Category Archives: Speeches

Your Jaw will Drop When You Read these Headlines

Oh my goodness. It worked.jaw drop

You actually clicked to this article based on my cliché headline and a blurry pic of a hospital mannequin.

Let’s figure out why.

I just saw a version of the headline earlier today on a sponsored article and wondered, what is it about the secret, the awful, and the surprising that makes us click to read?

According to Psychology Today,

Humans seek out news of dramatic, negative events. These experts say that our brains evolved in a hunter-gatherer environment where anything novel or dramatic had to be attended to immediately for survival. So while we no longer defend ourselves against saber-toothed tigers, our brains have not caught up.

Fast Company suggest several psychological theories that are responsible for getting us to act. Persuaders often tap into ultimate terms.

Certain words carry more power than others. This theory breaks persuasive words into three categories:

God terms: those words that carry blessings or demand obedience/sacrifice. e.g, progress, value
Devil terms: those terms that are despised and evoke disgust. e.g., fascist, pedophile
Charismatic terms: those terms that are intangible, less observable than either God or Devil terms. e.g., freedom, contribution

Headlines that Produce Clicks

The following “you should know better” lines might be helpful the next time you create content for ads or articles. Tell us your favorites.

“TV Host Reveals Real Hair”

Just change up this click-getter for anything.  We want the truth. Here’s another example- SEO Guru Reveals Real Algorithms.

“Epic Prank Pulled on So and So”

You could create an entire video series based on spoofs and pranks. People like anything funny- or not. Are you selling facial cream for a company? Try something like “Her Wrinkle Cream is Not a Prank.”

“12 Things Only People with Lots of Kids Understand”

This headline makes your customer feel smart because he or she is in on the advice. It also appeals to those who want to know more about something they lack. Switch out parents and kids for dog lovers and dogs. Dress up the phrase for writers and work or accountants and clients, etc.

“10 Pumpkin Spice Latte Hacks Every Coffee Lover Must Try”

Again, we want to know your secrets. What lies over there in the greener pastures of hidden hacks? Anything “hacks” shows off your trendy.

“The Weirdest Thing I Saw At My Conference”

The weirdest anything appeals to one’s inner weird. Could there be people weirder than you? Worst yet, maybe the stuff you do is consider weird?  Use the word to harness your targeted demographic with something the audience does or a trait it has.

“This Trick Could Save You Hundreds”

Because most people want to save money and aren’t doing so, show how your product or service will help Christmas to come early this year.

“New Craze Wipes Out Slow Computers”

What is this new craze that everyone else knows about, but I don’t? New crazes are manufactured everyday because phrases like this one bring the clicks.

“Everyone is Voting for” or “The Numbers Prove”

You’ve heard these lines from candidates and they work for products and services, too because basically few people check their facts. If you say it’s true, it must be. Tell the population this enough and it’ll become fact.  Of course, there are a few advertising rules you need to be mindful of and organizations like Truth in Advertising that will expose pathetic claims. The FTC says,

Under the law, claims in advertisements must be truthful, cannot be deceptive or unfair, and must be evidence-based. For some specialized products or services, additional rules may apply.

Eh, such a spoiler, but the industry needs rules. Get familiar with them.

What makes you click and why?

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Filed under Advertorial Writing, Audience, Capturing Audience, Email Campaigns, Introductions, Marketing, PPC, Queries & Articles, Search Engine Marketing, Speech Openers, Words Which Sell

Word Choices Matter in Campaigns

The candidate firmly grabbed the edges of the podium to present himself as a man who knows who he is and where he’s going. He stood tall, squinted at the camera, and clenched his jaw. Someone whispered, “I think he’s going to be president.”

Why?

“Because he looks like a president. He’s organized and seems to know what to do.”

It’s understandable. Like Homer Simpson, the candidate is funny. He makes headlines with raw rants and doesn’t apologize, which is something most of us can’t do without being fired.

