Let Go of Your Anxieties About Writing! Just ‘K.I.S.S.’…

Learn to let go of any anxieties you might have about writing! In my 12 years of teaching writing courses, I’ve heard all the fears and excuses (and, honestly, sometimes I’ve experienced them, too). PURPLEKISS FINALWe share the same concerns and fears, we ask similar questions, and sometimes we don’t know what to write about, or how to get started. We’re always on alert, because “writer’s block” can happen at any time! Yes, anxieties related to the writing process are very common, so don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Recently, I taught a one-day “Basic Writing” refresher course for business people at a local community college. It was an enlightening experience for me to teach adult students who are already in the workforce, since I’m usually teaching “traditional” college students (ages 18-22) in my writing classes at Rider University. The main difference was that I was working with people who were NOT “digital natives” and these students represented different generations – mostly Generation X-ers, one Millennial, and a few Baby Boomers, too. And, even though our class took place in a computer lab, the students actually brought pens and notepads to the class, just like the good ol’ days! (Hmmm… “How different generations work and communicate today” might be a good topic for a future blog post?!… Stay tuned!) Yes, there were differences, but one similarity stood out: These students were like my other “traditional” students. They said they have anxieties related to the writing process, too. It’s a very common problem, but, seriously, it’s time to let go!

Here’s how: Just K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Students)! The K.I.S.S. principle for writing is easy to follow. It’s something I try to apply to all my writing – and to almost everything else that I do. If you’re ready to let go of your anxieties about writing, here are a few K.I.S.S. writing tips from my “Basic Writing” class presentation:

  • PREPARE to write. Create an outline. Do research, if necessary. Know your audience.
  • BRAINSTORM for ideas. Ask questions. Consider objectives. Be creative, when appropriate.
  • Pay attention to your writing STYLE and TONE. Be conversational, but professional. Be clear. Be yourself, and write naturally.

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These are just a few tips, and I could go on and on about the K.I.S.S. principle for writing, but we’ll save some pointers for another day, or maybe another blog post. 🙂  If you’ve read this far, you might be interested in reading more about what others are saying about keeping the writing process as simple as possible, like The Power of Simple Writing by Jeff Bulas.

Writing – and almost everything else in life – is better when you K.I.S.S.! What do you think? Feel free to share your comments on this blog. Or tweet me @kathymagrino. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Another starting point

The start of a new semester always brings back good childhood memories of back-to-school time — one of my favorite times of the year (and my brothers have always teased me about this, and my son has joined in with them now, too!).

I think I’ve always enjoyed back-to-school time because it’s a starting point. A new beginning. A chance for a fresh start. To me, a starting point like the start of a new semester opens the door to new opportunities, and it’s a reminder to close the door on the past, to look ahead, and to keep moving forward. A starting point represents hopes, dreams and possibilities.

I’m teaching two classes of COM106 Writing for the Communication Professions at Rider University. We’ll be busy in my classes this semester, but, I’m envisioning lots of opportunities to have some fun, too!  I’ll be learning more about my students’ plans for the future, and I’ll be trying to help them get a good start on their career paths.

Hopes. Dreams. Possibilities. That’s what I’m looking forward to during the next few months in my classes. I’ll be sharing some of our experiences here in my blog this semester, so please stay tuned! And please comment below to let me know if you also like back-to-school time, like I do. I’m interested in hearing why — and I’ll be sure to share your reasons with my son and brothers, too! 😉

‘Til next time, take care!

 

 

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Working Alone or Working in Teams?

We need to be good at doing BOTH: working alone and working in teams. Successful teamwork is based on good communication skills — the ability to effectively express our thoughts, and the ability to interact with others.

Lately, I’ve noticed that some of my students are uncomfortable with teamwork and they resist team-building activities. In one of my classes, several students have either talked to me after class or emailed me about the “issues” they’re having with their teams. In each of these instances, I’ve noticed (and pointed out to them) that the issues are being caused by a lack of communication with their teammates. The solution is simple: better communication, especially via face-to-face interaction.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately: Maybe “face-to-face” communication is now becoming a neglected form of communication? Many younger students (approximately 20 years old) don’t want to, or prefer not to, work in teams. Is this a new trend?…

Are we becoming too reliant on texting, postings and emails? Are we creating a society of people who have become too comfortable “hiding behind” their computers and devices? Yes, we need to work independently, but we also need to know how to work with others…What’s happening to us?… And do you agree that face-to-face communication (or at least a phone call where we hear each other’s voice) is becoming a lost art or neglected activity?

