Steve Bridger

Steve Bridger

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Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:05

12 TIPS FOR WEBINAR PRESENTATIONS

Steve Bridger IP©

Webinar Presentations – 12 Tips for First Timers

If you’re reading this the chances are your boss has asked you to give your first webinar presentation. Either that or you’ve witnessed the rapid growth of webinars and want to grasp this fantastic opportunity to put your message across. Either way, it’s a presentation format with its own challenges and rewards. Mastering the challenges will produce an attractive and effective communication tool with massive possibilities.

Remember, as with many things practice makes perfect, so don’t beat yourself up if at first it goes badly wrong – as it did for me.

The weirdness started when I picked up the mic and started talking to myself without human feedback. It’s really strange when you’re used to having people to react with and when can see straight away if they understand what you’re saying. Doing a conventional presentation allows you to gauge the right pace, the right speed of delivery – not too fast-not too slow, and to check whether they’re keeping up by looks on faces. In a webinar the screen is all you see. You dictate the pace. The voice is yours and yours alone.

I’d taken a normal powerpoint presentation as the base text for my webinar. I was the guest presenter on a thelemonclub.co.uk lunch+learn session moderated by Sally Hindmarch of partnerswithyou.co.uk. Thank goodness we had a practice ‘live’ rehearsal the week before broadcast. I fluffed my lines, dried up, panicked, unpanicked, lost the plot and felt so small I could squeeze through a crack in the floorboards. When my blood pressure finally fell to normal levels this is what I learned:

1. Clearly define the ground you want to cover – and of course, prepare and know the content well.

2. Use visual charts – pictures/images as many as necessary to educate by entertaining

3. Keep text slides to a minimum

4. Don’t overcomplicate chart text – short and sweet – plain language – avoid jargon and acronyms

5. Use an opening chart to tell people what you’re going to talk about

6. Insert ‘link’ slides between topics to allow listeners adjust to the next up and coming subject

7. The link slides give you as presenter time to take a sip of water – otherwise, after 15 minutes or so you’ll literally ‘dry-up’

8. Slow down when talking- don’t rush, even though the adrenalin may be pumping. Generally make the participants feel you’re talking ‘to’ them not ‘at’ them.

9. Keep the whole webinar as short and tight as possible – think of yourself as the person listening and judge how long it would take for your attention to wane.

10. Use visualisation software to convert data into graphically interesting images – Sisence, Tableau Public and of course, powerpoint, can make presenting figures easier on the eyes, and on the brain.

11. Introduce subject polls to stimulate audience interaction – and give yourself a few welcome seconds to draw breath.

12. Prepare a couple of questions the moderator can ask you – to get the Q&A section started

On the day, it went better than I’d ever hoped. Mistakes were made – but aren’t they always? In webinars definitely ‘less is more’. The less to worry about - the better the delivery. One thing. If you’re reading from a script it will be noticed. Practice, practice, rehearse, rehearse then let the actual event take care of itself. It will be OK.

Try to maintain human contact – even if you can’t see the white of their eyes.

Don’t worry, you’ll be great.

Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:00

HAPPY HORRORDAYS

Happy Horrordays – 18-11-12©

Happy Horrordays

Steve Bridger

‘Hey mom, listen to this!’

“You are cordially invited on the night before Christmas – to the Salem Gallery of Art for an exclusive viewing of ‘Hell on Earth - A depiction of gruesome art through the ages’. Students in my high school History of Art class will gain extra marks. Seasonal refreshments will be served. The viewing begins at midnight. Don’t be late – be dead on time (Sorry! Couldn’t resist that, just getting into the spirit)

Signed: Professor Eric Luf – Head of Art.”

‘Can I go Momma, can I? It sounds like a blast! Timmy can drive me and we’ll be back before you know it for Christmas Day with the family’. Sally put on her most beseeching face.

‘Well, I suppose you’ll have done all your chores by then and the tree has been decorated and the presents are wrapped. And let’s face it – you should have a bit of fun with your friends on Christmas Eve. And, it is that lovely Mr Luf, who’s helped the whole class improve their grades this year. Okay – but call me if there’s any problems or if you need picking up’. Her mother had that loving twinkle in her eyes. A look for the last time.

Eric Luf was full of seasonal goodwill. At school it took a little while for staff and students to accept his eccentric way of dressing. It was as if he was living his living, in as much he’d adopted a very ‘arty’ persona mirroring his idol Salvador Dali. Flamboyant clothes, a highly coloured waistcoat, a long crimson velvet smoking jacket, cravat with inset sparkling sapphires, a lovingly waxed and upturned moustache, piercing blue eyes of polished glass all topped off with a raspberry beret. No surprises that the kids called him ‘The Prince’. He was not tall of stature but you knew when he was in the room. He exuded presence, a kind of magnetic charisma that demanded attention and obedience without a single word needing to be said. He was a fantastic teacher and everyone admired him.

Eric greeted his students with beaming smiles and mulled wine. The cinnamon and fruit zinging and tickling as the warmth caressed the throats of twelve eager students. They were gathered in the reception area waiting for the exhibition to begin. Sally gripped Timmy’s hand, high on expectation, excitingly scared.

Ever the showman, at three minutes and fifty three seconds to midnight, Eric pressed ‘play’ and AC/DCs ‘Highway to Hell’ blasted an opening of the exhibition. Double doors flew open, dry ice floated like cemetery mist, spotlights shone down upon six of the most evil artistic creations known to mankind, paintings blown up ten foot tall and arranged in an overlapping circle of malice. The students whooped and stomped their feet, laughing, clapping at the over-the-top theatrics. Realisation had yet to dawn that a tincture of psychotropic drug had been syringed into the mulled wine. Sally and Tim never felt so relaxed and carefree.

Eric let the noise die down before taking the mic.

‘Welcome everyone! As you see, there are 6 masterpieces to admire tonight and 6 girls and 6 boys – 666, my favourite number. You’ll be working in pairs. I hope you’ve brought your notebooks and pens. I look forward to reading insightful comments and critiques. The first and earliest painting is by Hans Memling, dated circa 1485 and simply named ‘Hell’. The second is the ‘Flaying of Marsyas’ by Titian and painted in the period 1570 to 1575. The third is ‘The Nightmare’ by Henry Fuseli 1781, the fourth is ‘Saturn devouring his son’ by Paul Rubens, the fifth and sixth are by Heironymous Bosch, who captures my idea of hell. The first being ‘The Temptation of St Anthony’ and the sixth and in my opinion the scariest of them all, ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’. Now, please choose your partner and adopt a painting of your choice. Use the headphones to hear my voice with a description of each – enjoy!’

Clutching their workbooks, Sally and Tim stood enveloped by the living nightmare that is ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’. Mankind had fallen prey to all temptations and was perpetually reaping the punishment of the devil with eternal damnation. Tiny figures are tortured, sliced, cut, degraded in a never-ending cycle of agonising horror, death and debauchery. The soothing, rhythmic, hypnotic voice of the Prince began to ooze through the headphones like liquid tranquiliser into their pliable brains and to those of their friends.

‘To enter the mind of the artist, to embrace the vision, you must step inside the painting to gain true enlightenment. To be as one with the creator, take one step forward and touch the canvas. Lay both hands against the painting and gently push. Open the door to the other side. Step inside – do it now.’

Six boys and six girls obeyed. They moved as silent automatons to be absorbed by the paintings. Each canvas moulding to their bodies sucked, then spat them inside as fresh meat and lost souls. There was a fleeting second, but only a second, when they could turn back and see through the canvas and into the gallery. Only a second to realise they were engulfed, trapped in hell for ever and witness the hideously triumphant face of Satan, the Prince of Darkness, glorying in their panic and distress. His horns, sprouting and piercing the raspberry beret like daggers, eyes of killer-red laser beams, his dandy clothes shredded and torn, his cloven hooves tapping and dancing an exultant, insane jig of delight.

Christmas Day. The whole town was searching and searching. The found Timmy’s car under a foot of snow parked outside a ramshackle shop front. No sign of the Salem Gallery of Art. The snowfall had covered all trace of footsteps. The shop floor was covered in dust and dirty floorboards. A single notebook lay open with Timmy’s scribbles and a deciphered anagram. Eric luf is LUCIFER!

Text Word Count: 994

 

 

 


Top Tips for Writing Effective Business Emails

1.    Give as full a description as possible in ‘Subject’ section to state the purpose of the email and identify you as the sender of the email.

2.    Think about the person/s you’re sending to.  It’s easy to get so engrossed in writing the email content that you could overlook something which is inappropriate to someone on the address list.

3.    Don’t automatically click the ‘Reply All’ button – if you’ve received a response to an email it may be for your eyes only.

4.    If your email is the first time you’re contacting someone, adopt a traditional ‘letter’ text approach.  A formal approach shows respect.  A more informal style can follow for further exchanges.

5.    In case the recipient wants to print out your email to be filed, it can help to repeat to reinforce the email subject at the top of the message space along with the date of sending.  People are now asked to think about the environment before printing emails.

6.    Emails should be seen as confidential and private.  A legal note should be included to that effect along with a request to delete any email that has been wrongly received – (see email example below)

7.    Emails are read quickly – so get to the point swiftly and include any request for action in the first paragraph.  Use simple, clear language and a size of type that is easy to read.

8.    One subject for one email.  Avoid running different subjects together.  Separating subjects helps understanding in this fast moving environment.  New email, new subject heading.

9.    Some message systems show the first line of the text onscreen before it is opened. Make sure what you write is appropriate for your business.

10.Think about the problem of repeatedly replying to a received     email, adding new text to an original message. The original title     may no longer reflect the evolving message content and unless     you begin a fresh email the length will mean printing pages of     paper when you only want the latest exchange.
11.Use emails as a ‘cover’ note to any important or confidential     attachment. Emails are not suitable vehicles for transmitting     important company information or to detail reports or proposals.

Example of Business Email Layout and Text

To:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
cc:   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Subject:    Guy Gizmo –  Widget & Gizmo Meeting Confirmation


Email Body Text

12th November 2009
Confirmation of Widget & Gizmo Alliance Meeting
9.30am-12.00pm 14th December 2009.

Dear Barnaby,

A quick note to confirm our meeting at your offices on Monday 14th December at 9.30 am.
I will be accompanied by Peter P Nocchio -Head of our Wooden Toys Division.

We look forward to discussing our future plans.

Best regards
Guy Gizmo
Guy Gizmo
Business Development Manager – Universal Gizmos
Telephone: 0800 247 247  Mobile/Cell: 07084 127 234 Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

? Please consider the environment before printing this email.
This e-mail may contain confidential and privileged information and is subject to copyright. If you are not the intended addressee please delete the message.  Please note that any distribution, copying or use of this information is prohibited.
If you have received this e-mail in error please inform us immediately by e-mail or telephone us on 0800 247 247 before completely deleting the message.

The ‘Poisoned Sandwich’ Email

Tom Evans, www.thebookwright.com reminded me about this technique.   A poisoned sandwich email is where bad news is sandwiched between two good bits of news.  For example:

Hi! Julian,

We cannot thank you enough for helping the sales team to smash this month’s target.
Your probationary period in sales is now over and unfortunately your position is surplus to requirements with the resultant 30 days notice.
However, should a position in sales become available you will have the opportunity to apply along with other applicants next year.

Merry Christmas

Ebenezer Scringe
Head of Finance
Take the Money & Run Ltd

Sunday, 25 April 2010 09:59

Writing Effective New Business Letters

Writing Effective New Business Letters

There are many types of letters.  Letters of complaint, ‘thank- you’ letters, letters for job applications, for accepting a job offer, for resignations and so on.  These tend to be of a functional nature.  The more difficult to write are letters of introduction to a new business prospect.  Here are some suggestions to help you get past the gatekeeper and on to the desk of the person you want to contact.  Many letters are screened and placed in the bin before the letter is even fully unfolded. These suggestions will improve your chances of success.

Letters of Introduction

Writing effective contact letters will gain business. In an email-dominated world of cyber static, the incisive use of a carefully researched, accurately targeted and well constructed letter has a better chance of cutting through, especially, if the purpose and benefits of the letter are clear and compelling.

Increase your chances of success

1.    Go for quality rather than quantity and tailor your message to a selection of chosen targets

2.    Do your research – find out about your target company, their market, their competitors and their issues

3.    Identify the correct person to contact – name, title, business responsibilities.  Try to gain extra insight into the character of the person you’re contacting.  Your target may have a business or social networking page – check it out

4.    Don’t assume the most senior person is the right person for that important first approach – find out who has the influence – it may be a tier lower than you’d expect

5.    Develop a proposal to generate business for your prospect – what benefit/s can you bring to the table?

6.    Think creatively about the nature of your communication – what will make you stand out in the morning mail?

7.    Don’t combine an introduction with a full-on sales pitch – take one step at a time and get the balance of the message right

8.    Use the letter as the opening gambit – as a means to gain a meeting or advance your cause in a positive way

9.    Always follow-up – via phone or email – don’t be nervous about making the first move.  Accept failure as the price for achieving success – keep going


How to Open & Close a Letter of Introduction – Ff or Ps?

