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Less-Is-More Blog by Pierre Khawand

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Write Savvy Headlines to Hook Your Readers—and Results


describe the imageby Lynda McDaniel, Your Inspired Writing Coach, and People-OnTheGo Faculty Member

The art of headline writing is more useful than you may think. Sure, you’re accustomed to headlines atop your reports and proposals, blogs and articles. But what is a tweet if not a 140-character headline? E-mail subject lines? Headlines in a box. And titles, subtitles, and subheads are simply headlines with a different name. 

Engaging headlines are the antidote to TMI—too much information—which has turned us all into skimmers. Captivating headlines and subtitles grab our attention, and engaging subheads make us stop skimming and really read.

Let’s explore four ways to help you write headlines that hook readers—and results.writing for business

1. Learn from the publishers

The publishing industry has spent millions of dollars to discover what makes people buy their magazines. You can benefit from their research by studying the “cover lines,” those teasing headlines that flash like neon at passersby. Below are six of the most popular cover line categories and why they're so effective:

  • How to - (How to Writer Faster, Stronger, Better) People are eager to learn.

  • Why - (Why Dogs Love Humans) “Why” is a magnet for curious minds.

  • Questions - (Why Do Customers Buy?)  Questions draw in readers and offer the promise of solutions.

  • Statements - (Living in Harmony: A Guide to Creating Community Organizations) Offers, ideas, and information people connect with.

  • Numbers - (Six Steps to Effective Headlines)  The human brain is wired for numbers.

  • Controversy - (The Myth of Teambuilding) Stir things up to draw in readers.

 2. Focus on benefits

Think of your headline from the readers’ perspective. How will your content benefit them? Write to them (not only in the headline but throughout your content). For example, 10 Ways to Work Less and Still Get a Promotion.

-> Sign up for our two-part Business Writing for Success webinar on April 17 & 24, 2014.

3. Use the List of 20

The brainstorming technique List of 20 makes you dig deeper, beyond the obvious. If you were writing a guide on how to become a consultant, for instance, you might start with a headline “How to Become a Consultant.” In one respect, that’s not a bad headline—people often start their searches with “how to”—but it registers zero in personality. By number 10 you’ve graduated to “Working Alone to Help Others Work,” but by number 20 you’ve hit your stride with “A 10-Step Survival Guide for New Consultants.”

4. Include keywords for SEO

Keywords boost the effectiveness of headlines. Consider the bestselling book title How Not to Look Old. It needs (and has) a subtitle packed with keywords: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better. If you need help coming up with keywords, pay attention to the words Google or Amazon suggest in their search boxes. These are popular, powerful words that can boost your SEO.

Take the extra time to craft headlines worthy of your article, blog, email or book. Otherwise, you may lose your readers—and those results you’ve wanted to your results.

Click now for more details on the Business Writing for Success webinar, April 17 & 24.


7 Public Speaking Tips for Business from Author, Speaker Jenny Blake


Jenny Blake has a refreshing take on public speaking—it’s OK to feel nervous! It’s normal!

“It was simply my body doing its job—engaging my flight or fight response as a survival instinct during what it perceives as a very dangerous situation,” reflects the Life After College author and now international speaker on the inevitable nerves that came with one of her first, big speeches.

Even though, it’s perfectly normal to get the pre-speaking engagement jitters, Jenny is quick to remind, “It doesn’t have to be this way.”

Join Jenny as she presents at our free webinar on April 3, 2014, "Speak Like a Pro: Practical Tips to Propel Your Confidence, Delivery, and Impact."

According to Jenny, speaking like a pro is all about preparation of mind AND body, and knowing how to give yourself a break while engaging with your audience with full authenticity.

Here are seven public speaking tips below adapted from Jenny’s writing on the topic:

    1. Know where you want to take the audience.

      A great speech involves taking your audience on a journey and inspiring them to action. Go-to quote from Jenny: “How do you want to impact the audience, and what would you like them to DO as a result of your speech?”

      jenny blake wds speaklikeapro

        2. Make change happen.

          The desired outcome of your speech should improve the lives of the audience members in some way. If you’re not making change happen, then there’s no point.

