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Content Checklist for Writers

There are people who find writing a hard task. Some say there are too many rules on grammar or that they’re not confident about their pieces. The latter is a subjective matter; they would have to build their conviction first. The former, though, is the objectivity of the creative craft—the hardest part of it all, some will say. This is why writing is studied, why writing is an art, and why writing is not easy.

When it comes to the rules of writing, there are certain aspects you really have to study—grammar, punctuation, and spelling are by far the most obvious when it comes to reading a draft. A mistake in any of the three can be a great blow to your great copy and an object of scrutiny for the author (perhaps why people are afraid to write in the first place).

There are also the subtle points you need to fulfill. Like a few ones below. Familiarize yourself with all of them, and soon, you’ll be ready to write anything.

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Put An Effort When Writing

Like every form of art, writing needs effort. If you don’t take it seriously—and that fact will show on your drafts—then don’t expect readers to do the same.

Also, don’t be disappointed when your piece doesn’t live up to your expectations. Sure, you spent a significant amount of time and effort into it, but you can’t please everyone. If you’re trying to do that, then writing certainly isn’t the best craft. If you cater to too many interests, you’ll lose focus of why you’re writing and what you’re writing about.

Lastly, have fun during the process. As in the infographic, if you force yourself to write, then it’ll become more and more of a chore. Then, you’ll place yourself into a creative slump—a writer’s block—and there’s only a downward spiral from there. If you need inspiration, inspire yourself. Need food to write? Buy some and satiate your hunger. Feel you can’t write without music? Play some tunes. Be creative.

Need a writing prompt? Write about your interest… in a different way.

Resources:

Sambuchino, Chuck. “10 Tips for Writing.” Writer’s Digest. August 7, 2015. www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents/10-tips-for-writing

Scocco, Daniel. “34 Writing Tips That Will Make You a Better Writer.” Daily Writing Tips. n.d. www.dailywritingtips.com/34-writing-tips-that-will-make-you-a-better-writer

Weinstein, Mindy. “One Colossal Content Checklist: 37 Tips For Writers.” Search Engine Journal. March 25, 2015. www.searchenginejournal.com/one-colossal-content-checklist-37-tips-writers/127122

3 Things Presenters Can Learn From the Written Word

Delivery is often prioritized during presentations. Since writing is mainly a behind-the-scenes matter, few consider its impact on their pitch. Even so, it still matters, both directly and indirectly, because well-written content is the foundation of an effective presentation.

To get your audience’s attention, apply a few techniques writers use to reel in their readers. Here are three things presenters can learn from the written word:

Research Is Key

Content writing is part of the preparation, though it’s sometimes overlooked in favor of spontaneity. However, coming in totally unprepared not only damages your credibility but also results in sloppy delivery. While a natural and conversational approach establishes rapport and engages the audience, you need to keep a few tricks up your sleeve.

Undertaking research is one way to determine the ideal approach for your pitch. To figure out how to reach out to them, look up your audience’s preferences, interests, and cultural beliefs. This works for all types of presentations. If you’re delivering a sales pitch, research is key to connecting with your target market as a speaker. For an educational lecture, you’ll definitely need to know people’s learning styles to effectively deliver your ideas.

Research is the backbone of content, which, in turn, is the foundation of a presentation.

Break Things Down

Don’t assume that the audience can read your mind. When it comes to your pitch, you need to think like a writer and present like one.

Create an outline to specify the flow of your speech and the main points you want to tackle. Mike Elgan, a writer for online publications, including Computerworld, notes how a business presentation usually has four parts:

  1. an introduction to the company
  2. an introduction to the product
  3. an in-depth explanation of each feature, and
  4. the description of the product’s benefits.

Take care not to over-compartmentalize your content. Instead, create categories that appeal to the audience’s creative side.

The use of visual metaphors, storytelling, and emotions can help balance your deck before bringing in the hard facts. You can use any combination of the three as a precursor to your actual information, as long as you stick to the point, but don’t go off on a tangent for too long. Rambling will confuse your audience even more.