‘Yours sincerely’ is the most widely used letter sign-off; but which is the correct term to use, ‘faithfully’ or ‘sincerely’?

Here are two memory hooks to help you remember the ‘correct’ opening and closing forms - Ff & Ps.
Ff
The first ‘F’ stands for formal.  If you’re writing using a title for instance ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ either to be businesslike or simply because you just don’t know the name of the person then the second ‘f’ is for faithfully.
Ps
On the other hand if you know the person’s name use ‘Ps’ as your reminder, ‘P’ stands for Person and ‘s’ for ‘sincerely’.

Example Letter of Introduction

Notice the text delivers the message crisply on a single page of A4.  The letter opens with the ‘point’ of arranging a meeting, goes on to explain the benefits, then closes with proposed action.
Date:

Barnaby Wiggins
Business Development Manager
Wiggins Widgets
Widget House
24 Sleepy Hollow
Little Happening

Widgets and Gizmos Alliance Proposal

Dear Barnaby,

I’m writing to introduce my company, Universal Gizmos, and to request a meeting.  The aim will be to explore an alliance between our two companies for mutual benefit.

Wiggins Widgets have particular strengths in the design and marketing of innovative products for the children’s market.  Universal Gizmos has built a strong reputation for their range of products aimed at adults and have a new production facility.  An alliance would help us to break new ground in sales and marketing both at home and abroad with a united strategy.

I believe there’s a natural synergy between the quality and imagination of both our product ranges.  I enclose our latest Spring brochure and look forward to discussing the opportunities that lie ahead.

I will telephone you shortly to compare diaries and arrange a meeting.

If you’d like to get in touch as a result of this letter I can be reached on 0707 123 456

I look forward to meeting you
Yours sincerely
Guy Gizmo
Guy Gizmo
Business Development Manager – Universal Gizmos
Summary of Letter Writing Key Points

•    Guy had researched Barnaby’s name and title in order to speak to his correct opposite number – and having identified a person, he signed off using ‘Yours sincerely’.

•    Guy used just two first sentences to establish who was writing and what they wanted.  The closing lines repeat the request and action to be taken to arrange a meeting.

•    Guy immediately talks about the benefits of a commercial alliance.

•    By explaining his position simply and clearly, Guy added a clear purpose and improved his chances of being taken seriously.

•     Guy was not trying to sell anything.  He demonstrated his positive intentions by including the Spring brochure for information.

•    Notice that the last few sentences are not run together in paragraph form.  They have been written as separate statements to add emphasis.  The added benefit of separating these last lines makes your contact details easier to find and act upon by the recipient.

Sunday, 25 April 2010 03:47

Fast Track Your Business Writing Skills


FAST TRACK YOUR BUSINESS WRITING SKILLS

Swiftly improve your writing ability- Develop content, style & structure -Write effective reports & documents

Testimonials for
‘Fast Track your Business Writing Skills’

“I read it through last night and was totally blown away by it.  FULL of really useful stuff, sensibly written, well done.”

Pauline Hedges – Head of Policy & Representation - Surrey Chambers of Commerce UK.

“Insightful and no nonsense – lots of handy tips to get your teeth into”
Christopher Marie – Marketing Executive – International Financial Management.
www.thewritecopy.co.uk
Inventive & Effective Sales & Marketing Communications
Creative Strategy-Campaign Planning- Copywriting-Design Liaison-Project Management



Section Contents

1.    Introduction - improve your business writing skills – become an effective communicator – fulfil your talent

2.    Preparation skills – write to be read - creating a writer’s template – identify your audience

3.    Writing proposals, reports, letters, emails, intranet articles, blogs and ebooks with tips and examples on each format

4.    Punctuation & spelling tips with a touch of grammar


Section 1 Introduction

Fast-Track your Business Writing Skills:

For you:

Improving your business writing skills is money in the bank.  The more succinct, disciplined and directed you become, the more effective and valuable you will be. Armed with the contents of these pages you’ll quickly reap the benefits of tighter, more focused communications.  Debate will be better informed.  Decisions will be taken with confidence. Your writing will create a better, clearer understanding of issues and help to drive your career forward.

For your company:

This book will assist the development of a harmonised business writing system with accepted layouts, style and content.  Imagine the operational benefits of swiftly understanding reports and proposals for either internal or external consumption. ‘Fast-Track’ will inspire documents that quickly get to the point, signal action and improve efficiency.  Instead of many internal authors with different abilities and expertise, your company communications would run more smoothly.

This is not a formal text book

This work has been written in the hope that it will be a well-thumbed, practical reference source with templates to be used again and again.  You never know when you’ll need to check on the sequence when writing a report, or how to write a ‘poisoned sandwich email’, or remind yourself of the meaning of a business acronym like ‘BEER’, when you’re gasping for an ice-cold one.  All will be revealed in the pages that follow.


The purpose of ‘Fast-Track your Business Writing Skills’ is to:

1.    Banish blank page phobia and help you prepare effective pieces of communication, filling empty pages with well conceived content
2.    Show how to prepare and write effectively time after time
3.    Help you adopt the right mindset to reach your chosen audience
4.    Structure the writing to logically convey the outcomes of your piece
5.    Improve your punctuation & spelling
6.    Give you a sense of achievement by seeing the improvement you’re going to make and continue to make from this day forward
7.    Harmonise corporate business writing processes to improve operational efficiency


Better Writing Skills = Better Communication = Better Business Results

First, let me state the obvious.  Writing for business is not essay writing, not poetry, not Shakespeare – it is a finely tuned, hard working tool to produce results; fundamental in the drive for commercial success – and instrumental in your personal success.

Write for a Reason

Writing effectively to a business audience should embrace three essential elements:

•    Purpose – say exactly what you’re trying to achieve
•    Clarity – of thought and message
•    Brevity – get to the point – short sentences – short paragraphs – inspire action

These 3 elements need to be:

•    Communicated In plain English - using simple language – remember ‘KISS’
Keep-It-Simple-&-Straightforward 
•    Written to be read ( size of type, choice of font, spacing & structure) and be fully understood – first time round
•    Written explaining acronyms the first time they appear
•    Jargon free (or at least minimised) – never assume your readers know everything you do
•    Checked for ambiguity
•    Cleared legally if necessary
•    Double-checked for the accuracy of facts
•    Delivered in time for people to think, develop a response, and action as requested

Ask yourself -Why are you writing, what’s your Task?

•    To inform – to spread news
•    To educate – to train colleagues – to improve capabilities
•    To sell – to persuade, to argue your case, to generate wealth
•    To brief – to get others to perform a task
•    To instruct – to pass on management decisions – to request action
•    To motivate – to encourage and reward
•    To praise – to recognise achievement
•    To discipline – to maintain respect and improve relationships
•    To gain feedback – to learn people’s views – to ask for co-operation and involvement – to gather information

Each reason for writing may call for a different approach and perhaps a change in style and tone of voice. If briefing senior management on a complex issue, the writing would be more formal and differ greatly from a more personal approach, for instance, posting an article on the company intranet site.


In business, people are under pressure, often juggling any number of responsibilities and tasks at any one time, stressed and target driven.  Time is precious and must be used to greatest effect.  Writers are communicators, messengers who understand the message, so others will react as requested.

It’s not over when you’ve finished…

Internal communications are an ongoing process. You may be writing one piece at a time, but your writing is a contribution to the continuing act of co-operation and interaction.  Why do I make this point?  Because when you’ve finished a particular piece, ask people to get in touch if they aren’t clear about any aspect and welcome any comments or feedback. Internal communications are a constant dialogue between fellow colleagues – not one-off experiences.

Section 1 Summary

The Communication Process
Transmission – Reception – Understanding – Co-operation – Action

Written well, transmitted well, your audience – the receivers - will comprehend and take the appropriate action to fulfil your requests.   In summary, the important points to take from this introductory section are:

•    Investing your time in developing business writing skills will repay you for the rest of your career
•    Following the thought processes will sharpen and refine your own ability to think and write incisively 
•    Writing for colleagues is an exercise in sharing knowledge to achieve a common goal.  Executed well and unselfishly it will increase your standing and gain respect
•    Developing your writing skills is empowering
•    From a corporate viewpoint, creating a standardised form of layout and content will improve efficiency and understanding as well as acting as an initial benchmark for the further development of corporate writing skills   

Section 2 - Preparation

1. Proper-Preparation-Prevents-Poor-Performance

Or, fail to prepare - prepare to fail.  You’ve probably heard these lines before but proper preparation for a business writer starts long before you pick up a pen or your fingers hit the keyboard.  The preparation process starts with you. 

Getting to know yourself – Are you a Lark or an Owl?

Do you leap up in the morning full of energy and ready to face the challenges of the day or do you mentally start the day around lunchtime?

Think about this question and decide.  When is the best time for you to write?
If you’re a lark and fizzing with energy in the morning, manage your time to write when you’re fresh and creative and leave the afternoon for research and planning when your body and mind start to flag.

Turn this idea on its head if you’re an owl. Do undemanding jobs in the morning.  Write when you feel the zip and zing of inspiration later in the day. Plan your writing to be done then – even if it means taking the laptop home.

Identifying what kind of person you are – Lark or Owl - will allow you to direct your energies at the optimum time.  It’s simply a case of time management set to the rhythm of your body.

Getting Prepared: Think - Research - Plan

Knowing your subject is a ‘given’ when preparing to write.  The more knowledge you have, the more confident you become, and the more insightful you will be.  Preparation time allows you to think about:

•    What you’re going to say
•    How you’re going to say it
•    What you want to achieve
•    Who you’re going to say it to

Deconstruct your subject – then put it back together again

Planning is arguably the most important time of all.  Dare to turn off the computer or at least turn off the volume and run your screensaver to avoid those annoying email pop-ups or message alerts that are electronic poison. Venture into the silence and give yourself a chance to function and focus uninterrupted. Then deconstruct your subject into its component parts and build it up again.  At the end, all the elements will take shape and a blank page will become full of ideas.  Creating your own master template will be extremely useful. Here’s how to do it.

2. Introducing: The Writer’s Template

Complete the answers to these key questions to produce your own writer’s template.  With practice it’ll help you frame the style and content of your writing.  Type out this text on your own computer then print and copy your own ‘Master’ template.

The Writer’s Template
Create your document line by line – Banish Blank Pages
Key Questions
1. Aim
What is/are the objective/s of this exercise
What do I want to achieve with this piece of writing?   
2. Key Messages
What key points are to be communicated
What are the primary messages to convey?    
3.  Required Action
What is my ‘call to action’ – what do I want people to do?
Are different people responsible for performing special tasks – if so, how do these tasks impact on other project participants in terms of function and timing?   
4.  Timescale
When does the action/s need to be completed?
What is the timetable for management approval/completion?   
5. Further Help
Which person/s should be asked for further information or assistance in specialist areas?   
6. Identify Audience
What is the make-up of my audience
Is there more than one type of readership?
Do I need to produce other versions of the same piece e.g. - for general circulation, for senior management, for external readers – each written selectively to suit the reader/s?   
7. Tone of Voice
Formal or friendly & personal
Which is most appropriate?   
8
. Feedback & Interaction
Give a contact name/email address for clarification or feedback   


3. Write for your reader – Not for yourself

Business writing is an act of transference.  The writer listens and absorbs what is said or read, maybe from a senior manager or a technical person.  The task is to filter, craft and present the information.  A dynamic change takes place, turning what is said by the company into a form of content and tone-of-voice, an audience wants to hear and will be receptive to.

The key to achieving this is the ability to understand the importance of tailoring messages to suit different personality types.

Identifying your Audience – Understanding Key Personality Types

We’re all the same – yet totally different.  That is the writer’s puzzle.  Your audience may work for the same company, have the same team goals, be working for the same success.  Yet it would be a big mistake to address them all in the same manner.

Carl Jung, Hippocrates, Plato and many other great thinkers over the last two thousand years have developed ideas on personality traits and psychological profiles.  From the writer’s viewpoint, in normal day-to-day business communication, we need to be aware of three central personality types that shape our approach.

An understanding of your audience is vital. In real life most proposals will adopt an approach which satisfies all three personality types – but to understand each type, let’s examine them separately.

