Monday, 3 March 2014
Today the Church of England announced plans to tweet the activity of churches up and down the country. According to the C of E's press release, 'bishops, clergy, chaplains, youth workers and churchgoers from around the country will be given a week each to tweet about their life inside the Church of England' from the account @OurCofE.
The idea to share the honours over the year means that there'll hopefully be a diverse mix of activity in the tweets and followers will get a real insight into what goes on. I've blogged before about 24-hour tweetathons being a bit gimmicky and more style than substance but with a year-long project, the Church can make a real difference to how its seen. Rev Kate Bottley, who is a seasoned tweeter, is the first to take the reins and judging by her first day's posts, featuring selfies, pastoral visits and value crisps, followers are in for a treat.
What Twitter is brilliant for is sharing the tiny moments of human life that make up a picture of what an organisation is like. This account, as well as the many other C of E accounts aggregated in the Twurch of England, are a great way to tell the stories of church life and share the good and varied work that goes on in parishes all over England.
Sunday, 12 January 2014
Wikipedia describes mental toughness as a a term commonly used by coaches, sport psychologists, sport commentators, and business leaders describing a collection of attributes that allow a person to persevere through difficult circumstances (such as difficult training or difficult competitive situations in games) and emerge without losing confidence.
It's more than resilience; it's about being able to perform to the best of your ability, consistently, regardless of the challenges you face. It's a fantastic quality to cultivate in business and generally in life.
Clough and Earle, who developed a test to measure mental toughness called MTQ48, describe the concept through the 4Cs:
- Control - Life Control - I really believe I can do it. Emotional Control - I can manage my emotions and the emotions of others.
- Commitment - Goal Setting - I promise to do it - I like working to goals. Achieving - I'll do what it takes to keep my promises and achieve my goals.
- Challenge - Risk Taking - I will push myself - I am driven to succeed. Learning from Experience - even setbacks are opportunities for learning.
- Confidence - Abilities - I believe I have the ability to do it - or can acquire the ability. Interpersonal Confidence - I can influence others - I can stand my ground if needed.
In January, when thoughts naturally turn to goals for the coming year, whether a sporting challenge, losing weight or meeting a career objective, an exploration of your own mental toughness can be a good place to start. Here's some questions to start you thinking:
- Do you feel that you have mental toughness?
- How have you demonstrated that over the past weeks and months?
- How might mental toughness help you meet a challenge you're facing?
- Is it something you'd like to develop more of?
Thursday, 5 December 2013
Great communicators need to be great writers; you can't be one without being the other. To make an impact and ensure your key messages are read and understood, here are my ten golden rules for brilliant writing:
- Write fewer words. Short sentences and paragraphs keep the reader's attention. Sentences of more than 40 words exhaust the reader and make it harder to understand what's being communicated. Fewer than 25 words a sentence is a good target to aim for.
- Avoid using flowery language or words that sound old-fashioned, unless it’s an intentional device of your writing. Keep it simple and modern to give your communications more impact. Use started instead of commenced; while instead of whilst; and among instead of amongst. Avoid herebys and thereins, or what I call Council-speak, like the plague.
- Get your singular and plural use sorted. There are some words which it's easy to get in a muddle about. For example, the word 'data' is plural, so you'd write: 'the data are robustly verified'.
- Fire up your jargon antennae. Whenever you write jargon, your antennae should tingle and tell you there's a better word that could be used. Housing organisations can slip into using the word 'voids' in tenants' publications; the term 'empty homes' is better.
- Strive for consistency in all you write. Mixing styles is confusing and distracting for the reader. Some words need a judgement call to decide how to spell them; your decision might be influenced by what's important to your organisation or a particular style you've adopted. The important thing is to make a conscious choice and then stick to it. For example, a tech company might use 'login' but a more traditional company might prefer 'log in'.
- Learn how to use punctuation, especially apostrophes. There's nothing like a grocer's apostrophe to clang in your reader's mind and what you're trying to communicate is ignored. The BBC has some good punctuation guidance if you want to brush up your knowledge.
- Pay attention to rhythm. Punctuation, alliteration, varying the length of words and paragraph breaks can all add rhythm and bring your words to life. Want to learn how? Listen to WH Auden's This is the Night Mail - a masterclass in rhythmic writing.
- Avoid over capitalising. Just like long sentences, over capitalisation is tiring for the reader. Proper nouns, like brand names, need capital letters But There's No Need To Overuse Them.
- Spell out numbers one to ten. Over ten, you'd write as 11,12, 13 etc unless you're starting a sentence.
- Avoid repetition; unless it's a conscious device of your writing. Repetition can be powerful tool when used intentionally and can help give rhythm to your words. But saying the say term over and over again, generally just sounds like you can't think of another way to say it. It's boring for you to write and it's boring for your readers to read. (See what I did there? ;))