Consider the case of Karen Fitzgibbons, an elementary school teacher who ranted on her Facebook page about the conflict between police and teenagers at a pool party. She offered an apology after her rant, but it was too late. She lost her job. It’s true. Many don’t want to be held to politically correct speak, but what is the impact of careless, personally insulting words?

Nick Kyrgios, a tennis player, made an off the cuff comment about another player’s girlfriend during a tennis match and was fined $10,000 in addition to being booed at subsequent matches.

In the case of the presidential candidate, the more journalists utter his name, the bigger his brand becomes. Case in point, we don’t have to mention his name, but you know who we’re referring to, right? If he wins the presidency, his companies win. If he loses the presidency, his companies win. It’s a smart strategy. Run for president to broaden your power and audience– earn high ratings by being outlandish. If the goal is “to eventually become bigger than Amway, now an $8.4 billion company and the giant in the field” and his product appeals to “those who own companies, which tend to do well in bad economic times, when people are broke, desperate, and angry at the system,” (NY Mag) jumping into politics pumps life into corporate holdings.

Can we excuse so many cringe-worthy slip-ups because of who the candidate is? He often limits the scope of his insults to one person or a smaller segment of certain groups. Then, he embraces and praises the remaining segment by promising to win their support. He dismisses legitimate concerns with creative spins. He ignores calls for apologies and avoids ownership for his offenses.

Advertising Age suggests that the candidate’s,

“eschewal of politically correct cant and plainspoken ways account for much of his mass appeal among a frustrated electorate, those same qualities may ultimately derail his bid for the nomination. And while it’s impossible to predict how long he can keep this up, it probably should go without saying that antagonizing the nation’s No. 1 cable news outlet isn’t a recipe for longevity.”

What else? It becomes difficult for parents to instruct their kids to stand up to bullies, when they’re justifying the actions of an adult version.

If bully speak wins, everyone loses. The door to strife or war swings wide open.

After Words Fail 
No one is perfect. How do you fix poor word choices after they occur? The public might embrace you– even with all your flaws, after an authentic apology. If you’ve made a career of embracing people, the public is probably more likely to forgive misspeak. Kelly Osbourne, who made a comment about Hispanics cleaning toilets, addressed her word choice faux pas with an immediate apology on Facebook. Then, the story disappeared.

Flood social media with new stories. Business 2 Community suggests putting “your writers in motion.”

While your legal team looks things over, gather together your writers for some old-fashioned SEO work. Use the keywords, phrases, product names and employee names in blog posts, social media posts and press releases. Make sure that you have the opportunity to really dominate Google’s results for those terms.

Everyone makes mistakes. Acknowledge yours and work on minimizing them as you move forward. And don’t think that just because you’re a candidate, you’re above it all. Your words and actions matter, too.

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Filed under Audience, Branding, Business Strategy, Persuasive Essay, SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Social Media, Speeches

Who is Madeline Hunter and What Would She Say About Your Conference Presentation?

Let’s face it.  Nobody likes to sit through a boring presentation.  So, why do so many presenters put together information in a manner that is undeniably boring?  If you are regularly presenting information to audiences or if you are working on a one-time conference presentation, there are methods to delivering the necessary information in engaging and interesting ways without compromising the message.  In fact, following Madeline Hunter’s model for learning will result in an audience that takes away the information you’ve presented, tucked away in their minds and ready to be applied to the desired situations.table

Madeline Hunter was an American educator who developed a teaching and learning model which was widely used by schools during the last part of the 20th century.  Her model, the Instructional Theory into Practice teaching model (ITIP), is a direct instruction program which identifies seven components for teaching.  These include knowledge of human growth and development, content, classroom management, materials, planning, human relations, and instructional skills.  Hunter is most widely known for her instructional model.

You may ask how an educational strategy relates to your upcoming conference presentation.  Any presentation is a means of educating an audience.  Viewing one in such a manner and modeling it as a lesson will yield positive results, including better understanding and applicability of the information.  Include the following components of Hunter’s Instructional Theory Into Practice (ITIP) in your next conference presentation, and it will be a success.

