Make It Happen
My Tipsheets are chock full of ideas. They are all aimed at translating knowledge into a quick, action-oriented 60-second nugget.

First Name:
Last Name:
Tipsheet Archive
Randall's Resources
Whenever I speak or write, I often prepare extra "bonus" materials.
Enter the Resource Code to access this special content:
Resource Code:
Try this example Resource Code: eventplanning


13 Resources for Writers

by Randall Craig on December 9, 2016

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet, Presentations

Tagged as:

Do you wish that you could be more effective with the written word?   Have you always hated writing, from the first time your grade three teacher insisted you write two paragraphs on what you did during the summer?  Or maybe you enjoy the idea of writing, but you don’t enjoy the reality of writer’s block.

Written communication is core to so much: it is the expression of how one thinks and feels, the expression of an organization’s brand, and the primary mechanism to move others to commitment and action.  It is used in email,  newsletters, social media, proposals, reports, and so much more.

Here are 13 resources that can help you do better, grouped by category:

This week’s action plan:  This week, re-look at your writing:  how might you make it just a bit more effective?

Communications insight:  While writing is the basis of writing, it is also the basis of doing an excellent presentation.  This shouldn’t be a surprise, as critical and creative thinking underlie both: if you write well, you’ve probably done your thinking first.  (Test yourself: use these same ideas as you put together your next presentation.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and design
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders



As a speaker or writer, one of the most powerful techniques is to look for common cause with your audience.  This may mean using words or imagery that conjure up something from a shared past, or play to a shared cultural experience.

Unfortunately, this very same technique is unwittingly used to the exact opposite effect: it excludes.  And when someone feels excluded, at best the remainder of your message will never resonate. At worst, they may disqualify both you and your organization from consideration.

It is very easy to fall into the uniformity trap: just because everyone “looks” the same, we assume that we share a common background with them. This is especially true when we speak.  To a Hindu, Muslim, or Jew, Merry Christmas defines them as outsiders.  Or, to women, a term such as Chairman automatically erect a glass ceiling. Simple alternatives such as Happy Holidays and Chair are far more inclusive, and easy to incorporate. The goal is not to be politically correct, but rather, to engage your audience instead of alienating them.

When interacting with someone whose primary language isn’t English, the problem is even more basic: lack of fluency itself may be exclusionary.  If we are the ones that seek to be understood, how might we change our communication practices?

  • Enunciate each word clearly and slightly more slowly;
  • Skip complex grammatical constructions, words, idioms, and jargon.
  • Look for signs that they understand, and are actively listening
  • Summarize without appearing patronizing
  • Follow up with a written note, so they can look up words without losing face

This week’s action plan: Whether you are speaking to an audience of 1000, a group of 5, or are writing an email, blog post, or report, the goal is to effectively get buy-in to your ideas.  And to do this means including the message recipient – not excluding them.  This week, don’t assume that everyone has precisely your background: double-check your words to make sure they resonate with everyone.

Counterpoint:  Must you really avoid wishing someone Merry Christmas, instead substituting the relatively toothless “Happy Holidays?”  There is absolutely nothing wrong with wishing someone Merry Christmas, when you know that the recipient is a celebrant of Christmas.  But what if the person may not celebrate Christmas, or might even be offended by the phrase?  Or you are speaking or writing to a diverse audience?  This is where judgment comes in: it is the balance between connecting through shared experience (Christmas) vs. the downside of making others feel excluded.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site Web strategy, technology, and design
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


How journalists improve reader engagement

by Randall Craig October 21, 2016

What is the one lesson that appears in every newspaper article, every magazine article, and for that matter, every bestselling book?  Journalists and editors realize that they have to work exceptionally hard to get people to actually read what they write. And unless you actually do so, their work has no value – so they have become experts […]

Read More

The Sharpest Point (2)

by Randall Craig July 8, 2016

Have you ever listened to a presentation, and felt the signal-to-noise ratio could have been improved?  Or have you ever delivered a critical presentation, and felt that you could have done better… but you were not precisely sure how? Too often we add debris into our presentations.  These are those filler words, unrelated sidebars, and administrative notes that […]

Read More

Viewpoint: The decay of personal responsibility

by Randall Craig December 24, 2015

In his 2003 Australian best-seller Death Sentence: The Decay of Public Language, author Don Watson rails against lifeless, plastic corporate-speak.   He complains that too often, organizations hide behind their words, instead of connecting with their audiences with an authentic voice.  While he was writing about traditional communications, his point is doubly true in today’s digital […]

Read More

Link Bait Headlines

by Randall Craig December 4, 2015

Have you ever been “gulled” into reading an article, blog post, or viewing a video because of the headline?  Not the descriptive type of headline (such as Link Bait Headlines), but the kind that reels you in, like a helpless fish on a line.  If you’re not sure you’ve seen this type of approach, some […]

