more preamble, let’s get to it.

    Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

    Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. Be consistent with personality and voice. What do you feel passionate and knowledgeable about that you wish to share?  How conversational do you want to be while still remaining professional?  Your visitors should get a very good sense of your personality while they spend time with you online.
  2. Stay focused. The reader should be able to get a quick sense of what to expect from your blogs.  If your posts are about random topics and rants, you will not keep a steady readership.  Topics among blogs should vary to keep your reader interested but your overall blog site should have a clear theme.
  3. Identify your target audience. Who is your reader? Who is your ideal client?  Write about topics that are important to them.
  4. Provide original content. Make sure you don’t just rehash what is already online in order to create a blog, speak from your own wisdom and experience.  You can always add an additional tip or two from what you have read, but use it to enhance your content.
  5. Address your audience. Write for your reader, not at them.  Use “you” more often than “I”.  Blogging should not be a lecture, a keynote, or a monologue.
  6. Create scan-able formatting. Long paragraphs and big blocks of text turn visitors off.  Instead work towards short introductory paragraphs, lists of tips, bullet points, action items, etc. and then finish with a quick round-up.  If a particular blog does not lend itself well to lists, find a way to highlight key points or elements within the paragraphs that break up the text so that the reader can find the gems easily.  Incorporate subheadings or separate the blog up into a series of posts rather than try to fit it all in one long blog.
  7. Invite a discussion. Your topic does not need to be controversial to create a buzz.  Elicit comments and ask for feedback.  Readers like to share their views but sometimes unless you create a clear call to action they may just read, enjoy and move on.  Clearly ask for comments or opinions.  Go back to your post and respond to their comments.  Answer questions and thank people for engaging with you.
  8. Support others. Linking to other sites and blogs is a great search engine strategy but it can also be a wonderful way of adding even more value to your reader and supporting the efforts of your colleagues.  For instance, Arielle Ford makes some great points about why (and how) authors should champion their competitors in a recent blog on The Huffington Post. Check it out.
  9. Limit Self-Promotion. It is certainly understandable if you want to share valuable content and then do a soft sales pitch for your services or products, but this should not be a regular occurrence.
  10. Edit…Edit…Edit. Reread your blog draft and cut unnecessary and irrelevant pieces.  If your initial word count is 850, challenge yourself to get it down to 600.  Your writing will improve and your readers will thank you for it.
  11. Write a great title. Make the title of your blog interesting, descriptive and accurate. It is fun to come up with clever headlines but if you are interested in the general public finding you sometimes you have to be simple and clear. Think in terms of the keywords someone might use in a search engine.
  12. Integrate pictures. Your blog will be more visually appealing and give a relevant clue to your readers about its content if you add photos.  Look at Flickr for available photos and just make sure you link back to the original.

What have I missed?  Please share your wisdom!

How to Keep Your Blogging Mojo

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Has it been a while?  Are you plumb out of ideas?  Can’t find the time?  Don’t feel like making the time?

As I step into the confessional I bow my head and say, “Forgive me visitors, for I have sinned, it has been one month since my last blog post.”  Now I could use the logical explanation (excuse) that as a collaborative writer I create dozens of blog posts for my clients every month and yet I can not keep up with my own.  (i.e. The cobbler’s children have no shoes.)  But when it really comes down to it, I struggle just like you do in thinking, What new content can I share?  What questions can I answer?  What can I teach?  How can I best serve? Even with good ideas I still struggle sometimes in finding the time to create and publish the blog, and then drive traffic to it via social networking outlets.

So let’s look at ways to keep our mojo.

Need Topic Ideas?

  • In the past week, what questions have you answered for your clients?  Why not share your answers with the rest of the online world?
  • Have you seen an article in a trade magazine or online that you think needs some clarification or you want to show your clients how they can adapt it for their business?
  • If you were asked to write a How to… article as an expert for an industry publication, what would you write?  Now think in terms of breaking up that content and perhaps elaborating on each subject for a blog series.
  • Use your Facebook profile or Fan page to pose a question and ask for advice, comments or ideas.  Write your next blog on their contribution and your observations.
  • Think about the last speaker presentation you went to.  Are there any thought-provoking gems you want to highlight and relate to your visitors. (Remember to always give credit where credit is due and link back for proper etiquette.)
  • What interesting time saving or business-building concept did you just discover?  By all means, share your excitement and your findings.
  • What are people talking about on the social networking sites?  How might that apply to your audience and your brand?