            3. Get prepared.

              Commit your speech to memory over and over again, so it actually moves out of the front of your mind it's become so natural. (Jenny will discuss the brain science behind public speaking more at our upcoming webinar.)

                4. Get prepared some more.

                  Jenny recommends practicing your speech in the morning and at night for one week before your presentation. Practice “sticky” sections until you have them down. Record yourself and listen, or seek feedback from a trial audience, co-worker, or friend.

                    5. Make the mind, body connection.

                      Proper sleep, deep breathing exercises, and even pacing will help to quell and channel that adrenaline before the big speech.

                        6. Have fun!

                          “The audience wants you to succeed and they want you to be human, not a speech robot!,” says Jenny. During the presentation, it’s important to be yourself. Give yourself a break, smile, and enjoy the moment.

                            7. Keep strong and carry on.

                              The most important thing to remember is that you CAN do it! Even if nerves take over or technical problems occur, it’s still your time to shine by taking your speech to the finish. As Jenny shares, “People will love you more for keeping strong and (awkwardly) carrying on.”

                              Register now for Jenny's free webinar, "Speak Like a Pro: Practical Tips to Propel Your Confidence, Delivery, and Impact," on April 3, 2014 at noon PT.

                              You can learn more about Jenny Blake in the video below, or by visiting www.jennyblake.me.

                               Additional Resources & Webinars

                              4 Tips to Make Your Business E-mail Writing More Effective


                              describe the imageby Lynda McDaniel, Your Inspired Writing Coach, and People-OnTheGo Faculty Member

                              We love to use e-mail because it's fast and easy. We also complain about e-mail because it’s fast and easy. The speed of e-mail too often means irritating, typo-filled messages that don’t get to the point quickly (the number one pet peeve in surveys of e-mail recipients.)

                              What’s wrong?

                              Some problems with e-mail stem from the challenge of all written words: no gestures, no facial expressions, no eye contact or tone of voice to support the message. Without the twinkle in the eye or the pat on the back, the reader may misinterpret the meaning of the words.

                              The speed of e-mail also contributes to its problems. Because we can send it fast, we think we should write it fast, dashing off messages without editing or proofing. Otherwise, it's not fast, is it? As a result, huge blocks of sloppy, rambling copy clog our inboxes.

                              Only to be deleted.

                              describe the imageI was amazed when I learned that at least half my students and clients freely admit to deleting e-mails they don’t like the looks of. When I asked what they said if asked about the message, they shrugged and answered, "We just say we didn't receive it." Ouch! All that work, but no one reads it.

                              What's right?

                              Let’s look at how you can overcome these challenges to write effective e-mail that get the results you need.

                              -> Sign up for our Business E-mail Writing webinar on April 10, 2014.

                              1. Subject line

                              You have only 10 seconds to grab your potential readers’ attention, so be sure to craft subject lines from their perspective. Include benefits they can relate to. For example, which of these would you open?

                              Carpet repair today or Early closing today

                              The writer wanted her staff to leave at 2:00 p.m. because the office would close early for carpet repairs. She sent the subject line on the left and was surprised to see everyone still working at 2:10 p.m. Her subject line didn’t pass the “What’s in it for me?” (WIIFM?) test.  No one read it. If she’d sent the second version, everyone would have left at 1:59 p.m.

                              2. Get to the point quickly

                              Make sure your first paragraph informs your readers about the reason for your e-mail. Summarize your topic and then go into detail.  Remember: everyone is asking WIIFM?

                              3. Write to your readers, not at them

                              Don’t just data dump. Tell stories, benefits, and results through your readers' eyes. Use the word "you" often to engage them. "You" is a proven magnet that keeps people reading.

