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Five Little Piggies Wrote Business Emails: And So Can You

The five little piggies were on a mission. They wanted to craft professional business emails that resonated with their recipients! Each piggy took a different approach:

🐷 The first little piggy went to market. It knew its purpose and got straight to the point! Its message was clear and concise. Like five toes, it ticked off five bullet points that led recipients step-by-step through the content.

🐷 The second little piggy stayed home. It wrote a professional out-of-office autoresponder that told recipients when it would respond to their emails, and who to contact in case of emergency. It also provided links to resources for answering common questions.

🐷 The third little piggy ate roast beef. Now that’s a specific personal preference! But was it tenderloin or bottom round? Before writing the email, that little piggy did research to learn more about the recipient’s preferences. Through personalization, they addressed the recipient’s specific needs and concerns.

🐷 The fourth little piggy had none. By the time it got to the fourth pig, it was exhausted. The poor swine’s inbox was swamped. Don’t overwhelm recipients with too many emails, or you’ll teach them to ignore yours!

🐷 The fifth little piggy went wee, wee, wee! A little humor can make your email memorable! Still, it’s a good idea to avoid unnecessary repetition. Make your message clear.

Each little piggy’s email had an outcome. Define your email’s goal—whether it’s generating leads, building relationships, or providing information.

And remember how the little piggies tickled and made you laugh? Inject a touch of warmth and friendliness into your emails.

Who knows? Maybe a playful tone can brighten someone’s day!

communication content ideas storyfinding

Creating a culture of storytelling: 4 areas to begin your story hunt

4 places to find stories

Are you creating or nurturing a culture of storytelling at your organization?

In my storyfinding workshop, we talk about 4 areas to begin a story hunt:

1️⃣ Online reviews. Start mining online reviews. People will sometimes describe an experience they had with your company. How can you follow up to create a story?

2️⃣ Complaints + Compliments. Talk with the people on the front lines. Ask them: what’s the weirdest complaint you’ve received this month? Or try: tell me about a compliment that you didn’t expect. How can you transform the offbeat or unusual into a story?

3️⃣ Interviews + Conversations. Set out with the intention of collecting stories in your interactions with people. Say “tell me a story about a time when you faced a challenge at work” to hear a classic story about overcoming obstacles.

4️⃣ Meetings. If you want to create a culture of storytelling at your company, start with meetings. Kick off every meeting with a story — or ask someone else in attendance to do so. “Heard any good stories lately?” or “What did you learn today?” can often yield some vivid employee storytelling.

Where else can beginners look to find great stories?

Create a Culture of Storytelling at your Organization: Where to find stories

Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

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How to transform presentation content into video social media posts

Here’s a question about presentations and videos I started to get a lot last month. I’ll paraphrase it:

Hey Laura. How do you do those square, short, silent little videos that you share on LinkedIn and Twitter?

The answer is: really easily! I use a tool called Canva. Update: And here’s a direct link so you can use Canva to create presentations and slides.

As a stand & deliver trainer, I have oodles of presentation content. Canva lets me repurpose bits and pieces of this content for easy social media sharing.

Yes, Canva excels at quick online video creation. I’m finding a lot of people use Canva — but we tend not to think of using it for video. We tend to think of it for images.

I’m also thinking a lot of people have PowerPoint presentations. Why not try using Canva to repurpose your presentation content for social media posts?

Canva lets you do this in a way that’s super easy to accomplish. I show you how in this two minute video. Enjoy!

Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

Coaching communication content ideas Education PowerPoint PowerPoint Presentation Presentation public speaking video

Introduce emotional relevance to your presentations

Brain Rules by John Medina

“We don’t pay attention to boring things.”

John Medina, Brain Rules

Sounds basic, right?

But how do you NOT be boring when you’re speaking or presenting?

Medina tells us to be sure to introduce something emotionally relevant every 10 minutes.

At least every 10 minutes!

If we don’t, we risk losing the attention and interest of our audiences….because….

“We don’t pay attention to boring things.”

What can you do to shake things up for your audience?

Click on the video to discover 5 things you can do…in under 51 seconds!

Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.

content ideas Education

Flip W. Edwards Deming on his head…

Without opinion, you're just another person with data.

A popular quote by W. Edwards Deming reads:

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

But what if you flipped this saying?

“Without data, you’re just another person with an opinion.”

Leaders need to share informed opinions and insights.

Any dashboard can spew data.

It takes soft intelligence, leadership, and communication skills to win hearts and minds.


HE: The data speaks for itself.
SHE: It really doesn’t. It’s why we have analysts. And data scientists. And leaders who interpret the data…

Because data on its own doesn’t say much.

We need to put the data into the context of story.

What story does the data inspire us to tell?


Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

🔥🔥 Laura also teaches “Presenting On Camera” – a live, interactive group class for sales and training professionals who need to shift from in-person to on-camera presentations. Why not schedule a complementary 30 minute consult so that you can ROCK your next online presentation?

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4 ways to develop a culture of storytelling at your organization

How can you develop a culture of storytelling at your organization?

