Tag Archives for " communication "

How to write a Tweet

Do you use Twitter?  So many people start up Twitter accounts and leave them dormant because they don’t know what to say?  When you have been Tweeting for a while you forget how intimidating the blank “What’s happening” box can be.  For a person new to Twitter, being limited to 140 characters may seem restrictive.  But using 140 characters or less to express yourself can be incredibly liberating!

First things first:  You are given a maximum of 140 characters, but you should aim to only use 125 characters at the very most.  If you want people to retweet your messages you have to allow them space to do that without editing your original text.  Less is more.  Using only a few characters forces you to be clear, concise and clever about what you want to say.  Less than 140 characters mean that all it takes is one sentence or a few short ones to fill in the box.  There are no essays to write!

If you want to refer people to an article or a page on your website, there are many ways to shorten the URL to 20 characters by using sites such as bit.ly, which leave only a hundred characters to fill.

What is your intention for your Tweet? 

Keep the 4 E’s in mind – Educate, Enrich, Entertain and Engage

Always keep your reader in mind; what do you want your reader to do when they have read your Tweet?

Click, Retweet or reply?

People will only click on a link if they think that there is something of interest to them at the end of it.  People will only retweet if your tweet made them smile or they found the information useful.  People will only reply if you encourage them to engage with you or if your Tweet has enriched them.

For example if you are in a shop buy food and you Tweet “Am in Sainsbury’s buying food“, as a reader I would probably think “So what?” But if you can add value by

  • telling me about something that you spotted someone doing
  • Giving me an insight about shopping or your views, such as “Hot cross buns at the beginning of Jan!”
  • Asking a question such “Do you find that food evaporates, too?”
  • amusing me with a funny rant

Some rules to remember

  • It’s best to restrict yourself to one thought per Tweet
  • Normal punctuation rules don’t apply!  You don’t have to leave a double space after a full stop!
  • In most cases, the pronoun “I” and “me” can be left out without any loss to meaning
  • Any word can be abbreviated in any way as long as it’s clear to the reader.
  • Read and reread for clarity and spelling
  • Remember every Tweet is public; do not publish anything that you wouldn’t want your family to read or to be published as a Headline in a newspaper.

I tend to type what I want to say at first without worrying about the length.  If it is short enough, I send it.  If it is too long, that’s where the fun comes in.  It is creative rewording what you want to say so that it cuts out waffle and extraneous words.  Can you rephrase what you are saying to make it sound better?  Have fun seeing how succinct you can be.  Can you write a story in six words?

What top tips would you give to someone who is just starting out in Twitter?  I would love to have your comments!

Other articles you might find interesting:

5 Reasons to Listen on Twitter

Is Twitter like Marmite?

Using Social Media for jobs

Do you listen when you use Social Media?

The Art of Storytelling

Are you sitting comfortably?  Once upon a time there was a coach who wondered about how to get her message across more effectively.  She had always enjoyed reading stories.  She loved being carried away into other worlds.  Often when she was absorbed in a book, she would be lost in time.  She enjoyed being shown a different way of viewing things.  She would be so caught up in the author’s world.  Every now and then she would be jolted into reality by practical things like needing to feed her children or needing sleep.  This would leave her frustrated and longing to return the pages of the tale.  She would read hungrily on until the book was finished.

Have you ever felt like this?  Can you associate with the feeling?

Storytelling is a wonderful art.  It is a skill worth learning.  I love hearing stories.  Sometimes stories that I read years ago will come into my consciousness, when I have an issue to resolve.  Has that ever happened to you, too?

The following video clip is a story I told recently at Farnham Speakers Club (part of Toastmasters International).  It is a project within the storytelling manual and just over 5 and half minutes I would love to know how the story makes you feel?

Does the story have any impact on you?  Can you associate with the story?

Would you like to develop your storytelling abilities?

Are you going to read this?

What makes you decide you are going to read an online article?  There is so much information available to you on a daily basis, what makes you stop and take the time? 