                              4. End with impact

                              Leave a lasting impression and make your expectations known. E-mail offers fast calls to action—just tell your readers to hit reply, click a link, download a document. Finally, let them know what the next steps are—you’ll call, they need to call or RSVP. And include your contact information. No contact information is another high-ranking pet peeve.

                              We'll go into detail on all these points—plus many more in my upcoming Business E-mail Writing webinar on April 10, 2014.

                              -> Click now for more details on the webinar.


                               Additional Resources & Webinars

                              What Matters Most to Employees: 6 Authors Explore Employee Engagement


                              describe the imageEmployee engagement worldwide is at a low, as so reported a widely publicized Gallup study last fall indicating that only 13 percent of employees are engaged at work. 

                              Part of the dilemma in understanding the complex, human capital issue of employee engagement is really starting with a definition. What does it mean for employees to be engaged?

                              Christine Mellon, VP of Human Capital Management Transformation at Oracle will present on this topic at People-OnTheGo’s free webinar, March 6, 2014: “The Employee Engagement Trap: How HR should approach the ‘Employee Experience.’”

                              Click to register for the free webinar.

                              In this 40-minute presentation, Mellon will discuss the difference between employee engagement and the “employee experience,” and will offer valuable insight into strengthening the employee-employer relationship.

                              Indeed, finding out what matters most to employees means going beyond the standard understanding of employee engagement. Here are six authors below who are also challenging what it means for employees to be engaged, and their thoughts on the issue:

                              Going beyond satisfaction.

                              “Engaged doesn’t mean satisfied… You can be satisfied at work, but that might mean you are satisfied only enough to do the bare minimum to get by. You might be satisfied but still taking calls from recruiters offering a 5% bump in pay. Satisfied isn’t enough.”

                              - Kevin Kruse, Employee Engagement for Everyone: 4 Keys to Happiness and Fulfillment at Work

                              Contributing to something bigger.

                              “All employees have an innate desire to contribute to something bigger than themselves.”

                              - Jag Randhawa, The Bright Idea Box: A Proven System to Drive Employee Engagement and Innovation  

                              Respect and engagement go hand in hand.

                              “I realized that the concept of respect perfectly explained how in the span of two months I had gone from an enthusiastic new hire to handing in my resignation… It was clear to me that respect was the lynchpin of employee engagement.”

                              - Paul L. Marciano, Carrots and Sticks Don't Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT

                              More than just perks.

                              “The organization may lavish you with perks, but those perks don’t hold the key to engagement. Feeding the pleasure center of the brain through extrinsic rewards doesn’t engage a person and build real, lasting fulfillment.”

                              - Timothy R. Clark, The Employee Engagement Mindset: The Six Drivers for Tapping into the Hidden Potential of Everyone in Your Company

                              A feeling of commitment.

                              “Employee engagement is characterized as a feeling of commitment, passion, and energy that translates into high levels of persistence with even the most difficult tasks, exceeding expectations and taking the initiative.”

                              - Linda Holbeche & Geoffrey Matthews, Engaged: Unleashing Your Organization's Potential Through Employee Engagement Hardcover

                              A company culture based on authentic values.

                              “There was a time when every employee from the top to the bottom of an organization needed to be able to deliver the company’s “elevator blurb”… Today, your employees should also be able to enthusiastically describe your company’s values and culture during that same elevator ride.”

                              - Bob Kelleher, Louder Than Words: Ten Practical Employee Engagement Steps That Drive Results Hardcover

                              Additional Resources & Webinars

                              The Secret to Silicon Valley Innovation | TEDxTalk & Webinar


                              Silicon Valley's abundant landscape of innovation is difficult to duplicate. Many outside companies have tried to "clone that magic mix of what makes Silicon Valley," says Reinhold Steinbeck in his 2011 TEDxTalk, and he thinks they haven't been able to accomplish it.

                              innovation People OnTheGo CreativeCommonsWhy is this?