Four quick tips:

1. Meetings: get into the habit of starting each meeting with a story. Ask for others to share stories.

2. Contests: you might have an “employee of the month” contest: why not try a “employee story of the month” contest?

3. Channels: if you use Slack or Team, open a channel to capture and collect stories.

4. Conferences: when you go to conferences, go with the intention of collecting industry and other stories you hear.

How else do you develop a culture of storytelling at your organization?

Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte

Coaching content ideas public speaking

Walk and Talk: give it a try

I went for a walk in the park. As I walked, I talked.

I attached an $11.99 lapel mic to my phone, and talked for four minutes straight. With Google Docs Voice Typing on my phone, my words were instantly transcribed into a document.

When I got back to the studio, I had a 552 word first draft. And only one error.

Basically, I talked my way through an idea I had been wrestling with in the office. The idea was going nowhere, so I took a walk. 

And you know what happens when you take a walk. It’s like taking a shower. A new idea hits you while you’re walking. Instead of letting the idea go, I captured it with my voice.

In only 4 easy minutes, I had captured 552 words. It ate up only 13.79 MB of data. And Google Docs Voice Typing? It made only one mistake, and this mistake was entirely justifiable. 

The mistake? I walked across a wooden pedestrian bridge. It had been raining, so the bridge was slick. I unexpectedly slid for about 3 feet.

I made a bit of a screech as I slid. Google interpreted my unintelligible utterance as the word “seat”.

Even with my insane outburst: I logged 552 words, with one 1 error, in 4 minutes. Can your fingers do that? I don’t know about yours, but mine can’t. 

If it has been a few years since you’ve tried voice typing, try again. It’s come a long way in the past few years.

Did I look insane as I walked and talked? Probably. But no more crazy than someone who walks and talks on their cell phone. Because that’s literally what I was doing.

The guy throwing Frisbees to his black Labrador didn’t even seem to notice me. Neither did the dog.

How do you feel about walk and talks? Too crazy? Or something you think you might want to try?

Laura Bergells writes, coaches, and teaches. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.  You can also find Laura on Twitter and at YouTube.

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Coaching content ideas

Happy New Year of Journaling in Scrivener

I keep a daily journal in Scrivener. I’ve been writing in a personal journal every morning for decades now. Yet I only started using Scrivener for my journal since October 2015. At that time, I looked for an online template to use, but I couldn’t find one.

Undaunted, I kept writing in Scrivener every morning. I refined my process until I found a technique that works for me. I’ll share my process and my Scrivener journaling template. If you have something that works for you, let me know.

Here’s what my (empty) journal looks like, from the Draft Binder view:

Scrivener Journal Binder

I write in Calibri 14 point. I prefer a large, easy-to-read font. I also set my journal to have an ecru background, because I find that’s easier on the eyes than white. Use what works for you.

Each paragraph is indented. I put a 14pt space between each paragraph. That way, I develop the good habit of only hitting the enter key once for each paragraph. (Cultivating the ‘enter once’ habit will help you if you decide to compile.)

Further, I set up my entire year into 12 monthly folders. Each folder contains one document for each day of the month. I’ll show you the January folder. This is what January 1 will look like when I approach my Scrivener journal:

Scrivener Journal

Every morning is a blank page, all set for me to write. As you can see at the bottom of this screen shot, I also set my daily target of 750 words. With every word I type, I get an update on my daily goal. The white thermometer at the lower right turns to green when I hit my target.

The first word I type is usually the time. The last word? It’s also the time. I get competitive with myself: I like to see how fast I can type my 750 words.

By keeping this simple habit, I know it takes me about 15 minutes a day to write at least 273,500 words every year. (In my Scrivener template, I set 273,500 as my yearly project goal, as well.) I feel that setting personal writing goals helps me in my professional life.

Keeping a journal gets me into the habit of writing every day, whether I feel like it or not. It’s a warm up exercise that keeps the words and ideas flowing throughout the day.

If you’re a fan of writing a daily journal, here is the Scrivener template I developed. Inspired by the work of Julia Cameron in her book The Artist’s Way, I call it “Morning Pages“.

Happy New Year of Journaling in Scrivener.

2017 UPDATE: In 2017, I wrote a Scrivener Essential Training course for LinkedIn Learning. In it, I use the newest Macintosh version  — Scrivener 3.0. Get yourself up & running with the latest version of Scrivener in the new year.

Coaching content ideas

Five factors that make you more memorable


I came across a stranger with a dog a few months ago. As we walked toward each other on my empty street, I grinned.

“Cute dog,” I said as we grew closer.

“Thanks,” she said. “It’s not mine, though. I’m dogsitting for a friend. Hey, do you know any good places to walk around here? I’m kind of bored just taking the dog up and down the street.”

I pointed out a hard-to-spot trailhead. She thanked me and said she’d try it. Before she left, she told me her name.

“I’m Pat,” she said. “Pat Race. You know how there’s only one race, the human race? Well, that’s true, except for me. There’s the human race, and then there’s me. Pat Race.”