Personality Types – a Writer’s Guide

The 3 Types
Here are examples of people who represent each of the three personality types:

1.    The Visionary – Sir Richard Branson, Sir James Dyson, Bill Gates,
2.    The Dynamo – Simon Cowell, George Lucas, Hillary Clinton
3.    The Questioner – Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, George Soros

How to identify the 3 types and how to write for them

Using the technique of visualisation will help you remember personality types.  Visualise the front page of any daily newspaper and match the personality type with the layout elements of images, headlines and body text.

1. Identifying the Visionary – The ‘Big Idea’ Person

These are the people who literally ‘get’ the big picture.  They swiftly understand the overall concept.  Using the newspaper analogy, they pick-up on the creative expression, the pictures, the imagery. They are ‘ideas’ people.  They inspire.  They’re often among the top strategists of the company and are skilled delegators.  However, they need the skills of ‘The Dynamo’ and ‘The Questioner’ to compliment their own.

The Visionary - The Writer’s Approach

When writing for the Visionary, the writer would paint a picture with words, describing the opportunity and focusing on the benefits.  Any business proposal will be explained in general terms and described how it will work. The writer will provide key pieces of information to demonstrate that all the interlocking strands will come together to achieve the stated objective.  A plan will be prepared allocating responsibilities delegated to key players in the organisation.

2. Identifying the Dynamo – The Driving Force

On the front page of a newspaper these people would be the main headline.  These are the action figures that drive businesses forward with their energy, determination and ability to get things done.  They understand the vision. Their talent is ‘making things happen’.  In business, they operate at all levels of seniority.  Dynamos are leaders who motivate and manage others to achieve targets.

The Dynamo - The Writer’s Approach

Writing for ‘Dynamos’ requires a full explanation of the proposal – the vision, the operational implementation and the costs.  The presentation needs to be complete with benefits and potential drawbacks highlighted for discussion.  An assessment of the demands of the project on the business and a timing plan will be key considerations.  The style of writing will be concise, to the point and well argued.

3. Identifying the Questioners – The Facts & Figures Folk

The Questioners would be the detailed text of front page news.  This type of person demands full supporting evidence with every detail checked and double checked.   These are the ‘Devils Advocates’ and ‘What if’ inquisitors.  A proposal will need to be thoroughly vetted before it gains their approval.  Often they are the subject specialists in finance, logistics, technology or production who start out with a ‘glass half empty’ attitude and expect the information you supply may just win them over to a ‘glass half full’ state of mind.

The Questioners - the Writer’s Approach

Thorough – detailed - straight to the point - not flowery.  These are the watchwords when writing to ‘The Questioners’.  A well constructed piece packed with evidence, facts, figures and back-up is essential.  When I say ‘back-up’, the writer’s time will be well spent researching any potential drawbacks and prepare a response for each one. Try to anticipate any awkward questions – criticise the project in your head and prepare a response.  Prepare well and you’ll perform well.  Misjudge this group and you’ll be made to feel very small indeed.

The Importance of identifying your audience

Admittedly the description of these three Personality types is a little superficial – but the underlying point is important – write for your audience.  Misjudging your readers could dramatically affect the outcome.  Let me show you what I mean.

•    A piece written for ‘The Visionaries’ but packed with details and structural elements more suited to ‘The Questioners’ may fail to excite visionary thinkers.

•    A piece written for ‘The Dynamos’ that lacks operational and implementation themes will be considered incomplete.

•    A piece written for ‘The Questioners’ using lightweight images and gushing language will fall on deaf ears and fail to impress.

Section 2 Summary

Write with Purpose, Clarity & Brevity

1.    Research your subject – make notes and determine the line of your approach

2.    Complete the Writer’s Template – this will provide the mental stepping stones for a complete piece of writing

3.    Be clear about what you want to achieve – and what action should follow

4.    Identify your audience and decide how best to address them

5.    Ask the audience to make contact with the relevant individual if they want more information or wish to have something clarified – get feedback – promote interaction.

Business writing is all about improving communication and co-operation.  As a writer, it is the treatment of the subject matter and achieving the desired outcome that measures real success.

Section 3 – Writing Skills -Practical Applications


Proposals, reports, letters, emails, intranet articles, blogs and ebooks

The first two sections have been dedicated to thinking about writing skills.  This next section will turn thinking into practice by examining the most common forms of business writing and showing how to tackle each one. 

Proposal & Report Presentation

Writing reports and proposals will take time and practice to get right.  This is one area where there’s a great temptation to say too much and oversell.  Overselling can undo all the good that’s gone before. In your preparation, consider how to compile all the key pieces of information and set them down succinctly.  A single document or proposal is seldom the end of the process but usually the start, especially when speaking to senior management.  That’s why it’s good practice to incorporate ‘topline’ information at a first stage and have supporting data available separately should it be requested.

The presentation of your document, the formatting and choice of fonts all combine to make a good first impression.  And, as they say there’s never a second chance to make a first impression, so here are some thoughts on getting it right first time.

Font Choice: Up-to-date or Old School?

The choice of fonts immediately projects an image to the reader.  If, you opt for Times New Roman, Garamond or Goudy you run the risk of being seen as old school and staid.  On the other hand, Century Gothic, Ariel, Tahoma, Trebuchet MS, Copperplate Gothic are modern fonts and project a more positive image.  Having said that, don’t buck the system if your organisation has a chosen font.

For emails use at least a 10 point type size. If you edge up to 11 point it is easier on the eye and when you’re drowned in a sea of messages the ones which are clearer are the ones that get noticed.  Remember, not everyone has 20:20 vision, so the more you think about how your writing will be viewed, the better. This is another practical example of thinking about your reader.

11 or 12 point for letters and documents is fine.  An increase to a larger point size,12 and 14 respectively works well for subject headlines and subheads.  More and more people favour using ‘bold’ for emphasis rather than underlining headlines and subheads.  A tip.  For most letters and documents, strive to get everything on to a single page of A4.  Sometimes you can do this by highlighting the whole document – ‘Cltl A’ and reducing the type from 12 to 11 point.

Another idea for reducing the document size on the page is to click on the spaces between paragraphs and reduce the type size to 10 or 8 point.  You’ll see the whole text compress that may produce the valuable extra line to fit into A4.  Another way of doing this is to adjust ‘Page Setup’ to create more text space – it’s easy to overlook this simple option when you’re busy.

Formatting

Underlining seems to have gone out of style. It’s often relegated to adding emphasis.  Leading headlines and sub-heads tend to be in bold and ranged left.  As a writer you can set the style and format to be adopted by your colleagues.  Main subject headings can be increased by a point size or set within a colour bar to literally separate the text into sections as has been used in this book. Remember to keep the size and font design consistent.

It’s very easy to miss words out altogether or drop in an ‘if’ where it should be an ‘is’ or vice-versa so ask someone to proofread your piece.  If there’s no one to help, walk away, take a break, then come back and read through the text again.  Spell check can overlook a spelling mistake or grammar point only for the writer to find an error lurking in the deepest paragraph because a word may be literally correct but the context could be wrong.

If you’re asked to write a report, see if past examples are available as a guide. Otherwise the report template produced in the next few pages will help you create a solid, informative and actionable layout.  Do check whether there is a certain word count limit or page number requirement and whether supporting references are to be included within the report.  Importantly, double check the confidentiality rating for document circulation and style/content considerations.

There’s more to come on these aspects as we look at the structure of a marketing report.

Bullet Points

Forgive me if this is mind-numbingly obvious, but bullet points are best used for registering different statements of equal weight.  These statements may encapsulate one particular point or they may be progressive if they build upon the preceding point.

Numbering predominantly lists statements, often in priority order.

Bullet points are great for injecting space into a dense tract of text.  Breaking up text in this way helps the reader to understand the subject and is easier on the brain.  Also, pulling one sentence away from the preceding paragraph– just like the sentence above concerning numbering – provides emphasis and importance to a point you’re trying to make.

Presenting Supporting Data

Here are a couple of tips to help you present supporting charts and data effectively.

1.    Don’t over-complicate data charts with too much content or a busy visual style

2.    Simplify and communicate key points in separate charts – add a new chart to illustrate a new idea

3.    Don’t leave pictures to do the work – draw attention to the point you’re trying to make with words as well as images.  It’s your chart, so make the point with confidence

4.    Consider reinforcing the data messages by producing a summary of all the key     points in writing.  Repetition of important points will drive home the message and     improve comprehension


1. Writing a Marketing Proposal

This example of a marketing proposal will suggest a successful structure that flows logically and builds from point-to-point.   The example is pure invention but it does represent the kind of elements you’ll encounter in a real-life situation.  The proposal combines sales, marketing, media, creative and financial aspects geared to generating income either by increasing sales of existing products or introducing new ones. 

First Example -The Marketing Proposal

Scenario

A publishing house is strong in conventional retail and has an impressive portfolio of writers but needs to embrace the opportunity of gaining sales via the internet.  It’s nearing Christmas, a prime time for gift sales, and the marketing department has prepared this proposal.  The budget figures are purely for demonstration purposes.

Watch how the logic of the piece progresses with this running order; each section sets the stage for one that follows.  In this way the information has a cumulative effect eventually presenting a fully integrated and well structured thought process as demonstrated by this sequence:

1. Background    4. Tactics    7. Budget
2. Objectives    5. Target Market    8. Next Steps
3. Strategy    6. Timing    9. Proposal Evaluation


Mighty Word Publishing
Online Christmas Campaign
Marketing Proposal


1. Background

•    Mighty Word Publishing performs strongly in the retail sector, both within the  independent sector and major retail chains
•    The company have yet to exploit sales opportunities provided by the internet, particularly during the peak pre-Christmas period.

2. Objectives

1.    To establish an online identity for Mighty Word Publishing
2.    To generate £100,000 of pre-Christmas online sales
3.    To raise awareness of our portfolio of writing talent

3. Strategy

The objectives will be achieved by:

1.    Designing and launching a full ecommerce website – www.mightyword.com

2.    Supporting the website with both search engine optimisation(SEO) and an online marketing campaign to include email marketing to boost awareness of our titles and authors to deliver a comprehensive viral campaign.

3.    Supplementing points 1 & 2 with a heavyweight sales promotion campaign aimed at delivering a pre-Christmas sales uplift.

4. Tactics

The campaign strategy will be executed by:

1.    Creating a fully interactive multimedia website using the written and spoken word plus online video to promote our latest authors and titles
2.    Maximising our online marketing through social and business networking sites – for example Ecademy, Linkedin, Bebo, Twitter and Facebook
3.    Offering a 10% discount for online orders, free Christmas gift wrapping and free gift delivery service plus a money-off voucher to stimulate post-Christmas purchases.

5. Target Market:
Primarily: A,B,C1/C2 Women 25-55yrs.
Secondary: All male & female gift purchasers across all age groups & socio-    economic sectors

6. Timing
•    Campaign start day will be 1 November

7. Budget
•    £25,000

8. Next Steps

1.    Gain management input & approval for campaign direction
2.    Gain detailed cost estimate for campaign elements
3.    Brief specialist web design & online agencies.

9. Proposal Evaluation

1.    Measure results against expectation – units sold & financial performance
2.    Selective telephone research to gain consumer & trade response


2. Writing Management Reports

The management report fulfils a different function.  These tend to address and evaluate company operational issues such as:

•    Market/Product Evaluations – where research and planning carry out a ‘S.W.O.T.’ analysis – Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats. These may relate to the company as a whole, its brands or individual products. A SWOT analysis would be a useful technique to evaluate any new commercial opportunity.

•    Project Updates – where management request a latest status report on ongoing projects.  This is primarily an information gathering exercise to keep management abreast of progress, issues and costs.  For instance, this may involve the installation of a new IT networking system or new machinery, in short any area that impacts upon the smooth running of the company.

•    Debriefing Reports – These reports provide a performance assessment of company activity.  This could reflect upon a marketing initiative or report on the results of company meetings – either internal or external.

In a moment you’ll see a mock debriefing report on the Mighty Word Marketing Proposal you’ve just read, to see how its outcomes are reported to management.

Writing these reports should keep within the theme of ‘Purpose–Clarity-Brevity’ where thought is given to communicating central pieces of information accurately and to the point. 

Think of report writing as an exercise in getting to the point quickly, providing essential information with supporting evidence and offering relevant insights to satisfy your readers.  Reports should be written objectively, giving the facts and with the minimum of personal opinion.  Your own take on events or outcomes can be included at the end of the report or you could create a ‘rationale’ section to explain or provide justification on any aspect.

Separate the written report from the supporting evidence.  Keep figures and charts as appendices.  However, be careful never to assume too much knowledge on behalf of your reader.  It’s far better to spend a few extra lines explaining a point rather than let your reader carry on in a fog of uncertainty.

