Talking Chairs
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13 quotes to share with your marketing-c...

Sometimes, a great quotation is all you need to get inspired. Whatever form your department’s shared board takes—an idea board on Pinterest, a marker board in the conference room, a bulletin board in the break room, or a channel on Slack—here are a few great quotes about writing to share with your team: “A sentence should never be cruel and unusual.” —William C. Burton, attorney “We are masters of the unsaid words, but slaves of those we let slip out.” —Winston Churchill “Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.” —Ray...
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20 phrases writers will never utter

Whether it’s because we write for a living or because we write in a corporate environment, corporate communicators have idiosyncrasies. We balance arbitrary demands of clients and executives with the need to craft clear and concise messages. We argue that lazy corporate verbs such should be banned from our company publications. We correct grammar in the books that we read out loud to our kids. We catch typos everywhere—even when we’re not looking for them. In deference to every eccentric writer out there, here are 20 phrases no writer would ever say: “The hyphen...
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How do you define collaboration?

It sounds like a silly question—one you might be asked during an employee training session. It could be a question in a job interview or something your teenager Google searches at the last minute before debate class. How do you define collaboration? As corporate communicators, we all know what collaboration is. We also know—after years of painstaking experience—that collaboration is often more effective in theory than in practice. At my company, there are certain people who refuse to work together, and there are others whose attempts at collaboration lead to meeting...
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11 posts for PR pros

“I am surprised to see how much I have written; with stories, even a page can take me hours, but the truth seems to flow out as fast as I can get it down.”—from Dodie Smith’s I Capture the Castle.   Having recently published my 300th blog post, I can now say with assurance, “I wrote a blog about that once,” whenever my colleagues bring up random discussion topics. Below are a few posts of mine that might be useful to corporate communicators and PR pros: Does a friend or loved one have trouble with hyphens? Heading off hyphenation headaches Have trouble...
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8 more logical fallacies to avoid

It’s great to have the courage of your convictions, but you need more than that to put forth a winning argument. In last week’s post, I offered 11 logical fallacies and why it’s important to recognize them in what we see, read and hear. Such fallacies weaken arguments; employing them can make you and your organization less credible. Here are a few more logical fallacies to be aware of: 1. Anecdotal evidence Using personal experience or an isolated example instead of a valid argument or compelling evidence to state your position; often used to dismiss...
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11 logical fallacies to avoid

In a time of fake news, “alternative facts,” Newspeak, and attacks on credible journalism, I’ve focused on teaching my kids how to recognize logical fallacies in what they see, hear, and read. Logical fallacies are errors in reasoning that weaken arguments. Once you start looking for them, they’re shockingly obvious. How many of the following logical fallacies can you spot in one day? 1. Ad populum — arguing that because “everyone,” “Americans” or “the majority” thinks or does something, it must be true and right. Example: Whether Earth is flat or...
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Can you complete these great first lines...

For this week’s post, I offer readers a distraction. Take a break from writing that social media post, white paper or annual report message, and test your literary knowledge. Fill in the blanks for these renowned first lines in literature: 1. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking ____________.” “1984” by George Orwell 2. “In a hole in the ground there lived a ____________.” “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien 3. “It was a pleasure to ____________.” “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury 4. “As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from...
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What “Would You Rather” do?

On long car trips, my kids will often play “Would You Rather?” If you haven’t played, the game poses a question beginning with, “Would you rather…” and then offers a choice between two good options or a choice between two equally unattractive options. Answering “neither” or “both” is against the rules. With my kids, their questions mostly involve superpowers (Would you rather be invisible or be invincible?); eating things (Would you rather eat a bug or moldy bread?); and school activities (Would you rather be in the science lab all day, or in art class...