9 traits of professional writing

1. Clarity

Only having one possible meaning or interpretation for a piece of communication.

What’s are the cause of unclear writing?

* Ambiguous terms

* Jargon heavy phrasing

* Unintended connotations

* Incoherent paragraphing

* Shaky grammar

2. Correctness

Writing or communication that conforms to conventional standards of grammar and mechanics.

What are those?

* Punctuation

* Fragments

* Comma splices/ fused sentences

* Agreement/ Shifts

* Needless passive voice

* Misplaced modifiers

3. Conciseness

Writing that functions efficiently, saying the most with the fewest number of words.

What’s it about?

it’s about compressing language not deleting language.

4. Comprehensiveness

All details and information that a reader would reasonably require are included in the document.

What does it mean?

Comprehensiveness does not mean sharing everything. It means sharing everything a reader needs to hear.

* Non-technical readers often don’t need technical details.

* Volume of details appropriate varies  with audience and purpose.

* Readers should not have to go outside a document for information crucial to that document.

Conciseness is about language. Comprehensiveness is about content.

5. Accessibility

The most important parts of a document are easy to identify, locate and use.

What are the methods to enhance accessibility?

* Table of contents

* Glossaries and indexes

* Partitioning and Section headers

* Bolding key terms and concepts

* Representing information graphically

* Shorter paragraphs

Think of accessibility as providing a map for your readers.

6. Appearance

The document maintains reasonable standards of condition, formatting and presentation.

Condition: The document should be free of physical imperfections (stain)

Formatting: A document should use fonts, alignment and layout in ways that match its genre and purpose

Presentation: The document’s paper, binding, layout and color choices should match its genre and purpose

7. Accuracy

All details and information in the document reasonably match reality.

e.g. Time, Money, People, Technical specs and Contact information

8. Honesty

The document does not intentionally mislead its readers.

The difference between honesty and accuracy hinges on one thing: Whether the gap from reality is intentional.

Euphemism can also be dishonest: Intentionally tweak the language to reduce the impact.

Gobbledygook: Intentionally meaningless language.

Euphemisms and gobbledygook exploit imbalanced power relationships.

9. The Writing Situation

All the things that surround any form of communication, as well as the things that might in some way influence that communication.

The rhetorical triangle: Author – Audience – Purpose

Author:

A declaration of who you are as speaker.

The associations your readers hold about you.

Persona: A series of strategic, communication based decisions about how you’ll appear in your writing. (Fashion Choice)

How you present yourself is who you are.

Audience

The literal people reading your proposal.

The traits and assumptions you imagine for yourself.

The specific reader you create within the writing,

Imagined reader in line with actual reader.

3 main audience traits according to Linda Flower are: Knowledge, Needs and Attitudes.

Purpose

To Inform

To Persuade

To Emotionally move

Those are the 3 basic communication goals.

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The Effective Presentations “Am I Ready?” Checklist

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Presentation Content
•    Verify that Mission and Goals match well for this audience. Tweak as needed.
•    Check for hidden slides and internal links. Make sure the order and links are what you want.
•    Have a hard copy of your notes or outline of your key points.
•    Ensure you have enough copies of any handouts or support materials.
•    Verify you have any props or visual aids you plan to use.

Technical Issues
•    Make sure all files are on your computer. (Presentation files, video files, non-embedded audio files, fonts).
•    Have a second copy of all files available (on thumb drive, or e-mail/website)
•    Turn off Windows Messenger, iChat, Norton Anti-Virus, E-mail programs, etc.
•    Turn off the tap-to-click function of laptop touchpads.
•    Get into presentation room to debug using your laptop with other equipment or verify your equipment is working
      correctly.
•    Try out any sound equipment. Set the volume just a shade loud if testing in an empty room.
•    Find out where room lights and temperature are controlled or who to contact if there is a problem.
•    Launch the presenting software and any auxiliary programs, such as Acrobat reader or Media player, before the 
     presentation starts.

Preparing the Room
•    Verify the distance to the audience is no more than six times the width of the screen, but at least two times the
      width of the screen. Ideally, no one should be more than 30° to one side of the screen;
•    Rearrange the seating if it creates barriers between you and your audience or doesn’t allow you to move around
      the room as you wish.
•    Take out 30-40 percent of the chairs if audience numbers may vary, but have them stacked and ready.
•    Find the location of the nearest bathrooms, breakout rooms, or other areas people may need during the
      presentation.

Preparing Yourself
•    Review your presentation notes or outline to keep key points in your mind.
•    Review key things you want for the first five minutes that set the tone
•    Warm up your body and voice with a few exercises.