Need Time Blocking?

  • Knowing that the high click through rates and prime retweeting times are Thursday and Friday afternoons (EST), you should plan to publish at least one post on Wednesday or Thursday morning and schedule your status updates and tweets accordingly to get the most impact.
  • With this deadline, commit to writing a blog draft at least two times a week at the same time each week.  Set that routine and block out that time.  Schedule it like a meeting or conference call and stop making up excuses. (That last part was more of an internal dialogue!)
  • When your creative juices are flowing, don’t step away from the keyboard until you have two blog drafts written.  You know the way you feel when you have written great content?  Keep that adrenaline going by pounding out another one.  (The Real Housewives of Fakeville and their constant bickering will just have to wait!) Can you feel the sense of accomplishment already?

Need Motivation?

  • Because we want to learn what comes so naturally to you.
  • Give us even just a glimpse of your talent so that we too can grow our businesses, our lives and our loves.
  • Share it all! Enough said.

If you still need a nudge, a push, a kick…..a collaborator, I would welcome the opportunity to help you grow your brand.  Creating content and writing comes naturally to me and I want to share it all!  For specifics about my programs, check out:

www.YourVoiceInc.com/BloggingYourBrand and

www.YourVoiceInc.com/StrategicBloggingPlan

How to Get the Most Out of the Editing Process

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When you hand your masterpiece over to someone to fix, tweak, tighten, or double-check, make sure you are very clear about your expectations.  Not all editors have the same focus or technique and rather than assume he/she will bring you the results you are looking for it is up to you to communicate what you want.

For instance, let’s say you sent out  a resume or a blog to five people for their edits and feedback.  Chances are that besides common grammatical issues, each one of the edited versions would be different.  Why?  Because editing is a subjective process if little direction is provided.

Maintaining Your Voice

Just as we each have a unique style, diction, tone and delivery in our verbal communications, so are we different in our writing styles.  If you tend to write in long sentences and your editor is more concise and direct, guess what?  Most often, your piece will come back reading like him or her and not like you.  Sure, the content will be tightened, which has tremendous value but you may have lost your voice in the process.  This is particularly important if you are a speaker or consistently appear in the media, in which case your audience is expecting your book to sound like you do on stage, television or the radio.

Tip:  Tell your editor that you insist on the piece remaining authentic to your voice. For instance, combining all of your fragmented sentences or shortening the descriptive ones may “read” better from a grammar perspective, but it may also create a disconnect with your followers who expect it to sound like you.  Think celebrity Twitter updates – you can probably tell who writes their own and who has ghost-tweeters.

Honoring Your Audience

By the time you have reached any editing stage, you are very clear about who you are addressing in your book.  You know the demographics and you have kept them in mind while you crafted your content.  Make sure your editor is also very clear to whom you are speaking.  Just because you are writing a management book does not mean your audience are college-educated, experienced managers.  You may have decided to tap into the new manager market and if your editor is not aware of your primary focus, he/she may rewrite your content for a higher level of reader.

Tip:  Provide the demographics to your editor upfront. Be clear about your decision to use the phrases and examples you have included so your manuscript does not come back unrecognizable and you have not alienated your audience.

Communicating your template

You may have brought in an editor at an earlier stage of the writing process, perhaps to perform the role of collaborator.  This relationship can have a learning curve to it as he/she works through providing the meat of the content in the way that you prefer.  There is no reason for you to spend your time redlining a piece to death and crushing the spirit of your collaborator because you did not get what you wanted the way you wanted it.

Tip:  Provide samples and templates. If you have already produced similar pieces, provide them to your collaborate as well as a detailed description of the points you want addressed and the format you are expecting.

