Creative commentary plus crafty composition

Posts tagged ‘Art of Communication’

Canadian Cannabis Slogans

While cannabis is now officially legal in Canada, there are limitations for any versions of advertising or outright promotion (and there are some understandable reasons why).

So here’s a Top 10 list of laid-back slogans various and sundry parties may wish to use, perhaps to raise a leaf to for a little inspiration…

  • Now you know what growth investing means
  • We’re not looking to nip this in the bud
  • The on-line world is certainly buzzed
  • To air is pungent, to dip in if inclined
  • This is the best way to put strains in your relationship
  • It’s time to try on a new roll
  • Picking out weeds has never been a higher calling
  • Let us pick a number and bask in the glow
  • Mary Jane, we expect many public appearances
  • We don’t weed out anyone on paper

It’s taking less time now to discover things in the air.

Making Words Come Alive

Stories have a better chance to come to life when we construct and deliver descriptions which the listener’s mind’s eye can see.

Stories may be the essence of the message being presented.  Stories might also be part of the construction, such as in support of the theme of a speech.  The latter example is part of the formula discussed in an article in the October issue of Toastmaster magazine.

The article makes use of comments from three current or previous members of Toastmasters International, who have graduated into the hierarchy of professional speakers and communications coaching.  Their insights provide a cumulative blueprint for putting together a well-designed speech; by extension, these guidelines can apply to other variations of communications, such as writing dialogue or presentations targeted for certain audiences.

Here is a synopsis of guiding insights discussed under the heading of speech-writing:

  • With how much detail a speech should be written depends on one’s comfort with using a script, although an underlying goal should be to whittle it down to an outline, ultimately delivering without dependency on notes
  • Developing content is often like sorting out a jigsaw puzzle, in that ideas to be included may not occur chronologically; indeed, often one has an ending in mind (such as with jokes) and one works backward to some extent to the opening; with longer projects, focusing on the main body is generally first priority, before the opening or the closing
  • Especially in a speech or with dialogue, establishing and maintaining a conversational tone helps connect with the audience; however, this is not a conversation per se, and the use of more formal terminology or thoughtful word choices may be appropriate for a given audience
  • When it comes to choosing words, simpler may be better, but not at the expense of clarity, or specificity if needed; however, be wary of using jargon
  • Clever and suitable inclusion of humour is typically welcomed by an audience; incorporating wit or funny stories is more advantageous than jokes, as the latter depend more on ‘high stakes’ conclusions or punch lines
  • As noted above, speeches benefit from including stories, which ‘pull listeners in and keep them engaged’; making ‘flesh-and-blood’ characters the focus is easier for people to relate to
  • Making an opening effective means an audience becomes engaged, the more important if the main topic is one some don’t initially find absorbing; using a more natural and conversational approach may be less of an attention-grabber, but comes across as less of a ‘stunt’; asking a question which triggers the imagination can be effective; in any event, the audience needs to become intrigued within the first two minutes
  • The time frame will help dictate how many main points one tries to make; the plan is to make them stick, which may be easier with fewer main points and more supporting ones
  • Transitioning from one idea to another is important to maintain flow, and can be as simple as using effective pauses
  • Repeating or returning to key themes or concepts is of value for reinforcing and re-emphasizing messages; although conclusions should be ‘forward looking’, this can include rhetorical questions or even ‘circling back’ to the opening “to highlight the journey you’ve been on as a group”

Now, what words should I use to get this going…

Thanksgiving: Viewed from the Plate

This coming weekend is Thanksgiving weekend in Canada, with the day itself keeping the tradition of second Monday in October.  Considered one of those occasions to bond with family, as with the U.S. version later in November, it hasn’t dovetailed into the latter’s four-day event also celebrating the shopping madness of ‘Black Friday’.

While these are longstanding festivities in both countries, with historical origins involving early explorers and settlers, this is looking at things only from the side of the consumer, i.e. the one enjoying the repast.

How much effort has been expended to consider things from the standpoint of the fully committed main attraction as provider, i.e. the turkey?  Yes, there are many components in a special feast, but traditionally the appearance and carving of the cooked bird is a major anticipation.

From the point of view of the turkey, there’s not much to celebrate.

On top of this, there are numerous examples of dire treatment on the way to a diner’s plate.  One of the most famous is depicted in a famous episode of the TV comedy WKRP in Cincinnati.  The radio station manager’s promotion goes downhill dramatically after an authorized dropping of live turkeys from a helicopter, over a shopping mall, turns (predictably) badly. He delivers a line of tragically comic clarity: “As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”.

In reality, wild turkeys can fly, at least for short hops.  But this is insufficient for the vast majority raised for consumption purposes.

Meanwhile, how did turkeys get into this predicament originally?  Probably the following have played a part:

  • The desire of our ancestors to have a meal with a centrepiece, encouraging active participation by attendees
  • The efficiency of having a large sourced meal for family meals and leftovers
  • The comparative advantage of, for example, chickens being able to lay eggs consumable by humans
  • The appeal of compatible side-dishes such as stuffing, gravy, and cranberry sauce

Clearly, this is a situation turkeys have not lucked into.

