Archive | Writing Without Waffle

World’s worst speech

Another day, another networking group launches.

Nice venue. Nice breakfast. But then the regional director stood up and said: “I’m now going to bore you all to death about [Name of organisation] for 10 minutes.”

Oh no! That’s called ‘setting expectations’. He said it twice, and our expectations were well and truly set.

He went on to say: “I’ll try not to muff it…I’m going to sit down because I’m old and decrepit and need to support the weight of my stomach after breakfast.”

Trying to convince us to join: “You don’t have to bounce up and down like some other groups I could mention…This is networking for grown-ups…I don’t like people who think they’re better than anyone else…I’m looking for people to run clubs for me, because I don’t want to do it.”

And later: “I’ll probably cause a mass exodus when I tell you the cost of joining.”

How keen do you suppose his audience was at this point?

When talking about the rules & regulations of membership, he held up a little leaflet, and said: “Most members don’t even bother to read it which is why it’s so small. If you ask our members what the rules and regulations are, they look at you blankly.”

As a membership perk, he proffered a green plastic “leather-look” folder, and warned us that the magnetic button drops off and that we should buy our own Araldite to fix it.

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Accelerate: where’s it going?

Review of Accelerate, ‘the magazine for ambitious business owners’ produced by NABO.

I picked up this magazine at a NABO Networking launch meeting last week. Their meetings have an interesting format: low entry point, no ‘lock-outs’, one2ones within the meeting, education slots etc. I approve! At a time when many traditional networking groups seem increasingly ‘tired’ (even those that now include peer-to-peer development), it will be interesting to see how NABO’s approach works out.

The whole publication is well-written and designed (although my copy has already fallen apart, possibly through over-use). Anyway, I picked out the key learning points that seem particularly useful:

Article about the growth of Stefan Boyle’s print company, Print Republic

“We were making the mistakes that other companies were making: we were talking about ourselves. We didn’t talk from a customer’s or prospect’s perspective.”

Article about training consultant, Frances Tolton

Jonathan Jay advised her to find out what customers actually want. She asked them: “If you had money to spend on training, what type of training would you spend it on?” She also went to her current clients and asked the simple question: “What else can we do for you?” He also advises: “Find the type of marketing you are best at and invest first in that.”

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Actual recording from a training session attributed to the Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM):

The missile knows where it is at all times. It knows this because it knows where it isn’t. By subtracting where it is from where it isn’t, or where it isn’t from where it is (whichever is greater), it obtains a difference, or deviation. The guidance subsystem uses deviations to generate corrective commands to drive the missile from a position where it is to a position where it isn’t, and arriving at a position where it wasn’t, it now is. Consequently, the position where it is, is now the position that it wasn’t, and it follows that the position that it was, is now the position that it isn’t.

In the event that the position that it is in is not the position that it wasn’t, the system has acquired a variation, the variation being the difference between where the missile is, and where it wasn’t. If variation is considered to be a significant factor, it too may be corrected by the GEA. However, the missile must also know where it was.

The missile guidance computer scenario works as follows. Because a variation has modified some of the information the missile has obtained, it is not sure just where it is. However, it is sure where it isn’t, within reason, and it knows where it was. It now subtracts where it should be from where it wasn’t, or vice-versa, and by differentiating this from the algebraic sum of where it shouldn’t be, and where it was, it is able to obtain the deviation and its variation, which is called error.


First words

I was interested to see this in Peter Roper’s blog:

  • First ever tweet Just setting up my twttr
  • First words spoken on YouTube Alright, so here we are in front of the elephants
  • First ever text message Merry Christmas
  • First mobile phone call Joel, this is Marty. I’m calling you from a cellphone, a real, handheld, portable cellphone
  • First telephone call Mr Watson, come here. I want to see you

Original source: BBC

One of my earliest memories is from when I was about four years’ old, sitting at a table outside the kitchen where my Mum was preparing a meal. I knew that you put letters together to make words, and was carefully writing three letters at a time on a piece of paper before running in to ask: “Is this a word? Is this a word?” Usually, she’d say No. Eventually, I wrote cat. My first word!


