Talking Chairs
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Enough with the fluff

We know it when we see it: A writer’s attempt to sound smarter or make an article longer by adding fluff phrases. I estimate that these phrases make up at least 30 percent of the content I edit. The problem with all this fluff? It drives our readers away because many of them strive to read as little as possible of the messages we publish. Unnecessary phrases add to the noise readers are trying to filter out. Below are a few fluff phrases that — in most cases — can be eliminated from your content: As a matter of fact As you may already know At the present time/At...
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11 quotes to share in your email signatu...

Though they’re necessary for professional communications, long email signatures can be annoying. They’re even more annoying when attached to personal emails. I’ve seen personal email signatures with made-up titles, homages to alma maters, tributes to sports teams and, inevitably, quotes. The problem with quotes is that they can be hit or miss — meaningful to some, contrived to others. Here are a few interesting, off-the-wall and thought-provoking quotes to consider for your email signature. 1. “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.” — Neil...
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Improve your writing with story prompts

Played any writing games lately? One of my favorites is Storymatic, a game that uses a series of cards to generate story ideas. With each turn, players draw two character cards, such as “a butcher” and “the object of a secret crush,” along with two object cards, such as “a flat tire” and “a secret hiding place.” The goal is to combine all four elements into one story. The person with the most creative story wins. Playing these types of games helps me think creatively and stretches my storytelling skills. So I thought it might be fun to play a few rounds of...
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Fun with corporate jargon

Corporate communicators spend countless hours dealing with jargon. We delete it. We replace it. We enforce style guide rules related to it. We argue about it. Managing jargon is a staple in many careers. Sometimes it’s fun to embrace jargon. Below are 20 outlandish examples of corporate jargon that could be used when speaking with co-workers, or with your boss, or at just the right moment during a meeting. (Terms come from the Urban Dictionary and The Ridiculous Business Jargon Dictionary.) 1. Anecgloat—a story that makes the speaker look good. Before every department...
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13 French terms for writers

Not many of us may realize that around 45 percent of English vocabulary is of French origin. We use words such as art, establish, genre, liberty and perfect every day without realizing they derive from French. Below are some French expressions related to writing and literature. How many of these can you work into your content? (Definitions from Wordnik and Oxford Dictionaries.) 1. Avant-garde— radically innovative or cutting-edge movements in art, music, or literature; a person or group of people who invent or promote new techniques, especially in the arts. JRR...
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Fortify your writing with strong nouns

By now, the writers and editors who read PR Daily are familiar with the advice to use strong verbs. They are the powerhouse of your sentence, and choosing clear, active verbs instead of throwaway ones will improve your message. What about using strong nouns? The same rules apply. In addition to using nouns that are clear to the reader, use specific, descriptive, concrete words, instead of general or abstract words. For example, we will most often use the word “house” to describe a house, but when appropriate, we could also use shack, shanty, lean-to, chalet, cabin,...
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10 nouns I wish were verbs

As writers and editors, we are the experts and enforcers of style and grammar at our organizations and for our clients. We are often the first ones people call when they have a language question. And more than once, we’ve been asked to settle disagreements about corporate style. But sometimes even the enforcers like to break the rules. And that brings me to this week’s post. Using nouns as verbs is usually frowned upon in formal writing. In fact, it’s one of corporate communicators’ biggest writing pet peeves. (As in, “Send me a detailed outline and I’ll...
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A corporate communicators guide to busin...

In corporate communications, TLAs (three-letter acronyms) are everywhere. Not only do we use our own department acronyms (NFP), but also acronyms from accounting, human resources, legal, and IT. Of course, we use acronyms to save time. It’s much faster to say (or write) CPC than “cost per click.” Unfortunately, not everyone knows what CPC means, and if an acronym is not initially defined, its meaning can get lost. Below is a list of common business acronyms and their definitions. Please note that this list is not comprehensive, but it’s a good place to start. ABC...