I’m curious to hear your ideas about this… Maybe we can team up to brainstorm some solutions? … Or maybe we should Skype — taking advantage of the newest form of face-to-face communication? 😉 Please let me know what you think by posting your comments here. Thanks!

Until next time,

Kathy

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A Presentation is a ‘Precious Opportunity’

Last week, students in one of my classes at Rider University (COM105 Mass Media Communication) completed their first team challenge presentations. Evaluated by their peers, each team entertained and educated their audience (me and their classmates) for up to 10 minutes. Some presentations were entertaining. Some were not. Some were rehearsed, but others were not. The whole experience reminded me of a blog post from Seth Godin last April called “The Hierarchy of Presentations.”

The key takeaways from Seth Godin’s post are:

1. A presentation is a precious opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted.

2. The purpose of a presentation is to change minds — or, in our case, to inform and educate (and to persuade our audience to give us good evaluations and grades).

It’s obvious that some of my students already know what makes a presentation work, and they recognize the value of a presentation opportunity. But, I think it’s a good idea to remind all of us to consider our goals when we’re making presentations — and to make sure we’re communicating and really connecting with our audience in a professional manner. Otherwise, don’t waste your audience’s time.

Until next time, polish up your presentation skills and take care! 😉

Kathy Magrino

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Diving in…

It’s the end of summer and the perfect time to dive in and “just do it,” as the people at Nike say. Yes, it’s time to start my blog. I’m not sure what direction this blog will take during the coming months, but I hope you’ll tune in to see what’s new and where we’re going. Next week, I’ll post a “schedule” of upcoming blog topics. Until then, enjoy the remaining days before it’s back-to-school time (here in NJ — I realize that some of you may be back to school already…)!

Best wishes,

Kathy Magrino

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Business communication: Are your presentations ‘Zen-like’? They should be!

Are your business presentations “Zen-like”? In his book, Presentation Zen, Garr Reynolds describes exactly what this means. (Side note: I originally discovered the first edition of this book years ago in my own personal quest to improve my business presentations and guide my clients in doing the same. But I instantly added Presentation Zen to the required reading list for one of the courses I teach at Rider University, too.) Sharing this book and the concepts Garr covers in the book with current and future business professionals is my attempt — in a very small way — to support Garr’s “mission” — and to hopefully help improve the quality of presentations in the business world, today and tomorrow.

If you’re not familiar with Presentation Zen, the book promotes the concepts of “restraint, simplicity and naturalness” in presentation preparation, design and delivery. Garr describes his book in the first chapter of Presentation Zen:

“This is not a book about Zen; this is a book about communication and about seeing presentations in a slightly different way, a way that is in tune with our times… Our professional activities – especially professional communications – can share the same ethos as Zen. That is, the essence or the spirit of many of the principles found in Zen concerning aesthetics, mindfulness, connectedness, and so on can be applied to our daily activities, including presentations.”

Follow Garr Reynolds on Twitter @PresentationZen and read the book to discover how you can make your business presentations more “Zen-like.” 🙂

 

Another Semester of ‘Experiential Learning’ Begins at Rider University

Fall 2018 at Rider University looks like it’s going to be another exciting semester of “experiential learning” (or, as I like to say, “learning by doing”) in both my COM341 Publicity Methods class and my COM107 Writing for the Media class — and I can’t wait to get started tomorrow (September 6th)! 

This semester, my students and I will be working and learning with Hackensack Meridian Health‘s Meghan Higgins and Margaret Fontana, producing a “Social Media Embassy” at the HMH Women Rock event on October 14th in Asbury Park, NJ. (Tyra Banks will be at the event, too!)

We’ll also be working and learning with the newly formed nonprofit, the James R. Halsey Foundation of the Arts, and its founder, Joseph A. Halsey, taking a hands-on approach to learning how to develop and promote the organization.

Additionally, my COM107 students will collaborate with Patrick Jones and Bryan Evans from Greater Trenton. We’ll be writing articles for the new online publication, Trenton Daily.

Yes! It’s going to be a very busy — yet FUN — semester… stay tuned!

P.S. I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog… I’m not going to make excuses, but I am going to promise to try to post more frequently and to restart the flow of information and conversation here. (In fact, I missed telling you about last semester, Spring 2018, when my students produced a super-successful event at Rider U. working with Seven13 Films… Maybe we’ll talk more about that in a future blog post?!)

