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Blogging fear: Getting started

August 24, 2015
on your mark

Photo: Kashif Mardani (CC)

I asked for your biggest fears in blogging, and y’all came through.

This week’s fear: “Getting started.”

— A.C.

I often admire risk takers and spontaneous action. They leap before they look, and most of the time, they’re fine.

I’m deliberate about most things, which might make me a great hedge fund manager but a terrible date. (For the record, I’m an exceptional date.)

At conferences, I’ll meet people who about to launch a blog. I’ll see them again a year later, and they’re still about to launch that blog.

No-o-o-o!!

As my friend Jen Barnett occasionally reminds me, “Finished is better than perfect.” She wrote it on a note I keep tucked in one of my planning folders.

We may fuss over the design or the first post. Or the editorial calendar or the mechanics (email collectors, social media channels). Or the blog name and URL.

Those often end up as excuses rather than steps to publishing the first post. I love planning, but coming from a background in print journalism, I also love making deadline. The next day offers a fresh start, but not publishing was never an option.

For most people and most blogs, not publishing is the worst outcome possible. No post means no audience, no momentum, no feedback, no starting point, no accomplishment. Publishing a first post to no audience means no risk. It’s hard to screw up in front of an empty auditorium.

Blogging comes easier with practice. It seems more difficult with hesitation. Make the choice to make the leap.

Tell me about your biggest fear in blogging,
and I might answer it in a future post.

More in our Blogging Fears series.

How I’m listening to improve my communication: An update

August 17, 2015
row of ears

Photo: woodleywonderworks (CC)

Listening is a wonderful skill that I hone every day. I think I’ve been improving since making a pledge 29 months ago to work on this tool.

It calms me. It helps me focus. It shows the other person that I care.

A bonus is that careful listening allows me to be a better observer of communication skills in the real world. Sadly, many folks could use some major improvement there. It can be frustrating for me to not be heard. And it happens a lot, through incomplete email replies, distracted parties texting on their phone, outright shunning.

I took on three areas where I wanted to improve my listening skills. I’ve made progress, but I have a ways to go.

1. Zero interruptions. So far, this has been fairly easy. When face to face with another, that person has the floor as long as she wants. Really, the only part where I’ve had difficulty is on the phone. It’s always been a guessing game for me, either interrupting someone mid-thought or pausing so long that the she ends up asking if I’m still on the line.

2. Repeating back what the other said. I don’t do this very much, so I need to work harder on this tactic. It’s simple, it’s quick, and it reassures the other person that I have heard her message correctly.

3. Asking good followup questions. I’ve never had a problem in this area. Years of training as a reporter coupled with natural curiosity means I always have more questions. I’ll have great conversations that go for hours.

One area that sometimes challenges me is focus. When someone is talking, I find it difficult to keep my mind from wandering. The longer someone talks, the more likely I’ll drift.

A technique to combat this tendency is to repeat in my head what the other person is saying. I don’t remember where I picked up this tip from a few years ago, but I’ve tried it sporadically. It could help me focus better on listening to someone rather than merely pretending to listen.

With listening, I’ll always start with me. It saves time, it eliminates most misunderstandings, and it helps me communicate more effectively.

• • •

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Addictive content

August 10, 2015
Oreos

Photo: Mike Mozart (CC)

I’m addicted to many things, some harmful, some harmless. But I can’t live without them.

“Big Brother.” Diet Coke. Baking. Self-improvement. A healthy diet (except for the Diet Coke). Speed reading. Jazz. Playing on my phone.

Many of us are the sum of our addictions, whether we admit or not. But addiction can help us serve others.

Businesses struggle with reaching out to fans, customers and strangers. They worry excessively about the number of emails and blog posts and Facebook updates they put online. Is it too much? Will we scare away people?

That demonstrates they don’t know their audience — really any audience — very well.

If a customer craves something, she’ll want more and more. And she can decide when she’s had enough, while still coming back later to nurture that addiction.

Great content is addictive content. Creating blog posts that make readers shout “Amen!” and click Like and share it with friends is addictive content. Writing an email (monthly, weekly, daily) that quickens the pulse of the recipient and compels them to read it first is addictive content.

(An example of addictive email is theSkimm, which a client was kind enough to share with me.)

