Category: Uncategorized

Five ways to reduce your word count

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I work with various clients, and on different projects, where word count is important. Sometimes I need to shave a few words to fit a document on one page. There are times when I need to reduce thousands of words to a few paragraphs. I write and edit articles for Rental Housing Business magazine, where word count varies according to the number of ads. I also regularly summarize large amounts of content into smaller text bites for easier reading (e.g., study guides, websites, training materials).

Many people learned to write long essays in high school, college and university. In those cases, it was important to fill pages and extend word count. They don’t know how to say what they need to say in fewer words. Readers have short attention spans. Writing concisely is an important skill.

The following tips should help you to reduce your overall word count:

  1. Use the active voice instead of the passive voice.
    Passive voice: The course was taught by the marketing expert.
    Active voice: The marketing expert taught the course.
  2. Avoid unnecessary adjectives and adverbs (e.g., extremely large, incredibly fast, unbelievably difficult, running quickly).
  3. Replace longer words, phrases, and idioms with shorter options. There are thousands of unnecessarily long words and phrases – the following resources should help:
    The Writing Centre
    Wordiness List
    Writing Concise Sentences
  4. Do not repeat the same point in different ways. Say it once and move on.
  5. Link to additional information online when you need to provide more details.

Do you have any tips on making your writing more concise? Let me know –

Building trust in your audience

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Whether you speak to people in person, or communicate through your publishing, advertising and marketing efforts, it is important to build trust in your audience. If they do not believe in what you are saying, then all of your communication will be for nothing.

To build trust, you must be authentic in your message, and know about the people who are receiving your message. This applies when writing, speaking, selling, marketing, and engaging with your audience.

Consider the following tips on building trust in your audience (there are many different ways to do so, but I like these methods):

  • Do not talk about your skills and services – demonstrate what you can do for your audience.
  • Use testimonials and case studies to back up your abilities.
  • Use terminology that focuses on your customers’ needs (benefits over features).
  • Always meet your clients’ expectations (exceed them where possible).
  • Stimulate their imagination by showing what will happen when they use your service.
  • When developing ideas, focus on imagination first, which precedes doing / buying / wanting. Imagination forms the foundation of ideas. Follow up with emotions, which help to personalize your ideas.
  • Create a positioning statement. Always take a position in your business and marketing – be clear in your position.
  • State who you are, who you will provide services to, what you stand for, what price you charge, and to what end you are aiming.

How do you build trust in your audience? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Six tips on giving a great presentation

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Good speeches, presentations, seminars, workshops, etc. have a number of common elements. Learning how to develop your presentation skills (particularly when doing PowerPoint presentations) can improve your career and help to make your subject more appealing to your audience – which should be one of your key goals.

  1. Stick to the main points. One solid piece of advice for giving a good talk is to keep your speech or presentation to a few main points. Base your talk on one central theme, and support it with a few key points. You can support those key points with examples, case studies, stories, facts, etc. For example, suppose you are giving a presentation on “Writing an effective email.” Your three key points could be:
    – Write a powerful, relevant subject line.
    – State your purpose in the opening paragraph.
    – Conclude with a call to action.
  2. Know your audience. It is very important to know who you will be presenting to so that you can tailor your speech accordingly. Don’t say the same things to different groups of people. Find out what people are interested in, and speak to those topics. Ask several key audience members what interests them, and what they want to get out of the presentation. Use the opening of your presentation to work in a reference to the situation. This will get your audience interested from the beginning of your talk.
  3. Provide great content. Focus on a few clear and specific points, and provide a lot of details to support those points. Organize details and examples to keep the talk interesting.
  4. Tell interesting stories. People remember stories, anecdotes, and relevant examples because they affect real people’s lives.
  5. Be enthusiastic. Show enthusiasm for your topic and your audience will care about what you have to say.
  6. Personalize your information. Customize the opening of your talk to your audience, and insert relevant points throughout to keep them engaged. Research your audience ahead of time, or talk to a few people before your presentation. I saw a comedian from the U.S. who made a number of jokes about things he saw when he came to town, and we laughed even more because we could relate to the content.

Do you have any tips for providing great presentations? Let me know –

David Gargaro

Should I create a workshop, seminar or webinar?

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I’ve always wanted to develop a workshop, seminar or webinar as part of my strategy to build my brand and grow my business. I also think that it’s incredibly cool, and great for your ego, to be a good public speaker. I’ve attended enough of these events over the years to understand that they are very effective in accomplishing these goals, as well as building your speaking and presentation skills and expanding your network. Webinars are also becoming a big part of growing one’s business, as you can reach a lot of people at the same time with very little effort (beyond creating the webinar).

Much like my issue with writing a newsletter, I’ve wondered about what I would present at a workshop, seminar or webinar that would encourage people to attend. There are many great workshops, seminars and webinars (and many average and bad ones), so I would want to put some thought into creating one (or several) that achieve my goals while entertaining and educating my audience. The goal is to give the people what they want so that they think of you again in the future.

So, what would I give a presentation, workshop or seminar on? Some ideas include:

  • How to write effective emails
  • Writing and editing your business correspondence
  • Becoming a more powerful writer
  • How to write interesting corporate newsletters
  • Writing more effective web copy
  • How to edit your own writing
  • How to publish information products

What do you think? Let me know at if you like any of these ideas or if you have any of your own suggestions for a workshop, seminar or webinar. I am very interested in pursuing this option, and hope to create one on a topic of interest at some time in the near future. Skillshare approached me about putting together a course, but I had to put it off as I did not have the bandwidth for putting it together.

PS. Check out my talk on better communication via email, given at the Editors Toronto meeting.

David Gargaro