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Infographic: 4 Tips for More Productive Conference Calls
Conference calls often get a bad rep...And for good reason! How many times have we all joined a conference call with little to no idea who's in charge of the conference call, what the agenda is, or who is attending? Here are four of our favorite top tips to ensure your conference calls are as efficient and effective as possible.
Infographic: Just the Facts about Conference Calls
While face to face meetings aren't disappearing any time soon, thanks to distributed workforces scattered across geographic regions -- even across the world -- conference calls are often THE means for communication among these far-flung teams. Check out some of the latest statistics about this common meeting type.
Infographic: Training Leaders' 2019 Priorities
Towards the end of 2018, we heard a growing number of our clients talking about "leadership skills' and we received more requests for webinars than we had before. To understand if those indicators signaled a real shift in priorities and delivery preferences, we launched a survey and asked decision makers about their plans for 2019. See our results!
Curing the Chronic Case of Constant Interruptions
Whether you’re an actor on stage or just two old friends so excited to catch up that the conversation seems more like a jumble of words rather than a conversation, we’ve all been guilty at one time or another of “stepping on someone’s line.”
Meeting Tips from Your Favorite Leaders
Given the number of meetings executives lead and are involved in, it’s not surprising that some of our most famous CEOs have pretty clear ideas about what it takes to run meetings well. Here are some of our favorites.
Channel Your Inner Hemingway: Learn to Edit Ruthlessly
An old college professor once told me a story about Hemingway. While, yes, Hemingway was a fabulous writer, what most people don’t realize was that Hemingway was a ruthless editor. Every word, sentence, and paragraph was worked and reworked to create the compelling tomes we now know as quintessentially his.
Permission to Delete
Writing -- even in a business setting -- is hard work.  After we write something, we are reluctant to delete it.  It almost seems nonsensical, why would you delete something you wrote?  You spent time writing it!  You chose each word, you typed it, proofed it...  Why would you delete it?  
Ten Tips to Cut through the Clutter of Your Prospect’s Email Box to Get That Meeting
I see articles claiming that “email is dying” but the reality is that no matter how much we might hate it, email isn’t going anywhere. Since the average professional receives more than 120 emails and sends 40 emails daily, it’s important to write strategically if you want to use email to get a meeting with a prospect. Here are my top tips for emailing customers as part of a sales or cultivation process.
Terms and Definitions to Consult When you Develop Your Workplan
An important part of the proposal process often includes the development of a workplan. But what is that?
Proposals and Workplans and Reports – Oh MY!
Just like Dorothy wandering through the scary forest with her compatriots frightened by the very thought of “lions and tigers and bears OH MY,” people are often overwhelmed by the trio of proposals, workplans and reports.
Think Like a Journalist: What to Include in Your Proposals
Whether it’s a suggestion to change the hours your business is open, adopt a new policy regarding wearing perfume at work, or recommending a new product or service for your agency, a proposal is a recommendation to your organization to do something new or something differently than how it operates today.
Think Strategically: Five Steps to Writing Effective Proposals
Whether you have an idea for a new product or would like to see changes made to your company dress code, at some point you will have to “put pen to paper” and write the proposal to present your idea to the decision makers in your organization in a more formalized way. But where do you start?
It’s Show Time: Managing the Cast of Characters in Your Meeting
Just like movie directors, meeting facilitators must also manage the personalities and characteristics of the participants to get the best results. And the participants – who may have an important role in the meeting and be subject matter experts – can be angry, silent, argumentative, distracted and more.
Good versus Well: A Few Key Rules
Good and well is another pair of words that seem to confuse many people. And there’s a reason for that: they are confusing, even to me!
The Secret to Apostrophes in Two Easy Questions
Nothing screams “spinach in the teeth” to me more than seeing an apostrophe where it’s not needed. Many people struggle with apostrophes. But if you ask yourself these questions, you’ll get this common punctuation challenge right every time.  
Cutting the Clutter in Your Writing: One Way to Eliminate Extra Words
When you’re writing, ask yourself “If words cost money, would I spend my money on this word?” While you might not be literally spending actual money on words, you are spending something else – your audience’s attention – which is far more precious.
Then vs Than: What’s the Difference?
It’s easy to understand why these words are so easily confused: they’re homophones. Homophones are words that sound alike, but have different meanings. So how do you tell the difference between then and than?