                              One of the reasons, he says, is the learning taking place in local institutions, like Stanford, and how this connects with the many corporations and startups that call Silicon Valley home. It's this "innovative approach to teaching and learning," Steinbeck says, that gives the Valley its leading edge.

                              Steinbeck is no stranger to the fertile ground of innovation in Silicon Valley, having worked in the area for over 20 years, including at Apple in their Advanced Technology Group and at the Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning. He'll be presenting with his colleage and innovation specialist, Edgard Stuber, at People-OnTheGo's free webinar, Thursday, February 6 at noon PT: How to Use Design Thinking to Create an Innovation Company Culture.

                              Click to register for the complimentary webinar.

                              Watch Reinhold Steinbeck's TEDxTalk below (note: presentation is in English.)

                              Additional Resources & Webinars

                              Top 10 Productivity Articles of the Year: Less-Is-More Blog in Review


                              Productivity Articles Less-Is-More BlogWe're grateful to have a lot to look back on and feel good about this year at People-OnTheGo: from the launch of our new leadership program and Social Media Academy webinars with Out&About Marketing guru, Milena Regos, to the publishing of Time for Leadership: The Accomplishing More in Less Time, Less Effort, and Less Stress Leadership Journey.

                              It's been a productive year, and we've learned as much from our efforts as we have from our participants and interactions with you.

                              So as 2013 winds down to a close, we invite you to take this time to reflect on your own professional and personal accomplishments, and please share them in the comments section below. We believe it's in knowing where we came from, and what we've learned, that we can best form our next steps in achieving our goals.

                              In this time of looking back, we'd like to share with you our top ten productivity blog posts of the year. We hope you gain new insight from these articles, and we look forward to hearing your own insights, plans, and goals for 2014.

                              Thank you for wanting to accomplish more. Have a happy holiday season, and New Year!

                              ~ from all at People-OnTheGo

                              1. How to Get Started with Social Media for Business? Here's Your Super Sensible Checklist

                              Enjoy this handy, visual graphic to help keep you focused on your social media marketing goals for your business, brand, or organization.

                              2. Why Your Organization Needs 'Visual Leaders' and How To Become One: An Interview with Author David Sibbet

                              Bestselling author, graphic facilitator, and The Grove Consultants International Founder and President, David Sibbet, talks with us about his unique, leadership philosophy.

                              3. Why Upgrade to Office 2013? 4 Compelling Features You'll Want to Know

                              People-OnTheGo Faculty Member Eve Porcello gives the run down on Microsoft Office 365/2013.

                              4. 3 Ways to Quickly Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths

                              Change yourself from having a "fixed" mindset to one of "growth."

                              5. 12 Key Values to Powerful Employee Engagement and Organizational Culture

                              Learn about the tenets of building stronger employee engagement at your organization.

                              6. Three Surprises About Change: Chapter 1 Summary of Switch by Chip and Dan Heath, Authors of Made to Stick

                              Wondering how to make changes happen, personally, professionally, or at your business? People-OnTheGo's Online Community Manager, Melissa Sweat, summarizes how you can get there.

                              7. Brain, Interrupted by Bob Sullivan and Hugh Thompson (New York Times, 5/3/13); summary + commentary by Melissa Sweat, Online Community Manager

                              This is your brain on interruptions, and it's not pretty. Learn how to get focused.

                              8. A Visual History of Project Management (Infographic)

                              A great overview of project management's past and present.

                              9. 3 Great Reads on Lean Process Improvement

                              Pierre Brickey, Director of IT Quality at UCSF Medical Center, presented at one of our free Lunch & Learn Webinars this year, and kindly shared his recommended books about Lean.

                              10. Sizing Up the Right Project Management Tool

                              Find the best project management platforms for any size project.