Matching Your Styles

In addition to having similar writing styles, it is important to also find someone who matches up with your style of content.  Your uncle who is an academic clinician should not be editing your non-fiction parenting book.

Tip:  Research your editor’s past and present clients. Is there a similarity in both topic and audience?  Make sure there is a solid fit rather than just going with your first referral.

Protecting Your Ego

Even though 82% of people surveyed said they had a book inside of them and intended to write one some day, very few have the one thing to follow through with their dream – and it’s not what most people talk about.  It is not a lack of time or talent.  It’s courage.  Many people lack the courage to put their thoughts, expertise and opinions on paper for the whole world to see.  It takes a thick skin to be criticized when there is no taking back what is now in written form.  You will have people say they don’t agree with you, that your sentences are too long, that you didn’t cover the topics they were interested in, and so on.  Writing is a very personal process and it can be easy to have your feelings hurt when your pride and joy comes back looking wounded.

Tip:  Remember the reason you started writing in the first place. If you were determined to tell your story, teach or motivate others, or be a valued resource, then do it.  Make sure your editor knows your motivation (he/she should have asked you that during your first meeting.)  You can’t please everyone so don’t try to be everything.  Ask your editor for constructive feedback and in some cases make them explain their thought process behind the changes.

Interview and hire your editor the same way you would a key employee in your company.  Your editor should stay consistent with your vision and mission, represent your brand well, and in the end, make you look damn good!

Do I Really Need an Editorial Calendar for My Blogs?

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I create them for my blogging clients, I brainstorm about them with my strategic planning clients and yet I am slipping when it comes to keeping on top of my own Editorial Calendar.  Why?  Because the cobbler’s children have no shoes?  I am continuously thinking of new ideas, concepts, and resources for other people that the writing of my own steady stream of blogs has fallen off my project plan.  That is really not a good enough excuse so I am back on the wagon and planning my next set of blogs.

So why am I preaching about the importance of an Editorial Calendar?  Simple – because it is an essential way of maximizing the profitability, effectiveness and efficiency of your blogging.

Yes, and here’s why…

Purposeful Plan – An editorial calendar provides a blueprint for consistent themes throughout a 30, 60 or 90-day plan.  You are less likely to publish posts willy nilly if you have a set plan for the creation of your content.  This will give your blogs a sense of flow and rhythm.

Variety is Not an Accident – To expand on this notion of a rhythm to your writing, plan to add a bit of variety to the type and style of your blogs.  You may want to alternate between a How to…, Interview with…, Top 10 Tips for….., etc.  As you start to gain traction and followers you will want to make sure there is something for everyone each week.  You don’t want to have two or three How to… blogs in a row.   Depending on how you have branded yourself and your content, you may want to consider adding a video blogs into your plan to shake things up a bit.

Accountability – The sheer guilt of missing a deadline.  It’s not easy to ignore the fact that a week has gone by and you haven’t been able to check off these entries on your calendar.  Once you start down that slippery slope, be careful – you may find yourself playing catch up because you are behind by  4, 6, even 8 blogs.  Ay, the guilt.  The shame.  The overwhelm.

Antidote for Writer’s Block – By brainstorming multiple topics at a time, you reduce the possibility that you will sit down at the computer with the time running out to post a new blog and no good ideas floating around in your head.

Write it and They Will Come – Consistently writing quality blogs will secure a larger following because you are viewed as a steady and reliable source for valuable content.  You will see your RSS subscriber numbers increase as well as the number of Comments, Facebook Shares and Retweets.

How to Implement a Solid Plan

Visualize it – (Vision Board not necessary!) When you are looking at a blank monthly calendar, start picking and committing to particular days for each published blog.  Consider the following:

  • Will holidays be a factor for either content or blog release dates?
  • Are there any travel plans or breaks that should be integrated into the schedule?
  • Are there industry-specific events that should be considered or written about?