Yesterday, I was helping a small business set up their Facebook business page and we were talking about content for their page.  There is so much information available on any subject that you don’t have to write all of it yourself.  It is so easy to give the visitors to your page useful information by sharing articles that might be helpful to them.   If you use Twitter, there is an endless source of great articles on almost every topic all day. 

I have learnt so much through reading blogs and I have got used to the news finding me rather than me having to look for it.  BUT and it is a big BUT, there is SO much information!  How do you sift through so much data without becoming saturated? You have to be good at evaluating! 

You can only cope with a certain amount of information; in fact your brain is continually filtering out information out all the time.  Your brain will only remember about 1% of everything you input into it.  Nobody has the time to read everything, so we develop processes to sift things quickly. 

Have you ever thought about how quickly you make decisions online?  If the headline doesn’t capture your attention instantly, you don’t read the rest!  You may be missing out of the best piece of literature ever created, but in a nanosecond that decision is made.  As you read the headline or Tweet you are evaluating, sorting, figuring and redirecting information based on sequences and relationships. Wow!  Your brain does all this in a split second unconsciously.  So what gets your attention? 

Interest- If you are interested in a subject, you will notice when a word relating to the topic is mentioned.  The word will almost jump out at you. 

Surprise – Something unexpected or shocking always get our attention.  I couldn’t resist the headline “Do you eat your own dog food?” 

Humour – Anything makes us laugh, makes us stop for a while.  Funny headlines make us smile and feel good and slow down, so we are more likely to read on.  There is fun in the pun! 

Familiar – If we recognise the person who has written the article, we are more likely to read it.  Also if we recognise the pattern, i.e. the headline is similar to a song, well-known quote or rhyme we are more likely to pay attention. 

Engagement – We pay attention when we think that the headline is directed to us.  Even though we know that the author doesn’t know us, the word “you” is very powerful especially when it is in a question.  If we find ourselves answering “yes” to the question, we are going to at least read the first paragraph.  

If you write anything online, you have to be aware that most people are not going to take the time to stop to read it, so you have to grab the reader’s attention immediately (or at least make you headline the type of question that someone would type into Google).  If you are reading this sentence, the headline worked !  If you are interested in learning how to gain attention in a second, you will be interested in the course I am running with Tom Evans in Surrey. 

To find out more about the course, click here –> You have only 1 Second

The Art of Listening

Do you think of listening as something you just do or do you think it is a skill that can be developed?  Do you think that the fact that you have two ears and that you can hear means that you can listen?  Did you know that listening rather than speaking is probably the best way improve communication?

Recently, I sat down next to an elderly stranger at a neighbourhood BBQ, I had noticed that he was sitting slightly apart from everyone else and other than the occasional functional question, such as “Do you have enough to eat?”, nobody was speaking to him.  

I asked him a few questions and let him speak.  

I thought I would pay him the courtesy of listening and it was wonderful to let him speak without feeling the need to fill in any pauses with words.  And he spoke and spoke and spoke.  

He had lived in the area for a long time and he spoke about changes that happened and it was interesting.  I also found out that he had lost his wife in the last couple of years and they had been together for over 30 years and I wondered what the world must be like to him now.  

How quiet his house must seem.  How silent his home must be with only the chatter in his head for company.  I have no idea how long I listened for, but when I stopped I was exhausted, but inwardly calm.  

I made my excuses from the gathering and walked home.  I didn’t want to fill my head with noise of social pleasantries and idle chitchat.  I knew I had made a difference to his day and he in turn had taught me a valuable lesson in the power of listening with a closed mouth and open mind.

I am always amazed at the times when I let my coaching clients talk and all I do is listen with my full attention, how much grateful they are.  I think that sometimes asking questions when a client is speaking interferes with the flow.  Sometimes being able to talk without interruption can be healing.  Listening is a gift that you give to another person.  There is power in acknowledging that the other person is a human being and accepting them for who they are.

I am not the world’s best listener!  I am human after all.  I would love to say that I have listening sussed, but it wouldn’t be true.  Sometimes I just nod appropriately while my children speak, lost in my own thoughts.  Sometimes in a meeting I will find that someone has asked me a question and I realise that I have not been paying attention.  Sometimes I am so busy waiting for a gap in conversation, so I can tell my story that I forget to listen to the other person.  And sometimes I barge into conversations because I am so excited about something, that politeness goes out of the window.

