Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What's your list of words you love not wisely, but too well?

Words we love too much is one of the entries in the New York Times's blog After Deadline: Newsroom Notes on Usage and Style, a collection "adapted from a weekly newsroom critique overseen by Philip B. Corbett, the associate managing editor for standards, who is also in charge of The Times’s style manual."

The examination shows that both "deep-pocketed" is overused as a descriptor for the wealthy, and bars are too often "watering holes," which Corbett feels should be reserved for science stories about herds of zebras. I foresee a piece about high-end bars called "Watering Holes for the Deep-Pocketed." 

You don't need an ombudsman to search your own databases of published documents, particularly press releases, for the terms that appear over and over again. Try it once a quarter. Pop all the text into a word cloud and see which words take precedence, then share them with the team to come up with alternatives.

You'll find more on this issue in You and the overused word: A major problem of historic proportions. What's your favorite overused word?

Friday, September 12, 2014

The weekend read

This week, I've been backstage at the TEDMED conference in Washington, DC, coaching speakers and hearing about new ideas in health and medicine. Coaching this conference backstage is a lot like the weekend read: Speakers share all sorts of things with me and I help them focus on what's important. So here's your roundup of what's important, communicators, all in aid of getting smarter by Monday:
I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. Join us!

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Beyond pillows and dresses: New ways of looking at Pinterest

Pinterest still mystifies many communicators who've mastered other social media sites for business purposes. That's what prompted my perennially popular posts on 17 things you can pin on Pinterest that are not pillows or dresses, and 17 things science writers can pin. But with its strong investments and expanded capabilities, you didn't think Pinterest would stand still like a real bulletin board, did you? Before you misunderestimate Pinterest any further as a useful tool, consider these perspectives:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by Niharb)

Friday, September 05, 2014

The weekend read

Think of Friday like it's a farmer's market. I found great leads, reads and data in my feeds, shared them on Twitter, and have curated the pick of that harvest for you. Feast away, weekend readers:
  • Organize the bins: Picdeck is a new app that's being called "like Tweetdeck for your Instagram."
  • Yes, we have no bananas: Few companies have done them, but a video earnings call could truly change how business is done. If you're interested in how news conferences are changing, glean some lessons here.
  • A message from the farmer: The guy who created Google Maps and the Facebook "like" button is working on a Google Docs/Microsoft Word killer with messaging and document creation.
  • Productive harvest: As an Evernote fan, I always pay attention to nominees for its platform awards, all apps that work with Evernote and make it do great things for you. Here are this year's productivity and education nominees.
  • App-les and oranges: Keep an eye on DWNLD, a new app that hopes to make it easy for you to create an app and get it into the app store.
  • Blueberries: The New York City Police Department's putting officers in social media classes following some Twitter debacles.
  • I trust this is fresh: Building trust with your customers is the overlooked benefit of social media.
  • Fast food: Hyperlapse time-lapse videos made using Instagram are already getting some creative use.
Harvest some skills while you're at it with my latest workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it properly, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. Join us! Seats are filling....

The weekend's upon us, and I'm so glad you spend time here picking out what looks good to you. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The speechwriter's tour of Washington, DC