I never saw Pat again. But I can’t forget her name.

You often hear people exclaim, “I’m bad at remembering names!”

They’re not, though. And you’re not, either. Consider this:

You are not bad at remembering names. People are bad being memorable.

Now let’s consider Pat Race. I met her for 2 minutes, tops. And I never saw her again.

So why can’t I forget her name? Let’s break down 5 of the factors that made Pat exceptional at making me remember her name.

1. The solitude and simplicity. I didn’t meet Pat in a room filled with other people. She didn’t have to compete for my attention. Pat had a near monopoly on any new information entering my brain.

2. The stranger and the surprise. I didn’t expect a stranger to say anything beyond “thanks” to my “cute dog” comment. But she initiated an unexpected conversation that stopped me in my tracks.

3. Emotional bonding. Pat didn’t know for sure if I could answer a few quick questions, but she guessed from my smile and purposeful stride that I might be friendly and helpful. She picked up on unspoken cues and took a small risk.

4. The mnemonic device. Pat used the “human race” mnemonic device to make me associate new information with an old saying. By doing that, she made an abstract concept — her name — more concrete to me.

5. The quick repetition. Pat told me her full name twice. She also used parts of her name — pat and race — 4 times. And she did all that in less than 10 seconds! Clearly, she had used this smooth, well-rehearsed patter before.

No ad campaign. No name tag. No business card. No real reason for me to remember Pat’s name. And yet, I can’t forget it.

Am I just that stupendous at remembering names? No. Of course not.

But Pat? She’s downright exceptional at being memorable.

You are not bad at remembering names. People are bad being memorable.

If you want to be more memorable, why not riff on a few of Pat’s techniques? And if you forget someone’s name; don’t feel too bad. It’s not your fault.

It’s clear. That person is no Pat Race.


Laura Bergells writes and teaches. You can book me for live workshops, or take my classes online in the content library.

Blogging content ideas fun

Doing Nothing is the New Doing Something

Recently, I noticed this absurd trend of gallantly and heroically doing nothing.

About 19 months ago, I accidentally left my cell phone home and traveled out of town on business. When I arrived at the hotel, I needed to find the conference organizer. I used my laptop to call her via Skype & explained that I forgot my cell phone.

I found not-carrying a phone to be extremely advantageous that week. No one changed plans with me at the last minute, since they had no way of reaching me. And I received no interruptions, so I got tons of stuff done.

When I got home, I didn’t want to return to my life as a cell phone carrying goofball. So I didn’t. I just stopped carrying a phone. No big deal, right?

Oh, no. Some folks made a huge deal out of it. I got four main questions:

  • Was I making some kind of social statement? (Not really. I forgot my phone one day, found out I really didn’t need it and that was that.)
  • How do I communicate effectively with clients and friends? (I make plans and stick to them. Every productivity expert on the planet tells you to only check messages at a few planned times a day, so not carrying a phone is probably a best practice.)
  • What’s it like to not carry a smart phone? (I don’t know. I’ve never carried a smart phone, only a cell phone. I have nothing to compare it to, so I honestly don’t know. The smart phone seems like a way for marketers and others to have unrestricted access to me, so I’m not all that keen on the idea of owning one.)
  • What if you have an emergency? (At first, I was stubborn. Everyone else has a phone, so I can borrow one in an emergency. That was my argument, and it lasted about 7 months. However, my partner insisted that I carry a cell for emergencies, so I got a burner mostly to comfort him and foster family harmony.)

So, there I was, not-doing anything, and it got me all kinds of attention. It was like I was actually doing something! One conference organizer suggested I prepare a talk about what it was like to not-carry a phone.

That seemed crazy to me. But I was wrong.

Not-doing something is the new doing something. People are fascinated by people who don’t-do things.

There’s a long list of popular things to not-do. Eat meat/gluten/sugar. Drink alcohol or coffee. Do drugs. Have children. Watch TV. Consume the news. Drive a car. Go to church. Use social media. Carry a gun or credit card. Honestly, the list of things to not-do is infinite.

However, what do people do while they’re not doing the thing they’re not doing?

Here’s the odd part: they talk or write incessantly about the thing they are not doing! If you decide not to use a fork, for example, you set up a Tumblr account to journal about the experience. If you’re not going to use the internet for a bit, you issue a press release and try to get media coverage or a book deal. If you plan to not-work and not-drive a car, you set up a blog and make money from the idea of not needing much money.

Frankly, I’m a bit jealous. There’s a zillion things that I don’t do. It simply never occurred to me that not-doing something was worthy of a book deal, blog, TV show, press release, or humanitarian award.

Since not-doing anything is a pretty hot trend, I thought I might cash in on this gravy train. Pick a thing that I don’t do, and then write about not doing it. What I normally do is not even think about the things I’m not doing.

Why feed the poor, care for the sick, pick up trash, or plant trees — for example — when you can do nothing and make the world a better place?

Clearly, I’ve been doing it wrong. I’m going to start not-doing it right!

What are you not-doing lately? Where’s your humanitarian award?