Interview with Ann Handley, author of “Everybody Writes”

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Everybody Writes by Ann Handley is a spectacularly useful book about writing, organized into 74 bite-sized chunks. Ann and I look at the world through the same eyes, and we are fighting the same fight — to help you express yourself more clearly. Here’s my interview with her: Why a book on writing now? There are so … Continued

Who sounds like a deflategate liar: Robert Kraft or the NFL’s lawyers?

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Two people are arguing in print. Who do you believe? The one who writes more clearly, not necessarily the one that’s right. Which brings us to deflategate. When the Patriots played the Colts in this year’s AFC championship game, officials found some of the balls to be underinflated. The NFL just finished investigating whether the Patriots intentionally let air … Continued

Can we save academia from bullshit?

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Based on the 23,000 people who viewed and shared it, you liked my post on writing tips and psychology. But those in academia were displeased. A typical comment: I can only hope that the college students whose papers I have to read do not see this. Academically, this could be titled, “How to Fail a Research Paper”. How … Continued

SAP’s jargon-filled hybris press release: why bother?

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Why are you still doing press releases? And why are they so awful? In 20 years as an analyst, I received 10,000 press releases. I acted on four of them. But PR pros still craft releases and send them to wire services to clutter up everybody’s inboxes. They’re not just poorly read but poorly written, like this delete-provoking … Continued

10 top writing tips and the psychology behind them

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There are plenty of folks happy to tell you how to write better, just as any doctor will tell you to “eat right and exercise.” But changing your writing (or eating) habits only happens when you understand why you do what you do. I can help you with that. That proposal or email you wrote must now compete for … Continued

Do you work for a zombie company?

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A company with a clear mission has a soul. The soul motivates workers to contribute in positive ways to a shared goal. What do you call a company that has no soul? A zombie company. A zombie keeps moving forward but exercises no judgment. A zombie company has financial incentives where the soul should be. People do things because it … Continued

The recipe that generates Dr Oz’ bullshit

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Start with a topic that’s of crucial interest to a lot of people. Add a high degree of uncertainty. Season with media. Stand back and watch the bullshit appear. For example: which direction will stocks go? Everybody cares but nobody knows, so there’s lots of entertaining opinion on both sides. Add CNBC and you’ve got entertainment. … Continued

Rewrite passive voice and reveal the truth

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Passive voice sentences conceal who is acting and create creepy feelings in the reader. Fixing them reveals the truth and improves the tone of your writing. If you write advice or instructions of any kind, here’s your tutorial. Look at this example I encountered last night at the Red Sox game, where the team wrote the rules for “Friendly” Fenway … Continued