  • Listening is not keeping quiet until the other person stops talking
  • Listening is not waiting for a thread in the conversation so that you can talk about yourself and your experience
  • Listening is not zoning out, nodding appropriately, but only hearing blah, blah, blah.
  • Listening is not interrupting people with questions that stop their flow.
  • Listening is not just repeating or paraphrasing what the person has said.
  • Listening is not analysing the speaker to put them into a category.

There is an art to listening; nobody becomes a great artist overnight!  Here are some of the ways that I can think of to practise listening:

1) Practise keeping your mouth shut

You have two ears, two eyes and 1 mouth and you should use them in that proportion

2) Practise getting comfortable with pauses

In the conversation, let the other person fill in the gaps

3) Practise listening for different things in a conversation

Have you ever listened to a speech paying attention to the speaker’s grammar?  Or listened out to find clues whether people are visual, auditory or kinaesthetic?  Have you listened to someone only paying attention to their vocal variety and listened to the emphasis they put on certain words?  Have you ever listened to someone and wondered what they really mean rather than just the words they are saying?

4) Practise focussing on the speaker

Rather than just thinking about yourself, think about the speaker and get curious!

5) Practise switching off your inner voice

How can you listen properly if there is another conversation going on at the same time?

I would love to hear your suggestions about improving your listening skills (and any guilty confessions)!

Some other articles you might find interesting

5 Reasons to Listen on Twitter

Do you listen when you use Social Media?

Communication – Let’s get Physical!

Have you ever thought that where you stand or where you sit might make a difference to how you communicate?

Communication is not just about the message you give someone, the meaning of communication is the response you get.  People will respond to what they think you meant which may or may not be an accurate interpretation of your intended meaning.  Have you noticed that sometimes you say something and you don’t quite get the reaction you are expecting?  Have you ever had anyone acting defensively to something you meant in a nice way?  Have you ever have had someone ignore what you said?  Have you ever had the impression that someone is hearing “Blah, blah, and blah” instead of what you are saying? 

Maybe you should be thinking of geometry!

Part of your communication is where you physically are in relation to the other person, so how about starting to think about the following?

  1. Space
  2. Angles
  3. Sides



Have you ever met a space invader?  Someone who stands just too close to you and when you step back, they step forward?  It makes you feel uncomfortable, doesn’t it? 

We all have a personal space around us which is a space we psychologically consider to be our territory.  You will let someone you feel emotionally closer to you physically closer to you.  We feel comfortable when friends stand a certain distance from us, but distinctly uncomfortable when a stranger stands at the same distance.  If someone stands too close to you, you react by being defensive and you will probably step backwards or lean your body away from them.  If someone stands too far away, you lose the sense of connection with them.  At a certain distance away, it might feel as though they are addressing other people or are lecturing you.

We use distance in our language about relationships.  Think about what you might mean when you say “I feel close to you” or “Why are you so distant?” 

Try this out with a friend and get them to move closer and further away and notice the difference it makes.  Get them to make a simple statement of “I want to talk to you” and notice how it feels different when it is said at different distances.

Think about what you do at home.  When you speak to your partner or children what distance are you away from them when you speak to them?  Within touching distance?  Across the room?  From another room?  Think about the difference it would make if you spoke to your children about cleaning their room from a personal connected space versus a public disassociated space.  Besides you wouldn’t have to shout!


When you speak to someone, it is also worth thinking about what angle to take.   I mean the physical angle between you!  The difference between facing someone head on and at an angle from them is very noticeable!  You can share the same vision.  You can see things from their perspective.  You are more “on their side”.  Whereas, from in front of them you tend to see things from your side and you see the other person as being different from you.  It can be confrontational; whatever, your true intention.  Try this out!  Get a friend to stand a distance away directly in front of you and get them to walk towards you.  Notice at what point you start feeling uncomfortable.  Get your friend to do the same thing at a 45° angle (somewhere between directly in front of you and directly to the side of you).  Notice the difference.  You will find that someone can get physically closer to you from an angle without you feeling uncomfortable.

