Tag Archives: words matter

Are You Ready for the Future?

For those of us living in 2017, the biggest factor is change.  Things are changing rapidly; it seems, with predictions for hard-to-imagine change coming within just ten to fifteen years.  Life expectancy is longer, so you have to consider that it’s likely you will be involved.

My personal take on all this change is that words will still matter, and we will all still need to use them correctly if we are to understand and thrive in our brave new world.

Here are more than half a dozen changes (described in words) that I’m prepared to see the future bring, and this just scratches the surface:

  • Miami, for example, will be under water.
  • People will have the option to live in homes that are round, specially-designed to be hurricane-proof.
  • Artificial intelligence* (a game changer), smart homes, the ‘Internet of Things’** and augmented reality*** will all click together seamlessly.
  • Cars and public vehicles will not require drivers, operating themselves for the most part.
  • We will have no choice but to manage our daily lives (banking, shopping) entirely from cell phones via the Internet as brick and mortar institutions fade, malls die and Wi-Fi ****dominates connectivity.

(However, N.B:  A prevailing theory in the tech industry is that smartphones will one day be replaced by normal-looking glasses that display virtual information onto the real world.)*****

  • Robots will replace people in many jobs.
  • Drones will be involved heavily in hundreds of new ways from shipping and delivery (I’m betting against delivery via Amazon Key) to healthcare, security, police work, farming, et al.
  • Higher education will evolve in ways that reduce its cost, with virtual reality****** replacing textbooks.  Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) will prevail.
  • In coming years much of our food may be genetically modified, such as “mock meat.”

*Artificial Intelligence can be defined as the capacity of a computer to perform operations that are analogous to learning and decision- making in humans by a program or by an expert system, for the recognition and perception of shapes in computer vision systems. An example here would be a digital personal assistant on some e-commerce website that works with a customer, also learns from that customer and makes recommendations for that customer.

**The Internet of Things is the network of physical devices, vehicles, home appliances, and other items embedded with electronics, software, sensors, actuators, and network connectivity which enable these objects to connect and exchange data.

***Augmented Reality can be defined as a technology that layers computer-generated enhancements on an existing reality and makes it more meaningful through the ability to interact. A good example would be from InContext Solutions.  The company provides cloud-based virtual store simulations and shopper insights so that users may, for example, actually try out furniture in different styles or colors to see how those items would fit into their living rooms.

****WiFi is defined as an abbreviation for wireless fidelity, meaning you can access or connect to a network using radio waves, without needing to use wires.

*****The smartphone will become obsolete by 2025, replaced by nascent (developing) technology.

******Virtual Reality can be defined as a computer-generated simulation of a real-life environment. Example: a 3D store shelf that can adapt to offer more appropriate items to the individual customer.



Nine Well Tips for Business Righting

(MUCH BETTER: Nine Good Tips for Business Writing)

Why nine?  Ten is overdone.

You are a businessman or businesswoman, probably an expert in your field.  It’s likely you would not have gotten where you are without first knowing the basic rules of grammar and how to put words on paper.  You know what makes writing good or bad, right?

Why then might you hire a freelance business writer?  Ask yourself whether you just want to blow bubbles or you want to blow bubbles with kittens inside them.

Tip #1:  Your press releases should follow an accepted journalistic style; and it also helps to learn what reporters and editors consider newsworthy so you don’t waste your time and theirs.

Writing is an essential part of all business communication.  It’s how you get your message across.  For example, if you’re starting a business in the Fort Lauderdale area, you may rely on publicity in local newspapers to help get the word out.  Do you know how to get someone to write about your business?  Do you need to hire a local free lance publicist?

Tip #2:  Strive for web content that does three things:  keeps visitors coming back, converts them into customers or clients and attracts search engines. 

If you have a website, or need a website, you need to know that content is king. Business writers and web content writers always write for the reader. But what is it about writing that persuades or engages visitors?  What does it mean to write in pictures?  Your web content should be educational and informative and at the same time colorful and interesting.

Tip #3For your blog, or for the one you don’t yet have, you’ll need copy that’s crafted for blogging and includes keywords that search engines more likely will find.