Nine Tips for Getting the Most from Your Training Time
Some employees see training days, in-service days, or onsite workshops as “light” days, when employees can simply “show up” without the responsibility of actually being actively engaged. But this certainly isn’t the best way to get the most from your training event, nor likely will the employees actually absorb – and adopt – the behaviors you’re hoping for. So how can an HR or Training Department ensure they get the most from their onsite training event?
Managing the Meeting Hijackers: Eight Tactics to Keep Your Discussions on Track
Most of us have had this experience: we show up to a meeting to discuss one topic but a meeting participant takes the conversation in a different direction. We call that "Meeting Hijacking," and it's one of the many ways that meetings can be taken off-topic. Here are a set of strategies to keep your meeting focused on the stated purpose.
12 Real Considerations to Prepare for Your Virtual Meeting
Virtual meetings are convenient, reduce expensive travel costs, and fit more readily into Virtual meetings are convenient and reduce expensive travel costs. But just because you are participating in the meeting from your own desk instead of a conference or meeting room, that doesn't mean that they aren't important.  Just like in-person meetings, you should prepare thoughtfully for virtual meetings so that they are an effective use of everyone's time. 
What is the Purpose of Pre and Post Meetings?
Have you ever noticed that some meeting attendees seem to already be on the same page before they came to the meeting? This isn’t by accident: it’s by design.
Four Reasons to Have Meeting “Homework”
How do you accomplish everything you need to accomplish during that precious meeting time – because let’s face it, you can only squeeze so much in to even the most organized of agendas. While your immediate impulse might be to try to have a longer meeting, have people come prepared so that you can reduce meeting time.  We call this pre-work. 
Does Your Attitude Need an “Adjustment?”
Everyone loves to hate meetings. We talk about how unproductive they are, ultimately wasting volumes of time and money. It’s easy to see how many people might develop a particular…. attitude towards them.
Eleven Tips for an Effective Meeting
Every day 36-55 million meetings take place in the US, with roughly 29% of them rated as being somewhat ineffective to poor in terms of productivity. Take back your time by implementing some of our best meetings practices.
Seven Tips for Writing a Great Self Review
Your company or supervisor may want you to do a self-evaluation for a number of reasons. But what if your company doesn’t provide a form for employees to follow? Here's some advice!
Establishing SMART Goals in Your Performance Reviews
Managers should take the time at the beginning of the year to establish clear, well-crafted objectives that are directly tied to their organization’s and department’s goals and objectives. But what if “management by objective” or establishing clear-cut objectives is new for you? How do you get started?
Why Is Measurement Critical in Your Performance Objectives
We’ve all heard the old saying “What gets measured, gets done.” In short, it means that if an employee knows a particular task or activity is being monitored – whether that’s sales volume or how fast a secretary answers the phone – the employee will pay attention to (or focus on) that task. Measurement lets us know whether or not something was accomplished – or how much of it was accomplished, and if that performance improved from the previous year.
Make it easy to read: Why Lists Are Better Than Long Paragraphs in Written Communications
Lists are a lot easier to read than paragraphs. In fact, when you present information in a list, you can often include even more, relevant data. Here's some handy tips for packing the best information into your messages through lists.
Commonly Confused Words: Peek, peak and pique
Which peek/peak/pique is it? And what about all those other homophones (words that have the same pronunciation but different meanings and uses)?
Get to Your Point: The Importance of Concise Language
Many writers throw a bunch of words on a page and hope that the reader will find what’s important (Mark Twain’s “long letter.”). But our readers are too busy for that, so what actually happens is that the important message gets lost or overlooked. 
Five Ways to make your Business Communications SHARP!
To engage our audience, we need to do more than merely provide information. It’s the difference between reading an encyclopedia (which is certainly informative) versus reading a blog or book from an engaging subject matter expert: the subject matter expert will typically provide the context – the stories and examples that will make the content meaningful and relatable. One way to do this is through including "SHARPs."
Commonly Misused Words: Your and You’re
We all have homophones (words that sound alike but mean very different things) that we struggle with. But as a working professional, there are just some pairs of homophones that you need to get right. To me, your and you’re is one of them.
Eight Steps to Improve Your Presentation Visuals
I see hundreds and hundreds of PowerPoint decks each year.  I collect them from my clients and analyze them before I deliver training.  Every so often, I come across a deck that is light, engaging, and inviting.  But most of the time, I see TONS of logos, dense graphs, and words…tons of words.  I’ve found over the years, people often spend too much time on the wrong things. Here are the top eight areas where you should put your time when building out your next presentation.
Commonly Misused Words: To, Too and Two
Typos are everywhere. But one of the grammatical errors that is so common – and yet so easily avoided – is the confusion around to, too, and two.
