Sunday, November 29, 2009

Remember November's top 10 tips

Tips, ideas and issues fell like autumn leaves this month, ranging from Twitter backchannels and speakers to camcorder tests and rethinking your communications using events. From the piles, we've raked up the 10-most-read posts from this blog in November:

  1. A speaker's take on the Twitter backchannel looked at one speaker's disastrous presentation--and how a visible Twitterstream behind her made it even worse.  The meltdown made this our most-read post of the month. (Read more about the sexual comments made about the speaker on The Eloquent Woman blog, another popular post.)
  2. Can you learn from the backchannel as a speaker?  I think so--and this post from October still ranks as November's 2nd-most-read item.
  3. And just in time to help you maneuver that backchannel, my post on Olivia Mitchell's new, free ebook for speakers on just that topic vaulted to our number 3 position this month. Timely, and the price is right.  Olivia writes the very good Speaking About Presenting blog, a favorite of mine.
  4. If you don't have RSS feeds on your web-published communications, you're losing a major audience--and making it tougher for them to pull your information to them.   Maybe that's why news of several new feeds from the National Science Foundation's Science 360 aggregator site got so many readers this month.  Take a look at how they sliced their offerings into different, useful feeds.
  5. Figuring out how to brand yourself on social media networking sites?  I've updated my thinking in this post about creating your own "me.com" -- the topic of a talk I gave earlier this year to the Science Writers in New York.  Read this before you need to network or job hunt. As I said in my talk, employers are fickle--social media is your friend.
  6. The first review of the Kodak zi8 ultralight camcorder made its rock-n-roll debut on the blog this month, another reader favorite that lets you see video in action.  Our reviews came to a mysterious halt this month, also.
  7. Sharpening our sense of local news is a post that looks at new trends in "hyperlocal" offerings, whether from news organizations or your organization.  From the post: "You may think of your organization as a multinational corporation, a world-class philanthropy, a major player in national affairs or a widely recognized authority on your subject. But if you miss pinpointing what's under your nose in your location, you'll miss one of the hottest strategies in communications."
  8. In this social-media world, face-to-face events also are getting rebooted and made over. This post may challenge your thinking about how to turn some of your traditional communications--even things like publications--into successful live events.
  9. Must be close to year-end, since my collection of posts on retreat facilitation proved popular this month.  I focus on retreats for communications teams, or for boards and management considering changes in communications.
  10. My utility belt for communications includes actual equipment, social media sites and freebies you should check out and adapt to your own operation's needs.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Twitter backchannel: A speaker's take

I'm not a fan of breathless coverage of Twitter at conferences, the kind that stresses the sensational and scares speakers from using this new tool for audience engagement.  But as one who trains and coaches speakers, I know this is another social-media area where the audience is ahead of speakers in adapting, and organizers are even further behind in making the process smooth for audience members and for speakers.  In some cases, that means it's a train wreck that's waiting to happen.

Danah Boyd's Twitter train wreck happened last week at the Web 2.0 Expo.  She's a researcher at Microsoft Research New England and a Fellow at the Harvard University Berkman Center for Internet and Society, and recently completed her PhD in the School of Information at the University of California-Berkeley.  Her specialty is social media and youth culture, and she got caught in the backchannel at the Web 2.0 Expo, attempting to give this talk on -- ironically -- "Streams of Content, Limited Attention: The Flow of Information through Social Media."  Through a combination of assumptions she and the organizers made about the setup for her talk, her own nervousness and an aggressive group of tweeters in the audience, the speech failed. And she's written a wrenching, thorough post about the experience here.  She notes she'd have had a rough time even without the backchannel, but not the disaster that happened.  (I'll have more notes for speakers about how to avoid some of her basic speaker issues, and about the sexual harrassment of this speaker via Twitter on The Eloquent Woman blog.)

So it wasn't just that the audience was tweeting, but that the stream was visible--and a surprise to the speakers, who also couldn't see it unless they turned away from the audience. Scott Berkun, who also spoke, adds more details in this thoughtful post that notes that other keynoters, like Danah, weren't warned about the placement of the Twitter stream directly behind them. 