A business can’t create enough addictive content. Never.

The question shouldn’t be: Are we putting too much stuff out there?

The question should be: Is our content addictive? If not, how can we fix it?

If they keep making Oreos, I’ll eat them for the next 50 years. I’ll eat a pile of them till I’m sick. And then, I’ll swear off them. And I’ll come crawling back for more soon enough.

They fuel my creativity, my need to reach people with new and different ideas. I want them hooked on my content.

Because I’m also hooked on helping others.

• • •

If you need help creating addictive content,
let me help …

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The lines of communication

August 3, 2015
telephone lines

Photo: Cameron Russell (CC)

We are imperfect beings. We know how to listen, how to talk, how to communicate.

But we fail in those basic tasks all the time. It’s a wonder we haven’t gone extinct.

A company working toward better customer service, or more leads, or a competitive advantage has only so many avenues to try. All it takes is one employee to screw it all up, or to win the day.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how companies communicate with me, as their consultant, as their customer, as their friend. They’re doing a pretty terrible job, but all of you knew that.

You’ve all had to deal with the same issues. Heck, you may be causing those issues with your own folks.

We must have open lines of communication. And we must use them, even if only occasionally.

Some companies are old school in communication: They advertise when they need to get the word out, and they use traditional channels to broadcast the message. If you want something, you must call or email or drop by during business hours.

They might not update their website. They might not return your call or email. And they might carry that indifference to newer channels: social media, blogs, texting.

My biggest frustration often comes from lack of response. At its root, that’s more than a communications problem. No reply may mean indecision, or a corporate structure in which only a select few are empowered to decide, or a lack of incentive for service.

These are not easy issues to fix, as you know.

I can help build the channels appropriate for a company’s needs. I can unclog the lines of communication so they’re used efficiently and effectively.

But first, we must acknowledge the real problem: We are imperfect beings. We know how to communicate, but often fail at it nonetheless.

• • •

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How to make an awesome slide deck, and why you don’t need it

July 26, 2015

 

In speaking to audiences around the country, I’ve used slide decks in most of my presentations.

But I overdo it.

I make pretty decks, and then sometimes I put up the wrong deck. Or go without when the projector fails.

I practice with them, but I also rehearse without them.

Presentations aren’t about the speaker or about the slides — they’re about the information. I’ve been working more lately on my storytelling and delivery, how I can improve my stage presence, not with better visuals, but with better technique.

So let me explain how to make an awesome deck, and how to live without it.

How to make an awesome slide deck

1. Write an outline. I’ll usually have three main points, and back those up with at least two sub-points each. And an introduction and a conclusion.

2. Boil each line of the outline down to one or two words.

3. Look for one image to fill the entire slide. (In 2009, I found Mack Collier’s decks to be inspiring, so I emulated his style.) I typically use photos with Creative Commons licensing for commercial use, easily found on Flickr. Here’s a search for “turkey” for CC images.

4. Build the deck in PowerPoint with plain transitions. I don’t rely on the gimmicks of Prezi or fancy transitions.

I don’t use video clips: I find they wreck momentum. I do onscreen demos as needed, but I realize that any number of things can go wrong with them (no wifi, projector flicker, unexpected results).

5. I rehearse with the slides and a remote. And I rehearse without slides, just in case.

Why you don’t need your awesome slide deck that you worked very hard on

1. Communicate as though each word carries meaning, each sentence builds an idea. Be deliberate in choosing words and sentences to create a dynamic and meaningful talk.

2. Speak directly to each person in the room. We do this through eye contact, planted feet and careful attention to audience response (interested, sleepy, bored, confused, excited, distracted).

3. Very few concepts require slides or a screen: hands-on demos, diagrams or charts that require a lengthy explanation. Painting pictures with words fires up an audience’s imagination, rather than passively viewing a slide.

4. Some speakers use slides as a crutch, to remember where they are in the presentation (guilty) or to have the audience focus on the screen rather than themselves. But the speaker should be the star, able to carry the spotlight and the fickle attention span of five to 500 people.

5. The very best speakers work hard to deliver a captivating presentation through words, tone, gestures, expressions, pauses and pacing. The rest is window dressing.

