How much are you Contributing

How much time do you waste reading incomprehensible documents? How much is your time worth?

One of the first tasks most of us do when we get to the office is open our e-mails: what’s happened, who needs what, where do I need to be, and/or when do I need to get a report, memo, letter, etc. to someone? Then we respond or go to our Word document and start or continue writing our reports, memos, letters, briefs, etc. Reading and writing, reading and writing, reading and writing take up a majority of our time. Managers, engineers, attorneys and other highly paid workers spend approximately 85 percent of their time writing.

Are your documents written well? clearly? Are they comprehensible and concrete? Are they 100 percent error-free? It may take more time – maybe up to an extra half-an-hour – to re-read and proof what you’ve written, and it’s a savior for both your readers and your bottom line. Don’t you wish everyone who wrote policy and procedure manuals, instructions, directions and daily missives would not only write clearly and concretely but re-read and proof?

American businesses lose almost $400 billion, yes, with a “b,” annually because of sloppy and misunderstood documents. How much does your company contribute to this astronomical cost?

A study from the College Board of American found that companies spend $3.1 billion, again with a “b,” on remedial writing training – annually! $2.9 billion of that is spent on current employees, not new hires. How much do you contribute to that bottom line?

Re-read your website home page: does everyone who’s not in your industry understand what you do? Do you write what’s important for your readers? Do the instructions for your new launch of your software, your mechanical parts, your business or your product conjure up the pictures you want your readers to “see”? If not, then re-write them. Write in concrete words; words that your readers can visualize. All readers “see” something different in each document, manual, brief or letter that you write, but at least if they can “see” something it’s 10-fold better than a foggy or blank visual.

How much did the last e-mail from one of your sales reps contribute today? How much did your letter to your Board contribute? Are you losing money because your team, your manager, your staff or other writes incomprehensible documents?

When you want and need a refresher course, an intensive day or two of writing and back-to-basics let me know; I want to help you.

Stop your business from contributing to that $397 billion loss.

Dee@DeeDukehart.com

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Good Intentions

“I’m going to start my diet Monday.” Then Monday arrives and you find an excuse…!

“I’m going to write every day for at least 15 minutes.” The next time you look at the calendar, a week or two has passed.

“Those eager prospects are only 10 or 11 numbers away, or at least an e-mail away. I’ll get to them and 10 more this week.” Wow, those numbers and e-mail addresses seem to have gone the way of the pet rock.

“The new employee needs me to pay attention to her questions; I’ll be more available and accommodating.” But alas, you become bogged down in minutia and don’t really get to her.

What causes you/us to set up those intentions – write them down even – and yet not take action? Maybe we do get to a percentage of them, and yet, let the others fade away like fog.

Are you committed to personal and professional growth? I know I am, and yet…! It’s as if my fingers have anathema to the phone or Google. Why? I wish I knew the answers.

 

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Your “Send” Button: First Place or No Place to your Reader?

First Place

Are your e-mails in first place or no place with your readers?

I know you’ve felt the elation of pressing the “send” button when you finished your proposal: Relief!  Your long-awaited article is ready: “send.” Your resume and cover letter are nurtured and massaged: “send.” Your report’s done: “send.” You press the “send” button dozens, sometimes hundreds, of times a day to get your messages across to your clients, co-workers, prospects, friends and family. That one button carries your message around the globe in minutes, and all is well with the world! You hope!

Computers and mobile devices are made for the “send” button. Both personal and professional missives convey your sentiment, concerns, information, questions and answers to others, and the recipients interpret them as they will.

What would you do without the “send” button?

Write like a winner: First place in your readers’ hearts and minds. Give them solid and salient information.

No Place

But alas, all of us have blushed with embarrassment when we press the “send” button and it has one or more of the following:

  1. Typos
  2. Sent to “all” unintentionally
  3. Not quite finished
  4. Sent to the wrong person

I know some companies have a “call back” tool for an e-mail when necessary, but only if the recipient hasn’t opened it. Not all companies have that luxury.

This morning I received a daily message from a spiritual leader that had a typo: “…Listen, be still. Car you hear?…” I’m certain that’s not what he wanted to convey!

I found out that I was unceremoniously taken off a project before the client informed me. How? The client sent a “reply all” e-mail with that information in it and I was in the “all.” Referring to me, “She doesn’t know yet….” Well, yes, I thought, I do now. How awkward! How embarrassing! How unprofessional!

My client sent a response to my feedback and the body of his e-mail was empty! He sent a second e-mail, “Sorry, I pressed the “send” button unintentionally.” I actually just did that about an hour ago!