Five Questions When Preparing Your Next Presentation
Just because you’re delivering a short presentation for a group of decision-makers in your organization - not an audience of thousands of people at TED - it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still put thought and preparation into your presentations. Here are five questions to help you focus your presentation so that your audience will get the most from what you have to say.
Commonly Misused Words: Its vs It’s
Have you ever noticed that there are some words that sound the same but are spelled differently?  They are called homophones and they get mixed up all the time! Words like it’s and its are a pair of homophones that --when misused -- can be instant credibility killers.
Commonly Misused Words: They’re, There versus Their
While there is no foolproof way to catch every possible writing error, all writers have their tricks for finding the grammar mistakes they’re struggling with. Pick from our strategies to determine which homophone -- they're, there, or their -- is the correct one for your situation.
Three Reasons You Should Be Writing to a Middle Schooler's Reading Level
Being a great writer isn’t just about the big words you have acquired in school: it's about connecting with your audience and helping them understand your message.
Pick Up the Phone: When Email Just Doesn’t Work
In my years of working with organizations, I’ve developed a handful of guidelines for deciding when to use email, when to make a call, and when face-to-face communication is best. 
Seven Tips for Writing Concisely Without Sounding Like a Robot
People are busy these days – we all know that. Just one look at our own emails boxes is a good reminder of what the people receiving our messages are experiencing. 
The Use of Color in Emails
Like kids with a brand new coloring book, it can be tempting to add color to an email. After all, why would Microsoft or Google offer the ability to change font colors if it wasn’t a good idea? Is a good idea to use color in your emails? And if so, when?
Openings, Greetings, Conclusions, and Closings: The Best Options for Emails
Your email greeting and opening sets the tone for your entire email – it is your first chance to make a good impression. When it’s too casual, your message can show a lack of respect to your reader and when it's too formal, you might be seen as “out of touch.”
Seven charts about our business
Our firm has offered consulting, training, coaching, and document-support services for over 35 years. All our services help clients save time and improve results through stronger communication skills. We crunched some numbers recently to analyze which services our clients have found most helpful.
The 5 Steps to a Professionally Crafted Message
Badly written email messages can cause your reader confusion (“What do they want again?”), frustration (“What does this have to do with me?) and ultimately indecision (“I don’t have time for this… I’ll deal with it later.”) Fortunately, there’s a simple 5-step process for writing great email messages.
Before You Hit the Send Button: My 3P’s of Business Writing
If you’re looking for a few simple rules to remember before hitting that “send” button on your email, then take time to remember these three things.
What is the cost of bad writing?
While it seems like bad writing is just annoying, it can also be dangerous and costly.
We mourn the loss of John Christopher Disman
Our beloved editorial director, Christopher Disman, passed away in February. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
Case study: Presentation and leadership skills
Our clients tell us that uneven presenting skills plague senior directors and project managers alike, across industries that are completely different from one another. Here's the main way we help clients invest in their current and future managers.
Case study: Sales, relationships, and communication skills
Sales teams can miss opportunities to deepen relationships and put the customer’s interests first. This case study shows how we helped one of the largest US nutritional supplement companies strengthen their sales, presenting, and meeting skills — at both the local and national team levels.
Reports, Proposals, and Procedures: Free YouTube course!
Keep high-stakes, multisection documents clear, concise, well organized, and focused on your business needs with this five-part training. Download the handout here to test your knowledge when you've completed the course.
Writing Performance Reviews: Free YouTube course!
Keep performance reviews clear, descriptive, objective, and right for today's workplace with this five-part training. Download the handout here to test your knowledge when you've completed the course.
Case study: Want the job of your dreams?
An MBA degree from a leading business school is no guarantee of a great job, even paired with impressive work experience. An MBA’s future can still boil down to a single resume. This case study shows how we helped 500+ MBA students at UC Berkeley and in Singapore pitch their experience through writing — in less than 20 seconds each.
Effective Email course: Free on YouTube!
Keep your work email clear, concise, and effective with this free, five-part YouTube training! Download the handout here to test your knowledge when you're through.
Professional Writing Skills course: Free on YouTube!
Keep any business document clear, concise, and focused on your business needs with this five-part training. Download the handout here to test your knowledge after each course lesson's video.
Tips for writing great bios - show don't tell
Follow these tips to write bios that engage your reader!
Pie charts for Pi Day!
Consider using pie charts and other visuals instead of long, dense text. This one-page PDF offers three techniques to visualize your idea.
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