Great presentations and speeches can have slide decks, may even be enhanced by them.

But great presenters and speakers know that success depends on audiences understanding new ideas and information, no matter how they’re packaged.

• • •

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Getting the brand back together

July 20, 2015

Wade Kwon, Jen Barnett

I talk about branding often for three reasons.

First, I’ve learned so much about effective branding in the last few years. Watch my talk on branding and blogs to pick up a few ideas.

Second, great branding has boosted my visibility and my profits.

Third, I can help you in a very specific way with your brand.

Meet Jen Barnett, a longtime associate of mine and a true expert when it comes to brand focus. She has worked with clients big and small, and she’s available to help your company with branding.

Contacting us won’t cost you anything. Asking her questions about the 4-hour branding session won’t cost you anything. Figuring out if you need branding help won’t cost you anything.

Fixing your brand will eliminate ineffective marketing, headaches, worry and the wrong customers. It is so worth it.

End your summer on a high note. Learn how your brand can stand out among competitors and guide your colleagues and fans to what your company does best.

• • •

We’re standing by for your click …

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Blogging’s hidden cost: tradeoffs

July 13, 2015
paint chips

Photo: Jocelyn (CC)

In talking with an Instagram entrepreneur (Instapreneur™?) over the weekend, I discussed forming a business plan. It doesn’t cost anything, but it compels her to consider two important questions before actually building a business.

1. Is the risk low enough and the reward high enough?

2. What tradeoffs would it require?

That second question is the one we don’t ask enough, about entrepreneurism, about social media or about blogging. We sometimes refer to it by its fancy name, opportunity cost.

She mentioned a handful of Instagram rock stars who have turned their accounts into opportunities: cash sponsorships, travel, fame and so on. Some may have stumbled into it; others may have set out deliberately to build their brands.

What we don’t ask is: What did each successful Instagrammer give up to make it to the top? It could be time spent with family and loved ones. It could be sleep and taking care of their health. It could be regular opportunities in their day jobs and career.

They may have paid a steep price, one that we may not readily pay ourselves in seeing the overall outcome.

We can do one thing at a time. The more we do it, the better (hopefully) we get at it. We can do many things at a time, if we don’t mind doing them in mediocre fashion (this is how I mow the lawn, clean my house and do my laundry).

Blogging is a terrific longterm marketing tactic. It builds site equity. It defines a brand methodically. It engages any number of readers, fans and searchers for relationships.

But it comes at a high cost, even if we don’t spend a dime. We spend enormous amounts of time planning and creating and editing content. After publishing, we spend even more time promoting content. Both before and after may require coordination among colleagues, freelancers, lawyers, salespeople and subjects.

The opportunity costs can be numerous: We cannot engage in other marketing tactics that may yield quicker results and sales. We may waste time on a content management system that is outdated or ill-equipped to meet our needs. We may plunge forward without clear direction on how each blog post fits into the marketing plan or annual business goals.

These are the hidden costs of blogging for standard marketing. Just imagine how steep those hidden costs are to blog successfully in achieving goals and becoming a top marketer.

It’s OK to pay a steep price, but it’s even better to anticipate the price and factor it into the master plan from the beginning.

• • •

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On the air for “Biz Talk with Roy Williams”

July 6, 2015

Tina Tidmore, Wade Kwon

Tina Tidmore and Wade Kwon on “Biz Talk with Roy Williams”

Talk show host and reporter Roy Williams was kind enough to have me on his weekly radio show last week. He and writer Tina Tidmore occasionally talk journalism issues, and we all discussed freedom of the press for his special Independence Day episode (taped in advance).

If you missed “Biz Talk with Roy Williams” on Saturday, you can listen to it here.

Or stream it as an audio file.

We talk about issues affecting journalists and bloggers, and what differences remain between the two groups.

One of the last questions was on threats to freedom of the press. I managed to squeak in half of my answer, the first part being the ongoing need for a national shield law. The second part didn’t fit into the remaining time, so I’m including it here.

The biggest threat to freedom of the press is corporate consolidation of media. It has been a constricting factor throughout my years of working in corporate media. Simply put, you can’t cut your way to better coverage, or even long-term profitability.