                              Please share your comments below. Connect with our Accomplishing More With Less groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

                              Reach More Customers with eBooks | Hear a 2-min. Audio Preview of our Free Webinar on 12/5/13 with Author Dalya Massachi


                              In an era where content is king, publishing a book or ebook is a powerful way to not only distinguish yourself as a professional in your field, but to attract many more customers and clients to your business.

                              Want to learn how?

                              Then you won't want to miss award-winning author Dalya Massachi as she presents, "Publishing Your eBook for Greater Business Impact," at our complimentary Lunch & Learn Webinar on 12/5/13 at noon PT.

                              Click now to register for the free webinar!

                              How to Get Started with Social Media for Business? Here's Your Super Sensible Checklist


                              We just love this shareable, printable, and refreshingly sensible "Social Media Checklist for Business" infographic from The Whole Brain Group.

                              Managing social media for your business, brand, or organization can seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn't have to be.

                              You can make even more sense of social media at our brand new Social Media Academy, featuring 14 different online social media classes! Our hour-long webinars will teach you everything you need to know about Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Social Media Marketing, Personal Branding, Social Media Tools, and more.

                              Click now to view our schedule and class descriptions.

                              WBG Sensible SocialMediaChecklist v2.0 Sensible Social Media Checklist for Business v.2.0 [INFOGRAPHIC]

                              Watch & Learn: Agile Development Methodology Demystified (Video)


                              Have you heard of Agile? Agile is a popular software development production method, but is also used in a variety of other fields in the areas of project management, innovation development, and more. Project managers, business owners, executives, leaders, and change managers would well benefit from learning about this powerful development methodology that works in an ongoing, iterative approach, and always with the end customer or user in mind.

                              Watch the video below to hear a great explanation of Agile (in under 5 minutes!).

                              And please join us for our FREE Lunch & Learn Webinar on Nov. 7, 2013 to learn even more about how Agile can power productivity and innovation at your business or organization: An 'Agile' State of Mind: How Agile software development & values power productivity (in business and beyond).

                              Click to register now for the free webinar.

                              Additional Resources & Webinars

                              Workplace Personality Traits (and Challenges) of a "Champ," and Why You Need One On Your Team


                              TrophySoftware Advice recently published their research on four successful personalities in the workplace, “Psychological Profiles of the Dream Team.”

                              The profile of The Champ (and the Chip) provides an analysis of a Champ’s characteristics, motivations, strengths, and challenges.

                              The Champ

                              The Champ is the ideal, high-performing salesperson. Champs are full of energy, positivity, and confidence. These attributes, along with a gift for conversation and a healthy ego, help make them good at what they do. Their confidence makes them good salespeople and, sometimes, good leaders.

                              The Chip

                              What some refer to as a “chip on the shoulder” is a defining characteristic of the Champ. Whether the Chip comes from a lack of education, scarce economic resources or the Champ’s physical appearance, it often serves as a motivating factor, driving them towards success.

                              Strengths of the Champ

                              Some of the distinguishing traits that make Champs great include:

                              • Optimism. Champs have an innate belief that they will succeed. This helps them push on positively with their sales calls, even in the face of rejection.

                              • People skills. Champs have a natural ability to read people. They are great conversationalists and love human interaction.

                              • Confidence. Champs are confident (but not cocky). They believe in themselves and their team.


                              Some of the unique challenges for Champs include:

                              • Arrogance. That confidence that serves the Champ so well in sales and leadership can manifest as arrogance in an immature Champ who has let his ego grow unchecked.

                              • Conflict. If that little Chip on the Champ’s shoulder becomes really big, it can turn to cockiness, resulting in conflicts with authority and management.

                              • Turnover. Champs have a higher turnover rate than some other personality types, because they absolutely must be on a winning team. They will look elsewhere if their current team isn’t successful enough.

                              The Champ is a valuable team member who makes an excellent candidate for a career in sales, c-level executive roles or politics.

                              To learn about famous Champs and how to identify, hire and manage a Champ, read the in-depth profile on The New Talent Times.

                              Additional Resources & Webinars

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