May 27, 2015

Just Because You can Google It...


Just because you can Google something doesn’t make you an expert. (I just love those Realtor ads!) That line is so true of anything that involves skill and talent.

Recently I learned how true it is of audio recording and voice overs when I had the pleasure of a coaching session with voice actor Natasha Marchewka. I didn't think it would be too hard to make my little recording, but I was a bit nervous when I arrived at Natasha's place.

We started by making a recording to use as a baseline. Then Natasha coached me about how to improve my delivery - posture, breathing, intonation and so on. Finally I did 3 more recordings. Those last recordings were so much more difficult than the first one. I was hyper aware of all the things I needed to be doing as I spoke, sounding ‘natural’ being one of them.

Here are a few things I learned:
  • Talking in person is way easier than talking into a microphone, at least for me. It’s hard to use my hands and get expressive when my mouth is against a microphone and paper in my hand.
  • Appropriate word emphasis is critical.
  • My natural cadence is repetitive and boring. Changing up my cadence is tough; I’m a creature of habit.
  • Breathing into my stomach is harder than it sounds.
  • It’s so important to edit my script to insert pauses, to indicate where to slow down or speed up, to group words together, to emphasize certain words, to go high or low with tone, and more.
Not only do I have an audio recording for my About page, but I can continue to practice and apply the skills I learned from Natasha whenever I’m speaking, not just into a microphone. (Read Natasha's side of the story here along with my recordings.)

A reminder for all of us: Things that seem simple are that way because of all the expertise that went into making them that way.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder May 27, 2015
photo by loudestnoise / Flickr

Click to Tweet this Article

Adding Audio to Your Content - Part 3

*** Click to listen in rather than read

Are you confident about your voice? Even an experienced and articulate business person can use help with their presentation skills and could be speaking and communicating in a way that may be hindering their professional image.

As a follow-up to my “Adding Audio to Your Content” blogs, Part 1 and Part 2, I had the privilege of offering Presentation Skills Coaching to Linda Daley of Daley Progress. We took our blog theme of producing audio content one step further to help Linda add audio to her own webpage.

What needed to happen before recording her audio was coaching on the presentation of the script she had provided. To Linda’s credit, she easefully recorded the first take of her script as a starting point. You can hear in her opening attempt, that she is reading from a page and that she doesn’t sound as passionate about her script as she probably feels. Listen to the take without any voice coaching.

During the initial recording, I created notes based on where I thought Linda could use some work to elevate her presentation. We addressed her breathing style and posture, as well as, phrasing, tempo, and intonation, word emphasis, and her overall intention.

Through the coaching process, Linda learned that she needed to take a couple of deep breaths before speaking and even felt a shake - that is, physically shaking off nervousness - was helpful in preparing her to deliver her script. Further, being clear about whom she was speaking to and what she was really intending to communicate helped her focus on delivering the words naturally and with dynamics.

Working through her script together, highlighting words and phrases, and indicating pauses and timing, we took the script to the next level. Though Linda felt she could use a few more coaching sessions, she became aware of where she had already improved and how this learning opportunity would benefit her overall communicating style for the telephone, workshops, and public speeches.

Listen to the recording of Linda after a 1-½ hour coaching session.

This piece of audio is now something she can use on her website to further engage potential clients, as well as, a marketing element that she can share on social media. Coaching a professional like Linda is greatly rewarding as it demonstrates how someone, already skilled in their own right, can quickly improve their vocal abilities to express themselves proficiently in keeping with their professional image, sounding like themselves, but better.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder May 27, 2015

Click to Tweet this Article

May 19, 2015

Dear Subscriber

The reason for adding a subscriber's name as a form field to your messages is to make a closer connection with them. So what happens when you get something like "Dear {Subscriber}"? The exact opposite, right?

Unless you're prepared to spend time maintaining your mailing list, I usually recommend not to use form fields to insert subscribers' names into emails.

First you have to get the name. Asking for a subscriber's name on your sign-up form is possible, but also not a good practice because the more info you ask for at sign-up, the less likely people will be to sign up.

You could, instead, use another tactic to get the name of your subscriber. This is an example that came at the top of an email from Swiss Chalet:


The only thing wrong with this is it arrived 5 days after Mother's Day.

Click to Tweet this Article

May 15, 2015

5 Inspired Ways to Develop Content Ideas

Inspiring quotes about getting inspired – no better place to start when stumped. You can simply read this article, but I'd like you to grab a pen now and start a running list of content ideas for your blog or newsletter. Each of these suggestions can be accomplished in just minutes!


“I think I'm a born storyteller. Inspiration is all around me. I can read a newspaper article and come up with an idea for a book.”  - Jackie Collins
#1. Grab a newspaper, or find one online, and start reading. Scan the headlines for inspiration – a topic, concept or how-to that you can adapt to suit your target market.

"Adults are always asking little kids what they want to be when they grow up because they're looking for ideas."  - Paula Poundstone
#2. Look at what you do from the perspective of today's children. What is the future - of your industry, products/services, target market - that they can look forward to in 10 years, or 20 years? Use your imagination and have fun!

“Most creative work is a process of people passing ideas and inspirations from the past into the future and adding their own creativity along the way.”  - Joichi Ito
#3. What is the history of what you do? Has it been around a long time or is it new? How has it evolved? Do a little research online now. Or pick up the phone and interview someone who’s been doing it longer than you.