Olivia Mitchell's new ebook on presenting with Twitter does a great job on the nuts and bolts of what should go into speakers' planning for use of Twitter at a conference. Now, we just need the organizers to connect the dots.  Both this episode and the one at the HighEdWeb conference in October--while different types of backchannel issues--tell me that organizers, even at high-tech conferences, need to do more than just say, "wouldn't it be great to display the backchannel?" when planning their meetings.  Speakers need to be brought into that loop early and often, and the audience as well.  And, as I usually advise my speaker-trainees:  Don't get caught assuming these issues will be taken care of for you. 

Related posts: 

Twitter backchannel about Danah Boyd shows what women face as speakers
New ebook on presenting with Twitter

Tweeting at meetings gets controversial

Speakers: Learn from Twitter hecklers

5 ways to find out about your audience

Find out more about women's issues in public speaking on The Eloquent Woman blog

Become a fan of The Eloquent Woman on Facebook

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

pr lessons learned

Here's a great post on the BurellesLuce blog by Debbie Friez, who captured some of the insights of the panel of wise women in PR--I was proud to be among them--at the "Lessons Learned" event convened by Washington Woman in Public Relations.  The audience gave us our best cues at this event, including questions that ranged from adjusting to social media and handling sexual harrassment on the job to convincing clients (internal or external) about effective strategies.  Thanks to Debbie for sharing the panel's wisdom!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

weekly writing coach: wristed

Thanks to Lifehacker, here's a great, short video every writer should bookmark--it's a series of short wrist and tendon stretches to help you avoid repetitive stress injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome. As one who takes lessons from her guitar studies and applies them to writing, I'm especially glad these lessons come from a percussionist.

This shouldn't just be a weekly exercise if you are keyboard-prone. Take a break once an hour during long stints at the computer and run through these stretches--they really help. You'll write better, I promise.  Want to do more? Check out the rest of the ergonomic upgrades recommended by Lifehacker.

Friday, November 20, 2009

New ebook on presenting with Twitter

Despite the sometimes overblown, panic-inducing coverage of what audiences on Twitter are saying about speakers, the Twitter backchannel can be a useful speaker tool--and is just another factor for which you can prepare yourself.  You'll have to consider some new factors, like the Twitter audience beyond the room where you're speaking, and learn some new tools and options.

To the rescue comes New Zealand speaking coach Olivia Mitchell, author of the very good Speaking About Presenting blog.  Olivia has published a free ebook on “How to present with Twitter (and other backchannels)” -- and you don't need to sign up for anything to read it, just download it directly here.

I had the privilege of reviewing the book before publication, and I think it's a must-read, even if you don't think you'll have tweeters in your audience (beware that assumption).  One of the things I like best about Olivia's book is that it walks you through what a speaker needs to do about the backchannel before, during and after a presentation.  Another benefit: She's reviewed some of the new tools that are emerging to help speakers do things like tweet from within their PowerPoint slides or monitor the backchannel.  Olivia also went beyond mechanics to talk more about a subject dear to my heart: True engagement of the audience, which is the missing factor when speakers get heckled on Twitter.

Olivia also recommends the soon-to-be-published book The Backchannel: How Audiences are Using Twitter and Social Media and Changing Presentations Forever, by Cliff Atkinson, which you can pre-order on Amazon in advance of the November 30, 2009 publication date.

I'm using Twitter and the backchannel in my coaching and training sessions to help speakers understand what their audiences expect--and to engage with audiences while they speak. Check out Olivia's wonderful ebook, then contact me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz about your speaker coaching and training needs.

Related posts: What speakers can learn from Twitter hecklers

5 ways to find out about your audience

Tweet your way to better speaking

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

finding the friends of your friends

Let's face it: If you're active in social media, you scan what your friends are doing, reading and joining as a menu for yourself.  Now Facebook has a new option for its inexpensive and effective ads--one that lets you target your ad to the friends of people who are already fans of your page, blog or application.  The bonus?  When your friends see the ad, they'll see that their friend is a fan.

