Friday, June 26, 2015

The weekend read

I get it, communicators. All week, it was bumper cars at every turn. Park it right here and recover with my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. Consider this your pace car:
Take another turn around the course: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

6 big ways I get the most out of Evernote

It's no secret that Evernote is perhaps my most-used tool for organizing, well, everything: Work. Home. Play. Exercise. Garden. Hobbies. Book. Collaborations. Clients. Billing. Travel. Recipes. You name it, I've got it somewhere in Evernote. And I've shared a lot of perspectives as I continue to explore this Swiss Army knife of online organizing. Here is the most thorough collection of posts I've done sharing how Evernote works for me:
  1. My paperless office strategy counts on Evernote as a file cabinet, and has completely changed how I operate. This post includes other apps I use to help keep my work paperless, along with exceptions to that rule.
  2. My secret weapons for staying organized personally includes Evernote as a star player--for everything from my medical records and recipes to hobbies and home and garden resources. If you only think of Evernote as a workplace resource, this is the post for you (and it comes with 14 other secret weapons for organizing my personal life). 
  3. I don't write blog posts until I'm ready to write, and a big part of that strategy involves collecting string in Evernote. It helps me power posts seven times a week.
  4. Forget travel guides. Evernote's one of my "traveling stars," apps that help me roam without worries. This post tells you how, and shares additional travel resources that help me stay mobile. I'm heading to Chicago next week to coach an executive speaker, and my Evernote resources are all I need to make the trip smooth.
  5. 12 ways I'm using Evernote in business travel gives you even more ideas for making this app your portable office.
  6. What to do *before* you run out of Evernote notebooks is a cautionary tale for the power user. These are simple tactics to help you stay within Evernote's generous content limits, without losing any fine points of organization.
I use several apps compatible with Evernote to make it even more productive for me. Among them are Powerbot for Gmail, Feedly Pro, and Callnote, which let me send or clip emails, articles, and phone call or Skype recordings right into the app. IFTTT also helps me automate putting certain files right into Evernote, a time-saver if ever there was one.

Want to get started? Use my link to get a free month of Evernote Premium when you sign up for and log into a free account. 

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Heisenberg Media of an Evernote meetup in Paris)

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Friday, June 19, 2015

The weekend read

Did you like your week this week, communicators? Let's put a ring on it. It's Friday, time to look through the jewel case that holds my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here just for you. Time for some sparkle:
Add some more carats to that diamond: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Tell it better: Is your metaphor working...or working against you?

I encourage use of metaphors as storytelling tools, and storytellers of all kinds would be wise to dig into Michael Erard's recent article, How to design a metaphor, before using this sturdy story tool again.

Metaphors, used well, are great persuasion tools, time-savers, image-makers. As Erard , who has worked as a metaphor designer, notes, "metaphors are meant to help people to understand the unfamiliar. They aren’t supposed to make someone remark: ‘That’s beautiful.’ They’re meant to make someone realise that they’ve only been looking at one side of a thing." Whether you're persuading someone to a cause, selling something, or expanding horizons, metaphors can get you to your goal in a compact, elegant way.

But that's only true if they actually work. Among the most-read posts on this blog is Etch-a-Sketch tests for your next analogy, so named after Mitt Romney's campaign wielded that vivid analogy without thinking through the consequences. (Analogy, of course, is metaphor with the architecture showing.) And in this article, Erard walks us through user tests of metaphors, something you should try before choosing one for your storytelling, whether you're crafting a TED talk, a blog post, or a marketing pitch.

Erard describes user tests with a metaphor using dandelions or orchids to describe children's resiliency. It had taken hold in the scientific world, and with journalists. But--in a reminder to both researchers and reporters that you are not your audience--in testing, public audiences reacted differently:
We found that people knew what orchids and dandelions were (not always something you can count on). Also, the comparison appeared to help them understand why certain children do well and others don’t. Yet there was a problem: people valued the orchid and looked down on the dandelion....their child was not common but special and rare. When people won’t use a term to describe their own kids, that’s a giveaway that the metaphor won’t work.
Lovely as the concept of the orchid and the dandelion might be, that metaphor was working against the storyteller. Here's Erard's description of what happens when a metaphor about skills clicked with the audience:
When my colleagues and I tested a set of candidate metaphors on the streets, asking random strangers what skills are, the respondents mumbled in their usual ways. Then we gave them a metaphor in which skills are like ropes, woven out of many components braided together, and asked them more questions. It’s not that they became silver-tongued, exactly, but the fumbling abated. They began to talk about the parts of skills, how they have to be combined, and so on. It’s as if this new idea, which we gave to them, had taken them by the hand. Now they were walking down the street together, and the metaphor was showing them things. That’s how we knew that what we were doing with metaphors was working.
Does your new idea take your audience members by the hand, show them things, and give them words to describe new thoughts? Then you may have a working metaphor on your hands. It's worth taking the time to test more than one metaphor until you find the right fit.

