52 Pick-up

During rehearsals the conductor, director, videographer or coach might stop you in the middle of something or you stop yourself knowing you didn’t say what you wanted to say, forgot your lines or your tempo was wrong, and then whoever is “conducting” or coaching says, “Pick up where you left off….” At the office, at home, at a meeting, in conversation or after you press the “send” button you seldom have the opportunity to “Pick up where you left off.”

In the card game, 52 Card Pick-up, one person joyfully throws all 52 cards in the air and the other “player” has to pick them up in sequence. It takes time, patience and a sense of humor to be that player. If your last 10 weeks were thrown in the air like the card game could you put them in a sequence that helped you better yourself in any manner?

Every year you have 52 weeks to pick-up and make the most of. What did the last 10 weeks produce for your company, department, service, product, or you? Did you make a difference in someone’s life? Add a creative bent to a new product that was successful? Design a storyboard for your new book, an article or a speech? Each week brings opportunities to create an impression on others, and ourselves. What you do with each week is a choice.

I saw “Hamilton The Revolution” last week and it was brilliant. What Lin-Manuel Miranda created is sheer genius. At the beginning of the play, Hamilton meets up with three new friends and others as he declares, “I am not throwing away my shot!

I’ve lost a few weeks, for that matter, probably 52 in my lifetime. I want to live the mantra, “I am not throwing away my shot!” It’s stupid to waste talent, creativity and/or strength of character on throwing away your shot at getting the client, making the top of some list, getting a promotion, working a little harder, asking for help, studying, or giving back. Have you thrown away that shot at getting something you’ve wanted, dreamed about, strived for or pictured because you didn’t feel you deserved it? Didn’t think you were really capable of getting it? Stopped when it got tough and just eased through? STOP!  Did you miss your shot?

In the next 42 weeks, what can you focus on to bring your strength, willingness to help others, voice, expertise or whatever to make a difference in the lives of others as well as your own? Keep, “I am not going to throw away my shot!” in your head when you have done only the minimum, just skated by. Yes, I’ve been there, and it sometimes takes an article, a book, a quotation, a speech, a mentor or friend or my own thoughts to get me out of my lackadaisical mode and move with force, a force to be reckoned with.  What will it take for you to move ahead, to take a shot at that promotion, that job, that committee, that starting gate? Keep the cards in sequence and manage them to your benefit.

This isn’t a rehearsal, you can’t “pick up where you left off”; you have to grab opportunities and make your move. Now is the time. You can do it.


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Keep Losing Money

How often do you read internal emails, reports, websites or other that have multiple typos, poor grammar, wrong punctuation and foggy syntax? If the answer is anywhere from 1-too many you’re losing money. You may not know it, but the money’s either sitting on the table or in someone else’s pocket.

Stop! Stop thinking few readers care about poor writing skills. Stop glancing over your documents and saying to yourself,  “No one will catch or care about that.” Stop pressing the “send” button before you proof: have someone else read what you’ve written if it’s an important document. Four eyes and two minds are better than two eyes and one mind!

When you want to increase profits; therefore, your bottom line, take the time to refresh your writing basics. I was reading a client’s website and decided to help make editorial recommendations, and then I thought, they could use their own writing style guide. We talked about the top 10 grammar mistakes that either someone questioned, or someone caught more than two or three times. Now they have a short three-page document that everyone can scan when s/he questions the punctuation placement, the syntax or the grammar.

What are the mistakes you continually see in co-worker’s, employees, upper management, or staff documents? Start building a list, look up the correct usage and write the information down; share it with your department, at a staff meeting, a Board meeting or just for you. Build on it.

If you need a workshop that benefits everyone and can bring about more concrete information, plus more powerful writing, I will help you. The tools, tips, techniques and tactics in my workshops can be implemented immediately. Yes, it takes more than a few hours to ingrain the tools into your team’s heads, and they’ll start with one tool, move to another, then another, and so forth. Begin to see the difference. Begin to be more productive. Begin to see your prospect’s positive response; therefore, profitability rise. (This is not a guarantee, mind you, but it is an incentive!)

My workshops are high energy, interactive, open and rewarding. (That’s a guarantee.)

Do you want to keep losing money? I didn’t think so. The time is now to begin the new year with some refresher writing tools. Be good to your profitability and productivity.