View the following example as a structural guide. An actual debriefing report could have far more content – it is the section layout that’s important.  You don’t have to slavishly follow this layout.  You can think creatively and give further information to help the reader get mentally adjusted to your report.   Often the introduction section is used to set the scene so busy executives can quickly tune-in to your project.  To make it even easier you can detail the extent of the debrief using a subhead like “Scope of Report”.




Management Debriefing Report – Example

Mighty Word
Pre-Christmas Campaign
Management Debrief

1. Recap on Campaign Objectives – Terms of Reference

1.    To establish an online identity for Mighty Word Publishing
2.    To generate £100,000 of pre-Christmas online sales
3.    To raise awareness of our portfolio of writing talent






2. Management Summary – Campaign Performance

Achievements/Results

•    www.mightyword.com went online on 5th November with a fully
ecommerce package

•    Sales to the value of £90.000 were generated In the period from launch to the last posting date for Christmas

•    An additional sales revenue of £15,000 has been generated from post-Christmas redemptions of special 10% discount promotional vouchers, bringing a direct campaign income of £105,000

•    A post-campaign telephone research programme among consumers who had made purchases online revealed an increase in awareness of the Mighty Word portfolio authors

•    55% of consumers opted for the direct present mailing service with complimentary gift wrapping


Shortfalls/Issues:

1.    The one week delay in the website going online was caused by the late loading of content which impacted on sales performance.  This is directly responsible for the £15,000 shortfall in pre-Christmas sales.

2.    Complaints were received from both small independent booksellers and the main chains about our new online presence.  10 complaints were received in total.  The accusation was that Mighty Word, in selling direct to consumers, were taking away their sales.

3.    The campaign budget was overspent by £5,000 taking the campaign cost to £30,000.  This was partly caused by an underestimate of the online marketing costs - £2,000 and £3,000 extra for email marketing templates and ‘cleaning’ the list of email addresses.  However, the post-Christmas sales delivered an overall net-gain.

3. Campaign Summary

1.    Strategically the establishment of an online presence was overdue and will reap benefits in both increasing revenue and providing future promotional opportunities – see ‘Next Steps’ below.

2.    In future the website will include a ‘Directory of Stockists’ with contact numbers and email addresses to help overcome negative comments from existing stockists.


4. Next Steps – Future Marketing Action Plan

The website launch will create a total communication package of online and conventional offline marketing for Mighty Word.  The combination of these two elements will help to build business over the coming months by introducing themed events such as:

1.    January – New Year – New Talent – Introducing the work from our newest authors.
2.    February – Valentine’s Day Campaign – Focus on Romance – Authors & Titles
3.    March – Mother’s Day – Mighty Word selection of fiction titles.


5. Final Recommendation – ebook Downloads

It is recommended that a working party is set up to explore the income earning potential from ebook downloads.  This will give our customers the option to download digitally to their computers,
i-phones and the new handheld digital eBook readers.  


Debrief Report Ends
Report Writer’s Template

The Mighty Word debriefing report is designed to take you through a structural process and build a comprehensive report.  The following report template will help you prioritise and manage the flow of the presentation whether you’re writing a Commercial Evaluation, Project Update or Project debrief. 

Report Writer’s Template

Structural Elements    Preparation Notes
1.
Report Header

Title – Target Audience – Date

•    Be clear about who the report is aimed at
•    State date of writing and give any relevant campaign/proposal dates/action by Dates
2.
Background/Introduction/Contents

•    Be concise with background details to set the scene
•    You may like to open the report with a ‘key point’ review.

3.
Executive/Management Summary    •    Prioritise key points and communicate concisely
•    Lead with achievements/developments
•    Follow with any ‘issues’
•    Give a financial statement
•    Summarise outcomes
•    State supporting evidence
4. 
Report Criteria – Aims     •    Provide fuller details of report aims and achievements supported by charts & data


5.
Report Issues/difficulties    •    Detail issues and implications with an assessment of solutions
•    Provide sourced evidence to quantify issues/difficulties

6.
Recommendations & Financials    •    State recommendations and financial costs – input & output to indicate the projected net-gains
7.
Full Action Plan with Timing Schedule and    a final ‘Next Steps’ Summary    •    Prioritise key tasks by importance and urgency
•    Produce a timing plan and key date
Schedule.


3.  Letters

There are many types of letters.  Letters of complaint, ‘thank- you’ letters, letters for job applications, for accepting a job offer, for resignations and so on.  These tend to be of a functional nature.  The more difficult to write are letters of introduction to a new business prospect.  Here are some suggestions to help you get past the gatekeeper and on to the desk of the person you want to contact.  Many letters are screened and placed in the bin before the letter is even fully unfolded. These suggestions will improve your chances of success.

Letters of Introduction

Writing effective contact letters will gain business. In an email-dominated world of cyber static, the incisive use of a carefully researched, accurately targeted and well constructed letter has a better chance of cutting through, especially, if the purpose and benefits of the letter are clear and compelling.


Increase your chances of success

1.    Go for quality rather than quantity and tailor your message to a selection of chosen targets

2.    Do your research – find out about your target company, their market, their competitors and their issues

3.    Identify the correct person to contact – name, title, business responsibilities.  Try to gain extra insight into the character of the person you’re contacting.  Your target may have a business or social networking page – check it out

4.    Don’t assume the most senior person is the right person for that important first approach – find out who has the influence – it may be a tier lower than you’d expect

5.    Develop a proposal to generate business for your prospect – what benefit/s can you bring to the table?

6.    Think creatively about the nature of your communication – what will make you stand out in the morning mail?

7.    Don’t combine an introduction with a full-on sales pitch – take one step at a time and get the balance of the message right

8.    Use the letter as the opening gambit – as a means to gain a meeting or advance your cause in a positive way

9.    Always follow-up – via phone or email – don’t be nervous about making the first move.  Accept failure as the price for achieving success – keep going








How to Open & Close a Letter of Introduction – Ff or Ps?

‘Yours sincerely’ is the most widely used letter sign-off; but which is the correct term to use, ‘faithfully’ or ‘sincerely’?

Here are two memory hooks to help you remember the ‘correct’ opening and closing forms - Ff & Ps.
Ff
The first ‘F’ stands for formal.  If you’re writing using a title for instance ‘Dear Sir or Madam’ either to be businesslike or simply because you just don’t know the name of the person then the second ‘f’ is for faithfully.
Ps
On the other hand if you know the person’s name use ‘Ps’ as your reminder, ‘P’ stands for Person and ‘s’ for ‘sincerely’.





Example Letter of Introduction

Notice the text delivers the message crisply on a single page of A4.  The letter opens with the ‘point’ of arranging a meeting, goes on to explain the benefits, then closes with proposed action.

See next page for text:











Date:

Barnaby Wiggins
Business Development Manager
Wiggins Widgets
Widget House
24 Sleepy Hollow
Little Happening

Widgets and Gizmos Alliance Proposal

Dear Barnaby,

I’m writing to introduce my company, Universal Gizmos, and to request a meeting.  The aim will be to explore an alliance between our two companies for mutual benefit.

Wiggins Widgets have particular strengths in the design and marketing of innovative products for the children’s market.  Universal Gizmos has built a strong reputation for their range of products aimed at adults and have a new production facility.  An alliance would help us to break new ground in sales and marketing both at home and abroad with a united strategy.

I believe there’s a natural synergy between the quality and imagination of both our product ranges.  I enclose our latest Spring brochure and look forward to discussing the opportunities that lie ahead.

I will telephone you shortly to compare diaries and arrange a meeting.

If you’d like to get in touch as a result of this letter I can be reached on 0707 123 456

I look forward to meeting you
Yours sincerely
Guy Gizmo
Guy Gizmo
Business Development Manager – Universal Gizmos
Summary of Letter Writing Key Points

•    Guy had researched Barnaby’s name and title in order to speak to his correct opposite number – and having identified a person, he signed off using ‘Yours sincerely’.

•    Guy used just two first sentences to establish who was writing and what they wanted.  The closing lines repeat the request and action to be taken to arrange a meeting.

•    Guy immediately talks about the benefits of a commercial alliance.

•    By explaining his position simply and clearly, Guy added a clear purpose and improved his chances of being taken seriously.

•     Guy was not trying to sell anything.  He demonstrated his positive intentions by including the Spring brochure for information.

•    Notice that the last few sentences are not run together in paragraph form.  They have been written as separate statements to add emphasis.  The added benefit of separating these last lines makes your contact details easier to find and act upon by the recipient.

4. Emails

This purpose of this piece is to help you slice through spam filters and get your email message across.

Top Tips for Writing Effective Business Emails 

1.    Give as full a description as possible in ‘Subject’ section to state the purpose of the email and identify you as the sender of the email.

2.    Think about the person/s you’re sending to.  It’s easy to get so engrossed in writing the email content that you could overlook something which is inappropriate to someone on the address list.

3.    Don’t automatically click the ‘Reply All’ button – if you’ve received a response to an email it may be for your eyes only.

4.    If your email is the first time you’re contacting someone, adopt a traditional ‘letter’ text approach.  A formal approach shows respect.  A more informal style can follow for further exchanges.

5.    In case the recipient wants to print out your email to be filed, it can help to repeat to reinforce the email subject at the top of the message space along with the date of sending.  People are now asked to think about the environment before printing emails.

6.    Emails should be seen as confidential and private.  A legal note should be included to that effect along with a request to delete any email that has been wrongly received – (see email example below)

7.    Emails are read quickly – so get to the point swiftly and include any request for action in the first paragraph.  Use simple, clear language and a size of type that is easy to read.

8.    One subject for one email.  Avoid running different subjects together.  Separating subjects helps understanding in this fast moving environment.  New email, new subject heading.

9.    Some message systems show the first line of the text onscreen before it is opened. Make sure what you write is appropriate for your business.

10.Think about the problem of repeatedly replying to a received     email, adding new text to an original message. The original title     may no longer reflect the evolving message content and unless     you begin a fresh email the length will mean printing pages of     paper when you only want the latest exchange.
11.Use emails as a ‘cover’ note to any important or confidential     attachment. Emails are not suitable vehicles for transmitting     important company information or to detail reports or proposals. 

Example of Business Email Layout and Text

To:             This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  
cc:            This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Subject:    Guy Gizmo –  Widget & Gizmo Meeting Confirmation

12th November 2009
Confirmation of Widget & Gizmo Alliance Meeting
9.30am-12.00pm 14th December 2009.

Dear Barnaby,

A quick note to confirm our meeting at your offices on Monday 14th December at 9.30 am.
I will be accompanied by Peter P Nocchio -Head of our Wooden Toys Division.

We look forward to discussing our future plans.

Best regards
Guy Gizmo
Guy Gizmo
Business Development Manager – Universal Gizmos
Telephone: 0800 247 247  Mobile/Cell: 07084 127 234 Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 Please consider the environment before printing this email.
This e-mail may contain confidential and privileged information and is subject to copyright. If you are not the intended addressee please delete the message.  Please note that any distribution, copying or use of this information is prohibited.
If you have received this e-mail in error please inform us immediately by e-mail or telephone us on 0800 247 247 before completely deleting the message.


The ‘Poisoned Sandwich’ Email

Tom Evans, www.thebookwright.com reminded me about this technique.   A poisoned sandwich email is where bad news is sandwiched between two good bits of news.  For example:

Hi! Julian,

We cannot thank you enough for helping the sales team to smash this month’s target.
Your probationary period in sales is now over and unfortunately your position is surplus to requirements with the resultant 30 days notice.
However, should a position in sales become available you will have the opportunity to apply along with other applicants next year.

Merry Christmas

Ebenezer Scringe
Head of Finance
Take the Money & Run Ltd

5. Intranet Articles – Intranet vs. Internet

Writing rules vary between the Intranet and the Internet.  This is why.

The Intranet:

•    The Intranet is a closed-circuit communications media.  It is of interest to a particular group of people normally working for the same company with shared interests as co-workers

•    The Intranet is not a selling medium.  Its job is to inform, persuade and in some cases influence behaviour among its captive audience

•    The Intranet presupposes an interest and/or commitment to the information being released as the content could affect company and personal performance

•    The Intranet structure does not have a limited information width band.  It can be designed to reflect the workings of the company and feature the spoken word, sound & music recordings as well as video without transmission quality problems

The Internet

•    The Internet has the potential to attract a worldwide audience.  An audience without any assumed allegiance.  Estimates vary as to the length of time people stay on a site when they are in search mode.  The mouse is often clicked in less than 7 seconds to hasten the move to the next site.