As a NLP practitioner, I have been taught to angle myself to my client, so that we both can see each other and feel comfortable in a close connected way.  I will sometimes move around to next to my client to see things from their viewpoint.  This is useful to remember triangles in any communication situation.  There is your perspective, their perspective and an objective perspective.  You want to be able to keep your eye on both the other person and your shared goal or problem.  By remembering that there are three points of a triangle, you will remember to open your body language to include the third point, which could be a shared dream or a shared problem. 

When you are negotiation with someone, it is worth remembering to take a different angle.  It helps break the “us” and “them” position.  Even if you are forced to sit opposite someone with a desk or a table in the way, you can angle your body for more harmonious discussions.


You know the saying “Getting on someone’s good side” or “Seeing someone’s bad side”?  We have preferred sides.  For some people it is their right side and some people it is their left side.  You may have noticed that people tend to favour a particular side of the bed, walk on a particular side of you and sit in the same place at the table. 

Most of us have a critical voice.  It’s that voice in our head that tells us unhelpful things like “You are stupid” or “You always mess up”.  Have you ever thought where that voice is coming from?  And I mean literally “where” the voice is coming from?!  Does it come from your left side, right side or somewhere else?  If it comes from your left side, then your left side is your “bad” side.  You will probably be more defensive and react differently to questions asked from that side than from your right side.  If the voice sounds like it is coming from the right, then your right side will be your “bad” side.  It is useful to remember that you might get a better reaction from someone when you move to their other side.  For some people the difference is quite noticeable, so it is worth making sure that you are on their “right” side when you communicate with them.

Dealing with Difficult People

Have you ever had to deal with a difficult person? I am guessing that the answer is probably “yes”!  The question should really be; have you managed to get the best out of that person or have you demonised them? Have you written them off as “impossible”? Here are a few tips about dealing with difficult people.

1. You can’t change other people

You can only change yourself and sometimes by changing your own behaviour, you will get a different behaviour from the other person. All relationships are two-way, some people are easier to get on with than other, but you are responsible for how you deal with the relationship.  Eleanor Roosevelt said “Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent”.  How you feel about the other persons behaviour is entirely up to you.  Think about it, it could upset you or you could find it interesting.

2. If something is not working, do something different!

Why is it that we do the same thing, over and over again and expect different results? Think of the stereotypical English man abroad, when he is not understood by the “foreigners”, he repeats what he says in the first place, but louder! We are good at banging our head on the wall. The way you normally communicate with people may be working successfully for 70% of the time, but if it is not working for that “difficult” person, you need to be flexible. You need to adapt your own behaviour to get better results!

3. You are not a mind reader

We are good at assuming that someone’s behaviour means a certain thing, but we are only looking at things from our own viewpoint. If someone doesn’t respond to your email are they ignoring you, or are they just busy?  Does it necessarily mean that if someone is continuously late that they have no respect for you, or could it be that they are less aware of the time? If your boss forwards your email to someone else to deal with, is he trying to make you feel small or has he got other things on his mind? Have you asked the person or are you just assuming?

4. Find someone who does get on with the difficult person and watch them carefully to see what they do right.

That person has found a way to communicate with the “awkward” person that works, watch and listen to see what they are doing that is different from the way you do things.  Try doing some of the things they do and see what happens.  When you get good responses from that person, think about what you did that got the type of response you want. Do more of the it!

5. Listen to the language the person uses

We assume that since we are both speaking English that we are speaking the same language, but we all see the world very differently.  Some people are more visually focussed, others are more auditory and others may be more kinesthetic orientated.  People give away clues in the language they use about how they make sense of the world.  There is a good chance that your “difficult” person may have a different system from you.  Are you a seeing, hearing or feeling person?   What are they? 

Remember you can’t change the difficult person, you can only change yourself.  Sometimes when we change our behaviour we are able to build a better relationship which ultimately, will make you feel better.

In my next blog, I will go through some of the reasons you may not being getting on with someone, that you may not be aware of yet!