Talking Chairs
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Thought-provoking quotes from “Str...

Always a little behind in my TV watching, I recently finished the Netflix series “Stranger Things.” Perhaps the best way to describe it is as a cross between the “The X-Files” and “Freaks and Geeks,” with a smattering of “Red Dawn,” “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial,” “It” and “The Thing.” The dialogue, foreshadowing and pacing make the show a writer’s dream. The ‘80s references, the soundtrack and the atmosphere make it pure fun. Here are a few of my favorite quotations from characters in the series: 1. “Mornings are for coffee and...
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How to rein in your runaway projects

April marks the beginning of “presentation season” for our marketing department. It’s a two-month period when we focus on a mammoth project that once sucked up time and resources all year long. At my company, we produce an array of presentations for staffers to use when meeting with their various clients. There is a new business presentation (for prospects), an account services presentation (for standard clients) and several line-of-business presentations for specialized clients. We work with different departments and different sets of stakeholders for each...
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How to begin a difficult conversation

Despite having read “Crucial Conversations” (McGraw-Hill) more than once and attending countless presentations on delivering bad news and managing conflict, I’ve never been very skilled in this area. I dread these types of personal interactions, and I’m ashamed to admit that I do what I can to get out of them — at home and at work. But recently I was in a situation where I could no longer avoid a difficult conversation. So I did what many other writers, PR pros and corporate communicators would do: I treated the conversation as a writing assignment. What started...
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5 reasons to eliminate jargon

Jargon is a beast that many writers battle regularly. I made the following edits to the first paragraph of an article for my company’s website. The article was written by one of our in-house cyber security experts. Original sentence: “Cyber criminals are using a spectrum of attack vectors—ransomware, phishing attacks and other malware infections—to obtain illicit access to electronic protected health information (ePHI).” Revised sentence: “Cyber criminals are using a spectrum of techniques —ransomware, phishing attacks and other malware infections—to obtain...
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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...