•    The Internet is a competitive arena in sales and information with online marketing and SEO (search engine optimisation) going head to head to achieve the best rankings for their site owners.   A company intranet has no such concerns as it has its own captive audience.

Intranet Techniques & Styles

The Intranet is a private onscreen newsroom.  The style and content will be presented in the company image – probably following set brand communication guidelines.

Tips for Preparing & Writing for the Intranet 

1.    Use a size and typeface which is easily read on pc and laptop screens

2.    Adopt a scrolling mentality to page design and story writing – so a reader can continue to move their mouse to read down to absorb the news item without being diverted elsewhere

3.    Avoid clutter and provide a simple navigation guide with well signposted links to take you to associated/supporting information to the main article.

4.    Use headlines, subheads and straplines that telegraph the news point simply and easily.

5.    Use plain English and short sentences to develop a one-to-one personal relationship with an ‘approachable’ style that can be maintained over time.

6.    Use eye catching images and photographs with straplines describing who/what the visual images convey.

7.    Place the different page elements carefully – make sure the key tabs are visible on top of the page and the eye reads from top right to bottom left in a sweeping ‘S’ curve

8.    Use lists or drop down menus to show total content and help navigation

9.    Always check your facts and get someone else to proofread your piece.  Double-check any legal statements or political issues.

10.Before you start to write – immerse yourself in the story – gather     any supporting evidence and think of an interesting way to     present the item

11.Most importantly when you’re writing for the Intranet, search     for a personal story featuring your fellow colleagues and create a     distinctive welcoming tone-of-voice

12.If time allows, leave your first draft to return and rewrite later.      Nine times out of ten the article will be improved with a rewrite





6. Blogs

Crossing over from social to business media

The shrewd business person has two interconnected identities in social media and business networking.  As well as having a personal presence on the social networking sites, it’s an effective strategy to devote a separate profile page for your business life.  This is a valuable way to raise your own online business profile. Likewise researching business networking sites may reveal useful profile details about a potential business contact.  The background information listed online could give you an insight on the best approach to adopt when preparing a new business pitch.

What is a Blog?

The word ‘blog’ is short for ‘web log’.  Blogs are chronological postings of personal web diary entries, musings on life, of politics, of the human condition, in fact anything that you want to air.  Blogs share news, ideas and opinions. Writing a blog can turbo-charge your business website and become a fundamental part of your online marketing strategy by promoting your name and the company’s activities across the internet.

Action & Reaction

One of the most important features of a blog is the opportunity for readers to post replies directly underneath the original text.  Getting other people’s views and reactions to your post generates interest and attracts more people into your blogging circle of influence. When a blogger writes, it is an invitation for comment and feedback, to either challenge or support a point of view. 

The Benefits of a Business Blog

Content rich postings could be the mainstay of your viral marketing.  Freely sharing information and giving free advice to others in a worldwide community will establish your company as a trusted authority. Trust builds confidence. Confidence builds business.

The whole psychology of business is changing.  Your website and blogging activity is a continual advertisement for your company.  But be careful.  Overt selling is frowned upon in blogs.  A subtle approach based on ‘giving’ not receiving will produce solid results.  This may not happen overnight but it should happen if you are consistent.

Setting up a Business Blog

Blogging software produces an online interface that allows access to the internet either from a direct feed or from your website.  Blogs can also be hosted separately by specialist companies. You can download free software from companies like ‘Blogger’  www.blogger.com and ‘Wordpress’ http://wordpress.com

Blogging software creates a content management system (CMS).  The CMS allows the author to publish new posts, edit old ones and develop a personal template designed to create an individual identity.

Promote your Blog – Tag your Posts

Your business blog should not stand alone.  The invitation to catch-up on your latest blog should be present on your website and included in your email marketing campaign.

Tagging your posts, allows you to group together similar topics and stories.  This helps if someone wants to search for a particular subject in your blogging archive.  Someone searching could be that very someone who’d like to make use of your commercial services.  










7. Business ebooks – Total Communication Integration

The Interweaving of Communication Threads

In reaching this point, we’ve examined six out of the seven forms of business communication.  Each have heir own merits and applications but don’t think of them as six separate communication streams.  The six channels could all project the same image and style, representing your company as a cohesive entity. 

Hold that thought.  Now open your mind to another possibility; a seventh way to promote your business and its products in a fully integrated digital format: the ebook.


In preparation for writing this piece, I interviewed Sy Whitehall, Managing Director of www.myebook.com.

This short Q&A is the result.
Q:
The concept of the ebook is a new development in online communications.
What would you say are the main benefits to business?
A:
The ebook affords us the ability to operate in a much more direct approach towards our audience, target market, reader or potential client and get information in front of them like never before. It is the compilation of this content and the media within that got my attention. The term ebook has arrived into our every day vocabulary as rapidly as the term CD did in the early 80’s with the digitization of music. Essentially it is the same digitization for books as it was for music. The difference and a big difference is that these digitized books are capable of including many different forms of media.


Q:
How could a business optimise the use of an ebook?
A:
You now have the ability to include audio, video, text, animation and a host of other assets to convey your message to your audience in a way never before possible. We all understand the principle of the book. You start at one end and read to the other taking in the information as you go. This is exactly the same principle with the ebook. You place the content inside your ebook in the order in which you wish to impart it to your reader.

An ebook is a far more succinct and logical way of delivering your content. If people follow the theory of reading a book, they will have had the information imparted to them in the way you wanted them to receive it.

In business, we have to look long and hard at how we continue to deliver content and ebooks are certainly one of the most viable options.


Q:
Some people may think that creating an ebook is complex and expensive – is it?
A:
The ebook system I have been involved in developing for the last few years. It’s free and allows total control of the content within. You can restrict access and only let the people you wish to read it gain access. The integration of myebook into your current site and social systems allows you to get your word out easier and quicker than ever before.









Q:  How do you go about publishing an ebook?
A:
We’ve tried to make the whole process as simple as possible.  Go on to www.myebook.com and you’ll be able to take a tour around the site which explains the steps you need to take.  Just register and within minutes you can upload a pdf of your content and publish it on the internet.  Before your ebook goes live you can decide if you want to restrict the readership.  If you need help to create a book from scratch or want to add more media assets you can follow the ‘Build a Book’ instructions.

Promoting your Business Message

Another benefit of including ebooks into your communications strategy is that you can cut and paste your ebook URL and send it electronically to contacts and customers.

A practical way of using ebooks would be to promote new products.  For example, if you were launching a new cookery ebook, it could include sound and vision, like a mini television programme to explain and demonstrate recipes via your laptop in the kitchen.  By including an extra introductory piece is could also be used as a way to brief your sales teams.  As access can be restricted, the ebook could give company briefings, similar to video conferencing on a worldwide basis if desired.













Section 3 Summary

A New Reality

Writing for business today is an exhilarating challenge.  It is still important to master the basic communication skills of report writing and conventional techniques while embracing the interactivity of new media.  It’s no longer enough to think along ‘straight lines’.  Establishing and maintaining a presence on social and business networking pages and understanding the vital inter-connectivity of these criss-crossing strands of communication is the new reality. 

The myriad of choices we now enjoy reflect a paradigm shift in the way people think.
In business the expectation is to build commercial relationships and trust through sharing and co-operation. This underscores the need to develop personal skills in communication, even if you only meet your opposite number electronically, people still ‘buy’ people – so the more fluent you become the greater the returns.   

Section 3 Key Point Recap - Craft The Message to Suit the Media

•    Use the Writer’s templates to help shape your thinking and structure your arguments

•    Create new templates to suit documents you use most often

•    Ask a colleague to proofread your work – and play ‘Devil’s Advocate’ to question your preparation

•    Try to take a break after completing your first draft.  ‘Writing is re-writing’ is a phrase used in this context.  You’ll usually find a way to improve when you look afresh at a piece

•    Get to the point without appearing sharp or abrupt. This is especially the case when drafting emails that can be taken-the-wrong-way by the recipient


Section 4 – Punctuation, Spelling & Grammar

1. Punctuation & Spelling

A  Working Guide

This section is designed to dispel the dark arts of punctuation and hopefully guard against over reliance on spell check. The English language is constantly evolving.  Writers often use punctuation as an integral part of creative expression, for example switching to capital letters when someone is ‘shouting’.  This may not be grammatically correct but it certainly livens up the word on the page.

This section on punctuation is designed for more conventional usage.  This means that we’ll primarily concentrate on punctuation and words commonly used in business whether you ‘favour or favor’ UK or USA English.

The UK to USA spelling differences crop up mainly in words ending in IZE in USA English, that convert to ISE in UK English.  For example ‘prioritise’ and ‘prioritize’ or ‘nationalise and nationalize’.  Also the letter ‘U’ is included in many UK English words but is omitted in USA English, for example ‘humour/humor’, ‘colour/color’ ‘valour/valor’. 

Punctuation Marks Decoded

The Full-Stop, Full-Point or Period

•    At the end of sentences:
The single dot of a full-stop marks the end of a sentence that     doesn’t end in an exclamation mark or question mark.  The     point     at the bottom of these marks is the full stop that     triggers an     automatic capital letter in the next line when you’re using a     personal computer.



•    As 3 dots:
When you see three full stops together it means the reader is     expected to complete the flow of text in their head, or that     the writer has deliberately left a thought hanging for the reader     to complete.

‘The handcuffs snapped shut, the prisoner was dragged away     never to return. With a backward sneer of undiluted venomous     hatred Paul knew he could never count on it…’

•    Time:
am and pm – no full-points for a modern look and no spaces –     3am, 9pm

•    As one word sentences:
“Halt!”  “Stop!”  “No.”  “Goodbye.”

Notice the full point is directly after the word and ‘inside’ the speech marks.  The use of the exclamation mark reinforces a command but has the same punctuation effect. When writing documents it’s a good idea to vary the length of sentences and often the abrupt use of just one word adds drama.

The Comma

Commas are staging points in a sentence.  They allow the reader to take a heartbeat pause when faced with a long block of text, but they can also be used to add emphasis and stress to a piece. Commas can help to organise chunks of text into logical blo

Make your business card work hard for your business

If you’re given a rectangular waste of space masquerading as a business card whip out a pair of scissors, neatly shred it into a hundred pieces and throw them up in the air like a thousand missed opportunities.  Finish by staring into the startled eyes of the giver who is still reeling from this grievous, vicious attack on company property.

Explain that his company is guilty of committing one or more of the following crimes against effective communication:

•    Using tiny script that is totally impossible to read
•    Allowing graphic designers to produce a pretty but totally dysfunctional piece of work that’s not fit for purpose – business cards have a job to do for goodness sake!
•    Forgetting to say what your company does
•    Forgetting to say exactly what you do
•    Forgetting to give your name sufficient prominence
•    Using a weird non-standard size and shape that will not fit into anyone’s standard wallet, purse or business card case
•    Overlooking essential contact details that could span landlines, mobile phones, email or website URLs
•    Covering your card in a kind of plastic coating that will not allow anyone to write on the card (more on this below) and will bio-degrade sometime late into the next millennium, being bomb-proof.
•    Not using the back of the card at all – this is a hanging offence.

Back to Front – Total Business Card Communication

Alright, hanging may be a bit harsh.  But, why do only half the job and lose 50% of the impact!  If you’re an active networker, this next idea has two benefits.
First:
Use the flipside of your business card as a networking badge to fit inside a plastic wallet complete with a dinky lapel clip.  The top line of text should shout out what you are for example: Business Coach – Graphic Designer – Lawyer – Electrician – you get the idea. The centre spread is just for you and your name is 20 point type or even bigger.  The lower baseline could be dedicated to your company logo and cell/mobile number big enough to read and for people staring at your chest to scribble down and keep.
Second:
If you don’t network, then use the flipside to give more details about your services and benefits.
Both: Whether you network or not, a nice touch is to include a rectangular box or even a simple dotted line for you to write where and when you were given the card.  This will be of enormous help when you get back to the office and want to add these contact details to your email database.

I know what you’re thinking. ‘This guy has not mentioned giving a postal address or snappy slogan’ Do it if you want to.  My feeling is that if you’ve given all the essential digital contact avenues people can get your address from the web. Snappy slogans often make you feel good but make people wince.  Your call.


Wednesday, 24 March 2010 10:16

X-Treme - A short horror story of our times



He was cradled in the loving arms of unconsciousness, safe, secure, floating in a dark limitless oblivion, soundless, far away from the world of pain.   Inert, but his pulsing brain would not let him rest, would not let him surrender to the sweet siren call of warm endless sleep.  Signals were sent to all parts of his body, feint calls to each nerve end demanding a response – wake up! wake Up!  Limply, his senses slowly answered.  Electric probes of pins and needles washed down his body. Fingers and toes clenched and unclenched.  His nose drawing in overwhelming wafts of pine, sharp pungent,  natural smelling salts that stung him into awareness.  