Brainstorming – Begin to list subjects you want to cover in each blog.  Some of these might be bigger topics that will require a series of blogs to address therefore knowing that ahead of time will help you pick the right time and intervals for publishing them in sequence.  Take into consideration the Categories you have set up on your blog page – those you have already posted about and those that still do not have a corresponding blog post assigned to them.

Plug and Play – Now that you have the days set up, start taking your subjects and inserting them into the pre-planned days.  As you do so, you will likely come up with more concepts and decide to move them around based on a logical sequence.

Let’s Get it Started – While you have your list of topics at hand, write out at least a paragraph or bullet points of the direction you want the blog post to go so that when you return to your list you don’t have to search your memory for what you originally had in mind.

It’s Not All About Me
-  If you are planning to commit some of your blogs to promoting your services or products, make sure you limit the number of these marketing pieces to only a couple of times per month.  You want to add as much value to your visitor as possible without it looking like you are always engaging in self-promotion.

Timing is everything – When you decide to advertise your services and products, maximize your conversion rates by scheduling these on the days that have proven to have the highest Click Through Rates when using Twitter to drive traffic to your blog.  For instance, a great resource for these statistics is Dan Zarella’s blog entitled Weekends and Afternoons Show the Highest Twitter CTRS.

If you want to develop a stronger following for your blog, increase conversion rates for sales and reduce your blog anxiety, commit to creating at least a 30-day Editorial Calendar.   It doesn’t have to be fancy.  Use a spreadsheet, your e-mail calendar program, Google calendar or a day planner.  It really doesn’t matter how you record it, just start playing with the concept and filling in the gaps.  You will be thankful that you did.

If you get stuck, ask your friends and colleagues for ideas….or call me!

Do You Lose Your Voice When You Write?

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I am not suggesting that you suffer from a strange side effect of writer’s block.  I am referring to our tendency to lose our brand identity when we write books, speeches, promotional collateral, opt-in products, website copy, etc.  Have you ever read some of your own content months or years later and thought it does not even sound like you?  Have you watched one of your keynote presentations and wondered why it did not feel authentic? Have you reviewed your website copy lately and thought, “Is this really me?”

Just for fun, let’s call this phenomenon Writer’s Laryngitis (WL).  We will define it as a condition resulting from authors or speakers deviating from their brand, their rhythm, and their personality because they are trying too hard to accommodate their perceptions of their audience.

Are you addressing industry mavens and CEOs and instead of being your clever and engaging self, you end up delivering a stoic and lifeless presentation?  What if the demographics of your readers are predominantly male or female, do you get too in touch with your masculine or feminine side in an attempt to establish rapport when in fact your disingenuous tone turns people off?

These may seem like dramatic examples, but on a much smaller scale this happens more often than you realize.

Mild to Severe WL-like symptoms:

  • You find yourself stuck trying to write about content you coach everyday, or you try to mimic expressions and concepts that do not come easily to you.
  • You stumble for just the right words to explain your own services and products.
  • When you receive your own Opt-In product emails each day, are you unable to see your reflection in them?
  • Your personality resembles slacks and a nice sweater but your correspondence wears a three-piece suit
  • When listening to your own recorded tele-seminar script you sound more rehearsed than the conversational tone of your in-person consultations
  • A new client or colleague tells you that based on your previous correspondence and content, you “seem different” in person

In-Home Remedies:

  • The next time you talk with a potential new client on the phone, record yourself on a digital recorder.  Are you explaining your services the same way in print?  Chances are your audio explanation was more engaging and persuasive.
  • Put your promotional collateral and sales letters side-by-side with your web copy and see if they are consistent in tone and messaging
  • Read your manuscript chapters aloud to yourself. If the words do not flow easily for you, then simplify and replace it with your everyday diction

Professional Treatment:

You may have a more severe condition of WL (or lack the time to cure yourself) and I recommend you seek the advice of a second set of eyes.  Chances are you are too close to your own condition and self medicating may not be the answer.  Work with a collaborative writer or editor to help you with the consistency and tone of your messages.  After only a couple of consultations and reviewing your existing content, a writer specializing in voice duplication can create impressions of you on paper.

Here’s to getting better soon!

