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Like many ex-journalists, I pride myself in being skeptical. But my Lou Grant exterior is sometimes defeated by my inner Pollyanna. When that happens, I enjoy reading a blog by Love Is the Killer App author Tim Sanders.

In an April 3 entry, Tim argues that simply being kind is one of the keys to success. "A 2002 study on customer service found that if you are likeable and competent," he writes, "you have a threefold increase in the likelihood of getting satisfactory service."

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When we talk about writing style, we mean one of two things: a set of rules and conventions regarding words and punctuation (sometimes known as the "house style" of a given publication); or a distinctive, identifiable way of assembling words and punctuation (sometimes known as "tone" or "voice"). The first kind of style is all about standards: it's why newspaper writers spell out all numerals under ten and why New Yorker editors -- alone of all their tribe -- spell vendor as vender. The second kind of style is about deviations from the standard. It's what makes us recognize a passage of prose as indisputably Ernest Hemingway's or Joan Didion's or David Foster Wallace's or Maureen Dowd's.  Continue reading...
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Interviews matter. Interviews are the foundation of good reporting. They are the best way of understanding a complicated situation and seeing it from someone else's perspective. A wise, old editor of mine used to say "report it out." She meant "go talk to people, don't rely on your own opinions and judgment." It's a good maxim. One of my rules of thumb is to do one interview for each 250-500 words of final copy. So here are my top tips for a good interview.  Continue reading...
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Blog Excerpts

"Improve Your Writing and Your Business"

The Roberts Group, a company that provides editorial services to businesses, posted their booklet "11 Ways to Improve Your Writing and Your Business" online. In the introduction, they write "the best argument for good writing is simple logic: People won't buy what they don't understand." Read this informative booklet here.
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Blog Du Jour

Public Speaking

Ready to step up to the podium and wow 'em? Okay, we thought you might need a little boost. Great public speakers aren't born that way. These blogs help you develop the skills you need to sizzle in front of an audience:

Great Public Speaking

Speak Schmeak

Public Speaking Sucker

HELLO, My Name is BLOG

Executive Speech Coach

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Blog Excerpts

"Why Businesspeople Speak Like Idiots"

"If you think you smell something at work, there's probably good reason," the folks behind Bullfighter software say. "Bull has become the official language of business. Every day, we get bombarded by an endless stream of filtered, jargon-filled corporate speak, all of which makes it harder to get heard, harder to be authentic, and definitely harder to have fun. But it doesn't have to be that way." How can you fight this? Download free software here, and Bullfighter will help you rid the you-know-what from your writing forever.
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Blog Excerpts

Keep Track of "Track Changes"

"Track Changes" is the popular tool in MS Word that lets you work on a documents collaboratively, a handy option that many of us use every day. But as the website Law Practice Today cautions: "Some features could lead to potentially embarrassing, revealing or compromising situations." When attorneys raise the red flag, it pays to take precautions. How? Read the article here.
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