"If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."  - George Bernard Shaw
#4. Exchange ideas with a friend. Take a moment now to think of an idea for a colleague. Sometimes it's easier to come up with content ideas for other businesses. Phone your friend, share your idea, and ask for an idea in exchange. Email works, too. You'll be surprised at how easy it is to inspire each other.

“The popularity of the Internet and using it as an available resource has really changed the way chefs kind of gather information and look for inspiration. To me, a food trend is potentially a lot of people following an idea.”  - Grant Achatz
#5. What’s trending in your industry? Or what’s trending that affects your target market? Check "What’s Trending" on Google, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.


You'll find that sitting down to write is not as stressful when you already have a list of ideas to start with.

May 11, 2015

Adding LinkedIn Contacts to your Subscriber List


Are you still confused about what ‘consent’ means under the Canadian Anti Spam Legislation (CASL)? There are mixed messages as to whether it’s OK to add your LinkedIn contacts to your mailing list. And there’s a reason for that – it’s only OK in certain circumstances.

First, if you sell only to consumers, stop now. You need express consent, so the rest of this article doesn’t apply to you.

Implied consent is relevant for businesses that sell to other businesses. There are three key requirements for implied consent:
  1. The contact’s email address has been 'published conspicuously' and has no disclaimer that they do not accept commercial electronic messages.
  2. The message you are sending is relevant to their job at the company they work for. (Example: You can email a university professor to sell her textbooks, but not clothes.)
  3. There is an unsubscribe mechanism, so the recipient can signal lack of interest or relevancy.
Even if you are compliant with these requirements, you will want to carefully review your LinkedIn contact list and remove contacts for whom your information isn't relevant.

How to add LinkedIn contacts to your subscriber list:
  1. Export your LinkedIn contacts into a .csv file. Search LinkedIn Help for “export contacts” and you'll find clear instructions.
  2. Open your .csv file in Excel.
  3. Carefully review the list and delete contacts for whom your information will be irrelevant.
  4. Save the list and upload it to your bulk email application. (If you are my client, send your list to me instead.)
Note! Contacts often use different email addresses on LinkedIn than their primary business email. Be alert so you don’t add current subscribers under new email addresses.

This might not be a popular recommendation for some people. I get that. But we now have a legal definition of spam in Canada and it may be different than your personal opinions. I encourage you to make your email marketing decisions as a business owner, not as a consumer.


May 6, 2015

How to Start Writing when you Feel Stuck


Are you struggling when you sit down to write? Do those first couple of sentences elude you? Recently I learned a powerful technique for dealing with this dilemma.

During a coaching session on writing with Neil Everton, I was asking him for help with closing my articles. Neil directed me back to the top of the examples I had brought and suggested we start at the beginning.

You want your reader to nod and think “yes”, Neil told me. That first sentence needs to connect with the reader and bring them along for the rest of the article. One way to do this is to ask a question, as I did at the start of this article. Whether it’s a question or a statement, try to elicit feelings about the topic and empathize with the reader’s situation.

Did I also figure out my endings? I learned that getting the beginning right made writing the closing so much easier. I simply need to answer that opening question.

When you're stumped at the start, write out the question or problem that you will answer. Even if you eventually edit it, you’ll be over the hump and onto the rest of your article.

photo by becca.peterson26 / Flickr 
originally published in Work Better, Not Harder May 6, 2015

Click to Tweet this Article

How to Pay an Invoice through PayPal WITHOUT Using a PayPal Account

This isn't really a social media tutorial, but I do get asked frequently how to pay my online invoices from FreshBooks if one doesn't have a PayPal account, or if one prefers to not go through PayPal. It’s really pretty simple and I used a recent invoice to make this quick video tutorial for you.

You don't need a PayPal account to pay an invoice via the PayPal system. (Click to Tweet This)


So, now you don’t have to put invoices through your PayPal account if you don't want to. And you don't have to ask if the person will accept another method of payment, or wait until the event occurs to pay. It’s simple and quick to pay online through PayPal, even if you don't want to log in to your account (or if you don’t have one). This also means, there’s really no reason why small business owners should be afraid to have PayPal buttons on their website... because anyone can pay with a credit card, without having an account. And now you have a video to send them to!

originally published twirp.ca/2015/04/how-to-pay-an-online-invoice-through-paypal-without-using-a-paypal-account/

Click to Tweet this Article

May 1, 2015

Blogging Tip: Link to your Best Content


Want to get people to read more than one post when they get to your blog? There's one tactic that's worked great for me and it's really pretty simple.

After you write your article and before you publish it, review it looking for opportunities to add links to past posts. You will see at least one example in this article once I've finished it.

Ideally, you'll have several go-to articles for important topics in your industry. You may even want to save these links in a Word doc or Evernote, or use them as a resource page on your website. Once you have written a few hundred posts, it'll be harder to keep track of in the back of your mind. These go-to articles should themselves have more links to other posts. And so you encourage deeper reading.

This really doesn't take very long and you will see the impact on your statistics very quickly.

Aside from starting to use this tactic now, you can benefit by:
  1. making a list of your go-to posts for easy reference
  2. reviewing and adding links to published posts, especially those go-to posts

photo by Ed Yourdon / Flickr

Click to Tweet this Article