Why Speakers Fear Writing Books

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It would seem like a natural progression for a speaker to become an author but all too often the transition does not take place, or if it does it is years in the making.

Dear Speakers:
Let’s first review your talent as a successful speaker…

  • You obviously have quality content, or why else would you take the risk of standing up in front of 100’s or even 1,000’s of people and talking?
  • You have studied the interests and needs of your target market in order to fill a need, solve a problem and establish rapport.
  • You have done your research to present tangible and credible facts.
  • You have spent countless hours on PowerPoint or Keynote slides to visually represent your gems of wisdom.
  • You have crafted funny, inspiring and compelling stories to get your point across.

If you have agreed with the above statements, you already have a solid book inside of you so what is stopping you?

Fear #1:  I am overwhelmed by the sheer mass of it all.  I have all of these notes, copies of my speeches, blogs, newsletters, ezines, and audio files of my content but I don’t even know where to start.  Whenever I think about trying to organize it I give up.

Most people feel the same way about their taxes.  Our financial lives are all on paper in different files, in different drawers, closets and boxes and we don’t even want to start trying to organize them.  But isn’t it great when your tax person gives you an assessment tool that reminds you of different areas for deductions you forgot about and you can simply fill in the blanks?  Those receipts are the gems of your financial life.

All of your existing content, regardless of the medium, are your writing gems.  A quality collaborator or editor will be able to provide you with tools and ideas to help “chunk” out these nuggets for you or even simply take your “receipts” and create a quality product for you.  A new, second set of eyes is often the best method for getting things organized.  You are not alone – what a relief!

Fear #2:  I am articulate when I am speaking to my audience, but when I try to put thoughts down on paper, I freeze up.

You have a talent for the art of speaking and engaging a room full of people while making each audience member feel like you are talking directly to him/her.  I admire your ability to make it look so effortless.  Honor your own talent and don’t feel badly because it is not a seamless process for you to put it down on paper.  Remember that not all writers make great speakers either!  Take action and ask for help.  Collaboration can be an incredibly energizing creative process.

Fear #3:  If I am considered an expert or thought leader in my field, I feel like my manuscript has to be perfect and so I don’t even want to begin.

We tend to be procrastinators with certain projects out of a fear that it, or we, will not be good enough.  How many times as a child did you say you didn’t feel like playing a game or a sport because you didn’t know how and did not want to fail?  We are afraid to start something that could possibly verify our sense of inadequacy.  Perfectionism can be a paralyzing force in many areas of our lives.

The great thing about writing is it does not have to be a solo event.  Just like any other professional project, your results are much better when you surround yourself with talented people who can help.  A good editor knows how to ask the right questions and weave your message.  She should also know how to “rookie-proof” your content so that it speaks to your target market regardless of their education level or demographics.  (This concept of rookie-proofing will be addressed in more detail in a later blog, so stay tuned.)

Fear #4:  I just presented most of my content to my audience, why would they spend money on the book?

Why do you buy other speaker’s books?  Why do we go see John Gray, Wayne Dyer or Suze Orman and still buy their books?  Because we want more time to absorb the content.  We want to work through the exercises in the book, or reread sections that were a-ha moments for us.  We want to learn more on our own time, at our own pace, with the opportunity to find new nuggets each time.  Your content has value and depth.  Allow your audience the opportunity to go deeper.

Dear New Author:
Your book has arrived.  It is on stage with you.  It is in the hands of your audience members and you can see it on the tables in the back of the room.  Congratulations!  Next…

Julie & Julia Movie Inspires Us to Keep Writing

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Meryl Streep’s brilliant performance not withstanding, I thoroughly enjoyed Julie & Julia for more reasons than originally predicted.  In addition to my love of food and all things creative in the kitchen, I was inspired by the journey each woman took on her way to sharing her passion with the world.  The strongest emotions came from the shortest lines spoken and the simplest scenes acted.

For every need, there is an audience.
Julia Child’s focus was to spend her time doing what she loved.  Along the way she began her quest to bring to market something she was searching for without success; a book about French Cooking written for Americans.