If they could somehow band together to do so, what might turkeys be able to do to turn the tide away from dominating the Thanksgiving dinner plate?

  • Throw human concerns about sun-based skin maladies out to the wind by getting as much of a burn as possible
  • Save sufficient funds for a bribe
  • Promote more eating of snacks, to reduce the cooking of big dinners
  • Develop on-line social media support
  • Keep handy, malodorous scents to spray away interest
  • Learn to camouflage, by looking like a dense bush on short notice
  • Protest to parade organizers to have them feature other species
  • Start eating candies and rich desserts to develop a less healthy profile
  • Become a trusted advisor concerning animal related, purchase decisions on ‘Black Friday’
  • Lead celebrations of goodwill to all, enjoyed with take-out foods substituting for big cooked meals

Let’s have another slice to salute the turkeys!

The Eyes Have It

A famous expression states “the eyes are windows to the soul”.  Since there are some among us with limited, or sadly no, eyesight, presumably there needs to be flexibility in taking such an insight, as worded, literally.  We could also consider hearing as listening to the soul, or touch as feeling for the soul.

We seem increasingly to live in a time in which reading is considered by too many as more of a chore than an enjoyable activity.  At least in the sense of sitting down with a book or a newspaper, and using our mind in concert with the chosen words to build understanding or ponder what we imagine, popularity has declined.  Substituting more instantaneous, visual, less interpretive communication, especially via social media and technology, has become vogue for large segments of society.  Part of the collateral damage are the once laudable goals of correct spelling and clarity, fallen prey to the modern need for speed and simplicity.

As these often involve multi-sensory outputs, ready access to the senses is more interwoven than ever.  This would implicitly seem to champion the value of eyesight.

Yet there are some – I’ve heard it said more than once – that eyesight is not the most important of the senses.  There are those who feel that taste or touch are more vital.  Certainly, anyone without sight could be excused for maximizing the value of the other senses they have.  But having vision sure helps.

Consider the senses insofar as how western society devotes its curative and restorative energies in the consumer marketplace.   In larger communities at least, it seems a truism that one can find many more clinics and retail outlets devoted to eyesight issues than to hearing loss, speech impediment, etc.  One could argue about the prevalence of dental services, but dentistry serves more than the sense of taste.  Since incentives and commerce are heavily dependent on the principles of supply and demand, it would appear that eye care wins, so to speak, hands down.

This week your humble commentator had a visit, for the first time, with an eye specialist.  Moreover, a small, brief, but nonetheless consequential episode of laser surgery resulted.  Such happenings are quick to make one see the light.

Like so much else of significance, we don’t truly appreciate our senses and health until in some way there is a threat, or at least a concern.  Yet, so many people, especially in the seemingly invincible stages of the earlier years, treat themselves cavalierly.  Here are some suggestions as to how to better protect ‘the gift of sight’:

  • Wear glasses all the time; if a prescription isn’t needed, it’s an excuse to go for a bold, exclusive look
  • When eyes are tired, especially of the surroundings or people, look down a lot
  • Whenever possible, close one’s eyes and let the ‘theatre of the mind’ take charge
  • Rotate the focus of activities on each of one’s five senses on a daily basis
  • Look for movie titles like “The Hills have Noses” or “The Taste Buds of Laura Mars”
  • Try mentally substituting the spelling of ‘eye’ with ‘I’ whenever possible
  • Wink with a finger once in a while
  • Practice squinting
  • Exercise your eyes by wearing sunglasses indoors and reading glasses outdoors
  • Routinely look at varying font sizes and widths in word documents



The Insure Thing About Traveling

An article in the late summer edition of The Insurance & Investment Journal discusses a side of travel which tends not to be at the top of mind in planning priorities, but which, if not set-up, could have serious financial consequences.   The issue: travel insurance.

A recent survey of Canadians found that 89% felt they had at least a reasonable understanding of what they were getting in their policies.  However, it appears the greatest concern is the time it takes to process claims. (more…)

To Speak or Not to Speak

This week I heard a radio commentator refer to the time-honoured, greatest dread of people (supposedly): the fear of public speaking.  The host noted how importantly the skill of being able to deliver presentations could impact one’s professional opportunities.

He then alluded to a just released story of a teenager who has confronted his own trepidation, by sending out an entreaty to educational authorities that he be spared from having to make presentations to other students in class.  There has been reaction to this quickly in social media.  No doubt, ‘experts’ on both sides of such a debate are aplenty. (more…)

Cruising for Options – Part Two

In part one I noted that the temporary lifestyle of a cruise on the high seas (such as the Mediterranean) provides a wave (pun intended) of experiences, which in turn mean opportunities for reflection.  Whether partaking in activities on board, or on shore excursions, hopefully high points resonate stronger than miscues and challenges.

When it comes to what to do while on board, cruise lines are prepared with plenty of options, scheduled or otherwise. (more…)