Facebook allows a high level of targeting already, from gender and education levels to location and even whether it's the recipient's birthday (useful for those of you targeting people in specific age groups, such as people at risk for certain cancers as of age 50, for example, or new grads or retirees).  But allowing targeting of people one step beyond your fan circle capitalizes on the powerful pull of the social.

This feature just rolled out this week, and I've started my own experiment with it for The Eloquent Woman on Facebook, my fan page for The Eloquent Woman blog.  Whom might you target?  Leave your ideas and experiments in the comments, or email me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz for ideas and strategies.

zi8 testing comes to mysterious halt

I'd love to think that the Kodak Zi8 I've sent out for testing is enjoying itself on a beach somewhere...and it may well be. We'll have to inquire of Nancy Drew, girl detective: The camera disappeared in transit from one tester to the next, and efforts to track it have failed, so I'm calling a halt to the proceedings.

Ironically, someone on Twitter just added me to a zi8 Twitter list. I'm not sure I have the heart to break it to him.  I'm not sure I have the heart to break it to me.

There's a guest post and more video coming from one of the testers who did get to handle the camera, and I'll be sure to update the blog when those arrive.  In the meantime, feel free to post your questions or thoughts if you've tested the camcorder.

Related posts: Our Kodak zi8 test

Kodak zi8: A video editor's dream?

Where's that Kodak zi8?

Rockin' the Kodak zi8: 1st review

Monday, November 16, 2009

my current utility belt

Ever since Chris Brogan wrote about what's in his utility belt--actual gear, software and other tools without which he can't do what he does--I've been mulling my own.  Here, in no particular order (and with Amazon affiliate links to some products) are the tools I'm using most:
  • Amazon Kindle: I read my New York Times on it, wherever I am, every day...and it has increased my book consumption 10-fold, especially important since I downsized my physical book collection last year with a big donation to Books for America. I also use the Kindle as a speaker's tool, to review written speeches and carry them with me on travel, and to read from on the lectern without flipping pages--the text-size options are excellent for that purpose.
  • Flip cameras: I own four Flip ultralight camcorders, and use them to train large groups, to record one-on-one training for my media-training or speaker-training clients, and even to capture still photos. The Flips are small enough to carry with me everywhere, which means I can capture visuals on a whim--and so easy to use, they don't require a second thought.
  • An all-purpose camera clamp tripod: This clamp is the next best thing to a third hand--it can affix a Flip (or other camera) to nearly any door jamb, car window or other improbable location. Think of this: you're in the audience near the front, there's an empty chair in front of you with a clear view of the speaker, and you can use this to hold your camcorder in place to capture the speaker.  Or you want to make your car into the coolest rolling camera out there. My new favorite, inexpensive all-purpose tool.
  • My Verizon MyFi internet card:  A productivity piece of insurance for when wifi isn't available, or too expensive. It supports up to 5 devices--or you and 4 of your pals at a conference who want to live-tweet.
  • My Droid phone, a Motorola phone with Verizon service. Getting to be a super productivity device, and I haven't even found all its charms yet. Having the Android platform, with all the Google tools I use, is critical. (See more below.)
  • Twitter, by which I mean Tweetdeck:  Twitter's such a part of my day, I'm not sure what I'd do without it...but I only manage my account on its website, preferring the utility of Tweetdeck for organizing my many conversations into manageable streams.  It offers many features beyond Twitter, from auto-shortening of URLs to translation of tweets in other languages.
  • FriendFeed:  Recently acquired by Facebook--which has adopted many of its features--FriendFeed at once incorporates the streaming commentary of Twitter with a longer format and a robust backchannel. I like that pictures and video are displayed with your post automatically, and I'm especially fond of the ability to pull multiple people into a direct-message conversation that goes back-and-forth, and privately. It's a great alternative to a conference call, particularly if you're discussing something confidential: think backgrounding a reporter, comparing notes on a new-hire interviewee, and more.
  • Blogger:  One of the Google products I've used for years--I support three blogs on this platform and, in its 10th year, Blogger's rewarding us with new features and functionality.
  • Google Reader:  What was I doing with other RSS readers? Google Reader is my inbox now, and its searchability and sharing options make it work beyond that capacity.
  • New York Times's Times People:  A reader network and sharing program, this lets you seamlessly "recommend" articles you read in the Times, as well as follow the selections of others. A nice feature: You can connect to dozens of Times editors and reporters and see their takes.
  • Prezi:  A new presentation tool and alternative to PowerPoint, Prezi has lots of charms, among them, the ability to map a presentation--and show the entire thing on one screen, so you can navigate easily back to a slide brought up in a question.  It works on your desktop and in a web application, and lets you share your slides, too.
  • Facebook:  The stickiest social network for many. I have a Facebook fan page for The Eloquent Woman blog and a public profile, and find that Facebook's facile combination of the visual, the shared and the social works for personal and professional purposes.
Is this it? Not by a long shot. I've started experimenting with Google Wave, for example, and am always looking for new tools for my utility belt. What are yours? Which do you find most useful?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