  • What expertise or passion do you have?
  • How often do you find yourself talking about it simply because you want to share what you love and have learned?
  • What need exists that you can fill?

Imagine how much easier your marketing efforts will be if you follow your passion and produce a quality product that has universal appeal and is also unique in its delivery or approach.

It’s not all about me
Julia was inspired by her desire to help her readers, even down to the smallest of details.  (Who knew there was a correct temperature for a mixing bowl when making mayonnaise?)

Let’s face it, adding Author to your title has a nice ring to it.  However, keep your focus on always adding value.  Share your expertise, your mistakes and your guidance.  Even memoirs have lessons built in.

For those of you regularly engaged in social media, you know what it is like to have “followers” or “friends” who consistently post solely about themselves or their businesses. They seldom engage in adding value to others without it being tied to a subscription, special offer or free trial.  After a while, you find yourself passing right by their entries or you un-follow or de-friend them altogether.  Give, give, give…and ye shall receive.

Show me the money
It was quite a surprise to Julia Child when she first learned that authors were paying publishers to print their books.  No matter what shifts continue to occur in the traditional and independent publishing word, writing for love and not money is the best approach for realizing your dream.

Remember that you don’t make money on a book; a book is there to make you money.  Unless you are pulling down 6-figure advances, your book should be seen as your calling card; it is a catalyst for visibility and credibility.  It helps to draw attention to your skills, separates you from your competition, and establishes you as an expert in your field.  It will help you garner more clients, more speaking engagements and more opportunities to earn the interest of literary agents and publishers for future projects.

Rewards Realized
You don’t need to know how the story plays out in order to take the first step.  It will all unfold in front of you, so long as you start down the path focused on giving rather than taking.

It will all be worth it the first time you see your words in print or your name on the program.  The day I sat on the floor in the business section of my local Borders Bookstore is still such a vivid memory. When I opened the book and saw my own words, my stomach tightened, my mouth went dry and my eyes became wet.  That moment was relived as I watched the final scene of Julie & Julia.  I won’t spoil the ending for you….

Improving Writing Sessions with Clients

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“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.” – Maya Angelou

Over the past couple of years I have been using my digital recorder during some of my client sessions more frequently and I am amazed at how much I have learned from this method and hope it will help you as well.

Capturing Their Voice: Whether I am collaborating, ghostwriting or editing, I find it extremely valuable to review the audio sessions to make sure I am authentic to my client’s voice.  Have I been able to pick up on their diction? Do they use particular phrases?  Do they have language patterns that are their signature style?  Do they choose words such as “not happy” instead of “unhappy” therefore creating a sense of temporary condition rather than labeling their state of mind?

Have you ever watched a celebrity or public personality being interviewed about their new book and after about 20 minutes of the interview, the host reads a passage from the book and it does not sound like them?  The same is true for recognized speakers whose presentations do not resemble their daily dialogue or the content in their products.  This disconnect can be subtle or it can be embarrassingly apparent to the audience and may jeopardize the credibility of the ‘author’.

The concept of honoring and capturing the voice of my clients, be it speakers, authors or executives, is the catalyst for the creation and branding of Your Voice, Inc.

Improving Communication with Clients: I have learned valuable lessons about my communication style and my interaction with my clients while listening to some of these audio files.  In one instance, I realized that my client asked me questions when what he was really doing was working through an internal dialogue and while I had been attempting to answer the question, he is on to the next subject.  In the present moment, and within the context of the session, this pattern was not easily recognizable.  When I was reviewing the audio, it became clearer and having noticed it in our first session I made the adjustment and both our communication with each other and our overall sessions have improved.  In another example, I was able to notice that pregnant pauses inserted after addressing certain aspects of the content were very productive for stretching my client to go deeper with the concepts and in most cases creating extremely powerful expressions and phrases that might otherwise never have surfaced.

I do not want to imply that any manipulation is occurring as a result of listening to these tapings, however recognizing personality traits, communication styles and improving the creative process have made the audio recordings invaluable to me.