Read More

Viewpoint: Expert-writers and Writer-experts

by Randall Craig June 19, 2015

While the internet has changed the world of publishing fundamentally, the world of writing has been fundamentally shifted as well. Consider who is actually doing the writing: Professional writers are educated in the craft of investigation and written expression, and spend an entire career learning how to convey complex concepts to their audiences. Over time, […]

Read More

Top 10 Content Marketing Posts

by Randall Craig January 16, 2015

How is your content planning for the year coming along?  Or, perhaps the plan is in place, but you are now looking at a blank page, with an old-fashioned case of writer’s block. Fear not, as we have collected the top ten posts on content creation and inbound marketing. Blog Content Creation: Idea seeding:  How […]

Read More

Creative Time and Place

by Randall Craig October 3, 2014

How can you be your most creative? Google the topic and you will find millions of pages with an answer. Some will say you are “born” with it. Others will say it is a matter of following a process.  And others will claim it is a matter of using a secret sauce formula, which, when […]

Read More

Blogging at the Intersection of Relevance

by Randall Craig May 9, 2014

How often do you read a blog post that was just not relevant?  Or from the blog writer’s perspective, how do you make sure that your content is relevant, makes a difference, and achieves its objectives? At a high level, there are three key steps that need to take place: Define the audience.  Who are […]

Read More

Blog Content Creation: Idea seeding

by Randall Craig March 7, 2014

Have you ever spent time staring at your blank screen, wondering what your next blog post should be about, then staring at the clock, stressing about the looming deadline.  While it’s tempting to think of this problem as writer’s block, it is really a question of process. Idea seeding is a process for blog content […]

Read More

Thanksgiving sale: Get my books at a big discount

by Randall Craig November 29, 2013

Did the headline really capture your attention?  If you are a frequent reader of my material, you probably recognize that this is not the type of headline that you will usually find. I’ve written many times about how organizations (and individuals) compete on the Price-Expertise-Trust spectrum, and that Trust is by far the most enduring […]

Read More

Blog Post Magic Bullet

by Randall Craig June 21, 2013

Are your blog posts really that effective? Do they grab the reader, and convince them to read on? And is there a magic bullet that can immediately make this so? Too often, a blog post is an outgrowth of “stream of consciousness” thinking, and rarely hits the mark.  Adding strategy and structure can make a […]

Read More

Being Real

by Randall Craig May 13, 2013

What’s your reaction when you read a company newsletter, instruction manual, or other corporate communication?  You probably think it sounds plastic, anti-septic, and homogenized.  If so, you’re like most people – they see corporate-speak as fake, and they can sniff it a mile away. The best communicators have always known that effective writing connects at […]

Read More

Information Thief

by Randall Craig August 16, 2012

Are you an information thief?  Have you ever plagiarized, pilfered, or “borrowed” someone else’s knowledge or reputation?  And has someone ever done this to you? With the social web in front of us, it is too easy to use others’ information without their knowledge or permission – even if it is free.  Depending on how […]

Read More

Pictures from the Masters

by Randall Craig July 5, 2011

Have you ever spent time looking at the European Masters – Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and the many others?  During their era, there were no newspapers, telephones, let alone an internet.  When a subject sat down to be painted, it was often for hours, not minutes.  And the resulting painting was designed to last well into […]

Read More

A New York state of mind

by Randall Craig June 28, 2011

How would you describe a typical New Yorker?  More likely than not, you wouldn’t use the same words to describe someone from Los Angeles, or from a small mid-western town. People are a product of their environment, and often will take on the mindset, attitudes, and perspectives of where they are from.  (They also take […]

Read More

Strategy and Synergy

by Randall Craig April 5, 2011

Many people are interested in writing a blog, particularly if they have special expertise.  Yet, the precise subject of the blog usually eludes them.  Choose the wrong subject, and you’re stuck with it, and because of Google, it sticks to you… forever. The overall blogging rule is simple: write for your reader.  Imagine who that […]

Read More

The Rule of Three

by Randall Craig December 7, 2010

Have you ever read a blog post or listened to a presentation, only to find yourself unable to recall what was written or said? Have you ever found yourself frustrated when your own ideas are so quickly forgotten? There are many possible reasons for this, but often the culprit is a lack of focus in […]

Read More

Enough Fluff

by Randall Craig November 3, 2010

In today’s society, we are surrounded by fluff: low value information whose noise gets in the way of solid analysis, improved relationships, and personal excellence. Some of the fluff is mis-aimed advertising, some fluff is reply-all emails, and other fluff is “analysis” that doesn’t really analyze. We see fluff at meetings that go on too […]

Read More