Leadership Skills

1. Thinking strategically
2. Analysing
3. Planning
4. Risk Management
5. Delegating
6. Networking
7. Involving others
8. Innovating
9. Consulting
10. Communicating
11. Influencing and persuading
12. Monitoring
13. Evaluating
14. Setting objectives
15. Building consensus
16. Decision making
17. Scenario building
18. Information management
19. Presenting information
20. Balancing competing needs
21. Prioritising
22. Negotiating
23. Problem solving
24. Team building
25. Leading by example
26. obtaining and providing feedback
27. Motivating
28. Valuing and supporting
29. Managing conflict
30. Coaching
31. Mentoring
32. Empowering
33. Learning
34. Inspiring
35. Assessing
36. Reporting
37. Reviewing
38. Contingency planning
39. Thinking systematically
40. Benchmarking
41. Following
42. Risk Assessment

Objectives must be
DUMB (Doable, Understandable, Manageable, and Beneficial) & SMART (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based)

Sample Smart Business Goal

“To obtain 2 billion dollar corporate clients in the Boston property insurance market by the end of this fiscal year through networking and marketing activities.”

Once your business goals are SMART, break down each goal into a specific set of tasks and activities to accomplish your goals. It’s important to periodically review your goals and make adjustments if necessary. Goal setting for your small business is an essential tool for success. Remember in the end to be SMART.

Top 5 tips To Clear Your Head

Sometimes you can have days or even weeks when you have so much on your mind that you’re never quite able to get focused. It’s at times like these that you’ll need to do some serious decluttering!

Decluttering your mind is about clearing your head so you can focus more on the important things. Aside from making a list and trying to get organized, here are tips to help you clear your mind of any ‘excess baggage’, so that you will be able to focus more on the things that are of the greatest importance.

1. Let go of negativity
It’s you and you alone who is in charge of what goes through your mind—but somehow many of us allow ourselves to become bogged down with negative thoughts. If you go around thinking negatively all the time, then you’re never going to be in a particularly good mood—so it’s best to let go of negative thoughts whenever possible, as it will relieve your mind of excessive stress. After all, if something has made you mad, what good is there in stewing over it all day?

2. Learn to say ‘no’
Some people just can’t say no, and always say ‘yes’ when they have been asked to do favours for others or have been offered an invitation. If you’ve already got enough on your plate then don’t be tempted to add to it. So, if a work colleague asks you to do something, always think about whether or not it’s practical for you to take the task on board. And there will surely be one or two things that you can say ‘no’ to in other areas as well. Sometimes if you just keep saying yes to something, it becomes a habit, and you very often get stuck with doing it — so train yourself to say ‘no’ when you need to.

3. Avoid interruptions
If your head is swimming with things to be done and you’re getting interrupted frequently, you’ll probably be getting nowhere and feel like your mind is in overload. Interruptions can cause your productivity to plummet, so try to avoid them whenever possible. For example, if you’ve got something particularly important to do for work, then consider working from home if you’re allowed to do so, as you’ll be able to avoid the majority of interruptions that may usually occur in your workplace. Simple things such as closing your office door—a sign to people that you don’t want to be disturbed—will also help you to avoid interruptions.

4. Just do it!
One of the worst things for cluttering up your mind is putting off tasks that you have to do. They just sit there in your head and niggle away so you can never quite concentrate on another task that you are doing at the time. So, our advice is to just do whatever it is you need to do as soon as possible—so you can get it out of your mind and focus on the next task. If you don’t do this, you’ll often put more energy into thinking about doing something than actually doing it! And remember: it’s amazing how quickly you can do something once you finally commit yourself to doing it.

5. Take a break
Some people just seem unable to give themselves a break — and by doing so they become more and more bogged down, so that eventually they can’t think straight and end up making mistakes. Taking a few minutes away from your current task or activity will help you to clear your thoughts and then come back more refreshed and with a greater clarity of thinking. A short break between tasks will make you far more productive than if you just attempt to wade through one consecutive task after another.

Taking control of your mind
If you follow some of these tips then you’ll soon find yourself back in control of your own mind, and your head will no longer be full of extraneous clutter and excessive information. By writing things down as they come up, and by taking action as soon as you can, you can successfully declutter your mind — and you’ll then have more opportunities to think more productive thoughts!

Source: Yahoo News Singapore

Attitude is everything!

I just read a book about “Attitude is everything”. This is a good book from Keith Harrell.
Key to take away is:
” Ten Life-Changing Steps To Turning Attitude Into Action”

Step 1. Understand the power of attitude.
Step 2. Choose to Take Change of Your Life.
Step 3. Identify through Self-Awareness the Attitudes That Hold You Back or Propel Your Forward.
Step 4. Reframe Your Bad Attitude.
Step 5. Find Your Purpose and Passion.
Step 6. Be Pre-Active.
Step 7. Discover How to Motivate Yourself.
Step 8. Build Supportive Relationships.
Step 9. See Change as an Opportunity.
Step 10. Leave a Lasting Legacy.

10 Powerful phrases for positive thinking by Rich DeVos

Who is Rich DeVos?
Rich DeVos is the cofounder of Amway and owner of the NBA’s Orlando Magic. He is the author of   bestsellers Hope from My Heart and Compassionate Capitalism.
He is also the author of Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People.
In this book, he focuses each chapter on one key phrase to help individual overcome differences, build relationship,  confidence, change attitudes, and generally make us feel positive about ourselves and about helping others.

The ten powerful phrases are:
1. I’m wrong.
2. I’m sorry.
3. You can do it.
4. I believe in you.
5. I’m proud of you.
6. Thank you.
7. I need you.
8. I trust you.
9. I respect you.
10. I love you.