It has affected journalism at every level throughout the United States, but Birmingham will be a case study for years to come. In the coming days, Alabama Media Group, the company formed from three state newspapers and al.com, will merge with NOLA Media Group to become Southeast Regional Media Group. Expect more layoffs and shoddier reporting.

Thanks to Roy for having me on the show!

• • •

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In lieu of another blog post, 2015 edition

June 29, 2015

Wade Kwon, Y'all Connect 2015

I had a great time working on the 2015 edition of Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power. In fact, I’m still having a great time working on it.

No blog post this week. Except for this blog post telling you what I’m doing instead:

  • Doing research for a prospective client.
  • Writing a guest blog post for Gender Avenger(!).
  • Preparing a story for a potential gig featuring The Moth in Birmingham.
  • Donating blood.
  • Getting ready for an awesome Independence Day weekend.

How’s your summer going?

• • •

If you need help with marketing, blogging, social media
or other areas of communication, let’s meet …

Contact me

Promote an event with a real Web presence

June 22, 2015

Wade Kwon, Rebecca Dobrinski

We are surrounded by happenings. Networking events, workshops, seminars, grand openings, lunch and learns, conferences, open houses, product launches and more.

I have events on the brain after having wrapped up our third annual Y’all Connect Presented by Alabama Power. And I’ve been hitting a lot of business get-togethers over the last few months to promote the conference.

Great events with great marketing face tons of competition for people’s attention and time. Great events with poor marketing have the same fight. And great events with zero marketing … same refrain.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Why cede potential attendees to other lesser events, or worse, to their default activity (wasting time at the office, or sitting at home)?

Companies and organizations with perfectly nice websites often post their events online. Just not on their websites. It’s like renting a billboard a thousand miles away, or airing commercials in Latin.

Yes, an organizer might want to cross-post a meeting to a Facebook event page, or sell tickets through Eventbrite. But to serve attendees effectively, the event must be easy to find.

Not every attendee uses Facebook, nor will Google her way to an Eventbrite listing. The expectation is that the host will have the event posted prominently on the company website.

It’s OK if the organizer has to send customers to a third-party site for ticket purchases (though Eventbrite allows embedding of its ticket window). But it should begin with the company’s site. And it should include the basic information.

Having events on the website makes for easier, better marketing. An organizer can send out a link in social media and email newsletters. She can even have a short URL to include on flyers and Instagram pics.

Even those conscientious enough to advertise events on their sites do so for a short time.

For some unknown reason, companies often wipe out the previous event for the next upcoming event, usually on a static page reserved for events and meetings. Do customers want to buy from organizations that appear to have held only one meeting ever?

The simple solution is to create a unique event page for each new meeting, and use the main events page to link to one or more upcoming or past events. Context shows the undecided attendee the rich history of topics and speakers from previous sessions.

That’s a huge missed opportunity. It takes the same amount of effort to keep all those archived events as it does to delete them forever.

But the biggest missed opportunity in having an event on a host site is bringing people back for future events. Many people who see the event can’t attend because of a scheduling conflict. They will never revisit the site again, unless the organizer takes one last step.

Asking visitors to sign up for the mailing list. “Receive free email alerts for our upcoming meetings!”

Selling tickets to past customers saves time and money on marketing. It builds a fan base and a customer database. It makes perfect sense.

Most event organizers aren’t doing it. And it’s sending their would-be audience to other events in droves.

Having a successful event starts with how it’s presented from the beginning. A great organizer should show off all her events on her site for maximum marketing power and the best customer service.

Also:

• • •

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Outrage Theater

June 14, 2015
fist

Photo: Brian (CC)

A long time ago in a place known as the Internet, people would occasionally TYPE IN ALL CAPS TO EXPRESS ANGER AND LOUDNESS.

(Or they would just have the Caps Lock on by accident.)

Other people would come along and politely ask (or rudely demand) that the OP (original poster) would stop “shouting.” It might have the desired effect, or it might incite everyone to BEGIN FURIOUSLY POUNDING THEIR KEYBOARDS AT FULL VOLUME.

I’ve seen a lot of Facebook discussion filled with rampant typos, casual racism and sexism, ugly homophobia, bigotry, idiocy and trolling … but way fewer all-caps posts. Progress.