lessons learned in a PR career: panel

I'm joining five women with varied and long experience in communications for a "lessons learned" panel for Washington Women in Public Relations. I moderated a similar panel for WWPR a few years ago, and we wound up having an amazing and frank dialogue between the senior lesson-sharers and the audience. So bring your questions and what you're wondering about! Sharing their experiences will be:

Tara Hamilton, Public Affairs Manager, Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

Myra Peabody Gossens, President, Circle Consulting

Denise Graveline, President, Don't Get Caught

Nolu Ntonga-Crockett, Policy Communications Officer, CARE USA

Beverly Silverberg, President, Beverly R. Silverberg Communications, Inc.

Moderator: Pat Wheeler, Director of Marketing, Cultural Tourism DC

The event's a week from today. Here are the coordinates:
Thursday, November 19, 2009

12:00pm - 2:00pm
Ogilvy Worldwide- DC, 1111 19th St NW # 10, Washington, DC

To register, go to the WWPR website. I look forward to seeing you there!

new report on nonprofit taglines

Getting Attention blog is offering a free report on nonprofit taglines (with signup for its free newsletter), which includes do's and don't for developing an effective tagline as well as a directory of more than 2,500 nonprofit taglines and examples from the winners of this year's awards.  Check out this useful resource if you are considering changes to your tagline--or a brand new one.

rockin' kodak zi8: 1st review

(When the Kodak zi8 ultralight camcorder came out earlier this fall, I decided to crowdsource some reviews of it under real working conditions -- but I told all my testers, professional communicators at universities all around the U.S., that they should feel free to take any kind of footage: at home, at work, at play.  I wanted them to test it under all sorts of conditions, and I got my wish with this review just in from Jim Barlow, who directs research communications at the University of Oregon.  Leave your questions in the comments!)

We had great anticipation of testing the Kodak, but our turn and the Kodak arrived the same time H1N1 and a nasty respiratory illness was slamming our campus. Two scheduled shoots had to be canceled due to staff illnesses. Another was nixed when the researcher involved was sick. And another project in which we were going to videotape artwork that a researcher studies was halted because of copyright issues on the out-of-country artwork involved. We had planned multiple uses including using an external microphone on a visiting molecular biologist at a busy event, but it was scuttled by operator illness. Ouch on the week.

That said, our senior director of communications took the Kodak to a multiple speakers forum. He set the camera for 60 frames per second in a room with lights on speakers with a dark background. Sound quality was OK. He did not like the zoom effect of going in stages rather than smoothly, and did not like the on-off beep--he thought it was distracting to those in the room, but realized later it can be turned off. Worst case scenario is that he had experienced operator error when it came time to retrieve what he thought would be a great usable segment video … he had turned it off instead of on, so he missed the scene.

So our office's plans got smashed.