If you’d like my laminated four-page grammar “Quick Tools and Tips,” or my “Word Worries, Quick Tools and Tips,” email me: Dee@DeeDukehart.com and I’ll send one or both to you, free.

Here’s to making money and making a positive impression.

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Engaging Your Audience

“I had over 100 people in my audience and no one asked questions at the end? Why?”
“I saw several attendees typing on their phones during my presentation.”
“What I thought was a good joke or humorous story didn’t go over.”
Do you ever ask yourself these questions? How do you engage your audience, whether for 10 people or 100, or for twenty minutes or an hour?

The four types of presentations are the norm:
1. Informative – the most common. You convey information and present your findings.
2. Demonstrative – You give instructions on the “How to.”
3. Persuasive – You want to change or reinforce your attendees thinking on a subject.
4. Inspirational/motivational – You want to move your listeners to care about your subject and to act on their own behalf because they care; the theme is more visceral.

Many presentations need all four aspects to make them memorable.

To keep you audience engaged, alert and attentive you need to engage their minds and hearts every eight minutes – change course, so to speak.

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It’s the Little Mistakes that make a Big Difference

How many emails do you read a day? How many do you send out? Any sent under duress or in a rush? When you write with the clock ticking and the boss’ shadow “overhead,” it makes it difficult to not only write clearly and concretely, but also leaves
mistakes unnoticed.

This is an auto-response from a prospect:
“I will be out of the office on busniess beginning Tuesday, September 19th
with limited access to email and voicemail..”  (The double periods is also grammatically incorrect.)

I find this mistake due to the lack of understanding the language and good grammar. The pronoun’s wrong and there’s no such punctuation for the possessive; both glaring mistakes. To correct this: “…Les and my camping gear.”

“this is going to be a NICE addition to Les and I’s camping gear!”

You’ve made little mistakes and they indeed have made a big difference in the readers’ minds – not a positive difference, either.

Be diligent, be complete, and be correct in all of your writings.

Let me help with your writing: A day-long writing training class makes a world of difference; a positive difference on your bottom line, your time management, and your readers’ understanding.


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DeeTox Your Negativity

It’s a negative environment for the most part, don’t you agree?

What can you do today to add some positivity? It takes so little to give people a boost, to make them feel valued and to lighten their load. A smile always helps, a kind word can brighten someone’s day, a quick friendly outreach can make someone’s heart happy.

I received a text from a friend yesterday – not someone who usually reaches out – and it made my day. Just a few words to let me know he was thinking of me brought a huge smile to my face. An old friend I hadn’t heard from in years sent me a letter – a real letter! – and two newspaper articles last week and I immediately picked up the phone to reconnect with her and it was great. I sent a card to a friend who’s down and out, and she called, “Thank you! That was a special gift for me.”

A friend and I have this saying, “It’s the little things that count.”

Compliment a co-worker, friend, child, loved one, stranger – it makes no difference – you’re making a positive difference whether you realize it or not. You like being complimented, I’m certain; we all do. Instead of screaming at the robotic customer service rep from your cable provider or airline thank them for helping you. I’m guilty of this and I’m not proud of some of my antics. It’s not a trait I want to pass on, I want to DeeTox my negativity with some of these reps though my frustration level is through the roof.

If you can count to five, breathe and re-focus your attention on the good instead of the “bad,” you might help someone over their bad situation. I’m tired of the news, the violence, the politics and the bickering, I want to have a feel-good day.

It’s a new month: make November a compliment-people month. Those compliments are for you too, compliment yourself on a job well done, on small actions that no one else noticed, but you felt good about. When we feel good about ourselves our aura emotes that kindness.

Tonight, when you lay your head on your pillow, think of five aspects of your life that you’re grateful for: good health? a comfortable bed, nutrition, safely home, money in the bank?…the list goes on and on. What are you grateful for? How can you help our fellow weary travelers on this road with a “little thing” like a compliment, a hug, a smile, a card, a sense of humor, or even letting someone in your traffic lane.

DeeTox some of the negativity in the world with your kindnesses; you’ll be glad you did.

Happy Compliment-people month; enjoy.

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DeeTox Your PowerPoint

Technology’s sophistication boggles my mind. The array of pictures, videos, cartoons, q/a, interaction, etc. with PowerPoint or the like creates stimulation for the attendees in all meetings …and yet! I’ve been through some I-need-CPR-to-get-through-this presentations. Haven’t you?