To fill the vacuum, we have a legit successor to flame wars, cyberbullying, going viral, slacktivism, clickbait, subtweeting and doxing.

I call it Outrage Theater.

(I deliberately used something similar to the fiction of Security Theater.)

The online world seems to run primarily on outrage these days. No transgression is too small to bring the full weight of the commentariat raining down on an offender.

I find it alarming. I find it uncivilized and unkind.

Plenty of sites and personalities and bloggers make a fine living trafficking in outrage. The world will never run out of those who speak their puny minds, making others miserable. Their deliberate harm and willful ignorance deserves a response. A proportional response.

Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin brings up this discussion in the White House in his 1995 film, “The American President.” (And revisits — really, recycles — it in third episode of “The West Wing” titled … “A Proportional Response.”)

Through President Shepherd (played by Michael Douglas), Sorkin is asking us to weigh the options of lashing out in anger versus meting out a suitable retaliation. We have to overcome the automatic fight-or-flight response to every threat, real or imagined, that our lizard brains perceive. Otherwise, we always come out swinging.

The Internet has no place for nuance, for proportional responses. Either we’re outraged or we’re not. Every transgressor must be smote or set free.

The problem with the trend of all outrage all the time is that it will eventually fizzle out. And things that truly deserve outrage (dictators, murderers, rapists, unhinged corporations, warlords) will have been reduced to the same level as the jerk who broke into my house 7 years ago and stole about $200 worth of electronics.

Certainly, I’d like to find the burglar and thank him with the business end of my car. But I know rationally that the particular punishment I’ve chosen doesn’t quite fit the crime.

We’ve lost all perspective when someone speaking their mind, no matter how offensively and stupidly, merits global online outrage calling for death, abuse of the immediate family and unceasing ridicule till the next poor sap stumbles along. Even lesser offenses and petty crimes warrant full-bore public shaming.

Could we not better spend our time building things up rather than tearing things down?

I’m no innocent. I’ve called people out (online and in real life), and I’ve been called out. I’ve trolled, and subtweeted, and done my fair share of gossiping and bullying. I doubt I have the maturity to apologize for most of it, though I will definitely own up to all of it.

In thinking about all of this, I had a great speaker under consideration to give the opening keynote at my conference last week. She has been through her share of Outrage Theater, and I thought her story would be enlightening and informative.

She wasn’t available this time, but I still hope she’ll consider a future trip here. We need the education.

Each of us might feel a tiny bit superior in performing our role in this theater of the damned, casting a pebble upon the villain of the moment. But it doesn’t really change anything, does it?

Ahem.

FEIGNING OUTRAGE ONLINE DOESN’T REALLY CHANGE ANYTHING, DOES IT?

• • •

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Be kind to your Twitter followers

June 7, 2015

I had a discussion on Twitter the other day about increasing the number of followers. I’ve written about that many times on this blog and other sites.

One idea I haven’t talked about is being nice to your followers. It’s a simple gesture that shows you really value them, not just as a statistic but as human beings. I’d rather see better interactions online than huge numbers. I know I have room to improve when it comes to responding to people on the Internet.

I find it easier sometimes in real life. I like to bake, so bringing cookies to friends and strangers is my favorite way to spread happiness.

ginger cookies

I find it easier with others than with myself. My ongoing challenge is to be kinder to me.

I have a regular opportunity to exercise this kindness on the Y’all Connect Twitter account, @YallConnect. One of my favorite ways to recognize fans is to give shout outs to every attendee. I’ll spend a couple of days listing hundreds of Twitter followers in tweets with funny compliments. I tend to be reserved in my compliments, so I had some help from the Emergency Compliment site.

(At the end of the movie “Clerks II,” director Kevin Smith used 12 minutes of credits to list 10,000 MySpace friends as part of a promotional stunt.)

I’ve also recognized great tweeps on my account with “Recommend you follow” tweets. I had planned to make it a regular scheduled feature, but it has slipped through my fingers time and again.

Our Y’all Connect speaker Ramon De Leon recognized Twitter fans in a very popular way. As a Domino’s Pizza franchise owner in Chicago, he’d compile a list of Twitter followers with whom he’d interacted recently. He’d print the list on the coupon sheet taped to the top of every pizza box. Customers were ordering pies just to see their Twitter names on this flyer!