 

  1. Set (Hook)

The set is a tool used to gain the interest of the audience, while introducing the material to be learned.  This is often presented as a handout upon entering the conference, an ice-breaker game which ties into the material, an overview of the material, or a video to give an overview.  This aspect of the presentation is of utmost importance, as it sets the tone for the entire presentation.  Set the stage for an interesting presentation with a clever opener.

 

  1. Objectives

We learn more effectively when we know what we are supposed to learn and why we should learn it.  When you are presenting information, you will be more effective if you have the same information as well.  The objective, or purpose, of the presentation includes why the audience needs to learn the objective, what they will be able to do once they’ve learned the material, and how they will be able to demonstrate that they have learned the material.  The equation for the objective is:  The Learner Will Do What + With What + How Well.

 

  1. Teaching

The new knowledge you are bringing to the table must be presented to the conference audience in the most effective manner.  Some examples are discovery, discussion, reading, listening, and observing.  Take a good look at the material you will be covering, the audience demographics, the setting, and the tone of the conference.  Think outside the box with your presenting, or teaching, style.  Discern which manner of information transmission will be the most effective for your situation.  Each presentation should be unique, since the contextual circumstances are unique for each conference.

 

  1. Guided Practice/Mentoring

In this portion of the presentation, allow the audience to practice the new learning under your direct supervision.  Lead the audience through the necessary steps in order to perform the skill you’re teaching using a tri-modal approach.  More simply put, this approach involves hearing, seeing, and doing.  Tailor this portion to your specific needs.  This portion may also be omitted if the setting and material does not necessitate it.

 

  1. Closure

Presenters often errantly fail to utilize this step, which is important in the learning process.  Ask the audience to tell you or show you what they’ve learned.  This can be achieved in a variety of ways, but the bottom line is that the audience is demonstrating the acquisition of knowledge.  Interesting forms of this are mini-presentations, demonstrations, or skits by groups created during the presentation.  Quizzes or tests also demonstrate this.  It is important to view this as not necessarily an end point, but more of a final check for understanding used at the conclusion of the presentation.

If you employ the model introduced by Madeline Hunter when preparing for your next conference presentation, you will surely create a successful experience for everyone involved. ~Tricia

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Filed under Conferences, Keynote Ideas, Speeches

Two Unforgettable Keynote Speeches and Why They Were So Good

It is that time of year when the successful, the esteemed, and the sages are orating all over the country. We’d all benefit from turning an ear to their decrees of wisdom.

2014 Graduation SpeechesThese days, we are all privy to the pearls wisdom from the elite through social media. As a result, we have on record some of the most profound and universal principles that have guided the successful for decades.

Graduation and commencements are still taking place. Bill and Melinda Gates will be speaking at Stanford in a few weeks. The first of its kind joint commencement speech will surely have some noteworthy truths shared. But for now, we have chosen these two very different speeches to glean from.

Colin Powell at High Point University

Colin Powell gave the May 3rd commencement address for High Point University. The General’s calm authority is powerful. His recent talk echoed much of his core beliefs regarding the importance of a life dedicated to service, compassion, and making the choice to be a problem solver for others.

Here are some of his words of advice for the class of 2014:

  • “Make sure you share the talent and the time and the treasure you have with others who are in greater need than you.”
  • “Go forth and raise strong families remembering that all you can ever leave behind is your reputation, your good works and your children for the next generation.”
  • “As you go through life, listen to the other side. Have your eyes and your ears and your heart open to counterviews…”
  • “If you want to save the world, start by saving just one kid. That’s what it’s all about.”

You can see General Powell’s speech here in its entirety.

Jennifer Lee at the University of New Hampshire

Jennifer Lee was the honored speaker at her alma mater, the University of New Hampshire. Who is Jennifer Lee? Lee is simply the first female director of a Walt Disney Animation Studios feature film and the first writer at any major animation studio to become a director. That is a big deal. Then she takes it up a notch and writes a little screenplay, Frozen, which goes on to win the Academy Award for the Best Animated feature film.

