Who is your audience?

Audience analysis
The speaker-audience connection.

My friend, fellow communicator and screenwriter Jim Ramsbottom recently asked me to share some insights on public speaking and audience analysis as a guest on his podcast. Check out our conversation.

Listen to the interview.

Thank you, Jim!

 

How to make – and keep – New Year’s resolutions

happy-new-year-business

Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?

If you’re like me, these are the “things I said I would do,” including my goals, desired accomplishments, behavior changes, and so on. Contemplating the bold new world of 2017 deserves some focused thought leading to action, right?

The challenge is the “leading to action” part. Wishful thinking and “desired” results will take us just so far.

What’s on your resolutions list for 2017? How do you plan to turn your intentions into reality? Are your commitments realistic and achievable, and what will you need to do to make them happen?

By the end of 2017, if we look at our list of unfulfilled resolutions, we’ll probably move them into the “items to trash” bucket. We might resurrect them for the “new” new year. Time marches on.

Perhaps we should create a smaller list of “to-dos.” Let’s identify the key ideas worthy of our attention. Things we can and should do – and actions that will make a difference to others.

At the top of my list is blogging more. I will continue to share insights with followers on ways to become a more confident, effective speaker, and offer some best practice tips for writing.

Stay tuned and welcome to 2017!

 

Speaking and eye contact. Does it matter?

Writers write to communicate. Speakers speak for the same reason. So doesn’t it make sense that an article or blog post could be “converted” into a speech, word for word?

the eye

The short answer is no. Reading a manuscript doesn’t make it a speech (at least not a very good one). So why do so many speakers “read” their speeches? Laziness? Lack of preparation? Fear? The presenter just doesn’t know any better? As an audience member, I may not know why the speaker is reading, but chances are I’ll be tuning out shortly. An effective presentation engages listeners, and eye contact is one of the best ways to do that. Here are some top-of-mind tips to enhance eye contact.

  • Prepare and practice. Develop a clear statement of purpose and organize your main points. Use note cards, not sheets of paper. Rehearse your presentation out loud — more than once. Look up, not down.
  • During your presentation, scan the room. Don’t focus on a single audience member, or zero in on a spot above their heads at the back of the room. (Student speakers have told me this “looking-over-their-heads” advice was given to them — I disagree).
  • If you’re using visual aids such as PowerPoint, don’t turn your back to listeners and read from your slides. It’s okay to glance at your visual, or even turn sideways, but reorient yourself to face the audience.

Tune in later for more on how to improve your speaking skills and confidence.

How to create compelling content

Levi reads

I’m a writer and speaker always on the lookout for great ideas to improve my skills. Today was a splendid day for inspiration.

I read an awesome blog post from Sonia Simone, co-founder and chief content officer of Copyblogger Media, “What to Look for in a Professional Content Writer.” She clearly distilled the most important characteristics of a content professional, suggesting an organization should search for a writer with the creativity, insights and confidence to drive business.

Look for a writer whose work is interesting, funny, smart, perceptive, and convincing. Look for someone whose writing you just like to read.

Some have it and some don’t. Insist on hiring the one who does.

Also, a savvy content specialist must be able to connect with various audiences, tailoring copy strategically to grab attention and keep it. One size doesn’t fit all.

This post – all of it – is well worth reading.

Thanks, Sonia. Thank you, Copyblogger. I love writing and learning.

How to write copy that sells

Simple copy final

Regardless of your profession, there’s always something new to learn, or a skill to refresh, related to your craft.

As a writer, today I became totally immersed in a Copyblogger post I read from Aaron Orendorff, “6 Steps for Writing Simple Copy That Sells.” Brevity is no longer a luxury, he suggests, and offers several valuable tips to writers.

Two points especially hit home for me:

  • Have only one goal (seriously: just one).
  • Only have one audience.

Simplicity and clarity lead to trust.

Following Aaron’s advice, I’ll be brief:  keep it simple, keep it clear, and your copy will drive measurable results.

Read this