The most basic way to be kind is to respond to and retweet others. I’ve got the responding down easily, but the retweeting needs work. For me, I can set a goal of retweeting three people a day (after this year’s conference) to get started. I’m already following them and reading their tweets in Tweetdeck and the Twitter app, so hitting the Retweet button shouldn’t be that much of a strain.

I find being of service to be a great help to Twitter followers. I share useful and interesting things, and leave out the poorly written, poorly informed and poorly intentioned items. But basic kindness matters. Reaching out matters. Recognition matters.

I’ll still make jokes and stand up for what I believe. But I’ll also make a stronger effort to be kind on Twitter. I hope you’ll try as well.

• • •

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Blogging fear: Opportunity costs

June 1, 2015
notebook keyboard

Photo: Pete O’Shea (CC)

I asked for your biggest fears in blogging, and y’all came through.

This week’s fear: “I’ve reached a fairly comfortable level with my traffic and comments, though I’d always like to see more. I long for that hugely viral post where I can’t even respond to all the comments I receive.

“One of my biggest fears? Blogging can become a bit like a drug or an obsession. I’m concerned that I’m spending too much time in blogging activity with no real end benefit pertaining to my actual writing goals.”

— Arlee Bird, A-to-Z Challenge co-host, Tossing It Out

It’s a tricky balance, but live the life you want to blog about.

That’s a tweet I send out annually as part of my #dailyblogtip series. It speaks to opportunity costs and living beyond the space in front of screens.

I’ve spent many a long night and day in front of screens as a writer and a journalist, and now as a consultant and a conference director. The value of having a flexible work life is that as long as my screen has Internet access, I can place it wherever I want.

That also makes it difficult to escape.

Many bloggers happen to enjoy blogging, whether it’s coming up with posts or watching the numbers rise. They also enjoy the routine, always ready to do a few more laps on the hamster wheel.

I use goals to break the routine. If you have clearly defined goals, you can skip some of the time wasted on routine blogging for more productive pursuits.

What are your writing goals? How are you measuring your progress? How does blogging help you achieve those writing goals?

For example, your writing goal might be to sell a novel to a publishing house. Blogging may help or hinder that goal. You may find simpler ways to achieve that goal.

Examine your writing goal critically, and make sure blogging is a useful tactic in accomplishing it. If not, make the hard choice to cut back on blogging to do the essential steps to achieving what you really want.

Don’t let the highs of blogging distract you from becoming the writer you can be.

Tell me about your biggest fear in blogging,
and I might answer it in a future post.

More in our Blogging Fears series.

Video: The art of the brand [Rocket City Bloggers]

May 25, 2015

Video: The art of the brand

I gave my presentation “The art of the brand: What your blog needs and deserves” a second time this spring. It’s quickly become one of my favorites.

In this version to the Rocket City Bloggers, I skipped the slides.

Tip: The video is 60 minutes long, but you can click on the gear icon and increase the playback speed to 1.25x, 1.5x or 2x.

The slides and worksheet are available on this earlier post.

Share your questions and feedback in the comments.

More videos? Visit my YouTube channel.

Video: The art of the brand

May 13, 2015

Video: The art of the brand

I promised a couple of groups that I’d post video from my March talk, “The art of the brand: What your blog needs and deserves.”

After some finagling, I have edited and posted it.

This video should prove one thing: I should never work in Hollywood behind the camera. My “Avatar” would have been in 1D, with spotty sound and most of the action happening just offscreen to the right.

Tip: The video is 65 minutes long, but you can click on the gear icon and increase the playback speed to 1.25x, 1.5x or 2x.

The slides and worksheet are available on this earlier post.

Share your questions and feedback in the comments.

More videos? Visit my YouTube channel.

Speaking gigs: Public Relations Council of Alabama – North Alabama chapter, May 2015

May 9, 2015

Public Relations Council of Alabama - North Alabama chapter

I’m making my third trip to the Rocket City in a 4-week period, and I’m fired up (rocket pun)!

I’ll be in Huntsville for the monthly meeting of the Public Relations Council of Alabama – North Alabama chapter on May 20. We’ll talk about “Content Curation for Smarties: Know Everything All the Time.”