Have you ever gotten an e-mail back from a person who politely says, “I think you mistakenly sent this to me”? How many times do you type in the name(s) of the recipients and don’t double check that the names and addresses are correct?

None of us is immune to sending e-mails before we’ve proofed, and we find out later about our mistakes. Some are minor errors, others….

Be a First Place Writing Winner

Obliterate your “no place” e-mails when you take these steps before you send:

  1. Proof, proof and re-proof
  2. Reread
  3. Rewrite
  4. Care about your reader
  5. Care about your message
  6. Clarify your information
  7. Make salient and concrete points

If you don’t have time to proof it, when will you have time to either re-do it or make amends for your mistakes?

Pause before hitting your “reply all” button– unless it’s intentional, and take time to check your subject line and recipients.

Your name is at the top of your e-mails.

Celebrate First Place! 

It feels good to send well-written and correct proposals, reports, resumes, letters and other information off to the right people. This highlights your e-mail in first place.

For better writing for your team, I’m here to help you. I conduct ½ and full-day writing workshops; they help your team and you!

Call – 303-753-1111 or e-mail Dee@DeeDukehart.com.

If you’d like a complementary “Quick Guide for Better E-Mails,” contact me at one of the above.

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Give Your Next Presentation with E’s

“Please make this worth my time. I need to take come good tools away from this presentation.” You’ve most likely thought these thoughts when you’re about to go into a training or presentation. You want substantive information that’s beneficial and valuable to your work and you. When you’re giving the training or the presentation know that your audience members are thinking the same; they need and want tools, tips and techniques to implement – immediately.

These four E’s propel your topic and its stickiness.

  1. Educate: Address your topic with educational information. Be specific in the material’s value to your audience. Facts, figures, data, testimonials and reasons create the groundwork for your topic. Give your audience the steps to take to help gain the knowledge or habit – or both.  What tools do you want them to take away?  If they remember nothing else, what one tool is paramount for their success? Repeat the steps that will make the difference in their work. Take your time; your audience needs that time to assimilate the information. Speak slowly. Less is more; no need to give them every tidbit you’ve learned along the way.
  2. Enlighten: Why take these tools away? What will this education do to help build confidence, make more money, get better results, manage their day, give them more time, take less time…. Multiple facets of your topic will be beneficial when you explain the reasons behind the information. Tell them why the topic is important to their everyday tasks.Clarify, specify and verify your points. 
  3. Engage: Show don’t tell. Stories. Questions. Involvement. Share success and failure examples, and ask for their examples too. Ask provocative questions and repeat the answers. When audience members ask questions, repeat the question for the other audience members. Have fun PowerPoint slide quizzes – compelling visuals; these help the audience retain the information. Images stay with your audience longer than words.
  4. Entertain: You don’t have to be a “funny” person or a stand-up comic to entertain your audience. Sight a humorous personal experience that’s germane to the topic. Show funny slides. Use fun/funny props. Self-deprecating humor is a sure winner!

The four E’s are easy to implement into and empower your topic. It’s all about ease!

For more in-depth training on your next training or presentation, please contact me: Dee@DeeDukehart.com or call: 303-753-1111. I’m here to help.Dee

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Breathe Life into Your Presentations; Seven Tips to Liven Up Your Message

What makes some presenters boring?  Most of you know! It’s probably because the speaker has hidden the best components of giving a speech in the hallwayFor your next presentation give your listeners these tools:
1. Design powerful openings and closing
2. Tell stories
3. Prepare
4.Organize
5. Add humor
6. Use body Language
7. Practice, practice, practice

I’ve watched the best – in my opinion – speakers from the National Speakers Assn.; listened to their webinars, watched their videos and taken notes. None of them is anything like the other; their unique styles color the platform – or board room, conference room, etc. The above seven tips are a combination of listening, presenting, coaching and watching.

  1. A powerful – or memorable – opening and closing is paramount to engage your listeners. You can open/close with several tools: a story, a quotation, a question, a current event –  germane to your topic, or an insider’s tidbit. You have approximately 10 seconds to capture their attention!
  2.  Every day we accumulate stories about life, some funny, some freighting, some ordinary, and some entertaining. Buy a notebook and write down some of the “ordinary” happenings at home, work, the store, the gas station, the restaurant, a committee meeting, in traffic, waiting in line…! Eavesdrop on others – not too prominently! Use one or more of these stories to relate to your audience and tie your message to an experience most of them have had too. You remember stories 10x more than statistics. Put more flavor than facts into your speech.
  3. Plan. What’s your timeline? Who’s your audience? What’s the most important point you want your listeners to take way?
  4. Organize. What are your major points? Sub-points? How are you implementing your PowerPoint slides? How long’s the presentation? How do you include Q/A in the timeline? Do you have exercises?
  5. Humor. Even those of you who think you’re not funny, have had funny activities happen to you. Hire a coach to help make some salient points funny – they’re more memorable. Breathe humor into the message.
  6.  Your body is your listener’s movie! Use it to explain or exaggerate points, to engage the audience, as a prop, to include your listeners – pointing, eye contact, etc.
  7. Practice. Practice. Practice. Video tape yourself, watch for distracting manner- isms. Does your message come across as you hope? Read it first, then memorize your opening and your closing; the middle will come together. Nobody knows your script!
Breathe life into your presentation through these seven tips: your audience and you will be glad you did.
Watch for a few more tips:
Knock ’em alive.

