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12 Effective Writing Steps That Every Talented Writer Masters

12 Effective Writing Steps That Every Talented Writer Masters
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Writing is one of the most important skills you’ll ever need to master in life. Whether it’s writing a letter, a resume, a blog post like this, a card, a book, an email, a text message, an accident report, a sales page, or anything else that requires the communication of thoughts or ideas. Writing, and in turn, reading, are two of the most essential talents to possess in life. A good writer can do virtually anything!

I never realized how important writing was personally until I became an entrepreneur. I write blog posts every day, I write emails many times a day, I write posts on social media throughout the day, and I write script on my email list daily. If I had not mastered this skill, I wouldn’t have survived. My business would’ve only lasted about a week before I called it quits.

But I did master this skill. And I’m so thankful for it. And I’m thankful to all my English teachers throughout grade school who kept me on track and made me write essay after essay and gave me what seemed like endless criticism at the time. The endless critiquing actually honed my skill, though at the time I despised it!

But what I’ve learn over the years about writing can pretty much be whittled down into 12 simple steps. These steps can be applied to just about anything. Trust me, whether I’m writing a text message or working on my next book, I stick to using these 12 effective writing steps and they always serve to get the best message out of me!

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1. Eliminate All Distractions

Before you embark on any particular writing task, you must clear all noise from your mind. If that means going in a quiet room, turning off your phone, or locking yourself in a closet with just your laptop, then do it! This is often one of the biggest hurdles of writing. People who don’t make time to write can’t actually write anything.

2. Think of What You Want To Write

Map out exactly what you want to write about in your head. Have a good idea about a topic, a theme, and a point that you want to make. You’re not writing anything just yet, but come up with a plan about what subject you want to write about before you do anything else.

3. Decide Who You Are Writing To

Figure out who your audience is. Is it entrepreneurs, is it union workers, is it moms, is it teenagers, is it middle-aged men, is it someone just like you, or is it someone completely different? Figure this out before you do anything else.

4. Brainstorm All Your Ideas Out

Now you can begin the actual writing process. Either take a pen and a piece of paper (my personal favorite) or just open up your word processor on your computer and begin.

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The brainstorming process simply jot out points to cover in your writing. I usually use bullets for this, and I just write out a bunch of random points or cool-sounding sentences that pop into my head that I know I want to include.

When you have a bunch of points written out, no matter how arbitrary, you are done with this step.

5. Zip Through And Write Out Everything That Comes To Mind

If it’s not open by now, open up your laptop and word processor. Now, taking the points from your brainstorm, and taking points that come to your mind in the moment, write out everything that comes to you. Just let your mind flow and let words start putting themselves on your computer screen!

6. Don’t Try To Make Things Pretty—Just Write!

Continue doing this until you finish. Do not stop and try to make things pretty or fix little spelling errors or mistakes. This only slows you down and messes up the natural flow. This is the trick to finishing things. Many people get distracted and then stop because they become so overwhelmed by trying to make everything perfect. Do not do this!

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7. Now Make Things Pretty And Touch Things Up

If you’ve followed the steps correctly thus far, you can now touch things up and make them sound better. Go back and read through your document slowly. Examine your sentences and how they flow. Replace words that you repeat with different words, put commas in place to make necessary pauses, and touch up all noticeable errors.

8. Put In A Great Opener

These next few sentences will blow your mind! That’s the type of writing that catches the eye and creates interest and intrigue in what is being said. Make sure when you are touching your document up, that you include a great opener. If you have a boring introduction with a boring first sentence and a boring first paragraph, nobody will want to read your stuff!

9. Spell Check

Use the spell check next. Although not a fool-proof system for catching errors, the spell check is still incredibly effective at catching easy and often overlooked mistakes within a writing.

10. Have A Friend Proofread It

Knowing that the spell check is not going to find every error on your page, it’s imperative that you have another set of eyes look over your content. It’s one thing to look something over with our own eyes and read it over and over again and think that it’s incredibly awesome. But it’s another thing to have another, unbiased and impartial judgment giving you feedback and helping you find overlooked mistakes.

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11. Make Necessary Changes

Take what the proofer says and look back on your text one last time. If you think your friend is right on what they said, listen to them. If you honestly consider their points and disagree with some things, then keep things the way you want them!

After all, it is your writing and you know best what you are trying to convey. Just remember that a good proofreader is there to help you, so try not to shut down everything they’ve suggested.

12. Publish

And now, it’s time to publish! If you’ve gone through all of these steps carefully you should be thrilled that you have an awesome piece of writing to share with the world! Sit back and enjoy your work and let others see what you’ve worked hard to create. Writing that is shared, respected, and praised, is the epitome of achievement for any true author.

Follow these steps and see your writing improve. All talented writers use some sort of list similar to this. So reference this whenever you have a tough time figuring out how to write something. It works!

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We all have a story to tell, and by following these 12 steps you can share your story with the world right now!

Featured photo credit: Caleb Roenigk via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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