My colleague and fellow speaker coach Peter Botting is visiting Washington from his base in London, and on his first full day we did what I have been calling "the speechwriter's tour of Washington." Peter wrote about it right away, but there's much more to this tour. Here are the places I point out when speechwriting and speaker-coach colleagues come to the nation's capital:
  • The Lincoln MemorialLike many of our classic memorials to presidents, this one includes excerpts from Lincoln's speeches--including the full text of the very short Gettysburg Address. But putting your feet on the spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his "I Have a Dream" speech is the ultimate destination. Every speechwriter I know has taken the shot above, then a picture of the view that King saw, with the Reflecting Pool, the Washington Monument and the U.S. Capitol in the distance. Look at the space on the plaza and around the pool and imagine the audience of 250,000 people that day--so many, they were sitting in the trees on either side. Here's
    Peter in front of the Gettysburg Address.
  • The Washington Monument: Our first president, George Washington, gets the tallest monument. You can go all the way to the top for the best aerial view of the city, and don't forget to turn around and view the Lincoln Memorial from here, whether you're at the base or the top.
  • The King Memorial: One of the only memorials in town to honor a non-president, it's loaded with quotes from his speeches, so take your time here. In the spring, it's surrounded by cherry trees and their famous blossoms.
  • The Jefferson Memorial: This memorial also is adorned with the words of this president and author of our Declaration of Independence. I like to remind speechwriters of President John F. Kennedy's great line when welcoming the Nobel laureates from the Western hemisphere to the White House: "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
  • The FDR Memorial: This may be my favorite memorial, with outdoor "rooms" for each of his four terms in office, and quotes from his speeches on the walls.
    There's also a tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt, herself a frequent speaker as she could travel more easily than her husband; here, the nod is to her work after his death, leading the international diplomatic effort that led to the Declaration of Human Rights. Here's Caroline Johns, Deloitte's top speechwriter, with the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt.
  • The Willard Hotel: Martin Luther King, Jr. put the finishing touches on his "dream" speech in his suite at the Willard, which also is the hotel where the term "lobbying" is said to have been coined. Lincoln touched up his first inaugural address here, at a time when the Willard was one of the few tall buildings on this stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue. The National Press Club was born in the hotel's Round Robin bar. Much more on Willard history is here, and it's right around the corner from the White House.
  • The Mayflower Hotel: Room 776 is where Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote his first inaugural speech, which contained the line "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." This is a few blocks north of the White House.
  • The White House: The site of too many famous speeches to mention, not to mention the offices of speechwriters, which are not on the public tours. But many of the formal rooms on the tour have been the locations of remarks by the presidents.
  • The Capitol building and rotunda: You can request guided tours of the Capitol through your Member of Congress or Senators if you are a U.S. citizen, or online for all. I like to call Washington "a small town with a lot of hot air," and since so much of it emanates from this building, that must be why there's a dome on top. If Congress is in session, you can see for yourself by getting tickets to the visitor's gallery. The rotunda includes statues of many famous American speakers.
  • The National Building Museum: This is where Hillary Clinton gave her concession speech in the 2008 campaign for the U.S. presidency. Imagine this big open space filled on every level--it was an impressive setting.
  • The Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery: This museum has a portrait of every U.S. president in one gallery, along with a video loop of FDR speeches. You'll also find portraits of many famous speakers in revolving exhibits.
  • The Lincoln Cottage: 
    Lincoln and his family lived here during much of his presidency and it's where he worked on the Emancipation Proclamation. He used to commute to the White House on horseback, a journey described by poet Walt Whitman, who developed a nodding acquaintance with the president. If you're a speechwriter inspired by Whitman's "Oh, Captain, my Captain," made famous again in the movie Dead Poets Society, it helps to know that the poem was his tribute to Lincoln after the president's assassination. Here are New Zealand speaker coaches Tony Burns and Olivia Mitchell with the great man and his horse.
There's much more, including sights you'll remember from The West Wing and House of Cards, two series that speechwriters and speakers love. And there's always the chance you'll see the current occupant of the White House, as Jan Sonneveld from The Netherlands did:

I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. Register today!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The weekend read

It's a loooooong weekend here in the U.S. and a few other places in the world, as we draw the week and summer to a close. (Where did the time go?) That gives you extra time to catch up on my finds of the week, so you can get smarter by Tuesday this time:
All my workshops are fun, just like weekends. Don't miss out:
  • I'm launching a new workshop, Speechwriting for Communicators, in Washington, DC, on October 9. If you find yourself writing speeches, remarks and talking points, but have never learned how to do it, find out what you may have missed in this one-day session--including how to do more with boring speech occasions. Every participant gets an online toolkit of resources, too. You can save 15 percent by registering by August 29. That would be today, people.
  • You can still register for the European Speechwriters Conference, 24 October in Amsterdam. I'm leading a pre-conference workshop on women and public speaking on 23 October, and American attendees traveling from the US to the conference get a 200-Euro discount with the code "eloquentwoman." Sign up soon!
Enjoy the long weekend, weekend readers!