But, I’m back — and I’m happy to be bringing this blog back to life, and I’m looking forward to teaching and facilitating another semester of “experiential learning” at Rider University!

Learning By Doing: Rider University Students Take Over Social Media at #HMHWomenRock Event

I’ve always been a big believer in the concept of “learning by doing”! myLIpost WOMENROCK

This semester (Fall 2017), my “COM341 Publicity Methods” class at Rider University has had the wonderful opportunity to work with, and learn from, Meghan Higgins, Online Conversation Starter for Hackensack Meridian Health (HMH), and Margaret Fontana, HMH Digital Information Officer. Meghan and Margaret are our class’ “real-world” clients, and they’ve been helping us to learn everything we can about communications, social media, digital media, event planning, promotion, publicity, business, and more!

After weeks of planning during our class meetings and Skype sessions with Meghan and Margaret, on Saturday, October 21, we accomplished a “social media takeover” at the HMH Women Rock event in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Throughout the afternoon event, which was attended by hundreds of people, we expertly handled the social media coverage. We also were fortunate to have the assistance of a few photographers from my class and from Professor Jessi Oliano’s photography class at Rider. It was a great day – and an awesome experience for everyone involved!

A big “thank you” to these special people:

  • Thank you to my Rider students and Prof. Oliano’s photography students for doing such an amazing job! You make me so proud to be associated with you and Rider University. 🙂
  • Thank you to everyone at the #HMHWomenRock event who participated with us in real life (IRL) and on social media – Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Pinterest!
  • And, most of all, a BIG “THANK YOU” to Meghan Higgins, Margaret Fontana, and the folks at Hackensack Meridian Health who made this learning experience possible!

 

‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm…’

syllabi fall 2017American Poet Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.” I agree 100%! That’s why I’m so excited to be starting another semester working with my students at Rider University. This semester, I’m teaching “COM107 Writing for the Media” and “COM341 Publicity Methods.” I couldn’t be any more enthusiastic about meeting my students (although I’ve met a few before) and about moving ahead with the activities planned for Fall 2017.

It’s go time! Classes start this week, and my syllabi are complete and already shared on Canvas (Rider’s learning management system online). Enthusiastically, I anticipate Fall 2017 will be a GREAT semester! Bring it on!

New Opportunities Require New Ways of Thinking! (#Repost2017)

I originally wrote and published the following blog post in June 2011, but I think it’s still relevant and appropriate for today’s world. What do you think?… Over the past few months (in 2011), I’ve been exploring new opportunities and paths, specifically looking for additional revenue streams to add to my “collection” as a self-employed professional. On several occasions, I’ve run into a similar mindset shared by people in management/leadership positions, and I’ve heard these words over and over again: “Don’t try to change us. This is how we do things…”

cropped thinking brain

I can’t help but wonder why people develop this mindset, and why they’re closing off any new ideas. Why, at this time, when our economy is suffering and sales are slow in every industry, would we want to continue doing things the same way we did 10 or 20 (or even 30) years ago? Why don’t we want to change? Why wouldn’t we want to embrace new ideas and opportunities?

When I ran into my high school social studies teacher about a year ago, she said hello and she also said that she remembers that I always asked a lot of questions in class. — She did add that they were “good” questions, by the way… ;-) — I guess I haven’t changed much in that way: I’m still asking  a lot of questions. But, over the years, I have changed in the way I see the world around me, and I’ve learned that new opportunities require new ways of thinking.

What do you think? If you have answers to any of my questions, please share them here.

Until next time, take care and thanks for reading!

Kathy

Are You Ready to Get More Social [Media]?…

Recently, a friend asked me about the social media consulting work I’ve been doing for a few of my clients, so I shared the following information with her.
croppedcolorfulbutterflyAfter I sent the info, and the more I thought about it, I decided it might be a good idea to share the information with everyone… Maybe you — or someone you know — could benefit by “getting more social [media]” for your business?! If that’s the case, please reach out to me. I’d love to chat with you!
 

Get More Social [Media] and Navigate the Social Media Channels with Kathy Magrino as Your Guide…

In the social media world, someone who “loves to talk” can work to your advantage: Kathy Magrino can help you navigate the social media channels and gain exposure for your business. Kathy will serve as your co-pilot and advisor as you take control of your business’ social media presence. She’ll show you how you can use social media to connect with more potential customers and fans, and you’ll gain more exposure for your business or brand. And, if you’d prefer, Kathy can manage and take care of your day-to-day social media tasks for you, while you relax and enjoy the ride!