However, my son, UO journalism student Andy Barlow, who is interested in becoming a music writer, took the Kodak with him to Portland to capture his friends for a video to use on his MySpace page and on YouTube involving the Eugene rock band "The Last." The band members are friends of my son. The event was a battle of the bands to determine which band would open in Portland for a more well known band. My son made a long video (15-minutes plus for his MySpace page and a more-edited version for YouTube):




Andy Barlow's "review:"
- Very easy to use. Just turn on and hit one button and it's recording.
- Easy to change modes. One button and you can change the quality, type and options for taking video or still images.
- 5 MP camera
- 1080 P HD video quality
- Good pickup of sounds while recording
- Built in USB connector
- Overall look and style of device
- Easy to carry and fit in pocket

No cons with using camera.

Related posts:  Our Kodak zi8 test

Is the Kodak zi8 a video editor's dream?

Where's that Kodak zi8 camera?

Buy a Kodak zi8 camera

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

rebooting comms with events

Conferences -- and what happens at them -- have seen fast and furious changes in the past year. Live-tweeting at meetings has gone from controversial to commonplace, for example. Event happenings can be shared around the world in near-real-time. Audiences want more and more participation, and the static forms of public speaking are shifting to make way for more hands-on activity. Conferences are selling out--particularly those that bring together online networks for in-person contact.

Snarkmarket blog calls this no less than the future of media, in this great post that reboots and reframes how we should be thinking about events, conferences and meetings. The post asks you to consider events as the creative engines of the next decade -- the next album, magazine or novel of the future -- particularly if they focus on "generation rather than recitation." That is, they're not just about speakers talking to an audience or reciting facts, but about all participants--including those remote from the event--creating something together. The five key factors to the types of events suggested? They should be live, generative, publishable, performative and serial.

This pushes the common notion of what we've come to expect at meetings and events, and I can see the appetite for this new model growing, sometimes uncomfortably, at every meeting I've attended in the past year. So communicators need to consider at least two things when figuring out where this fits in your rebooting efforts:
  1. How does this change the events you currently produce?
  2. What other creative engines in your current offerings can be rebooted as events?

I'll come back to the first question in a later post, as it's part of a larger discussion. On the second question, might you replace your news releases, magazines, annual reports, podcasts or even your Facebook page with an event? Snarkmarket looks at Pop-Up Magazine, a live event structured like a magazine. What would you do? What would the participants generate at your events?

I like the idea of making participation and generation the focus of events. Let me know if you have examples that I can share about ways to reboot your communications in this way.

A grounded talk on climate




Here's a great example of communicating science from the TED Global conference. Atmospheric chemist Rachel Pike uses her brief talk to describe the size and scope of the research behind climate change, a daunting prospect for many scientists seeking to help the public understand their work. Here's what she does well that you may be able to copy:

  • She starts with the familiar: Headlines: Right up front, Pike shows headlines about climate change and smog research results, and makes it clear that she's going to show us what goes into the research behind those stories.
  • She adds up the effort: Instead of shying away from describing the process, Pike dives into it and measures it for us, in numbers of researchers, numbers of research papers, the size of the supercomputers that do the modeling, and more. Then, later in the talk, she adds those numbers up again to show how much research goes into a major policy report--how many pieces of research, how many reviewers, and so on. The underlying message: Climate research is deliberate and thorough.
  • She grounds high-flying research in places: Pike includes a field research effort to collect data about a single molecule, showing pictures of the location from the sky and from the ground, the plane used to make the measurements (inside and out) and the equipment, and talks about the people who make the measurements and what they have to go through in the field. Those concrete details make her points stick, visually and verbally.
  • She uses analogy to translate the technical: At key points in her talk, Pike uses analogies to make clear the scale and size of what she's studying or how the process works. Listen for these -- she uses them judiciously, an important factor in making them work effectively.