Signal Phrases

Writers use signal phrases in their writing as transitions or as preliminaries to in-text citations. For example, you can say, “This theorist suggests” or “According to this source” as indicators of a citation. Here, the verb “suggest” and the compound preposition “according to” are the key words to the signal phrase. In writing, these words inform the reader that you’re about to introduce your sources.

Similarly, presenters can also these to hint a change in tone. Some presentations require reference citations, but the sudden shift to technical terms may seem jarring to the audience.

Key your listeners in by beginning your formal statements with signal phrases. If you’re new to public speaking, you can begin major points with signal phrases. It’s a way of arranging your data in a logical manner and keeping you on track of your outline. This serves as a guide not only to you but also to your listeners.

Summing It Up

Oral and written communication are actually two sides to the same coin, and one can pick up plenty of things from the other.

Don’t disregard the power of the written word in an oral presentation. As in writing, presenters can benefit from plenty of research, creativity, and some signal phrases. Once you’ve gotten the hang of your speech, you can start creating a slide deck as a complement.

If you need help with your visual design, contact our SlideGenius experts for a free quote!

 

References:

Elgan, Mike. “Give Killer Presentations: Think like a Writer.” Computerworld. February 9, 2013. www.computerworld.com/article/2494756/desktop-apps/give-killer-presentations–think-like-a-writer.html
“Transitions, Signal Phrases, and Pointing Words – Boundless Open Textbook.” Boundless. n.d. www.boundless.com/writing/textbooks/boundless-writing-textbook/writing-effective-paragraphs-253/connecting-your-ideas-259/transitions-signal-phrases-and-pointing-words-110-10297

Featured Image: “diary writing” by Fredrick Rubensson on flickr.com

Make Your Sales Presentation a Spreadsheet-Free Zone

We’ve previously discussed how to include numbers in your sales presentation. Now, let’s concentrate on one of the points we made then: that spreadsheets shouldn’t be in your PowerPoint deck.

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Spreadsheets don’t belong in your slides because they show information without communicating meaningfully. According to keynote speaker, Dave Paradi, spreadsheets are inefficient and confusing communication tools, but these are great for analyzing numbers, doing calculations, and comparing numerical information.

Here are convincing reasons to never paste spreadsheets into your slides again:

Unnecessary Numbers

It’s easy to feel that you have to include all the numbers and statistics, especially given the amount of effort it takes to gather and interpret data.

Adding more than you need will always distract instead of inform.

Don’t saturate your slides with numbers. Keep it limited to the ones that directly contribute to the story or message you’re trying to tell.

You can remove 75% of all numbers in your presentation, and your overall message’s efficiency and appeal won’t suffer, meaning you can completely do away with a spreadsheet.

Replace the Sheets

Spreadsheets are an analytical tool, not a communication tool. They are the means to the end, not the other way around.

A farmer wouldn’t open selling his crops by bragging about his tractor.

A presenter shouldn’t rely on spreadsheets to tell his story.

Don’t show them the method. Show them the results and your interpretation of the data.

Use graphs to show trends and patterns over a period of time, charts to compare different numbers, and diagrams to illustrate processes and flows.

Conclusion

There’s little reason to use spreadsheets in your deck. Given there are alternatives to portraying and explaining numbers, turn your sales presentations into a spreadsheet-free zone.

Spreadsheets are a means to collect and interpret your data, not to organize and present your message. The next time you’re up to design a sales deck, avoid putting in an inappropriate tool that confuses instead of informs.

Need more help with your sales presentation? We have a team of presentation experts ready to assist. Call us for a free quote!

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References

“3 Secrets to Make Numbers Interesting in Sales Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2015. Accessed May 28, 2015.
“Eliminate 75% of the Numbers.” Think Outside The Slide. 2013. Accessed May 28, 2015.
How to Illustrate Data in Financial PowerPoint Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. 2014. Accessed May 28, 2015.
Spreadsheets Don’t Belong on Slides.” Think Outside The Slide. 2011. Accessed May 28, 2015.