Looking like she may be a former model, Lee was humble and honest in her appeal to the graduating class of 2014. Like many creative people, it seems that this groundbreaking director has wrestled self-doubt and won. She shares, almost in the tone of a “12 Step meeting,” what happens when self-doubt takes root. She describes how it clouds everything you do and see. It is the opposite of wearing rose-colored glasses. Lee shares, “The lenses of self-doubt are nasty and thick, big and filthy and covered in swamp scum. They are the lenses of, ‘I’m not good enough.’”

Ms. Lee shares from her heart for nearly fifteen minutes. She takes us on her journey through adolescent and young adulthood. Her story is one that everyone can identify with on some level. All, except that blockbuster hit she has on her resume, of course!

Ultimately, Ms. Lee’s speech was worth sharing as another example of how women are respectfully breaking through ceilings. Even having the vulnerability to share authentically, in the vein of Brene Brown, is a bit revolutionary. She implores the graduates to join the revolution.

“When you are free from self-doubt, you fail better. You accept criticism and listen,” Lee told grads. “If I learned one thing, it is that self-doubt is one of the most destructive forces. It makes you defensive instead of open, reactive instead of active. Self-doubt is consuming and cruel and my hope today is that we can all collectively agree to ban it.”

Ban self-doubt? We couldn’t agree more.

There is also no doubt that there will be other great speeches given over the next few weeks that deserve to be shared. Let us know if you spot one so we can all learn from the lives of the successful.

~ Jennifer

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Filed under Colleges, Keynote Ideas, Leadership, Speeches

Checklist and Tips for a Buzz-Worthy Keynote Address

By My Web WritersThe questionnaire

The purpose of a keynote address is motivation. It’s meant to inspire and energize a crowd and to leave them ready to take your core message and put it into immediate action. The skill behind a buzz-worthy keynote address is the ability to adapt your speech to your audience, keeping it dynamic and interactive. You core message should be planned in advance and may remain the same from speech to speech, but every time to give your keynote address, it should be slightly different to account for the different audience. To help master this skill, here is a checklist of tips to review before you write or deliver your next keynote address.

Know Your Audience

First and foremost, know your audience. Be sure this is something you speak with the meeting organizer about before you craft your keynote speech. What is the age, gender, common interests, education level, etc? All of these things will help you create a compelling message that resonates with that particular group of people. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. What is most likely to motivate you?

Ask a Rhetorical Question or Survey the Audience

This speechwriting tip is commonly recommended, but it’s with good reason! Start with a question that makes your audience think and immediately draws them into the conversation. You can either begin with a rhetorical question which is more thought provoking, but doesn’t require an answer. Or you can ask a question that requires the audience to raise their hands or shout out a response. Taking a quick survey of the audience can help you gain an accurate assessment of their opinions and interests which can determine the direction of the rest of your speech. Again, keep in mind your audience. The size and other demographics will help you determine the best question to ask.

Tell a Short Story to Connect

A personal story will help you connect with your audience and position you as a peer. Ideally the story should be boiled down to a brief few lines and clearly tie into the theme of your keynote address. Incorporate humor, emotion or suspense as the story allows. Evoking these feeling from your audience right from the beginning will have them sitting up in their chairs with perked ears waiting to hear what you’re going to say next!

Be Prepared to Change Course

If you’ve given enough speeches, you have inevitably encountered an audience that simply wasn’t feeling your vibe. This is a signal to change the course of your planned speech. Yes, it requires thinking on your feet and flexibility, but it can save the power of your message! If you need to “wake up the audience” throw in a funny or radical anecdote, move to a new point or ask an impromptu question. These are tools you should always keep at the top of your mind when giving a keynote address. It’s important to rehearse your planned speech, but it’s just as important to be able to veer away from the plan when the audience calls for it.

Inspire and Motivate

This is the ultimate purpose of a keynote address. Your speech should be easy and enjoyable to listen to, but it should still have a deeper message that motivates action. Before you write one word of your speech, you should write your core purpose and refer to it often when putting your ideas together. The best speeches include a clearly identifiable theme that inspires a new way of thinking.

