Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clear your throat before you pick up the phone


I work from my home office. I don't have co-workers to chat with, and I communicate through email, IM and text most of the time. Not a lot of vocalizing happening here, and it shows. If I make a call, or answer a call, my voice is rough.

What with it being cold and flu season, I thought I'd share some tricks to keep voices sounding positive and happy.

  • Clear your throat before you pick up the phone
  • Take a deep breath
  • Always have water available nearby (to wet your mouth and avoid "tongue clicks")
  • Sing or hum during the day to keep vocal chords loosened up (even if you don't consider yourself a singer)
  • Smile when you say hello (people can hear it)

What do you do to sound good over the phone?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Contracting for coffee - or unusual ways to get what you want

I know, it's been awhile. But, in my defense I've been busy.

Here's what's new with me -

  • I contracted for coffee. Yep. Coffee. I designed and "prettied up" a flyer for the local coffee shop and dance studio who are running a co-promotion. It was fun and I get Turtle Mochas out of the deal.
  • I redesigned my website at www.maryevelynlewis.com
  • I've been hired as the Online Communications Specialist for Cozy Calm (my longtime friend, Eileen, who invented the Cozy Calm Weighted Blanket, gave me one for Cameron, who has slept consistently through the night for over a week now - talk about a well rested HAPPY Mommy!). I officially start January 1st, but there is preliminary work to do and a learning curve to get through.

So, I will continue to be busy, but I'm loving what I'm doing. I'll still be posting here, and at Just Another Mom . And of course, tweeting @maryelewis and updating my status at Facebook .

I'm still here, and wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Interview with Lynda McDaniel, author of Words At Work

Lynda McDaniel, author of Words At Work: Powerful business writing delivers increased sales, improved results, and even a promotion or two. A veteran writing coach shows you how. was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Read on, her answers are enlightening.

Please tell us a little bit about yourself.

I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. There are lots of jokes about that city, but I had a good time growing up there. I received a great education and fell in love with baseball there. I’ve lived lots of places since—from the mountains of North Carolina to Washington, D.C. and the San Francisco Bay Area—but I’m proud to be from Cleveland.

I didn’t start writing professionally until I was 25 years old. A lot of people think they have to write when they’re kids or in high school, that it’s too late for them to start now. But that’s just not true. That’s one of the reasons I wrote Words at Work. My students and clients kept telling me that my story—from getting a late start to facing some hurdles along the way—inspired them that they can write too. And they do.

My writing career began in the most unlikely of places—just a speck on a map of the North Carolina mountains—but it was ripe with opportunity for me. That’s where I met a school director who asked if I’d like to learn public relations. To be honest, I should have answered, “What’s that?” Instead, I said, “Sure,” and took to it like ink to newsprint. Once I saw my first published article, I was hooked. I’ve never stopped writing. I’ve gone on to write five books and hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles for publications such as Southern Living, Country Living, Yoga Journal, and washingtonpost.com.

How/why did you decide to write a book about writing for work?

I heard a student tell another student as they left my writing class, “They sure don’t teach this in school!” That meant the world to me. I knew I had tapped into something special, and I wanted to share that with a wider audience. I love taking all the things I’ve learned during my writing and writing coaching career—sometimes the hard way—to make other people’s lives easier. I wrote Words at Work for everyone who wants to write well, and especially for those who thought they couldn’t. They can.

What do you like to read for pleasure?

I’m a voracious reader of novels. I just finished Michael Connelly’s Scarecrow and Henning Mankell’s Before the Frost. I recently read a non-fiction book entitled Blue Ocean Strategy: How to create uncontested market space and make the competition irrelevant. It’s a fascinating book about thinking beyond what’s traditional and creating something new from the unfulfilled needs of the “old.” Another fantastic non-fiction book I’m currently reading is How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. Not only is the information compelling, but his writing style is brilliant.

With Twitter and texting becoming ever more popular, do you think there are times when it is appropriate to conform to the adopted "shorthand" that limited characters has required? Or do you think we just need to find the correct words and send as many texts or Tweets needed to convey our message? OR... do we need to write "tighter" - clear and concise?

There’s a time and place for everything. Even shorthand writing, which I call our “jeans” writing. More on that in a minute. Just be careful. With so much e-communication today, we rarely meet the people who write us, but that doesn't stop us from forming a picture of them using the only clues we have—their words. We need to pick the right look depending on the situation. Similar to Casual Fridays at work, you’ll choose your “jeans” words when writing friends or acquaintances (tweets and texts). Most of your writing will be your basic work attire, which leaves a good, solid impression. And for those sales proposals and articles, blogs and Web copy (or novels, memoirs, and essays)? That’s when you don your fanciest glad rags. Have fun. Be creative.

What books do you suggest to become a better communicator through writing?

Brenda Ueland, author of If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit. More than any other book, this book inspired me to both honor my own creativity and learn how to improve upon it. Brenda is amazing. She lived earlier in the 20th century, but I use present tense because she still seems so alive. Her words jump off the page. I could hear her voice in my head as I wrote Words at Work—and I hope I succeeded in sharing the same kind of inspiration and encouragement with my readers. Also check out Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, and the classic, On Writing Well by William Zinsser. And, of course, Words at Work.

Thank you so much, Lynda!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Book Review - Words At Work by Lynda McDaniel

Words At Work
Lynda McDaniel

Words At Work is an easy to read, easy to use primer on written communications at work. McDaniel writes with a conversational style, and relates amusing tales about her experiences, putting the reader at ease.

Lynda shares two well kept secrets in Words At Work.

1. Everyone can learn to write well.
2. Bad writers just stopped too soon.

I agree, to a point. Anyone who can write a sentence can learn to write well, if they want to. I liked this book. I will be recommending it to friends who communicate mainly through email at work. Good writing leads to less confusion and higher productivity.

I was invited to review this book by Tracee at Pump Up Your Book Promotion. Thanks for the opportunity, Tracee!