The official summary:

Good marketers share their expertise. Great marketers share everyone else’s. Consultant Wade Kwon shows the most efficient methods of content curation. The award-winning writer and editor has made a career of gathering news from communities and sharing it with print and online audiences. Learn how expert curation actually puts you and your brand at the center of attention. Discover how to turn simple streams of information into powerful tools to dominate SEO, social and viral.

Here’s a sneak peek.

The monthly meeting will run from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. May 20 at Redstone Federal Credit Union, 220 Wynn Drive N, Huntsville [map]. Tickets are $17, $15 for members, $12 for students and can be purchased on the PRCA North Alabama event page.

Get serious about your blog, and turn your site into the next big opportunity. I hope to see you there!

• • •

Book me for your event, conference or workshop today …

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Speaking gigs: See Jane Write, May 2015

May 9, 2015
Javacia Harris Bowser, See Jane Write

Javacia Harris Bowser, founder of See Jane Write

Writing sometimes makes me crazy, but writers make me happy.

That’s why I can’t wait to see the Janes again this month.

I’ll be the featured speaker for See Jane Write in Birmingham on May 19. The brand new presentation is “Your Blog Is Your Business: Next Steps to Success.” You’ll learn how to create the right business model for your blog, even if it’s one part of your enterprise.

What does success look like? What rewards are better than money? Who is your A-Team? We’ll cover all this and more!

The monthly meeting will run from 5:30 to 7 p.m. May 19 at Desert Island Supply Co., 5500 First Ave. N., Woodlawn [map]. Tickets — only 14 left — are $16.82 and can be purchased on the See Jane Write event page.

Get serious about your blog, and turn your site into the next big opportunity. I hope to see you there!

• • •

Need a speaker for your upcoming event?
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Speaking gigs: Florida Public Relations Association, Pensacola chapter, May 2015

May 3, 2015
Photo: Kirill Kniazev (CC)

Photo: Kirill Kniazev (CC)

I’m going to the beach!

This isn’t for sand and surf. I’m speaking to the Pensacola chapter of the Florida Public Relations Association this month. I’ll give my presentation on “The Super Easy Guide to Video for Content Marketing.”

The official description:

Video keeps visitors on your site longer and helps people pay attention to your message. So why aren’t we using it more? Wade Kwon shows easy steps to incorporate video into WordPress sites. Learn how you can make your posts and pages compelling through interesting and entertaining clips in just minutes.

Take a sneak peek. More information is available on the Florida Public Relations Association events page.

The monthly meeting will be at 11:45 a.m. May 21 at the Pensacola Bay Center, 201 E. Gregory St. [map]. Tickets, which include lunch, are $20, $15 for members. RSVP by emailing rsvp@fprapensacola.org.

Looking forward to sunny Florida later this month. I hope to see you there!

• • •

Need a speaker for your upcoming event?
Let’s work together …

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Why I’ll always be a “high-maintenance” speaker

April 27, 2015

As a conference director, I ask a lot of my speakers.

As an attendee, I ask a lot of presenting speakers.

As a speaker, I ask a lot of organizers.

Clearly, I am a pain in the ass.

Wade KwonI’m an advocate for the audience. They should not be forced to sit through unprepared shoddy speakers or technical glitches or general ineptness. Things can and will go wrong, but I do everything possible as a speaker to minimize those effects.

I don’t understand why other organizers give spots to “low-maintenance” speakers. My high-maintenance approach can appear diva-ish, but maybe I can make my reasons clearer.

The process begins with the first query. When asked to speak at an event, I’ll ask about the audience: pressing topics, size, demographics, skills and experience. I’ll ask about logistics: travel arrangements, compensation and contact person. I’ll ask about the room: podium, screen and projector, wi-fi, dimensions and AV equipment.

I always insist on using my Macbook for slides. It works perfectly with my paired remote, and it shows the slides with the proper font. Sometimes, I’ll have 10 or more pages pre-loaded in my browser for live demonstrations. I find the risk too high in using an event-provided laptop (almost always without a remote). Practically every speaker out there is using her own laptop for presentations.

One of the most important topics I ask about is time: How many minutes of speaking time? I practice my talk over and over to fit within the time allotted. (And admittedly, I have gone over the time limit in my last three talks, so I definitely need to work harder in this area.)