If you're an academic scientist looking to improve your public communication skills, check out the Communicating Science workshops I facilitate for the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation. Workshops are coming up in February, March and April of 2010. I'm also happy to conduct a workshop customized to meet the needs of your team, scientists or not. Contact me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz for more information.

weekly writing coach: break it up

Earlier this month, a client told me she was starting to work on the script for a long documentary-style web video. It was a compelling story: a patient had undergone extensive, grueling treatments, and not only had recovered but went on to achieve even more as an athlete and volunteer. There were hours and hours of footage, chronicling each step and setback of her journey, and a lot of it would end up on the cutting-room floor, so she had to cram as much as possible into a tightly written space.

My advice? Stop that. Break it up instead.
We've all had long-form writing to do: Major reports, annual reports, white papers, full-length articles, company histories. But today, right in the middle of the social-media revolution, I'm going to urge you to think like Charles Dickens, one chapter at a time. Break up those long written pieces into more manageable bites. Think serially. Seriously.

Consider this NPR interview with Tina Brown, editor in chief of The Daily Beast, who talks about the Times of London article The Internet is Killing Storytelling. She shares the article's take on the Japanese trend of "thumb novels," book-length novels that can be uploaded one page at a time--and the top 10 fiction bestsellers in that country all started with this format. Brown notes "we're adapting in a strange way to all these new devices" and the article, in fact, concludes that storytelling isn't dead yet.
But we may be back to the cliffhanger, telling stories one part at a time. So back to that video script: I urged breaking the patient's journey into shorter segments. Yes, overall, that would make the entire package longer--but if posted one segment at a time, say, weekly, it would take a long documentary few would watch and turn it into a telenovela of sorts, something viewers might tune in every week to see the next installment.

What can you revise--either an existing product, or your next long-form article or report--in this way? What kinds of chunks and chapters can you find to call out? This is a great exercise to do from both perspectives: By editing an existing piece and considering how it might have been written differently from the get-go, and by planning and writing a serial version of your next long-form project.

sharpening our sense of local news

I don't know about you, but the only print newspaper I read is fat with advertisements, circulars and classifieds--and it covers Northwest Washington, DC (and only that section of the city) like a blanket. Junior high sports scores, peeks at available real estate, minutes from the smallest local civic meeting and arguments over the heights of new curbs being installed on a single block all vie for space in this paper.

In that sense, this little local paper (which by the way, is delivered to my door for free) proves that everything old is new again, as it's now part of a larger trend toward what's called "hyperlocal" coverage today. It at once responds to technology advances, reflects audiences' desire to whittle the web down to a manageable focus, and redirects attention to the everyday news that's often most useful to audiences--or to news no longer covered by the diminishing number of news organizations. The savvy communications strategist will take all three of those trends into account when she's plotting--literally--a strategy for taking advantage of the local for communications. Here's what to keep in mind:
  • The new local news outlet may not cover everything you're used to: Check out this article about the new Texas Tribune, one of the nonprofit hyperlocal news outlets springing up around the U.S. It chose to ignore the recent Fort Hood shootings, despite the incident's proximity, in favor of its strict focus on state government issues, a topic less covered by available news media. Don't make assumptions about what a hyperlocal news group wants from your organization before you pitch. Ask. Listen. Learn as they go forward.
  • Watch with care as social goes even deeper into local: Twitter's hinting it will add "geolocation" to your posts, using GPS technology available on most cellphones to tag the sender's location. The feature might allow your followers to sort news by the sender's location--for example, during an emergency or major event, preferring more local posts to those from far-flung observers. And it will help users manage the flood of posts they see. (Facebook's introduced a similar feature that winnows your friends' updates into a lighter "news feed" as well as the more complete "live feed," and offering a "lite" version of the entire platform.) As platforms put more localizing tools in the audience's hands, it pushes you away (I hope) from merely counting fans and friends as your metric, since there's no guarantee they won't sort you out of their primary stream. You'll need to engage them--and using local tags is a smart strategy to target and engage audiences.
  • Where are you? expands status reports: Services like Foursquare are expanding users' ability to tell their social networks where they are, and offer incentives for exploring. It capitalizes on another old phenomenon: Our fascination with the reporter in the field, our guy-on-the-ground, or reports from faraway meetings and travels. Think about how you can exploit this mashup between user mobility, GPS and social networking to engage your audience, whether it's a contest to see how many sites on a campus students have visited, a crowdsourced map of all the locations where employees have represented your company to a key audience, or a visitors' scavenger hunt to find all the special, secret or historic corners of your public venue or museum. How far into your location can you draw an audience?
You may think of your organization as a multinational corporation, a world-class philanthropy, a major player in national affairs or a widely recognized authority on your subject. But if you miss pinpointing what's under your nose in your location, you'll miss one of the hottest strategies in communications. How will you integrate local focus in your communications strategy for 2010?

