I hope you find my writing and business tips and observations useful. My business and blog are dedicated to helping businesses communicate clearly and reach their potential. Read, subscribe to my newsletter, enjoy! Tash

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Value of education

Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.
Thomas Huxley

An interesting quote… Thinking of education in a broader sense (that is, not just going to school for a formal education) I tend to agree with Huxley. By learning more through seminars, books, articles, conferences, discussions, professionals and so on, we often have a better idea of what we could do to achieve an aim.

So what will you learn this month? How will you further your knowledge and give yourself more power?

What makes a good conference?

Everyone I have spoken to enjoyed the conference I attended in July and that got me wondering why – and thinking about other conferences I’ve been to and heard of. So I want to know what makes a good conference?

Knowing what makes a good conference is very useful if you ever have to plan one, but it can also be useful in deciding whether or not to invest your time and money into a particular conference. Business events can be a great resource – but they can also be a waste of time and money if you don’t choose carefully.

Some of the features that I think helped make this particular conference good are:

  • It was fully catered (morning tea, afternoon tea and lunch) so no one had to leave the venue to find food. That meant we all stayed together, had networking opportunities and time to visit the expo stalls
  • Sessions went for about 75 minutes each which was long enough to get useful information but not so long everyone was restless and loosing concentration. Longer sessions also means more people get up and leave the room which is distracting
  • more than one session was run at a time for most of the conference – everyone was together for plenary and forum sessions – so we had choice. That meant I didn’t have to attend any workshops aimed at beginners and no one had to struggle with irrelevant or overly advanced topics if they didn’t want to
  • we got a handbook which included notes from all presentations – so I can read about the sessions I missed as well as not gathering single handouts that are easily lost
  • the presenters covered a variety of topics which seems appropriate for small business owners (as we have to know about so many topics to succeed!) Of course, a conference may not be as varied and still be good depending on the overall topic of the conference
  • all presentations included practical ways to use the information so it was easy to implement it straight away – and we all know that if you don’t use new information quickly, the chances of benefiting from it later are much less. This was actually promoted as part of the conference which wouldn’t always be the case

What features have you particularly appreciated about a conference or business event?  Do you agree with the features I listed as being valuable (especially if you were at this conference!)?

Vistaprint Australia
Promotional items are a must at business conferences and other networking opportunities.

Good blogging

I recently read a post by Jeff Attwood in his Coding Horror blog. He wrote thirteen blog clichés that he doesn’t like seeing in blogs – it is like a list of what not to do for a good blog, and was quite an interesting read.

While his post stands as is, some of his points particularly stood out to me so I will discuss them in my blog 🙂

One that I very much agree with is his point 5 – the big blogroll. He writes about the waste of listing many blogs in your blog roll, and wrote “It feels artificial and insincere.” Personally, a selective blogroll is a value-add; a long blogroll is ignored.

So what is wrong with listing so many blogs? For starters, a long list doesn’t give any sense of referral or recommendation to the listed blogs, compared to a select listing is likely to be meaningful. It is also hard to find anything from a long list – so at least break the list in to sub-lists to make it more user-friendly.

A particularly long list can also distort the look of a page, especially for short posts.

Having said that, what are the advantages of including some blogs in your blogroll? For starters, it builds the blogging community to link and refer to each other. A crafted blogroll can also help your readers find more information on relevant topics, which they will appreciate.

Links to and from your blog can help with your traffic and search engine rankings, so that in itself makes a blogroll and reciprocal links worth considering. But remember that links within your posts are also effective for rankings and readers, so a minimalist blogroll doesn’t mean you can’t link to additional blogs.

What do you think? Are you impressed by a long blogroll when you visit a blog?

Happy writing!

What is a review?

Looking through some blogs recently, I have discovered some unusual interpretations of what a review is…

The online Oxford Dictionarydefines it as a formal assessment of something; a critical appraisal of a work; or a report after the event.

It seems simple – a review is a report about a book, course, website, blog or whatever to help others decide if the work is of potential use/interest/value to them. A review is not an ad (“this product has these features and is available only from us”) or a list of facts (“this website has 10 pages about getting fit”).

If you are writing a review, the following points may help:

  • include all relevant details so someone can find the item easily if they want to. This includes the author and publisher for a book, product name and supplier/manufacturer for a product,  name and URL for a website or blog, and so on
  • give a summary of the item so the reader understands what you are reviewing, but don’t try to include everything – remember, no one wants to hear the punchline before the joke.
  • be honest – that doesn’t mean only list bad things or be nasty, but don’t say it is wonderful if it has some faults or problems. If I write a negative review, I always try to include something positive as well
  • give an assessment, such as ‘thoroughly recommend this book’, ‘great value for money’ or ‘not as good as their previous model’. This helps the reader decide whether they want to know more or not.
  • qualify the work if required. For instance, a book or movie review may state ‘entertaining for the under 10s but tedious for adults’ or ‘thought-provoking but not suitable for teenagers’ so parents can choose not to allow children to read/see it
  • be impartial or upfront about any connections as this builds trust and your credibility – a rave review about something you profit from may damage your reputation

Reviews are a great way to give value to others, but only if people can trust you to give honest, genuine reviews.

Happy writing!