Do you know what gives words power and which words create more compelling copy?  Does your blog copy hold your reader’s attention? How personal should it be?  When should you add a “call to action?”  Time is money. Do you have time to keep your blog fresh?  Most writers will admit they find writing hard work but thoroughly enjoy having written! Ah, there’s the rub!

Tip #4:  Business writing, unlike creative writing, is best kept short

Since busy people more and more access Facebook, Twitter and e-mail from their small-screen cell phones, it’s important for your message to grab the reader and be concise so there’s less scrolling involved.  Put the key message upfront.  Don’t lead into it.

Do you know which words can safely be left out without risk of distorting your meaning? Example:  It isn’t necessary to use the word “that” after “say” or “think.” What’s the best way to present complex information?  When there’s a lot to say, condense it to three bullet points.  Paraphrase.  Summarize.  Use examples.  Pick one important statistic.  Don’t be boring.

Tip #5:   When creating copy for your e-marketing campaign, use words to motivate, but be credible; and avoid headlines that are spam triggers.

Don’t turn away your prospects with copy that isn’t believable.   I cut my teeth in the advertising industry where a word can make or break a product.  Words like “new” and “improved” were powerful in product advertising because research tipped off advertisers that consumers wanted better and better products.  Those two words could motivate a consumer to buy.  In today’s world, certain words can dump your message right into the spam can.

Tip #6: It’s always safer to choose the word you know.  Don’t take a chance on one that may not mean what you think it does.  When in doubt, rewrite the sentence.  And choose the one-syllable word.  

Much like football, communication requires a sender, a receiver and a message.  It also requires listening or reading.  Communication is not complete until the intended receiver is holding the ball. Fumbles with words – choosing the wrong one and using it incorrectly — can be costly and embarrassing to say the least.

Here’s a bit of advice.  I would advise you to be sure you know the meaning and proper use of common words like these:

  • Podium.  It’s the platform, not the lectern.
  • Disinterested.  It means neutral, unbiased.  Not interested?  No!
  • Peruse is a careful review, not a casual review.
  • Hone means to sharpen; home refers to pinpointing a target.
  • Nonplussed  means bewildered, not unimpressed
  • Discrete means separate unless you spell it “discreet,” in which case it means allowing for privacy.
  •  If it is complementary, it completes, unlike a compliment, which flatters.
  • To each “their” own is just wrong!  It’s to each his own.
  • That or which? – If the clause cannot be omitted without changing the meaning of the sentence, use “that.”  If the clause is parenthetical, use “which.”

Tip #7:  Ask someone to read what you’ve written to look for red flags before you hit “send.

My long-time favorite saying on communications is this:  “I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I’m not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.”

Perspective, tone and style contribute to your message. Do you bring the right perspective to the subject?  (Are you talkin’ ta me?)  Is the tone friendly, or not so much?   Writing style can be verbose, descriptive, detailed, terse, bold or flippant.  A word can be redundant, politically incorrect or convey bias.  Varying the pace or rhythm of the piece can help to hold readers.

Tip #8Try to stay on top of things.  (I know, right?) 

For example, Oxford Dictionaries Online has added a ton of new abbreviations related to the Web.  Did you get that memo?  Twittersphere and unfollow are words now.  Of course, a sheeple would never unfollow anyone.

Tip #9:  Allow me to hammer in the importance of proofreading – again and again — with fresh eyes and on a different day if possible.  Fact check! 

Whatever else it may be, business writing should always strive to be accurate and clear.  I’ve heard it said that writing is re-writing, which makes proofreading and editing vital to the process.  A writer’s first draft is rarely the best.  Don’t rely on spell check totally.  Spell check helps, but it won’t alert you if you’ve used “there” when you should have used “their” or “they’re.”

When it comes to shoes, although we may not know our Manolo Blahniks from our Christian Louboutins, we ought to do our best to spell the words right.

As Congressman Weiner recently learned, it’s not what you say, it’s how you type it.  A typo in a tweet address apparently turned a private photo message into a public one.

Words matter.  Make them work for you!