Related posts: Reboot communications with a locavore on your team

3 location-savvy ways with social media

Where audiences are turning for local news: Not the paper

Using Twitter to drive foot (and car) traffic

How to reframe your view of local reporters

Why local is the new news

Sunday, November 08, 2009

New science news feeds from Science 360

Science communicators, take note: Science 360, a news service from the National Science Foundation that aggregates science news feeds from a wide range of organizations and media outlets, now has its own series of 9 RSS feeds so you can subscribe to the combined feed, or separately to feeds for audio, video, blogs, a daily exclusive, journals and magazines, and more. This gives me the chance to urge communicators: Don't neglect to include RSS feeds--which allow your audiences to subscribe to your information without coming directly to your website--and to include them as NSF has done, for the full menu of options you're making available.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

where to catch me speaking

This month, I'm leading a workshop for scientists on communicating with public audiences, and moderating a panel of top women in public relations who'll share the lessons they've learned in their stellar careers. Here are the places you'll find me speaking in November:
  • At a Communicating Science workshop in Ithaca, New York, on November 5, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Science Foundation. I'll be facilitating the day-long workshop on the Cornell University campus. Future workshops are coming up in February, March and April in San Diego, Austin and Boulder; scientists wishing to apply should pre-register here.
  • At a Washington Women in Public Relations professional development panel on "Lessons Learned," featuring some of my fellow winners of WWPR's Woman of the Year award, honoring career achievements in public relations and community service. We're close to setting a date and place for this November event; stay tuned for an update.
Does your group need a speaker, panelist or moderator on a communications, media relations, social media or public speaking topic? Contact me at info[at]dontgetcaught[dot]biz.

Monday, November 02, 2009

weekly writing coach: for speechwriters

If you write speeches--whether as a speechwriter or a speaker--check out the Cicero Speechwriting Awards from Vital Speeches of the Day. Winners will be featured at a conference next February, and entries can be made in a variety of categories, from different types or organizations and topics to special occasion speeches. Send us a link to your entries and keep us posted on your progress!

Related posts: Questions speechwriters should ask speakers

How to write a suite of introductions for a speaker

Using aphorisms: a guide

What to leave out of a speech

weekly writing coach: mash it!

 It's always easier to practice on someone else's writing if you want to learn editing. But the same may be true if you want to stretch your creativity. This week, try finding some content in the public domain and use it as the basis for a writing project. This great post from the Mashable! blog offers you ideas for how to mashup public-domain content to create new works of all kinds, from photos to tweets. The author notes:
Creativity is a skill. You want to be creative? Read a lot, write a lot, and edit more. Public domain material gives you an excellent starting point....And when you’re done, there is nothing stopping you from, say, taking The Picture Of Dorian Gray, editing it down into 140 character bursts, and tweeting it. Or if you want to re-cut Duck And Cover featuring Burt The Turtle or make a soundboard, go for it. It’s the practice of doing this that will get you ready to produce better work of your own.
So do it. You can find lots of public-domain material to download on Amazon, Google, the Library of Congress and other sites. Choose one free item and edit, rewrite or otherwise mash it up to make it something unique. Then take the time to figure out what ideas that process gave you for your own work. New angles? New formats? A respite from that pile of assignments awaiting you?