For a yet deeper dive into metaphors, smart storytellers also will read I Is an Other: The Secret Life of Metaphor and How it Shapes the Way We See the World, by James Geary. You'll learn about metaphors in a thorough-going way in this book, and have plenty to test.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Paul Hudson)

Storytelling's the big buzz word in communications and marketing. But we've forgotten how this ancient art works. This "Tell it better" series hopes to revive and hone your storytelling skills for any format, from public speaking in the style of TED to social media. Want a storytelling workshop? Email me at eloquentwoman AT gmail DOT com

Friday, June 12, 2015

The weekend read

Did the week run past like a downpour in a downspout, communicators? Or did you get drenched by the stream? No matter, it's Friday. Time to consider my finds of the week, shared on Twitter via @dontgetcaught and curated here just for you. Undo that gargoyle face and get out of the rain here:
Ride out the storm with me: Buy my new ebook, The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panelssign up for my free monthly newsletter, or let me know how we can work together in 2015 with an email to eloquentwoman at gmail.com.

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Catch-up posts: 4 effective ways to get your content seen

Those of us who grew up in the heyday of television came to hate sumer rerun season. Everyone was presumed to be on vacation, outdoors, or otherwise unavailable to watch the set that was, indeed, set in one place, unlike today's many viewing options.

But in social media, there's a strong case to be made for repeating your content...with care and curation in mind. Content sources from major news media outlets to amateur bloggers are using the tactic to good effect. Here are four effective "repeater" ideas I use for my social posts, and see others using:
  1. Reposts for the weekend warrior: You may do all your social posts during your work hours from Monday to Friday. But most users crowd those sites on the weekends, regardless of what you're posting--that's when they have time. This is a great time to repeat your top posts from the week, perhaps with a note about which were especially well-read, or adding a new fact for context. I have lots of dedicated followers who like, favorite, and share my posts only on the weekend, so I like to make it easier for them to do that. But do give those repeat posts some variety, rewriting tweets and varying the post content. All Facebook looks at scheduling tweets--which I do for my weekend reposts--and notes that it can help strengthen your brand voice. I find that to be especially true on repeat posts, which need to stand alone and not repeat entirely, even if they are sharing the same link.
  2. If you're sharing lots of content on one social network, summarize it on another network: News flash: Most followers choose one network on which to follow you. I've been lucky enough to have some correspond with me to find out which one "has everything." For me, that answer is my blogs. But I post different things to @dontgetcaught on Twitter, so those are curated for the blog's popular weekend read on Fridays. In the same way, I draw from posts on The Eloquent Woman page on Facebook, collecting them on Mondays in The Eloquent Woman's weekly speaker toolkit. It's an easy way to recycle and share content your readers might otherwise miss...and helps keep the blog populated with an anchor feature.
  3. Catch new readers up with posts from the vault: News flash number two: No one's really going all the way through your archive. Consider reviving and updating old posts "from the vault," and add an editor's note to explain what may have changed. Be sure to include a link to your original post. You can schedule these throughout the year, or do as some bloggers do and make them the focus of a vacation week. Just label them appropriately.
  4. Find occasions to re-share posts: Here's where a knowledge of history, holidays, and birthdays can stand you in good stead. I have close to 200 famous speeches by women of today and yesterday in The Eloquent Woman's Index of Famous Speeches by Women. I've had my assistant put the birthdates of the women in the Index into my calendar, and we create reposts of the posts about their famous speeches on their birthdays. I share those on Facebook and on Twitter. You could do the same with important dates in history (use the #onthisday hashtag) or on particular holidays. For holidays, birthdays of the famous, or dates in history, consult Chase's Calendar of Events, the most comprehensive listing.
(Creative Commons licensed photo by Thomas Hawk)

Got a panel coming up? Whether you're a conference organizer, speaker, or moderator, you'll have a better panel--and a sparkling discussion--if you plan with The Eloquent Woman's Guide to Moderating Panels. At just $3.99 in all ebook formats, it's like having a coach with whom you can prepare and bring on stage with you.