From ? to ! in 60 seconds

I recently discovered a series of brilliant videos by content marketing site Copyblogger. Each vid explains a content marketing concept with great clarity.

And in less than 60 seconds.

See this one on content marketing itself, for instance.

Clear and succinct.

In 60 seconds, the "?" in the viewer's mind becomes a "!" as they grasp an idea for the first time.

This contrasts sharply with how TERRIBLE most people are at explaining difficult concepts. They can spend hours only to turn "?" into "???"

So what do these videos do differently? (Hint: It's not the cute animation)

Read More

A Better Way to Structure List-based Articles and Talks

We need to talk about a popular way to organise articles and speeches: Lists.

From journalists and bloggers to speakers and parents on grocery runs, everybody loves making lists. And indeed the list format offers many virtues.

Guy Kawasaki - an obsessive user of the Top 10 format - explains at the outset of all his talks: “I like the top 10 format because if I suck, at least you know for how much longer I’ll suck.”

Good point… Except the list format is often misused in a way that makes the audience forget rather than remember what you’ve told them.

If you’re a popular writer/speaker whose work people bookmark and come back to again and again, that might be fine. But if most people see your stuff just once, helping them remember is pretty important.

So let’s learn how to optimize your list for audience recall.

Read More

A Curious Tale of Persuasion

A guy comes up to you with a sincere smile and asks: "Can I have US$1,200 to go play Pokemon Go in Japan?" How would you respond?

If you're going “Huh? What the hell!?”, know that this actually happened.

A guy from California with a Youtube channel set up a crowdfunding campaign to finance his trip to Japan. To play Pokemon Go.


If you’re thinking “There's NO way he got $1,200”, you’d be right. 

He got US$18,935 - or 15 times what he asked for.

What's equally amazing... he didn't get it from a few bizarrely generous people or rabid super-fans. Instead, 1,199 people gave him money.

How did he pull off this impressive feat of persuasion?

Read More

Talk Anatomy: How to speak up for yourself by Adam Galinksy

In each "Talk Anatomy" post I take a popular talk, dissect what makes it work, and extract lessons to help you hone your own persuasive powers.

I recently got an email from recommending Adam Galinsky’s talk - “How to speak up for yourself” - delivered at TEDxNewYork.

15 delightful minutes later, I wasn’t at all surprised that TED picked this one out of thousands to send to my inbox (and place onto its front page).

Watch it yourself here, or dive straight into the analysis. 

Read More

Is Technology Changing a Core Principle of Effective Presentations?

Presentation experts may disagree on a lot of things, but virtually all of them agree that a presentation is very, VERY different from a piece of writing, such as a blog post.

And of course it is. Presentation and writing are different in many ways, with the key one being that the audience of your presentation cannot rewind.

If your audience doesn't get something you said or is momentarily distracted (angry text from boss!), they can't just hit pause, rewind the tape and review the point you made. With no regard for their plight, the presentation train choo-choos on.

Readers of your article, on the other hand, can go back, jump forward, or teleport freely from any place in the writing to any other place, unrestrained by space or time.

This has big implications. While blog posts and articles routinely offer 10, 20 or upwards 50 points in a thousand words, oral presenters are advised to stick to one key message.

As champion speaker Craig Valentine said: "If you squeeze information in, you squeeze your audience out." The excellent Dr. Michelle Mazur wrote that a speech isn't a blog post. "In a speech, less is always more."

I've always followed this advice like a commandment to live and die by, and I still believe it's true. I'm just not sure it's as true as it was before, and whether it'll stay true.

Because technology is changing the way most people experience presentations.

Read More


At the start of 2016 I made myself a promise to redouble my blogging. Then what happened? I left the blog to rot for months, of course! That's what a new full-time job plus a slate of workshops will do.

Then I realised that some of you are running your own companies, doing consulting on the side, raising five kids, and still find time to blog twice a week.

So I'm getting off of my widening behind and back into it.