Thanks to my friends at the Bay Area Editors’ Forum, I just learned of a great Wired.com article called “What’s Up With That: Why It’s So Hard to Catch Your Own Typos.” The article offers some of the science behind that all-too-common malady.
The piece quotes psychologist Tom Stafford, a researcher at the UK’s University of Sheffield: “When you’re writing, you’re trying to convey meaning. It’s a very high-level task.” And your brain temporarily concentrates on that task to the exclusion of other ones, such as accurate typing.
Essentially, when you’re writing you’re in what I call the “creative” phase. And well you should be! Get it all out and do your best to say what you want to say.
Then switch to the “editing” phase. You can find lots of advice about that in a former blog post of mine HERE. Here’s one of those tips: Continue reading
You’re a professional in the nonprofit or social-mission business world. And I know you have a website. But could it be more effective?
Join the many others who have already benefited from my workshops on web copywriting! This time I’m offering it as an interactive webinar that anyone can attend: Thursday, September 8, via the Center for Volunteer & Nonprofit Leadership. Here’s the description:
Have you been putting off making needed changes to your website copy? Not sure what will make the most impact? Need some detailed feedback?
Of course, you know that your website forms an essential part of your organization’s marketing. It needs to deliver compelling content that your readers eagerly engage with. The words and pictures have to jump off the screen and meet your readers where they are. But actually cranking out that copy can sometimes be a challenge.
This webinar will offer you plenty of tips and techniques to make sure your content is web reader-friendly, while it stresses your community impact.
- 3 planning fundamentals that help you get the results you want
- What you need to know about today’s web users
- How to ensure website usability & accessibility
- Intro to Search Engine Optimization
- Recommended resources on the web
You may have seen this image online. Did you initially notice the strategic placement of the comma and the huge difference it makes?
I have to admit, I like this kind of stuff. It’s mildly humorous and it makes a point (um…no pun intended). Punctuation can be a serious matter. Not using it correctly can have dire consequences.
Here’s another of my favorites from the Internet. Ponder away! Continue reading
One recent morning a very interesting email came across my desk. It was from a reporter at the Chronicle of Philanthropy: Could I offer any words of wisdom about jargon in nonprofit fundraising appeals?
Hmm…where shall I begin?
My thoughts, combined with those of other experts in the field, came out in an article published earlier this month. While only subscribers can read the full text, you can start with this excerpt:
Stakeholder. Leverage. Consensus building. Paradigm shift. These are just a few of the words and phrases that drive some communications experts crazy when they pop up in fundraising appeals.
Such jargon tells potential donors next to nothing. And as people’s attention spans grow shorter, a direct-mail letter or an email littered with such phrases may fall flat with the people you want to reach.
Jargon often creeps into fundraising appeals because the authors become too comfortable with office parlance. They forget to think about whether people outside of the organization will understand the letter, email, tweet, or Facebook post. Continue reading
(Creative Commons photo license)
Q: What’s the danger in misusing hyperbole?
A: While we all like to think that our work is unique, essential, and groundbreaking, that can’t always be the case. (I think of the phrase from A Prairie Home Companion, “where the children are all above average.”)
It behooves you as a socially responsible changemaker to get your facts straight and do your research; exaggeration has no place in your writing. You certainly don’t want your readers to doubt your integrity or knowledge of your field if they learn you’re not telling the whole truth.
Of course, If extensive research tells you that you are the only/best/least expensive/most effective/largest (etc.) organization doing your work in the way you are doing it, by all means tell the world about it. Just stay away from claims that seem too good to be true (what a turn-off!).
In all other cases, take the time to qualify your statements. Temper the temptation to go overboard. Look for the unique part of what you do and focus on that distinction — in an honest and clear way. For example, maybe you’re the only one in your geographic area making a specific community change. Perhaps you specialize in a particular population within your larger field. If you are contributing a major piece of the puzzle in your field, but your partners also form part of the solution, take them into account and share the credit.
Keep it real and always be mindful of your credibility.