Kathy has a long history of being known as a “social butterfly” and someone who enjoys chatting with other people. In fact, Kathy’s grammar school teachers would say she “loves to talk too much” and sometimes was “too social” in class. Jump ahead a few decades, and these “social skills” have combined with Kathy’s many years of experience as a writer, editor and marketing professional to create a powerful combination of skills. In recent years, these skills have been helping Kathy guide her clients – B2B and B2C businesses of all types and sizes – through the social media channels, “talking,” “chatting” and “socializing” their way to more exposure and more business.

From selecting the most effective social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and so on), to blogging and micro-blogging, to curating content (finding news and information relevant to your audience’s interests to share through the social media channels), to establishing an online “voice” for your brand and business, Kathy can help you do all things social-media-related, and she can help guide your business to social media success!

Connect with Kathy Magrino today to get started on your social media journey… She definitely looks forward to “chatting” with you! 😉

Email – kathy@thewriteway.com

Twitter – @kathymagrino

LinkedIn – http://www.linkedin.com/in/kathymagrino

Phone – 732-995-4030  

Creativity and enthusiasm shine through the blogs my students are writing!

A few years ago, I blogged about how impressed I was with the blogs my students were creating and writing for our COM106 Writing for the Communication Professions class at Rider University. And each semester since 2012, I’ve continued to be “wowed” by my students’ blogs.blogcollageimage It’s not just the writing that they’re doing that’s impressive. It’s my students’ creativity that impresses me the most!

I give my students complete creative control over their blogs, and they can choose to write about any theme they want (because I believe that it’s always easier to write when you’re writing about a topic that interests you). Their creativity is awesome, and it’s enhanced by their enthusiasm for the topics they’re writing about, as well! They’re doing such a great job writing their blogs this semester, and the themes and topics are so interesting. I enjoy reading every post they write. 🙂

Take a look at a few of the blogs created during the past few weeks (Spring Semester 2015), and I think you’ll be impressed, too!

Do You Schedule Your Time and Work in a Way that is ‘Natural’ for YOU?

In business, and in life, in general, timing is everything. I came across this blog post this morning: A Resting Revolution: Insight from Martha. croppedsunriseWhile Martha Beck, a popular life coach, author and motivational speaker, wrote this post in 2012, I believe I discovered and read the blog post at just the right time for me.

Right now, I needed to be reminded that “we should follow our own impulses rather than adhering to rigid external rules…” I believe this advice applies to just about everything in life. But, in this instance, Martha is referring to our schedules: when we work, and when we rest and sleep. In the article, Martha also quotes “brain rules” developed by Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist who studies the human brain. His “brain rule #7” is “Sleep well. Think well.” (I know that when I’m tired, it takes me a lot longer to get my work done.)

Our schedules can get crazy these days, with so many distractions, plus the demands of outside influences in our business and personal lives (school schedules, meeting times, sports schedules, travel requirements, etc.) Martha brings up a good point: Our school and work schedules today are based on timing and concepts developed during different times – and the world has changed A LOT since the Industrial Revolution. She says, “There is no reason to continue scheduling our activities based on a model from the 19th century,” and I agree.

Whether you’re naturally a “night owl” or an “early bird,” you’re most effective when you time your work – and your rest – to match your own natural rhythm. Good luck – and let’s get some rest! 🙂

Twitter grows, while Facebook remains the same…

Do you use Twitter?

Apparently, Twitter has been gaining more users, while Facebook usage has remained the same.  According to a recent article from Social Media Examiner, Twitter has been experiencing “massive growth.” Twitter screenshotThe article cites a Pew Research Center report that says the social media platform’s audience rose by 27.7% from 2013 to 2014, while Facebook’s audience held steady during the same time. The research also attributes some of Twitter’s increased popularity to TV programs and other businesses and brands using the platform. The article reports, “Twitter’s foothold with television audiences and Millennial consumers suggest there are some marketing opportunities.” That’s good news for businesses and brands.

Personally, I’ve enjoyed using Twitter since I first signed on in 2009. Over the past six years, it’s been fun to learn from people around the world, to meet new friends (some of those friends have transferred from the “Twitter world” to the “real world”), and to watch and participate in Twitter’s growth. If you’re not already using Twitter, you should join in on the fun! And let’s connect there: You can follow me @kathymagrino and I’ll follow you back. Hope to see you on Twitter soon! 🙂