Knowing that I can shorten (or lengthen) my talk on the fly ensures that events and sessions end on time as promised, but that I haven’t rushed through the material or skipped over too much of it. Often, an organizer will tell me the start time is noon, but after waiting for stragglers and housekeeping announcements, I find myself starting 15 minutes later. But if the event ends 15 minutes late, that’s on me.

When I show up early, I’m there to set up so that everything works: microphone, projector, remote and lights. I become focused, and occasionally testy, dealing with stubborn unfamiliar equipment and lax technical support. Remember, if a slide is too dim onscreen or a microphone triggers loud feedback, that’s also on me.

After the event, I’ll give feedback to organizers on what to look for next time, especially if something went wrong. It’s easy for me to know which ones care about improvement and which ones turn a blind eye. Guess which ones I won’t revisit …

That’s OK. I’m a pro. I can end on time. I can work without slides if the projector fails (which has happened a few times). I can work without notes. I can introduce myself.

I am there for the audience to learn and to ask questions and to be stimulated. Typically, a happy audience leads to happy organizers, but I’ve stepped on enough toes (and egos) to know that good results aren’t always enough to receive a return invitation.

I’m high maintenance. That’s guaranteed. What’s also guaranteed is that I’ll show up early, I won’t flake out on an event, I’ll be fully prepared for any contingency, and I’ll give a top-notch talk to the audience.

I love asking questions to the listeners. I love telling funny stories and shocking the crowd. I love answering questions and solving problems. I love applause.

I may not get to do it for every audience, but when I do, it’s a lot of fun. For me and for everyone in the room.

• • •

Book me for your next event …
if you dare.

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Blogging fear: Topics worth reading

April 20, 2015
introspection

Illustration: Gisela Giardino (CC)

I asked for your biggest fears in blogging, and y’all came through.

This week’s fear: “My biggest personal fear is not having anything to say worth saying. [Our school] is trying to step up its blog presence on our web, so everyone in the PR department is assigned a week to do a blog post. I want what I write to always be relevant and not just to meet a deadline – of course. It is not a ‘personal’ blog. It has to relate somehow to the college. Some weeks it’s tough to come up with something you want to write about.

“How do you keep fresh and cultivate good topics that someone actually wants to read?”

— Cathy

Romance dies as newness wears off. A new love seems more exciting than an inhabited relationship, when flaws are more familiar than attributes. Passion fades.

This truth applies to our jobs and our companies. I love what I do, but I have worked at companies where that love was beaten down day after day.

You might love your job and your company. Finding things to write about should be very easy. The toughest blogging challenge would be what to blog about first.

You might hate your job and your company. No matter how hard you try, you won’t come up with good topics in which you can pour your heart and soul. Look for a better job elsewhere if you can’t change your situation.

You might be stuck in the middle: Your job and your company aren’t perfect; you love some things and would change other aspects. How do you find great blog topics worth writing and reading?

1. Dig deep. Determine what parts of your job still get you fired up. Talking with customers? Brainstorming? Solving problems? Long-term analysis? Use your favorite things to create interesting posts.

I love speaking, brainstorming and solving problems, so I write many posts about these aspects of communications. I hate bureaucracy, excuses and intangible results, so I avoid these blog topics at all costs.

2. Ask your readers. I ask people all the time about potential topics. They might be readers, customers, audience members, peers, experts, colleagues or hecklers. Why waste time guessing when you can ask people directly?

I’ve conducted surveys in person, on paper and online to gather data. I’ve asked the same question to people for weeks on end. I have a burning curiosity to know what others want to learn. Foster your curiosity.

3. Steal ideas. Look at blogs about other colleges and universities. Lurk in LinkedIn and Facebook groups about schools aimed at students, parents and faculty. See what people are talking about regularly.

When I’m really stuck for a topic, I do research, or more accurately, reconnaissance. This tactic has yet to fail me, because I can quickly ascertain the most pressing questions to answer.

Rekindle your romance with your work. Doing so will help your voice flourish and your blog ring true.

That will definitely be worth reading.

Tell me about your biggest fear in blogging,
and I might answer it in a future post.

More in our Blogging Fears series.

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