Notes on copywriting

You’ve heard that you have to turn features into benefits. That you should write from your customer’s point of view. That you ought to use the word ‘you’ more than you use the word ‘we’. So here’s an example of how it’s done:


Each apartment features a unique layout, designed with ease of living in mind. These luxury apartments offer ample space for everyday living.


If you are looking for great accommodation with a light and contemporary layout, designed with ease of living in mind, you’ll find we have an apartment to suit you.

If you want to check your own website, you can use the We We Test.


Twittle Red Riding Hood

Want to know how Twitter works? Read this story as a novel way to learn about the etiquette of Twitter code, conversation and content.

(With apologies to the real owners of these usernames)

@ LittleRedRidingHood Pls would you take this basket of food and deliver it to @ Grandma?

@ Mum OK, although I’m a bit scared going through the forest on my own

@ LittleRedRidingHood Just be careful and don’t talk to any strangers

Just checked in to ‘The Forest’ on FourSquare

@ LittleRedRidingHood Where are you going, little girl?

RT @Mum Just be careful and don’t talk to any strangers // That means YOU!

@ LittleRedRidingHood *Sniffs. What’s that in your basket? #HungryLikeAWolf

@ BigBadWolf Some goodies for my Grandma. Now go away and leave me alone

Just checked in to ‘Grandma’s House’ on FourSquare

@ BigBadWolf Who’s that? ARRGGGHHHH!!!

Just swallowed Grandma whole. What did you have for lunch today?

Now dressed in Grandma’s clothing. What are you wearing today?

@ Grandma OMG, what big eyes you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to see you with, my dear.

@ Grandma OMG, what big ears you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to hear you with, my dear.

@ Grandma OMG, what big TEETH you have!

@ LittleRedRidingHood All the better to EAT you with, my dear. #HungryLikeAWolf

ARRGGGHHHH!!! #RunsAwayScreaming

For your chance to win a F.R.E.E. 30-minute telephone consultation about social media, email before 31/3/2013. One lucky winner will be picked from all entries received by the closing date. Good luck!

Nice day in #TheForest. What’s it like where you are?

@ Woodcutter Hayulp! Hayulp! @ BigBadWolf has got into @ Grandma’s account!

@ BigBadWolf Get out of @ Grandma’s account right now, or I will Block you and report you as Spam

@ Woodcutter Grrr!

*Swings mighty chopper


Just escaped from inside @ BigBadWolf thanks to @ Woodcutter!

#FF @ Woodcutter So brave! So fearless!

D LittleRedRidingHood Mmm, you look nice in red xxx

D Woodcutter Thanks, shall we have a Tweetup?


Key to Twitter code

@ Username = Clickable link to a particular
Twitter user in a public message that other Twitter users can see

RT = Retweet = Tweet that is passed on by other Twitter users

#Hashtag = A way to collate all tweets about a particular keyword

#FF = Follow Friday = A recommendation to other Twitter users to follow a particular username

OMG = Oh My God

Pls = Please

D = Direct Message = A private message only possible between Twitter users who follow each other and only seen by them

Tweetup = Meetup arranged on Twitter

This article was originally published on Business on Twitter.

One of the services I provide for clients is writing Twitter and Facebook updates as the voice of their brand. Alternatively, I can train you how to do it yourself. Please contact me if you’d like some social media help.

This article has also been published on Fresh Business Thinking and Business on Twitter


2 ways to separate business and personal on Facebook

1. Use ‘friend lists’ to send separate status updates

Go to your Profile

> Friends

> Edit friends

Choose ‘All friends’ from the dropdown list

> Create a list

(Or hover beside each x symbol to ‘Edit lists’ you have already created)

Click the Facebook logo and write your status update

Click the padlock symbol

> Custom

Under ‘Make this visible to’ choose ‘Specific people’

Type the name of your list e.g. ‘work’ or ‘home’

> Save setting

> Share

To check that it has worked the way you want…

Go to Account

> Privacy settings

> Customise settings

> Preview my profile

Type the name of an individual from your list/s, to see what they see when they look at your profile

2. Create a Facebook Page

Your Profile collects Friends; while your Page collects Likes (previously known as Fans). Your Page must be connected to your Profile (although if you don’t click to ‘Like’ your own Page, no-one will know you have anything to do with it).