He opened his eyes to obsidian blackness, no light, total darkness.  His legs and arms moved sideways and were immediately blocked.  He head jerked upwards, his forehead smashing, thumping into wood drawing blood.  His lungs started to pound, stale air gulped down in desperate mouthfuls.  He screamed as the dreadful realisation dawned.  In a mindless frenzy his fingernails clawed the wood, nails digging pine, then falling by his side snapped, broken, bloody. 

Silence.

At first he heard a scattering of pebbles fall from above, followed by incessant spadefuls falling with a deafening weight reverberating in waves through his solid pine box.  His fists smashed upwards in defiance. “I’m alive alive!” he cried, but no one was listening.

Silence once again. He was totally paralysed with fear. 

What good would shouting do?  Should he accept the inevitable or go down fighting?  Then something strange happened.  He felt the air in the chamber move around him, cool fresh air pumped from above began to chill his toes.  His left foot found an opening to a pipe cut into the wood.  Seconds later his blackness was suddenly lit by an intense pinprick of red light as a fibre optic cable and camera snaked into his nightmare.  They knew he was awake. They knew he was being driven out of his mind.  They knew, but they weren’t finished with him yet.

A plump grey-brown body, four legs and whiskers, razor-sharp teeth and eyes that could see in the dark fell through the pipe.  Then another, and another until the scratching, nuzzling rats began to lick and tear at his flesh, wriggling and jerking, intoxicated by human blood.  The sound of water dripping then flowing freely down the pipe distracted them only momentarily from their gory feasting.  The water rose inch by unstoppable inch.  He felt the slimy snaking bodies of freshwater eels brush his face. He didn’t react. He was too long gone for that. He’d retreated into a protective womb of peace.  He’d given up.  He just lay there waiting for the end, preparing to meet his maker.

They say you see a bright light in near-death experiences.  The light at the entrance to heaven.  His eyes stung as the searing white beam burned deep into his eyes, blinding and stinging. Then an uproar of voices a tumultuous cacophony.  The side of the coffin fell outwards on greased hinges, a microphone thrust into his face.  “Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Winner of X-Treme Reality ”

Wednesday, 24 March 2010 10:12

HEADHUNTER - A tale of the unexpected



“Damn” Rosie Sheppard screamed to the leaden sky venting her totally stressed rage bringing her blood pressure down below “Danger! veins about to burst!!”  

She cursed the rain, the freezing spray hurled from passing wheels.  Her normally calm demeanour snapped at the very same instant as her left heel splintered a tragic millisecond before Rosie reached the pavement.   She’d survived the early morning dice with death for another day when her momentum was instantly frozen like in a game of statues.  Her balance went completely, toppling backwards falling helplessly into the insane racetrack of morning traffic.   The squeal of tortured rubber, the slient shouts from onlookers their stunned faces mouthing slow-motion cries seemed comical to Rosie.  Unseen hands pulled her up and through the door of West One Recruitment.   “Monday bloody Monday,” thought Rosie as he finally made it to the safety of her desk.  Strange, she couldn’t work out why her workmates were running headlong to the front window.  Some starting to scream.

At 22, she’d left the University of East Anglia with a 2:1, and went on to pass her Human Resources exams.  Rosie regularly surpassed her monthly targets and was seen as a great prospect by West One.  She kept in touch with her mates from Norwich and looked forward to inflicting regular liver damage on their Friday night bingefests.  Work hard, play harder.  She loved it, not so keen on the Sunday detox though, and even less pleased with Monday mornings, especially when she’d booked an interview for 9.30am on 16th November, which gave her precisely one minute to prepare.  Actually, no time, as he was already there, sitting quietly across from her waiting for her to acknowledge his presence. His intelligent eyes flickering left and right taking in every movement, his lips holding an amused smile as he watched Rosie wrestle with the top draw to grab a pen.




“Sorry, about this.  A pig of a journey this morning”.  Rosie speaking the words automatically, a robot recording, not yet making any human connection with her first appointment of the day.

“Hey, no matter, take the time you need, I made it without any hold-ups at all, luck or what?”  The stranger spoke, his East London accent distinct but yet not rough or hard, but helpful and understanding, taking the pressure from Rosie making her feel at ease.  She smiled, taking in his dark blue suit, cream shirt, his blue and white polka-dot tie. Nice, clean appearance cropped dark hair, handsome yet rugged face, wide, dark-brown eyes which shone like polished glass.  Hmmm, good start.
“Right, lets get going”.  I believe you’re looking for a move up west.  I need to take some details.”  Rosie was suddenly all business, straight into the same groove of a thousand past interviews.

“Name, and Date of Birth”.  Her fingers hovered over the keyboard, tensing, ready to start the process, and as he didn’t respond immediately to her instruction with the rapid speed she expected, she paused and looked sideways.  He was holding a piece of stained yellowed and badly creased parchment, rolled and tied with a red ribbon.  Rosie, a master of ‘upside-down reading’ saw the title written in a fine hand ‘Sheppard Family Tree’.   He smiled as her forehead creased, her eyes a question mark.

“You could call it my CV”.  He answered, white teeth flashing in amusement.  He unlaced the ribbon and spread the parchment flat on her desk.  “Let me introduce myself.  Jack Sheppard, apprentice carpenter and petty thief.  Also known as Harlequin Sheppard, escaped from Newgate Prison four times.  Prostitutes, highwaymen, scoundrels and vagabonds were my best mates.  Born 1702 hung at Tyburn 16th November 1724, not thirty paces from where we are now, aged twenty-two.  200,000 people witnessed the journey from Newgate and my execution by the hangman’s noose.  I was famous, super-famous, bigger even than Posh & Becks!”



Her curled fingers froze above the keyboard.  Jokes were not on Rosie’s agenda.
“Very funny, very funny, very not funny”.  Rosie sneered, could this morning get any worse?

Jack continued, “We’re related; yeah really, I am your great-great- great- great- great grandfather.

“See!” Jacks index finger expertly navigating the journey down the chart, fording swirls of ink and long lines of names.

“I’m here, way back in 1724 and here you are in 2007.  You’re thinking I’m looking for a job but I’m not - I’m here to offer you a job.” Jack said, speaking slowly and deliberately, looking without blinking.

“You were interviewing me, but I’ve got a position open which could suit you down to the ground it’s with my outfit.   Spiritlevel is the name of our organisation.  It’s made up of ex-plumbers, builders, brickies, carpenters like me, DIY deaths, you get the idea – we thought the name had a bit of humour about it.  We are a kind of spiritual rescue service.   I don’t expect you to believe me – just yet – but if we slip out of the side door I’ll prove it to you.  It looks as though your fellow workers are otherwise engaged all looking the other way for some reason.  It’ll only take a second, you’ll be back before they notice you’ve gone.”

“You must think I’ve just fallen off the Christmas Tree”.  Rosie was the most cynical person she knew, and had that feint arrogance of a streetwise London sophisticate.  

“ Do you think I’m totally stupid?”  For a start, if anything you said was true and you were hung at Tyburn, how do you know about Posh & Becks?  How do you know we’re related and why did you choose today of all days to come into my chaotic life?” Rosie was performing as her dismissive best.



“Good call” Jack was encouraged by her disbelief, it showed a strong questioning attitude, all the better for what was to come. “Tell you what, first I need to explain a few basic facts about the meaning of life”.  Rosie suspected that Jack has given this particular speech many times before.

“ And I’m not talking about the Monty Python version!” Jack started to laugh at this own joke - a bad trait in a comedy performer.  “You see we lead two lives.  One where you wear a body, like a suit of clothes.  Your inner-self peers out the holes in your eye sockets to take a look around at the world.  You feel the rain on your face, the wind in your hair; smell the smokey garden leaves burning in autumn, the crisp clean taste of Pinot Grigio on your lips.   “The other life” Jack was perfecting his timing for this second part. “ Is where you shed your skin and join us other flies-on-the-wall, outside looking in.  We see and understand the real world, but we don’t have to take aspirin for a hangover or come down with flu, or in my case, cholera, typhus, dysentery and the Black Death!”

Jack had this chuckle which spread warm feelings like a convector heater all around him.

“We see all the changes, the way people dress, the digiboxes, the different styles of music, can’t understand all that Rap music stuff. We see it all but at a different pace from a different perspective.  We can focus on say, World War I or watch the latest entrants to the 2006 UK Music Hall-of-Fame in splendid isolation without paying to get in!  Sometimes, we can even take a daytrip back to the material world to see and be seen by people we know.  I did this with those corrupt bastards at the Old Bailey who sentenced me.  Drove them mad.  But what a laugh, what larks!  It was a like Charles Dickens’ ‘Christmas Carol’ but for real - with deadly consequences for those with sods, weak hearts, scared them to death, literally.”




Jack’s body laugh had him nearly doubled-up crying with laughter. He stopped as quickly as he started, composing himself; he left the 18th Century and snapped back to the 21st.

“Anyway”, Jack said taking a fresh lungful of air. “I left my mischievous, naughty self in the past, made up for my mistakes, and got this new assignment and that’s why I’m here.”

Rosie slowly became aware of a total stillness around her.  No ringing phones, no loud voices, no road noise, just the sound of Jack’s calm, reassuring voice filling her consciousness.  She was intrigued.  Well, she’d been thinking about her next career move.  Okay, this was not quite what she had in mind, but hey, a break from the Monday morning office routine would do her good.  She reached for her coat and accepted the invitation.

“C’mon then, show me – but I must be back for my next appointment at eleven.”
Jack paused by the door.  “This won’t take long, a mere fragment of time.  You’ll get a glimpse of my work then you can decide whether the time is right to make a move.” 

Jack held out his hand.  They slipped over the threshold, and back in time. Jack’s blue suit switching to a torn stained leather jacket, brown breeches, calf length boots and a three-pointed hat.   Rosie’s chic office suit became a faded cotton dress, a pair of thin leather shoes squelching in the stinking putrid mud, a brown woollen wrap pulled tight around her shoulders.  They were walking amid a huge crowd, around them, people jostled to reach the front, elbows striking ribs, shoulders shrugging the weak aside to get the best view of the prison cart lumbering up the last slope toward Tyburn on the final stretch of its two and a half hour journey from Newgate.  The hopeless, hapless, convicts, wide-eyed with fear grateful for the anaesthetic of strong ale from Inns along the way.   Condemned men easing the pain of their last moments.



Jack Sheppard waved to the adoring crowd.  He stood at the front of the cart accepting the cheers and well wishes from the rabble.  Women pressed forward throwing flowers and blowing kisses.  As the cart drew alongside Rosie, the cart stopped.  Two sets of identical dark brown eyes locked together in silent understanding, one in the cart the other holding Rosie’s hand. 

Rosie saw the hangman’s noose of filthy worn matted hemp, the hooded executioner preparing for yet another day’s work.  She wanted to vomit, her stomach about to erupt but just as that moment of involuntary release something sailed over her head.  Her arm shot out in a lightning reflex action catching the yellow rose, flung from the man about to die.

“ Enough for now.” Jack broke the gaze with his Tyburn bound self and took her arm leading her away from the seething crowd.

“That was a little taste of things past, but now you’ve work to do.  Look at it as a trial period to see how you fit in.  No stress, no bother.  I need the help of a living, breathing human being to do a little convincing, a little persuasion.”

They walked passed a makeshift kitchen.  It’s amazing how a good hanging makes folk hungry.  Bad for those on the gallows tree, great for business.  Acrid smoke stung their eyes and engulfed them as another portal opened.

The smoke thinned to reveal a wide expanse of short grass, edged by massive camouflaged hangers bordering on an endless cement runway.  “ Right this is it, RAF Bradwell Bay in Essex.” Jack was looking around trying to pinpoint the position of the crew he’d come to meet.  “Ah! There they are.”  The Mosquito pilot and navigator were sitting on 40 gallon oil drums chatting away, happily lost in conversation, trying to decide how long it would take to land, have a bath, a hot meal and get down the Dog & Duck in time for a pint and a game of darts.  Their voices carried over the airfield to Jack and Rosie as they drew closer.




“Now, this is a tricky one.” Jack began his preparation.  “This is Flight Lieutenant John Latimer and Sergeant Wilson, they’ve been together for six months and flew on countless sorties over occupied France. What they don’t know, is that a Messershimdt 109 was circling above the aerodrome, lying in wait for planes returning to base.  It was a highly effective Luftwaffe strategy.  After the rush of adrenalin in combat, crews relaxed as they got close to the airfield and saw the distant lights of the airfield winking a welcome home. 

