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!

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.

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!

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!

Introducing a new feature on this blog: WriteOn!

Each week, I’ll be posting a “WriteOn!” mini-post here on my blog where you’ll find two or three links to blogs, articles and academic research paper posts that I’ve discovered online during the previous week. WriteOn3-carrotHonestly, I’m not sure what the specific topics will be – I’m open to learning about anything and everything that can help keep us positive, focused, motivated and moving forward in today’s sometimes-crazy, often-distracting world.

I’ll be looking for writing that somehow catches my attention. (For those of you who already follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn, you know my interests are wide-ranging and somewhat scattered: business, writing, teaching, learning, entrepreneurship, social media, communicating, etc.) In determining my picks for each week, I’ll be focused on sharing writing that’s somehow eye-opening, thought-provoking or just plain interesting – something that makes me (and hopefully you) think or react or take action.

Let’s face it: There’s so much good writing that’s going on right now, it’s impossible to read it all. Today, it seems we’re all writers – and we’re writing more than ever before: texting, emailing, blogging and expressing ourselves on social and online media… The reality is that humanity, as a whole, is communicating on a global scale and we’re linked together now more than we’ve ever been before.

This new blog feature – WriteOn! – will be my attempt to simplify and filter through all the writing and communicating that’s going on online today. I’m doing this for myself and for my like-minded friends and followers. Hope it helps us all! Look for my first WriteOn! post this Monday, January 5, 2015. Let me know what you think by commenting or tweeting to me. Thanks!

Bring On Your ‘Writing Mojo’!

The summer session of my COM107-Writing for the Media class at Rider University starts today. It’s a short term (only 6 weeks). Packing a full semester into 6 weeks isn’t easy, but we’ll be starting off with a bang! Right away, we’ll be diving in and discovering ways to “bring on our writing mojo” — that magical feeling when the words just seem to endlessly and easily flow from our brain to our fingertips as we write.  writing mojo

Find Your Writing Mojo

From time to time, we all need a little help to overcome “writer’s block” or to just get started on a writing project. When we’re “blocked” or we’re finding it difficult to focus on our writing efforts, we need to tap into our “writing mojo” to get things done.

Here’s some advice — excerpts from my first class assignment, “Bring On Your Writing Mojo!”:

What inspires you to write?… Do you like to write?… Do you ever suffer from “writer’s block”?… Let’s share our personal thoughts and ideas about the writing process and discuss ways we can bring on our “writing mojo.” Also, please read the following blog posts to discover some of the ways writers become motivated and get ready to write:

You also might want to do some additional research on your own…

The assignment: Write one or two paragraphs answering the following questions:

  • Do you like to write?
  • Why or why not?
  • If you do like to write, what do you like to write about, or what type of writing do you enjoy the most?
  • After hearing and reading about what motivates people to write, what idea(s) or suggestion(s) do you believe would be the most helpful to you to help you “bring on your writing mojo”? Tell us why.

Share Your Ideas…

My students will be writing their thoughts in a private discussion forum on Canvas, but feel free to share your thoughts and write your comments on this blog. I’ll respond to you as soon as possible. Thanks for reading — and good luck bringing on your “writing mojo”! 🙂

Are you getting ready to write?

At the start of my writing classes each semester we review how people prepare themselves to write. Everyone does this differently, of course, so, in addition to my own experiences, I like to share advice from different sources. Here’s a timely poster and blog post by Demian Farnworth from www.copyblogger.com that arrived in my email inbox today:
10 Rules for Writing First Drafts
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

I’ll be sharing it with my writing students in class next week. (Thanks, Demian!)

Inspiration From Everyone, Everywhere

Inspiration is a funny thing: You never know where it’s going to come from, or when it’s going to happen.

The last few weeks have been challenging for everyone impacted by a storm named Sandy, with its wild winds and overwhelming surge. My family was very fortunate. Yes, we were displaced for a few weeks, but that’s nothing compared to what was experienced by the people whose homes were flooded or washed away. I can only imagine how they’re feeling. Over the past few weeks, as I’ve driven by giant mounds of debris on the roads around me, and I’ve watched the news reports on TV, I’ve been inspired by the strength and bravery of people, in general. I’m inspired by their ability to look ahead to the future, their capacity to hold onto dreams. Everyone seems to have the determination to push forward and rebuild, despite the challenges they’re facing.

I’ve also been inspired by my students this semester. This week, they presented their final projects: “Zen-like” presentations of their plans for the future. Together, we looked ahead to 2022 and talked about our hopes and dreams. (I’m smiling as I’m writing this, remembering the wide variety of scenarios they envision… Most predictions are very positive and happy, except for the “zombie apocalypse” outlined by one student! 🙂 )

This semester was also the first semester where I asked my students to create their own WordPress blogs. (See my previous blog post.) Yes, I was truly inspired by the way many of my students dedicated so much time and effort in creating and writing their blogs. But, I was also inspired by their overall enthusiasm for the project and the messages they conveyed. I’m inspired by their plans and dreams — and their determination to make these dreams come true.

So, on that note, I’m linking you to Crissy Glasser’s blog (with her permission). Listen to the song Crissy shares at the end of her post: “Dream Catcher” by the band Set It Off. I’m inspired by the messages in the song’s lyrics… I hope you’re inspired by the song’s messages too! “Cast your net… cast it out…”

Until next time, as Set It Off says, “Please believe you’ll be a dream catcher!” 🙂

Photo credit: Jack Newton – jdn – via Flickr/Creative Commons