DeeTox your PowerPoint with elimination. Brevity and clarity are paramount.

Eliminate the chaotic slide that looks more like a map of a major city, the adult brain can’t focus, can’t relate and definitely can’t  and won’t retain the information.

What does the presenter think you’ll gain or remember from this? How long would it take to explain this?




Even better! Use pictures instead of copy. Pictures explain even the most complex because they highlight your point and you – the presenter – can explain the intricacies of the picture/point. The more pictures you have the better your audience will relate and remember!

You’re talking about profit and loss. Instead of an “I know you can’t read this,” give the visual.

Could you use this picture to explain profit and loss? This picture will stay in the mind’s eye longer than a chart, I promise.


Be creative. The audience will remember your points and you more readily when you DeeTox the too-busy slides, the graphs they can’t read, the full-of-copy slides, or the sixteen-bullet-point slide.

You’ve seen others that remind you of a city map and you can’t remember why the presenter put it or them on the screen.


DeeTox your slide deck with proofing. This example is one I couldn’t fathom went past the editors’, proofers’ or presenter’s eyes, but it did. This slide was presented at a webinar on writing by a well-known training company. I had to look several times to make certain I saw not one, but two of the same typos.

“For the last several weeks, we have been provided with three-shift coverage in the Processing Department. Company employees have covered the day shit and swing shift. A temporary employee has been covering the night shit. The third shift…ends this week.”


DeeToxing your PowerPoint saves the participants’ time: time trying to make sense of too much information, time to digest the points, and time to understand the correlation between your words and the slides. Cleanse yourself of the need to put everything you know in each slide, focus on brevity, clarity, pictures, creativity and above all, proofing. Help your audience.


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DeeTox Your Opening and Your Closing of Your Presentation

During your presentation, you have an opportunity to educate, enlighten, engage and entertain your listeners. To capture their attention in the first few minutes, create an opening that entices their interests and helps them yearn for more. Talk about what matters to them, not to you. It’s all about your audience.

Have you heard a presenter tell a joke to “loosen up” the audience and it falls f-l-a-t? As I mentioned in my previous blog, humor is fabulous if you have the right timing and body language. I heard a presenter tell a 20-year-old joke, or close! Really, and you want the audience to stay with you? The internet is your friend for story lines and ideas, but the jokes get around the world in seconds: be careful.

Your opening sets the stage – so to speak – and the tone of your presentation. DeeTox yourself of long, drawn out openings that say nothing about your topic or gets rolled eyes from the audience. You have approximately 10-15 seconds to captures your audience’s attention; your opening is crucial.

A few openings:
 A story
 A rhetorical question
 A germane quotation
 A current event
 A startling statistic

The best speeches open with one of the five above and close with it as well. If you tell a story, finish it with a poignant point and substantiate the reason for it in your closing. Same with any of them: your opening and closing are bookends!

Your listeners want to feel something; it’s the visceral part of your presentation that stays with them, not all the data, statistics or chaotic PowerPoint slides. I heard this line in a movie: “Too many facts and not enough flavor loses their interest.” How true. DeeTox the opening humdrum and ignite their hearts and minds instead.

Organize your points to help create momentum and a road map with the magical three points:
1. Problem, cause, solution
2. Past, present, future,
3. Profit, loss, gain
4. Strengths, weaknesses, growths
5. Pros, cons, next steps

These are a few organizational suggestions that help you write a powerful speech: think of stories that will complement the points, cite specifics, give examples, and weave your theme in an engaging and well-thought-out way.

DeeTox a blah closing, “Well, that’s it.” “Thanks.” “I’m done. Any questions?” I know you’ve heard a few. Let the audience know you’re about to end, “Before I close, I have five minutes for questions.” The “before I close” is paramount. Never end on q/a. You want to have the final words: your audiences remember best what they hear last!

In your closing refer to your opening story, quotation, etc., bring it full circle and the punch for its purpose. Give your audiences something to hold on to: a call-to-action, a promise, a challenge, whatever it takes for them to remember your speech and you.

It’s how you make them feel, not how much knowledge you have. It’s all about the audience.

Knock ‘em alive with a professional and powerful opening, body and closing.

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