Keep Your Message Simple and Repetitive

We talked about shaping your keynote address around a deeper message. This message should be simple and included in various parts of your speech. Saying it just one time won’t inspire the majority of the audience to act upon it. You must repeat it again and again. Weave this message into the beginning, middle and end of your speech. Tie every idea that you can back to it. No matter what part of your speech resonates the most with your audience, they will be sure to catch your message.

Close With a Call to Action and a WIIFM

Finally, you should end your keynote address with a clear call to action as well as answer the question “What’s in it for me?” People can be motivated to act for various reasons, but one of the most compelling is if it benefits them in some way. You should be able to highlight at least one benefit of your desired action and convey this to your audience. Maybe your action is to volunteer for a particular charity. Sure, the one mostly benefitting from this action is the charity, but you can appeal to your audience with their own benefit of helping the community, meeting new people or adding it to their resume. Any action should have a perceived benefit, otherwise what’s the motivation to get out there and do it?

Keep this checklist on hand or commit it to memory for the next time you need to craft a keynote address. By following these simple tips you will see a profound difference in the way an audience responds to your message. Most importantly, they will be left inspired and motivated to make your message their own and turn your words into action!

~Stephanie

Other Posts You Might Like:

The Benefits of Being an English Major

Clever Conference Presentation Openings

Five Video Perfect Speech Opener Ideas

Speech Openers that Capture Your Audience

Communication Theory in a Social Media World

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Filed under Keynote Ideas, Speeches

Useful Skills That English Majors Have

My Web Writersgrad photo

Any English major will hear, or has heard, this question, “English, what can you do with that degree?” The short answer is; just about anything! Here’s why the skills that you learn with an English degree are transferable to any career. These same skills are also in high demand with employers.

The Skills an English Degree Gives You

Analytical Reading. If you can analyze a complex poem or novel, there is nothing that you can’t analyze. You also have the ability to present your analysis to others, either in written or verbal form.

Research. There is always a demand for ability to research and clearly present the results to others. With good research skills you are also able to effectively argue and defend any position.

Organization. Not only are you capable of organizing your desk; you are capable of organizing your ideas and supporting information. Organization of thought is needed to write any paper.

Articulate Writing. No English majors leave school without a few hundred pages of writing under their belts. All of this practice helps to make a more articulate writer. In order to write articulately you have to have a good grasp on grammar and spelling, as well as good ideas.

Creative Thinking. After reading though many creative works, you begin to think creatively. You can observe situations and think in directions that are unexpected.

Find many more skills that come with an English degree.

Skills Employers Want from Writers

Communication Skills. This is the most common skill that employers are looking for and is exactly what an English degree gives you. English classes focus on all three methods of communication; listening, speaking and writing. All of these are needed in any workplace.

Analytical and Research Skills. Employers are looking for someone who can look at a problem and solve it, bringing in other information if it’s needed. Both of these skills are honed with every research paper you wrote as a student.

Computer and Technical Literacy. With more businesses relying on technology it is important to know how to use basic programs like word processing programs and email. Anyone who spends a lot of time writing, like an English major does, will know word processing programs very well.

Flexibility/Managing Multiple Priorities. This means multi-tasking. Students who have successfully balanced a full class load with assignments all due at the same time knows this skill well.

Interpersonal Abilities. Can you work well with others? This is closely related with your verbal communication skills. If you can argue differing viewpoints on a novel without offending anyone then there is a good chance you can do this as well.

Planning/Organizing. Planning is a large part of being organized. As was noted above being organized is one of the many skills that come along with the English degree.

Multicultural Awareness. Workplaces are becoming more diverse and employers need employees who are able to cope with them. Reading about other cultures promotes awareness of them and English majors are well known for their reading skills.

Employers are looking for many diverse job skills. You will find that most of them are similar to the skills that come with an English degree.

So, What Can You Do With an English Degree?

To those who ask, “What can you do with an English degree?” boldly reply, “Anything I want to do!”      ~Megan

Note: Megan is completing her internship with My Web Writers this week and is about to graduate with an English degree  from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana.  Congratulations, Megan!