Catching Every Word: With some clients it is important that their stream of consciousness, the stories they wish to add to a chapter or speech, or our concept development sessions be captured word for word.  I use the audio file to supplement my handwritten or typed notes from the sessions to create valuable summaries as well as pure content development.

In some of these instances it is most efficient for me to employ the use of a transcriber who can document the session while I am working on another part of the project.  (For referrals of top-notch transcribers, please contact us at writer@yourvoiceinc.com)

Note: My clients are fully aware that our sessions are being recorded and is done only with their permission.  All recordings remain the property of my clients and are provided to them or destroyed immediately following the completion of the project, if not on a weekly basis.

How to Write for Your Audiences’ Learning Styles

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Whether you are an author, speaker, trainer or leader  you have probably realized that the most effective communication style is not about you, it’s about your audience.  You may be a “tell it to me with bullet points” person but your reader or listener would rather be told a story.

We all use the three main learning styles in some form or another, but we do tend to have favorites when it comes to absorbing information and applying concepts to our lives.

Are you integrating all three of these styles into your book, speech, training sessions and mentoring programs?  Develop well-rounded content by making sure you incorporate them into your work.  Remember that it is not how you best learn that is important.

Learning styles and their most effective communication tools

Visual: Charts, diagrams, lists, spreadsheets, keynote slides, video files, DVDs, posters, writing exercises

Auditory: Dialogue, audio files, CDs, team or “buddy” exercises, reciting information

Kinesthetic & Tactile: “hands on” instruction, demonstrations, physical movement integration, building models, highlighting information

When you are describing a technique, presenting research findings, creating character development or delivering sales training can you show a graph or picture, insert dialogue and verbal repetition, run a video or audio program, and highlight key “take-aways”?  Stretch yourself to include as many of these communication tools as possible so that your audience members or readers walk away feeling as though you added value and respected what works best for them.  They will continue to come back for more.

Writing Tag Lines with Both Sides of the Brain

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So often we label ourselves as predominantly left- or right-brain thinkers and shy away from those situations that are outside of our comfort zone.  That’s the restraint of a label, it keeps us living in that box and functioning as if we were not capable of expanding past its limits.

When I was asked by a client to write query letters to a potential target market I thought, “Sure, I can do that”.  When he also asked me to create a slogan, tag line or advertising concept for his brand, I thought, “Can I do that?”

In previous leadership roles I had often espoused the benefits of committing to stretch goals that exceeded any self-imposed labels.  I believed it, I lived it and once again it was time to test it.

Try these strategies demonstrated in my example to conquer your next challenging creative project.

Client Mission: Introduce Scootarian© as a brand name for motor scooters and apparel to the existing scooter market.

The Creative Process: (a whole-brain approach)

Step 1: Look for Similarities and Inspiration

I researched words that rhymed with Scootarian believing that I would find a common theme in their definitions or perhaps a concept that might spark an idea.  What I found were words such as Humanitarian, Civil Libertarian, Utilitarian, etc.

What I noticed they all had in common were the concepts of being advocates for or promoting a certain belief or lifestyle. Then it came to me, “That’s it, define the brand like the dictionary would, incorporating similar language along with the idea of being environmentally conscious.”

Step 2: Step into that world

It was time to start the free-association process of listing words that were related to motor scooters and the people who loved them.

Step 3:  Mix and Match

With my list in front of me, I played with different words, in different orders to find the right match for my definition.

Step 4:  Create the Flow

I created tag lines that embodied the spirit of the scooter enthusiast as well as the interests of the environmentally conscious consumer.

Scootarian: (scoot•tar•i•an – noun) an advocate for improving the lives of all creatures, two wheels at a time.™

Scootarian: (scoot•tar•i•an – noun)  creatures of mobility changing the planet two wheels at a time.™

Results: The client established the copyright and sole ownership of the tag lines to produce a national brand campaign.

Note to Self: The creative process is different for all of us as it can be intuitive and subjective (Right Brain) and it is also logical and analytical (Left Brain).  Stretch yourself to use it all.  You, and your clients, will be happy with the results.