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Adding Power with PowerPoint

Your world’s in a constant state of immediacy:
• Projects need finishing
• Clients eagerly await their due.
• Your e-mail box overflows every few minutes
• Family, friends, co-workers, managers, and/or employees depend on you…now!
• You have an important presentation in a month

Addressing the audience that eagerly awaits your message and expertise is somewhat daunting…it doesn’t have to be! It does take time and planning.

Presentations contribute to your success; they also helps others. Plan, organize and practice.

What your listeners really want is to be on the “E” train:
1. Educated about something that’s useful to them
2. Enlightened about why the education is meaningful and helpful
3. Engaged in the speech, not lectured to
4. Entertained – not a stand-up comic – but information that will make them relax and have fun learning and listening

Organization of the speech and designing your slide deck take time. When you put together a PowerPoint presentation for your colleagues, your prospects, your clients, or your Board, take time to organize your slide deck to complement your points and message.

The adult brain likes small packages to unwrap and take in, to remember and retain. Why then do some PowerPoint presentations overwhelm the audience right at the first slide? Think, “small.” Think, “less is more.” When you do, you save time and energy, and your audiences appreciate your work.

PowerPoint is a great tool, but… it’s the plate, not the meal for your speech, training, sales presentation, and webinars. Use the slides as a visual outline for your points. Make them appealing to the eye and digestible for the mind.

How often have you thought that the presenter is wasting your time with too much information and overwhelming charts, graphs and/or line items? The presenter spent too much time on the slides, but not enough time considering the listeners and their needs. Have you ever done that?

Eleven PowerPoint slide tips:
1. Make them appealing to the eye: Use color.
2. Five or six bullet points per slide – max.
3. Each bullet point is six or fewer words.
4. Animate the slides – bring one point in, and then another, and then another.
5. Blank the screen when you’re talking about a different point.
6. Add artwork.
7. Use graphs only if the audience can see and understand them.
8. Use 18-point font or larger.
9. Use your mind and heart, not your eyes to present the information.
10. Motivate your listeners.
11. Three major points are enough.

In this fast-paced and immediacy world, use your PowerPoint presentations to motivate your listeners. They want to learn and retain information that helps them work faster, save time, gain expertise, and/or makes their lives easier.

It’s up to you, the presenter, to design PowerPoints that create positive and memorable material.

You can do it.

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Your Writing Posture

My mother continually focused on my posture; she wanted me to walk into a room with poise and to always stand up straight. As a blossoming teenager that wasn’t my focus, and now as a blossoming (?) adult it is! (Amazing how those turn of events happen when we age.)

I practice this exercise when I’m walking anywhere – the store, exercise walk, to the car, anywhere. It helps to keep her words in mind and I hope they also improve my posture when I’m not fully engaged in the mantra.

Good posture:
1. Head up
2. Shoulders back
3. Tummy in
4. Hips forward

These too can be your outline for good posture in your writing:
1. Heads up – What do you want your readers to notice? Why are you writing to them in the first place? What makes it important and read-worthy?
2. Go backproof. Did you write clearly and concretely? Did you spell and punctuate correctly; did you notice any grammatical errors that need correcting? How about your subject and verb agreement? Proofing is paramount to good writing.
3. What’s in your message that’s beneficial and of value for your reader and why do they need to take the time to read your message? Do your readers have the same knowledge, vocabulary and insight into the information that you do? If not, then explain the acronyms and internal jargon; write for the reader.
4. Going forward, sight the action do you want your readers to take if any. Did you write with a positive posture and idea in mind? Clear, concrete and comprehensive writing saves your readers and you time! It also helps alleviate any confusion; it clarifies the reason for the missive.

Good posture in your stance and your writing say more about you than you may consider.

Here’s to great writing posture. Make your mothers proud too.

Dee@DeeDukehart.com

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