Naturally, their attention wandered from the heat of battle to the promise of the night ahead.  It only took an instant for the armour piecing shells to pierce and rip through their fuel tanks.  Only a second for the plane to erupt in a ball of fire, their uniforms and skins melded to bone.  They didn’t know what hit them.

And that is the problem.  The attack was so sudden, so unexpected, so complete, that Latimer and Wilson had no warning, no time to die.  They’re convinced that they are still on the Darts Team; they can buy five fags and a pint of beer and still get change from a shilling.  On top of it all, Sergeant Wilson is certain he’s going to get lucky with Lucy behind the bar tonight.  It’s our job, or rather your job to put them straight, make them that realise times have changed and they are no longer in the land of the living but have now joined of a totally different squadron in the sky”.

So rapt were they in conversation, that Jack and Rosie were standing right by them before they realised.  The shock on their faces was priceless; the sight of Rosie was a picture.  She was now in her office outfit, white blouse, dark suit, wavy chestnut hair, stunning dove grey eyes, looking like a young Liz Taylor.  They were speechless.

“ Good evening gentlemen”.  Rosie spoke softly, keeping her voice deliberately slow to make an even greater impact.  They were all attention.  She held the moment in a heartbeat pause before speaking.




“ Guys, I really fancy a lager, then a couple of Tequila slammers followed by a tasty Chicken Tikka, and unless I’m mistaken you two look as though you could murder a pint down the Dog and Duck”.   By the look on their faces Rosie was speaking in tongues - they couldn’t understand one word, but they finally got the gist, after the gesture of a hand holding a glass and a twist of the wrist.  All four began the short walk from the airfield to the pub.

Apart from the Public Bar being knocked into the Saloon, the layout was pretty much as it was in 1943.  But there were subtle changes and non-too subtle changes.   A picture of Lucy on her wedding day arm in arm that smarmy bastard from the Ops Room was pinned behind the bar.  Their first-born child, now in his forties, was pulling pints, his bloated belly and almost perfectly circular face ruddy from drinking the profits.  He was shouting at someone playing the ‘Who wants to be a Millionaire’ game machine, all Tarrant and flickering lights.  It was just as Rosie had hoped.

They hovered behind the clever clogs trying not to put him off.  They read the questions and heard the clever dick answer. 
‘What’s the name of the First Person to walk on the moon?’ - Yep, Neil Armstrong.  ‘

Where does the Channel Tunnel come ashore in England?’ -  Easy Folkstone.

‘What was the top flying speed of the Word War II Mosquito fighter-bomber? 

Latimer and Wilson yelled in unison -  “380 mph!!!!”

They were jumping up and down, really getting into it, but not realising exactly what was going on, unaware of Rosie’s plan, the significance of the last question not striking home.






The thin white-haired man, his Silk Cut burning unattended in a nearby ashtray, pressed 380 mph and moved on to the next question. Up it came on the machine

‘What type of aircraft shot down Flight Lieutenant John Latimer and his navigator Sergeant Willie Wilson over RAF Bradwell Bay airfield on 17th May 1943?

Now, there’s always a millisecond delay from the brain registering information and the message reaching the rest of the body and startling the eyes.  There’s a brief pulsing expansion of the eyeballs as understanding dawns.   The knowledge hit the airmen simultaneously.

They reeled as if they’d received a crushing punch from a heavyweight boxer.  They crumpled. The air sucked from their lungs.  They reached for each other, arms shooting out, grabbing shoulders pulling them together in one last embrace.

The white haired man looked at the options on the screen, Focke Wolf, Messershimdt 190 or Heinkel.  John and Willie guided the white haired man’s index finger for their final answer; they whispered “ Messershimdt 190”.

Rosie hugged them close.  Jack whispered, “ Look, this is not bad news.  You can now leave that cold, godforsaken airfield for good. Leave the past behind.  And anyway, who wants to live in a world where fags are a fiver and beer nearly three pounds a pint!”  The airmen pondered then nodded. They were all in agreement.  “Let’s get out of here for good.”

Her workmates had rushed to the window when they heard the squeal of tyres and crash of metal.   They screamed at they saw Rosie lifted high into the air and flung onto the pavement, her Starbucks cup spraying hot Latte.  The car swerved to avoid her; the second the heel snapped and she had started to fall backwards into the oncoming traffic.  It was just a glancing blow.  She lay, eyes closed and unconscious for only a second, then groggy and dazed she started repeating over and over, “damn, damn, damn”.



Fellow commuters helped to her to her feet.  Rosie chucked away the broken shoe, smoothed down her coat and checked her nails to make sure they were all in one piece.  She was feeling better already.  Rosie finally made it to the safety of her desk and flicked open her desk diary to check the time of her first appointment for Monday 16th November.

As the page turned, a crushed yellow rose fell from the page, spun absurdly slowly through the air and settled perfectly on the floor.

Ends.
Word count: 3,058

Jack Sheppard (4 March 1702 – 16 November 1724) was a notorious English robber, burglar and thief of early 18th-century London. Born into a poor family, he was apprenticed as a carpenter but took to theft and burglary in 1723, with little more than a year of his training to complete. He was arrested and imprisoned five times in 1724 but escaped four times, making him a notorious public figure, and wildly popular with the poorer classes. Ultimately, he was caught, convicted, and hanged at Tyburn, ending his brief criminal career after less than two years. The inability of the notorious "Thief-Taker General" Jonathan Wild to control Sheppard, and injuries suffered by Wild at the hands of Sheppard's colleague, Joseph "Blueskin" Blake, led to Wild's downfall.
Sheppard was as renowned for his attempts to escape justice as for his crimes. An autobiographical "Narrative", thought to have been ghostwritten by Daniel Defoe, was sold at his execution,[1] quickly followed by popular plays. The character of Macheath in John Gay's The Beggar's Opera (1728) was based on Sheppard, keeping him in the limelight for over 100 years. He returned to the public consciousness in around 1840, when William Harrison Ainsworth wrote a novel entitled Jack Sheppard, with illustrations by George Cruikshank. The popularity of his tale, and the fear that others would be drawn to emulate his behaviour, led the authorities to refuse to license any plays in London with "Jack Sheppard" in the title for forty years.




Gather round.  This is an almost true story.  The names and places have been changed to protect the guilty from the Police, and from themselves.  It starts as a piece of innocent criminality, but finishes in a different place altogether.   Ready for a trip to a not so quiet rural retreat? Then I’ll begin.

The three of them were deep in thought.  They sat as they always did on a Wednesday night, at the corner table of ‘The Poacher’s Moon’, out of earshot of other regulars, swathed in smoke, hands clasping their pints and set on coming up with yet another idea of ‘How to Make Money’.   Tonight was a night they’d never forget.  They couldn’t guess the twists and turns the future would hold.   A future they’d want to stop, delete and start again.

I say ‘deep in thought’ but in truth, a brain cell was active inside the mind of only one of them that night.  Any thoughts inside the heads of JoJo Rudge and Matt Tyler would have died of loneliness.  They sensed something was up when Deacon stopped moving.  He sat frozen, paralysed, his eyes staring into his pint fixed and unfocused, his breathing deep and rhythmic.  Then the faintest twitch of his left upper lip, followed by a tiny movement of his neck, his head ever-so-slowly sweeping from left to right, his eyes  unfocused then snapping back with a zap into reality, insanely bright, the second before his body erupted, from total stillness into frenzied movement.



“I’ve got it!  What a beauty. What a beast! This is pure gold!  It’s sex and it’s money and it’s great, what a cracker!”  He was six foot, fourteen stone of pure adrenalin and devilry. He was up there.  He was flying.  Surfing a wave of his own electric energy.

“So, you like it then?” Matt ventured timidly, moving a couple of inches of greater distance from the human whirlwind that had just struck Sussex.

“C’mon spill!” JoJo was trying to calm everyone down and avoid the looks from the public bar and Sarah the landlady, her giant hand gripping and squeezing the Courage Best pump as she shot them a dismissive glance, immediately sensing something bad was happening, for as she lived and breathed, no good would come of it.  She, of course, was right.   She could guess that ‘violence’ would not be long in joining ‘sex’ and ‘money’ as the oldest threesome since snakes, Eve and apples in Eden.

Deacon was thinking of another kind of threesome altogether.  Moments before his temporary paralysis, he’d been leafing through the well-thumbed, ink-smeared pages of ‘The Sunday Sport’.  A fine cleavage shot of a magnificent pair of 38DDs, his stimulation and inspiration.  “This is it”. Deacon, lowered his voice and took a second longer between each of those three little words to telegraph the fact that something momentous was about to land and they should get ready for impact.  He spoke in a whisper.



“There are some dirty, filthy, disgusting, perverts out there and we’re going to love every single wonderful one of them!  We’re about to give these poor specimens of humanity a reason to live, a home, a meeting place, a club, a sense of belonging to something even more depraved than themselves.  We’re about to create a fetish heaven on earth.  Whether you’re into PVC, rubber, sadism, masochism, bondage, whipping spanking, whether you’re into swinging or orgies - we’ll be your friends!”  Deacon was evangelical his voice growing in volume – he’d seen the light and it was coloured bright red.

Deacon’s heart rate was now pumping blood to supply a complete Casualty Ward. “We’re going to create ‘The Kinky Klub of Great Britain’ or K.K.U.K for short or KKUK.com or rather KKUK.CON!  And what a Con, it’s going to be”.  The boys knew better than to question their leader head-on but chose the rapt, attentive wide-eyed-and-waiting approach until they grasped exactly what was to be done, and how much it was likely to cost them.  £200 each as it turned out.

“Right, hand me that copy of ‘The Sunday Sport’ and let’s get going”.   Deacon zeroed in on the ‘Classifieds’ and started to fill in the particulars.  “Problem! We need a postal address and my Lillian, your Jane or your Sally, will not take kindly to unsolicited mail dropping through the letterbox - especially as we’re the ones who are doing the soliciting!”  He loved that one. “ I think we should ask £20 to join K.K.U.K for all that juicy disgusting debauchery.”  He became so totally engrossed with the advert that he hadn’t realised his lips were coated with biro ink where he’d put the pen in his mouth the wrong way round, making him look like a giant blue-lipped lizard.  
“How about this.”  He read aloud, liking his own style with every word.  “Come One - Come All!  That’s the headline.  “ Join the Kinky Klub of Great Britain - If you like way-out sex, have a kink and want to link, send us your £20 joining fee for full membership, a monthly newsletter and details of our next big Kinky Klub Nite – rumpy-pumpy-munchy.  True fun-lovers only!”
JoJo and Matt were obsessed with the blue tongue.  They were expecting it to flick out to reveal a doomed insect.  They had to admit the advert was quite good too.  Deacon’s work done for the day.   “Right boys I think it’s your round”.  To be fair, he deserved it.

Time passed.  Over a week went by, and they parted with the £600 advertising fee and paid for a box number at a dead-letter business address – Box 69 - what else?  ‘The Sunday Sport’ arrived the following weekend.  There it was, ‘The Kinky Klub of Great Britain’ in grubby glorious newsprint.  The game was on.  The ball in-play.  They knew it would take a little while before they could expect any response, so they waited for a week, then two.  And when they couldn’t wait any longer, they paid a kid at the Job Centre to visit the letter-drop address and pick up the mail, avoiding any connection with themselves.  Ten letters perhaps twenty at the outside was their estimate.   A bulging sack-full waited for them.  Applications, letters and cash from all over the country, enough to cover the cost of ‘The Sunday Sport’ and pay for several pints. The education was priceless -astonishment, excitement, hilarity and disgust in equal measures.  You see, they didn’t ask for the letters, these were personal outpourings from their soul mates in sex at the Kinky Klub.  The weeks passed and more and more arrived.  Thousands of pounds, I mean thousands and all for nothing.  For there was never, ever, going to be raunchy, racy, weekends of unbridled hedonism.  Nope.  Just the gentle swelling of three bank accounts.

Let me take a break here, and tell you about ‘The Poacher’s Moon’.  The mark above the chiselled beam of the front door dated 1656.  The pub was then the haunt of scoundrels and highwaymen – so nothings changed, just the same as today - highway robbery still a mainstay of the community.  The n’re-do-wells were the same - they just wore modern clothes.  ‘The Moon’ was set apart in an isolated hamlet, tucked away just off the main road to London and was a key stopover of the smuggling trade for over a hundred years.  Contraband was rowed ashore near Shoreham, the barrels of fine French Brandy, Tobacco and Jamaican Rum then loaded on carts bound for Southwark.  ‘The Poacher’s Moon’ was the overnight stay.