Click the Facebook logo top left

> Adverts and Pages (which may be under ‘More’ in the left hand column) OR Search for ‘Pages’ and click the icon that looks like blue and green speech bubbles (NOT the icon that says ‘App’).

> Create Page


Local business or place


Company, organisation or institution


Brand or product


Cause or community

Choose Category

Name your page after your company (or for SEO)

N.B. Your Page Name Must Have Initial Capitals or Facebook Will Reject It!

Tick T&Cs

Get started

[EDIT: Since the launch of Google+ circles, Facebook has now changed the way it manages friend lists]


4 ways to enhance your LinkedIn profile

1. Edit your ‘professional headline’

Go to Profile > Edit Profile and click ‘Edit’ by your name. Instead of just typing your job title and company name in the ‘Professional Headline’ field, write a keyword-rich description of what you do. This text shows up when your name is searched on Bing (it sometimes shows on Google too). The first line of your profile Summary shows in Yahoo search results, so fill that with benefit-led keywords too.

2. Give (and get) recommendations

What other people say about you is more convincing than anything you say yourself (as I keep banging on about!). So you need Reviews for your products, Testimonials for your services, and Recommendations for yourself. LinkedIn makes it easy to ask for recommendations. Go to Profile > Recommendations > Request recommendation (if you choose to do this, it’s good netiquette to customise the default ‘request’ message). I prefer to give recommendations instead, and get them back thanks to the law of reciprocity. The ‘Recommendation this person’ link is in the right hand column of each contact’s profile (naturally, people have to be in your LinkedIn network before you can recommend them).

3. Customise your URL and public profile

If you want to send the link to someone, you’ll find the default URL (web address) for your profile is not very catchy. Go to Profile > Edit Profile > Edit public profile to customise your URL i.e. change the random string of numbers to your own name, if available. You can also tick and untick the boxes on this page, to select which elements of your profile you want the public to see i.e. people not in your network. You will see a preview showing changes as you make them.

4. Make your website link keyword-rich

Go to Profile > Edit Profile and click Edit by your website. Instead of choosing ‘Company website’ from the dropdown menu, choose ‘Other’. You can then customise the link text that clicks through to your website (this is good from a search engine point of view, and useful for human readers too).


Measuring social media ROI

What you measure depends on your objectives at the start e.g.

If you’re using social media to boost your Google ranking, use Google search. Search Google for ‘Google’ then click ‘Everything’ and ‘More’ to search just blogs or ‘realtime’ tweets. (If you ‘vanity search’ your website, name or keywords, be sure to click your link/s and spend time browsing around your site so Google treats it as a ‘real’ search.)

If you’re using social media to build more inbound links to your site (a good way to boost your Google ranking) you can monitor success with backlink tools such as BackLinkWatch.

To analyse your web traffic, use Google (or Yahoo) Analytics. You get numbers, graphs and charts at an unbelievable level of detail, and it doesn’t even cost anything.

If you want to grow your network, simply count your likes/fans on Facebook, followers on Twitter, contacts on LinkedIn, and subscribers on your blog.

To monitor your level of engagement, impact and influence, use tools such as Twitalyzer, Twitter Grader or Klout, and count your RTs on Twitter and comments on your blog.


2 reasons why people go to the Internet

I’ve written before that there are only two reasons why people go to the Internet. They are looking for information or entertainment (or a bit of both, as provided in this blog). So I was interested to re-read this passage in the book Illusions, by Richard Bach:

[Richard and Don, the reluctant messiah, have gone to the cinema to see Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in answer to Richard’s question ‘Why are we here?’]

“…any people anywhere who go to any movie show, why are they there, when it is only illlusions?”
“Well, it’s entertainment,” I said.
“Fun. That’s right. One.”
“Could be educational.”
“Good, it’s always that. Learning. Two.”
“Fantasy, escape.”
“That’s fun too. One.”
“Technical reasons. To see how a film is made.”
“Learning. Two.”
“Escape from boredom…”
“Escape. You said that.”
“Social. To be with friends,” I said.
“Reason for going, but not for seeing the film. That’s fun, anyway. One.”
Whatever I came up with fit his two fingers; people see films for fun or learning or for both together.

Like cinema, people don’t go to the Internet to be sold to (which is a challenge for those of us who do Internet marketing – we have to be so much more creative about the way we do it).