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Adventures in Public Speaking

Adventures in Public Speaking

Over the first two weeks in September, I had the opportunity to speak at two different conferences in central Illinois.

Now, public speaking is not everyone’s first love. It certainly wasn’t mine. But I first got my feet wet with public speaking while working in PR for an Illinois non-profit, and started to learn what worked for me as a speaker.

Over time, it’s gotten easier. I’ve learned to write notes to myself on my speaking outline, practice aloud beforehand, and prepare simple, effective slides that help illustrate the ideas and concepts of the talk.

So, when it came time to hop up on stage again, I was ready for it.

Up first was the @Midwest social media conference in Bloomington, IL. I had the auditorium space, and about 50 attendees joined my session to learn more about social media content creation.

AtMidwest Conference, 2014.

AtMidwest Conference, 2014.

The gist of this session: Content creation can be daunting, and coming up with fresh material for social media isn’t always easy. So, during the session, we talked about new ideas to test out, ways to repackage old content, went over some examples of people who execute those ideas well, and discussed general best practices for social media.

Next up was the Illinois Women in Leadership’s Women Symposium. This time, I spoke to a room of 45 about Motivating Millennials. This is a subject I often cover for my copywriting assignments, so we went over some of the statistics about Millennial priorities, the challenges they face in our modern world, and how bosses and mentors can challenge them to be better employees and leaders.

Both sessions had a lot of great questions and I was thrilled to hear their feedback on what their stumbling blocks and obstacles were with these two subjects. This started a dialogue between audience members about how to overcome those challenges (which was wonderful to see!).

Overall, these speaking engagements were a great way to start conversations so people can ask each other, “What works? What doesn’t?”

It’s not always easy to hop back in to public speaking, but I’d call these events successes. Want me to come speak at your next event? Get in touch.

Conducting a Social Media Contest

Conducting a Social Media Contest

You’ve been doing the same thing on social media for a while now…and it’s getting a little dry. You want something fresh and exciting for your audience—so you’re considering hosting a social media contest to mix things up.

The question is: Where do you begin?

Today, we’ll walk you through the steps of hosting a social media contest that is both successful and well planned.

Step 1: Set a Goal

Before you can begin thinking about the contest itself, you need to decide what you’re trying to achieve with your contest. Do you want to gain new followers? Start a conversation around your brand? Encourage website traffic?

Your goal is what shapes your contest. Once you’ve decided on the main objective, you can start bouncing around ideas on how you’ll accomplish the goal.

Example: If your goal is to increase followers for your Twitter account, you might make it a stipulation that in order to be entered in the contest, a participant must follow your Twitter account.

Step 2: Define the Parameters

Now it’s time for the specifics. You’ll need to answer a few main questions to ensure your ducks are in a row.

  • When will the contest start and end?
  • How will you choose a winner?
  • What is the prize?
  •  How will the prize be delivered (and by when)?

The last thing you want is to launch a social media contest without thinking through the logistics—so make a clear plan of action. Think of any question that may arise and have a planned response for it.

Step 3: Choose a Platform

Where will you host your social media contest? That question probably depends on your goal. Just keep in mind that there are guidelines for Facebook,Twitter, and Pinterest you’ll want to follow.

A few ideas for social media contests on different platforms:

A retweet contest on Twitter

A share/comment/like contest on Facebook

A Pinterest board creation contest

Instagram your favorite (X)

A good way to keep track of your contest entries is to create a unique hashtag that accompanies any valid entry.

And that’s it! Now you’re ready to launch your next social media contest. Give it a shot and see if it helps gain exposure for your brand.

Copywriter, Help Me!

Copywriter, Help Me!

Copywriter: One who creates written content for the purpose of marketing.  I think it’s a fancy name for anyone who has to write on behalf of a business. It’s all working toward a sales conversion, right? So whether it’s for ads, social media, press releases—even your emails—it’s all part of your company voice.

But maybe you don’t feel that your copywriting skills are at their sharpest. That’s okay. It’s a learned skill. But that’s why today, I want to go over a few examples of copy before and after the magic wand of smart copywriting has done its trick. Let’s look at a few examples.


Too Jargon-y

Before:  Our B2B services offer custom business solutions that increase ROI, drive engagements, boost SEO, and make customer conversion easy via hundreds of hyper-connected sales team members. Tailored, strategic marketing plans will help you draw in traffic online and off-line to help you reach your full potential.

Does anyone have any idea what that actually means? Seriously. What is it they’re even trying to sell?

After:  Our goal is to help business owners reach new customers. How do we do that?

Our tailored marketing plans include services such as:

  • Copywriting audits to help increase your Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

  • Customer support and telemarketing services

  • Social Media consulting and advertising plans

  • Public Relations resources (press release creation, media kits, etc.)


How they’re different:

  1. Structurally, the first one is a clump of words. The second breaks down the information so it’s easier to digest.

  2. The first is full of jargon and meaningless words that don’t explain much of anything. The second is concise and highly descriptive about the business’s offerings in simple words.


Too Cold

Before:  Your business needs consulting services that help minimize risk, achieve measurable outcomes, and include pragmatic methodology to help determine which areas hold the largest opportunities for impactful spend optimization in defined time frames.

Again, what? And secondly, why is this copy telling me what I need? They don’t know me!

After:  At BlahBlah Consulting, our goal is to help business owners get the tools they need to be effective leaders. Our team has 75 years of combined experience in the business world that we’re ready to share with you.

Have a question? A five-minute phone call is free. Call xxx-xxx-xxxx.


How they’re different:

  1. Option one has a very negative tone that speaks down to the reader. Rule of thumb: Never tell your customer what he/she needs. It’s too blunt. Option two is much more conversational and friendly.

  2. The first example doesn’t have a call to action that provokes the reader to get in touch with the business. The second option does (and it’s free!)


Too Informal

Before:  If your biz needs custom printing, call OTP Screens!! Weve got lots of colors to choose from and fill your orders ~FAST~. T-shirts, banners, signs…we print everything and our prices wont be beat by other print shops in the area so remember us for your printing needs!!!

This is an English teacher’s nightmare. Run-ons, bad punctuation, abbreviated words…yikes.

After:  OTP Printing prides itself on quality printing at affordable prices. Whether it’s t-shirts, banners, or signs, we ensure quick turn-around and attention to detail.

Have a project in mind? Get a free quote.


How they’re different:

  1. Option two improves spelling and makes copy more polished and professional.

  2. The clear call to action in option two makes it easy for the customer to understand what they need to do first.


When it comes to being a better copywriter, the bottom line is: keep it simple, don’t speak over people’s heads, and be clear about your offerings and how they can be attained. Words are powerful tools—use them to your advantage!