So much for the history lesson, but there’s a reason for a pause in the story.  If you looked carefully at the far end of the saloon bar you’d see some wooden pigeon holes, all scarred with initials carved and marked from years of continuous use.  They were kept clear, not full of darts or chalk for the Pool Table, not clogged with packets of Porky Scratchings, but open and ready to take messages, letters and secret notes from the pub regulars to warn friends, expose a snitch, tell of undying love or predict an untimely death.

The boys had managed, God knows how, to keep things quiet, although the more observant members of the Public Bar had noticed Deacon, JoJo and Matt quietly improving their minds by reading letters from abroad – obviously from distant relatives.  They grimaced at bad news or sneered at something distasteful or laughed at a joke or two.  All normal, everyday stuff.   Wrong.  The boys were broadening their worldly education, but with knowledge comes danger.

It was a Friday night.  The bar was packed.  For Ricky Robinson it was his first sip of the first pint, a moment of pure pleasure.  Carrie, his beautiful young bride lifting her first Smirnoff Black Ice to those welcoming full lips. It was Rick’s Friday escape from the grease and grime of the garage, his weekly change from mechanic to matinee idol.  As fate would have it, JoJo was really pissed off.  He’d been hunting for his brand new M.O.T and couldn’t find it anywhere.  He was just about to give up when his fingertips brushed against a crumpled piece of paper, stuffed down an inside pocket.  Success!  Had he not found the paper, the connection would never have been made.  A connection that changed lives.

JoJo, pleased with finding his M.O.T, spread it out on the table being careful to move the glasses and ashtrays out of the way to make space. He began flattening the crumpled paper with the edge of his right hand.  To this day he can’t remember when it hit him.
He recognised the writing and signature on the M.O.T.  There was no mistaking it.  The man at the bar, so smooth, so handsome with that girl who made JoJo go weak at the knees.  He’d seen Rick’s writing before, somewhere else, but where? 

As usual Deacon and Matt had brought a couple of KKKlub letters to the pub as entertainment.    JoJo was not in the Jeremy Paxman league in the brain department, but he did have a decent memory.  Tell me, what’s the odds of JoJo remembering a letter to the KKKlub and recognising the handwriting and remembering the contents of one letter out of the hundreds stacked in his own garage – the answer, most unlikely.   It was recent, so recent that the letter was not in his garage; it was in Deacon’s pocket, pressed between a couple of swingers and a naked fire-eater.

In a village like theirs, news travelled fast.  The boys knew that Ricky Robinson had been at war with his boss, complaining about working conditions and generally causing trouble.  They also knew that Ricky owed Gerald Sinclair £800 and had not paid up. The boys owed Gerry a favour.  You do the Maths.  It’s simple as that – no emotion, no judgement – no involvement with the ‘rights and wrongs’.  By closing time, the letter to the Kinky Klub of Great Britain was tucked inside a fresh envelope and placed by an unseen hand into the pigeon post at ‘The Poacher’s Moon’.   It would fly to its destination. 

Ricky and Carrie were bathing in the afterglow when his mobile pinged a message alert.   The lovers, bodies glinting with a sheen of soft sweat, didn’t move.  Rick’s hand didn’t reach for his Sony Ericsson.  He was still waiting for his beating heart to resume its natural rhythm after their role-playing climax.  Carrie as a Page 3 Model.  He, as the man behind the camera.  She, losing herself in the moment, wantonly turning soft porn hard.  His arousal monumental.  They held each other close, arms and bodies joined as one.  They slept a blissful sleep.

The Sony was insistent.  Beep, ping, beep ping.  The machine demanding an answer.  He read the text message in the dark, the glow of the screen impersonally spreading the news of his downfall.   Just letters making words, words making sentences, sentences making mischief.  His hidden secret revealed.  It took a few moments to work it out.  He was reading his own words, a text of his own text.  His mind reeled.  How could his private words sent in confidence be staring up at him, betraying him, exposing him - and his gay lover?

Saturday merged with Sunday, the pinging repeating and repeating, each time another sentence taken from his letter, another dagger stab, another slicing cut.  Each message as anonymous as the last.  Who was doing this?  Who knew the truth to wreck his marriage and ruin his life?

Monday morning clocking-on.  The answer waiting with unfeeling eyes.  “ A moment of your time, Rick – before the start of another week in our little fun factory.   Time to talk I think”.  Gerry Sinclair, a cat with overflowing bowlfuls of double cream.  Gerry having the greatest time just could not resist it – the remark that sealed the source of the messages.

“So, how was Brighton this weekend – did you have a ‘spanking’ good time with Michael?”   His face a picture of vengeful, rosy, mocking mirth.  “ Look, I’m a reasonable man, quite open minded – but not that open.   Pay me the £800 you owe me by the end of the week and you’ll have an extra piece of original personal paperwork in your pay packet on Friday.  If not, you’ll be finished”.  Gerry spat that last word with malicious intent.

Now change places with Ricky for a second.   Feel his rage.  Feel his total impotence.  He’s trapped and he knows it.  Run through yet again all those frustrating ‘why’ questions he’d lived with since first seeing that threatening glow from his Mobile as the text screen flickered its taunting message.  Why did he continue the relationship with Michael?  Why did he write the letter in the first place?  What on earth was he thinking? He has a beautiful wife, a lovely house, a steady job – what were his options, what could he do?  Pay the money in the hope that Gerry would wipe the slate clean?  Leave the village, take Carrie and start afresh somewhere new – Canada, Australia?  Retrieve the letter then leave without paying a penny?  Keep quiet, and plan a calculated and chilling revenge to be taken cold at sometime of his careful choosing?

In the Movies, on TV, you’d expect the cornered victim to suddenly transform into a strapping man of action.  Bruce Willis invading Sussex.  No, this is not the Movies.  This is real life.  A mortgage to pay.  A job to keep.  A wife to please.  “I’ll have the money by Friday” Rick limply, pathetically, surrendered, trying to keep his voice level, trying to keep some self-respect, feeling crushed, feeling like a beaten, whining dog.  True to his word, £800 in £10s and £20s were counted by Gerry on the Thursday evening, taken and placed in the safe with an accountant’s briskness – purely business.  The debt paid, his side of the bargain to follow the next morning.  And it did.  The original letter folded and placed in his pay packet as agreed. Relief on one side.  Money in the bank on the other.  A slate, not clean but terminally stained with resentment.

A resentment that festered, Ricky hating the power Gerry had over him.  Yet Gerry seemed okay.  He treated him the same as always.  The transaction was done.  Gerry had moved on.  No animosity, everything back to normal.  Rick on the other hand couldn’t help himself, he returned to his old workplace self.  Arguing with fellow workers, questioning decisions taken by Gerry on work rotas or weekend working.  Generally being a pain, an aggravating thorn in his side.

A month had passed since the letter burned, the scattered ashes of his past life blown away, but it seemed to Gerry that nothing had really changed.  Ricky was reverting to type.  A quiet word was needed. 

The workshop was about to open for the day. Ricky had arrived early and was quietly working on a piece of stainless steel tubing, a new connecting rod between two lengths of hydraulic hose for an Aston Martin.  “What is it about spots and leopards?”  Gerry’s voice sneering, so close Ricky could feel his breath and smell the garlic. “ You’ll never learn, not your type, you had the chance to put the past behind you – but you’ll never change.  Forgive and forget that was my motto.  Notice that I said ‘was’ not ‘is’.  You don’t really think I’d give you the original letter without the insurance of some nice crisp copies do you – copies to keep you in-line and on-the-hook?”  Gerry let the threat hang in the air.


Red mist exploded in Ricky’s mind.  His reason shot to pieces, his body a spinning, unthinking weapon, a hate-filled avenger.  His left hand gripped the hollow steel rod, he swivelled off his right foot, turning with furious martial-art momentum, his forearm shooting out with lightning force to pierce Gerry’s windpipe, the sharpened steel cutting cartilage with terrible ease as it ripped through skin and tissue, blood and air jetting through the silver rod.   Gerry’s startled eyes bulged, his lungs were rasping, his throat wheezing and gurgling, his body jerking with insane spasms pulled like a manikin puppet dancing on invisible strings.

In an instant it was gone.  The mist cleared leaving the twitching injured body writhing in the oil and dirt. Ricky could not believe what he’d done.  Not comprehending the violence of the wild creature buried deep inside his soul, he grabbed the phone and screamed for help. 

Flashing blue lights filled Matt’s rear-view mirror.  The ambulance carved its way through the morning traffic at speed and gaining on him fast, Gerry strapped to the stretcher bound for A&E.  It was Matt’s turn to check on the Monday KKKlub mail after another advert in the Sunday papers.  He was due to meet their go-between at 9.30am and retrieve the latest haul of Kinky Klub applications.  This was definitely the most successful scam to date.   ‘Dire Straits’ were so right – ‘Money for nothing and your drinks for Free’.   Glorious.   Matt was just thinking it was too good to be true, when he realised it was.  Standing by the side of the road waving him down was the ‘kid’ – they still weren’t on first name terms.



“Turn around and drive away – the place is crawling with the Law.  They’re looking for anyone connected with a thing called The Kinky Klub of Great Britain. Readers are complaining they’re sending money and getting nothing back.  Apparently, even perverts have rights!”   The kid grinned, grabbed his wages from Matt and was gone, disappearing in a swirling cloud of early-morning car exhaust.

Weeks later, Matt and JoJo were completing a car insurance claim form.  Deacon was checking the form of a different kind - the 2.30pm at Lingfield and deciding between ‘Southern Lad’ and ‘Chance Encounter’ both at odds of 33 to 1.  Apparently, some kids had smashed a rear window and thrown fireworks into their garage causing considerable fire damage.  The carefully executed ‘fire’ destroyed all links with the Kinky Klub – leaving not a trace, all the mailbags now in ashes.
PO Box 69 was shut unexpectedly and no one could remember who was responsible for opening it in the first place.  Memory banks wiped clean.  Somehow, a rare classic Triumph TR3 housed in the garage was burned to a crisp and a total write-off.   The car was valued at £15,000 – strangely enough, a figure divisible by three.

Gerry spent two weeks in hospital, making a full recovery. He took a short holiday in Ibiza and never returned.   Perhaps deciding blackmail was a dangerous business.  The Police accepted his injury was an unfortunate

workplace accident – no charges were brought.  Ricky?  Well, he was standing by the bar, Carrie raising a Smirnoff Black Ice to those delicious lips.  Ricky looked across at Deacon, JoJo and Matt, his gaze lingering on a crumpled copy of The Sunday Sport.  He started to think.  Realisation dawned.  Deacon looked up and slightly raised a hand in greeting.   An excuse for a smile accepted the truth and posed the question – what now?  Peace or War?
Ricky returned the gesture.  His raised hand, an open palm of peace sealed the past into history.  Sleeping dogs.  Let them lie. 


Ends.

How to Write an Effective 60 Second ‘Elevator’ Business Pitch

You’re at a networking event or a seminar/conference/exhibition or trapped in a proverbial ‘elevator’ and have the chance to make a great first impression.  What do you say to promote your business and gain a new business client?  60 seconds is all you’ve got to make an impact and the clock is ticking.

But, how long is 60 Seconds?  The answer- Is between 150 and 200 words.


Knowing the approximate number of words immediately allows you to think of time in terms of parcels of facts and information.  You can break down time into bite-size chunks and craft your message into an effective mini-presentation.  One of the great benefits of preparing an ‘elevator pitch’ is that it demands an accurate and objective assessment of your business and the benefits you will bring to a new customer.

When you’re put on the spot your inner voice can calm you down and say:
“Don’t freeze, you’ve done your homework, you’ve rehearsed, you’ve prepared, you’re ready”.  Why? Because you’ve followed a guide like the one below it will make every second count.


The 60 Second Template – Words by the Second

A Guide to Successful Business ‘Speed’ Pitching.

1. Your name, company name & what is your role or function?

Approx 10 seconds. – 30 words      

2. What are your unique selling points – what makes you different – Why should I listen to you?

Approx 15 seconds – 45 words      

3. What benefits will your organisation contribute to help a potential client?

Approx 20 Seconds. – 60/80 words      

4. Ask whether they or someone they know would be interested in learning more/receiving a follow-up email/arrange a meeting

Approx 10 Seconds. – 30 words      

5. Ask for their business card and give them yours

Approx 5 Seconds – 15 words

When you've finished preparing the first draft, think of ways you can improve it based on including any latest developments or connect your pitch to the event you are attending to create a relevant link of interest to those who you're speaking to.

Good luck - keep rehearsing and developing your skills.  It'll will avoid you 'going blank' when put on the spot!

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