Changing models

I have been thinking about this for awhile. I’m going to change the publishing schedule a bit, and also the way I’m approaching things.

People of my generation and earlier will recognize the reference to “the Reader’s Digest version.” While the magazine has a U.S. circulation of 4.5 million these days, in the 1970s it reached its peak at 17 million. It was known for, among others things, taking longer magazine articles and longer books and condensing them down into much shorter form.

Academics know about article abstracts, those entries that are only two or three paragraphs at the beginning of a journal article or academic paper that mostly summarizes the entire article. Graduate students quickly learn to focus on the abstract along with the methodology and conclusion section as a survival tool, because no one has the time to read entire articles when you are in grad school.

The internet has spawned its own response and version. Some commenters on long posts began around 2003 using TL;DR to label such as a means of signifying “too long; didn’t read.” Newspaper reporters have long written in inverted pyramid style to address readers’ short attention spans, although magazines (a print form more aimed at leisurely reading) have mostly followed a more traditional introduction/body/conclusion approach. It somehow seems natural with so many people reading online to combine these approaches.

I’ve been noticing lately that you seem to be engaging in longer content, but that doesn’t mean that all of you want to read longer articles. So I’m going to accommodate both approaches. I will finish out this week the way I’ve been going, but starting next week, I’m going to post a longer article on Monday–but it will start with a special segment labeled “TL;DR” for those who want to read shorter.

I’m also going to move away from the once-a-week digest posting to the email list–though again, we will finish out the week the way we’ve been doing it. Starting next week, when an article goes up on the blog, it will also go out on the email list. The subject line will start with [King’s Corner] to make it easy to find later if you want.

So we’ll see how that goes. Please let me know your thoughts about it, though! I want to put out material that is useful to you, and I won’t know unless you tell me. (Remember one of our basic principle: people (including me) are not mind readers.)

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Gathering the crumbs

No waste cookies!

I made chocolate cookies a few days ago. When I say “I made,” I mean I opened the package of refrigerated dough and followed the directions. I have made chocolate chip cookies from scratch before, and done a pretty good job if I do say so myself. But why bother? The refrigerated dough turns out almost as good, and take a whole lot less time. And less dish washing, too.

Along with the fun of eating them (since I’m the major cookie consumer in our household), I gained something of an insight for speaking and writing. (Does that make the cookies tax deductible?) Since they were “home made,” I put them into a Ziploc bag after they cooled, and when I ate the last one few hours later, I noticed a lot of crumbs in the bottom.

In fact, there were enough there to make up two entire cookies after I dumped them out into my hand. One does not simply waste cookies.

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Why I use Scrivener for writing almost everything

Scrivener logo

You probably already have a favorite app you use for writing. “Favorite” may be a loose term–you may or may not like it. It could just be the least irritating tool you have. But it’s one you’re used to. It either came loaded on your device, or as part of a larger suite you paid big bucks for or got for free.

I want to suggest that you consider paying for a tool that will do the job better for you and save you time and frustration, especially if you work on longer projects. I have been using Scrivener for a couple of years, and I find myself using it for writing just about everything, from books to articles to speaking notes.

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You may find you like it!

Chimp with a mic.

I’m in the middle of a regular gig I love: training leaders for my college’s New Student Orientation leaders. We’ve already had our first event of the season, and we haven’t completed all of the training yet. Part of that training involves using a microphone effectively. Because of the timing of events in relation to training, we still have several leaders who have yet to have the microphone training.

During the first event, though, one of the folks who had not yet gone through the training wound up needing to speak on a microphone during a question-and-answer session. She later commented that it was the first time she had ever in her life held a microphone, much less used one–and she was pleasantly surprised that she really enjoyed it!

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Monroe still works: effective persuasion in the Internet age

Grow!

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence is not a new idea. It’s hard to pick up a basic public speaking textbook without finding an explication of it.

So why doesn’t it get used more? I suspect it’s because it isn’t new. But it still works.

For readers who are familiar with it: I want to tell you why you should give it a second look, and tell you where I see people having trouble applying it. For those who haven’t heard of it: I want to tell you about it, and help you avoid common pitfalls.

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Connecting personally long distance

Video chat

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t like using the telephone. I do all the time, because everybody else does, or at least everyone my age. Young people more and more just use texting, and I suspect some of that comes from the same telephone reluctance I have.

I’m not sure why more people I know don’t use the technology that makes telephone reluctance a non-issue: video chatting via computer or smart phone. I mean, the technology is everywhere, and it’s almost like being together in person. Not quite, and I still prefer face-to-face visits. But video chatting is the next best thing, and in some ways, it’s better.

If I am my camera right, I don’t have to worry about cleaning up the whole house before a visit. Plus, video chat only carries sight and sound–no odors so far.

Friends and family are now scattered everywhere. I’d rather visit in person, but I can’t. Things like appear.in, Hangouts, Skype are better than phone calls, emails, letters, etc.

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Suspend judgment for better relationships

Judge Judy

This is one of those posts that, if I could send it to my younger self, could have changed my life.

We’re going to deal with two related and yet entirely separate issues, but at the same time: judgment and rush to judgment.

Humans seem to have an innate need to form opinions and judgments. Do you agree with that statement? Do you see how quickly you form an opinion? Because almost inevitably, you immediately had a response to my question about agreement.

That’s not necessarily a problem. The problem for communication comes in because a judgment can get in the way of hearing.

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Help The Princess get a ride?

We are seeing the effects of social media unfold right before our eyes in a very personal way.

We have a severely disabled daughter, and she has a chance to get life-changing (for her and for us) transportation. Continue reading “Help The Princess get a ride?”

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Bonus: Infographic guides your phone persuasion

Phone influence

OK, call it “phone selling.” You probably do it whether you realize it or not. You may not work on commission (or you might), but almost certainly there are times you need to move someone to action via telephone.

That’s where this infographic comes in. I’ve looked it over in detail, and realized it’s really about effective communication. Tada! Few of us (including me) use the phone effectively.

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What was that idea again?

Dutch Scullery Maid

I had a great idea for a blog post. It came to me while I was in the kitchen, working on making an omelet for me and fried eggs for my wife. The stove was hot, the butter at just the right temperature in the pan, so I couldn’t go write the idea down right then. No problem, it was a great idea, I would remember.

Yeah, right. How many times have you done that? Based on your experience, how likely was it that I would remember it? Continue reading “What was that idea again?”

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