Friday Writing Tips – Non-Fiction

A finger wagging style of writing  non-fiction does not always inspire alphabet-15461_150readers to sit up late into the early hours digesting page after page. Generally people who choose their ‘how to’ or non-fictional work do so for a purpose and you hope that  is sufficient to get them to turn the page.  The writing and the explanation required must go beyond thorough but often the reader finds it hard work.

My first book Finding Your Voice – Ten Steps to Successful Public Speaking, (published by Lothian in 2005) taught me a great deal about writing non-fiction.  Here are my 3 tips to keep the reader engrossed to the end the book.

Prepare an exhaustive overview. Define who, why, what and how key points, arguments, examples, anecdotal material and  illustrations. Plan the layout of chapters.

Keep it simple and keep it moving. Be critical – do you really need that 49th version of back story or why it is so? Recognise those tricked up, parlied up paras that fools the ego into believing the message was nailed it with a pretty turn of words and delete.  Keep it simple, keep it honest, keep it moving.

If you have publisher listen to your editor if not employ a quality editor.  Either a Developmental Editor who will help develop your project even before you start on the writing or a Substantive Editor  once you have a full text. Be open to suggestion, often you are too close to it to have vision. Be flexible to changes.


Friday Public Speaking Tips – Telling Your Story

Your Running Mate


Telling your story is  a powerful strategy to connect with your audience. A motivational speaker will use their personal story to preface and enhance the core message of their presentation. But opportunities for telling your story are not limited to motivational speaking often speakers are called upon to talk about themselves or their work.    3 tips  for an effective presentation.

Planning the content – what are the pivotal parts of your story that uplift, illuminate or demonstrate who you are.  Remember that the audience does not need to know the warts ‘n all boring bits

Develop the key points of the story.  It is not enough to say I was an dyslexic child with low self-esteem, flesh it out more, give the audience examples of how it felt.  Have the courage to be in touch with your emotions. Audiences respond always to truth, honesty and authenticity.

Respect the telling of your story –   it has valuable life  lessons that you have learned so give it the respect it deserves.  Slow your pace, use fearless eye-contact  and pause for emphasis.  Rehearse and rehearse the speech until flows easily.  A little self-deprecating humour is a great ingredient to add to the mix if the material is overwhelming.


I want to join the circus

I love the circus. Cirque du Soleil has trounced all of the homespun touring circuses of the recent past with their reliance on animal acts of lions, tigers and bejewelled elephants. Recently I visited the oldest touring circus in Australia. Joseph Ashton founded the family circus dynasty in 1853 and today the family has adapted the traditional acts to encompass new skills of physical daring.

Over the past two decades animal activists have lobbied hard to secure the release of performance animals from circuses. The Ashton family was faced with change or perish. now they have only two animal acts – dogs and stallions. Instead the circus family members from toddlers upwards pride themselves on a range of acrobatic, wire walking, juggling, trapeze and clown skills. Their tight little community multi tasks from box office duties, ring maintenance and selling hot chips and popcorn. All dedicated, all focused to continue the life of entertaining their audience. They will do what it takes to upscale their skills and come up with new acts to replace old, to compete with the high-tech glamour of Cirque du Soleil.

One act performed on the slack wire I found encapsulated the joy of a circus performer, with each new daring feat I saw how present in the moment the performer had to be to maintain his balance. The circus community pulls together and whether they are practicing or performing they are in the moment. In the joyful moment of who they are. In the moment that’s when we step into our power.