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Filed under Colleges, Education Strategy, Resumes, Speeches, Web Writers, Women Writers

Clever Conference Presentation Openings

By My Web Writers

“Well, hello!” Presenter Smith greets his initially attentive audience, continuing with, “I’m Presenter Smith.  How nice of you to be here inside with me on this sunny afternoon.”

Yes, the audience thinks, nodding inwardly, wondering exactly how nice it is outside.

“I’m from Sheboygan—well, actually, Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, but Sheboygan’s close enough—and—“

The audience members start to check their brochures for the name of the presentation, wondering What was it I wanted to hear about here?

“—I’ve been running my own little XYZ firm for about the last twenty years. I never get tired of speaking about XYZ, and I hope you all will find this as interesting as I do.”

Presenter Smith’s audience has checked out mentally about 40 seconds into the presentation. It’s a familiar experience for seasoned conference attendees, and with good reason. The Internet and public speaking books are rife with advice that generally goes along these lines:child

Build rapport with the audience. Establish a connection. Say something personal. Capture the audience’s attention.

All that sounds well and good, but in the wrong hands, is a recipe for disaster.

Collude and Inspire

Check out Peter Diamandis’ Opening Presentation at X PRIZE’s ‘incentive2innovate’ Conference. He opens by involving the audience personally as his cohorts in working at solving global problems at a crucial moment in time, stating, “At this moment in history, when the world has so many extraordinary challenges paired with economic restrictions, how we attack those problems and solve them – because fundamentally I believe all problems can be solved—the question is how to do it in an efficient fashion.”  For a talk such as Diamandis’, he could have set out to convey information—information he thought to be important, for sure, but ultimately, information—but instead, his opening move was to inspire.

Be different.

Watch the first 30 seconds or so of singer Amanda Palmer’s TED talk on the Art of Asking:

Palmer conveys both the unexpected and the personal.  You might scoff and say, “oh, she’s an entertainer, she can get away with that,” or “this is a TED talk, my conference presentation is for a totally different audience.” In response, you must know that one of the key elements for an interesting and captivating conference presentation is not only to hear information in a new way, but to be engaged in a new and different way, as well. Unless, of course, you are actually at the Boring Conference, but if not, well, then the odds are decidedly not in your favor that anyone in the room wants to hear a talk that’s “Like Listening to Paint Dry.”

Open Up

Don’t be afraid to say something different—your audience is crying out for it. If they can’t be in awe of your motivational presentation mojo, then let them see you. Remember, you’re unique, just like everyone else.  While that may seem trite, you should think of it as reassuring. While we may not all have been living eight foot statutes like Amanda Palmer, odds are that there was something in her weird that resonated with more than one person in the audience and who has since watched that clip.

Challenge Assumptionsunique

A great speech answers a great need. This doesn’t have to be a speech or presentation on ending world hunger, solving the malaria crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, or turning the current economic crisis on end. The “great need” could be a need that your audience was not even aware that they had—and when you answer it, they’ll never forget your presentation.

Get Real

The best presentation opener you can offer is earnest confidence and true sincerity.  The primacy effect serves to remind us that as humans, we tend to remember things better if they were presented first, rather than later one. It’s also known as first impressions, because if you make a great connection with your audience, they’ll be sure to remember they could trust you, and be more motivated to buy your product, try your solutions, work for your company, and so on.

So, PUNCH It!Punch

Use the acronym PUNCH to remember specific techniques for opening your next conference presentation (or your first).  Remember, the acronym isn’t just to remember the techniques by, but it also is the technique. Start strong, with no wibbly-wobbly “Hi, my name is” tried and true boredom trustees  that every other presenter you’ve wanted to walk out on has done. Start strong—PUNCH it! ~Sara

Other Articles You Might Enjoy:

Speech Openers That Capture Your Audience

Five Video Perfect Speech Opener Ideas

Pick Up the Pen: Essential Tips to Overcoming Writer’s Block

Use Your Writing Gifts to Better the World

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Filed under Capturing Audience, Conferences, Speech Openers, Speeches