Effective Study Techniques

Posted by on Jun 17, 2012 in Study Skills | Comments Off on Effective Study Techniques

“Students are least likely to choose to test themselves while studying, although it has been shown to be the most effective study strategy, according to researchers here at the Association for Psychological Science conference. ‘It’s a remarkable feature of our educational system that we give students so much stuff to learn and rarely tell them how to go about learning that stuff’…”

Education Week

Personal Statements for College Applications

Posted by on Jun 11, 2012 in College Preparation | Comments Off on Personal Statements for College Applications

Greetings and best wishes for relaxing times before the next big push comes for you (or your son or daughter). Yes, the SAT is coming up in June and then October, for those who will be taking it (again or for the first time). And, yes, you want to do well on the exam, of course… but, lest we forget: all of the effort for SAT performance is really about your going to a college that suits you! (Oh, yeah…)

That means filling out applications. The most important component of your application packet is your personal statement. The statement is difficult to write (for everyone) because you have to create a picture of who you are, and have that personification jump off the page and sing your praises loudly when the admissions committee members read your application. It’s a challenging job.

For the last 20 years, I have worked with people to write statements that distinguish them from other applicants. From applicants to medical school, law school, doctoral programs, master’s programs, or undergraduate colleges, they all gained admission into the schools that were best for them. (So far, most everyone has gotten in to the schools of their choice, and this last year, students were accepted by at least 80% of the schools to which they applied. Yet, I cannot and will not make any guarantees because the higher education climate is so darn competitive and [to me] crazy.)

The key to my clients’ successful statements was their authenticity. My approach to writing the statements takes some time and a lot of effort, yet, that time and effort will give you a statement that reflects your personality and interests in the best possible way. Remember, as much as you want to go to a certain school, if you cannot show why you are an asset to that school–and a match for it, too–you cannot make much of a case.

So—let me know if you are interested in working with me to start your personal statements, which can be fun, although intellectually challenging. Please respond as soon as possible so that we may start planning dates.

How to Write Authentic Personal Statements for College & Graduate Schools

Posted by on Jun 4, 2012 in College Preparation | Comments Off on How to Write Authentic Personal Statements for College & Graduate Schools

Schools ask open-ended questions for their application essays. The right way to answer these questions is from your soul. Write what is right by writing about who you are. No one else is you or has had your life. That’s why the essays are called personal statements.

What has your journey been? What experiences brought you to this point, right here, right now? Only you know the answers to these questions.

View Yourself Through These Frames of Reference

  • How would you become someone the school would be proud to call an alum?
  • Make yourself sound as though you are someone they would want at their school? However, find out enough about the school to think you would want to be there. It’s a two-way relationship you are looking for — not just their wanting you!
  • What is it about the school that made you apply?
  • Why are you a match? Future occupation (if you know) and why the school is a fit.
  • Are there family members or friends who went to the school or influenced you to apply? Name specifically the people with whom you have spoken at the school.
  • What interests have you pursued on your own, academic or not?
  • In what ways have you experienced life as a teacher, instead of a student?
  • Have you had a transformational experience? It doesn’t need to be a big event by the world’s standards — just yours.
  • Have you responded in a special way in an emergency or an unusual situation?
  • How have you turned a bad experience into the jump-start of a good viewpoint or experience (for example, gotten in trouble and turned it around)?
  • How do you envision yourself in 10 or 20 years? Work backwards from there.
  • Write about entries listed on your application with their “back stories,” that is, the stories behind the listed activities.

Powerful Corporate Writing

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Grant Writing | Comments Off on Powerful Corporate Writing

SAT Strategies

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in College Preparation | Comments Off on SAT Strategies

Fatal Presentation Flaws to Avoid

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Corporate Seminars | Comments Off on Fatal Presentation Flaws to Avoid


  • apologizing
  • not rehearsing
  • being unprepared
  • being late
  • being unfamiliar with equipment
  • forgetting the audience exists
  • viewing questions as a hostile act
  • acting terrified or nervous


  • not having firm openings or closing
  • not announcing your agenda at start
  • burying critical elements in middle
  • not saying when questions will be taken
  • not giving internal summaries as you speak
  • not having clear signposts as you progress


  • talking before you get audience’s attention
  • using visuals before/after you need them
  • putting the wrong visual on display
  • not summing up after questions & answers
  • not sticking to your organizational plan
  • walking off the stage before finished


  • wearing inappropriate clothes or jewelry
  • wearing outfits for first time
  • turning your back to audience
  • talking to screen, not audience
  • looking in only one direction
  • not looking at audience
  • not making any gestures
  • being a talking head only
  • being stiff


  • playing with jewelry or clothing or pointer
  • death-gripping the podium
  • jangling the coins in your pockets
  • having your arms folded
  • standing at parade rest
  • standing in fig leaf stance
  • standing in cowpoke stance
  • pacing or rocking back and forth
  • drumming your fingers
  • tapping the microphone


  • reading a presentation
  • speaking too low or too loud
  • speaking in a monotone
  • not using pausing for emphasis
  • not varying the pace
  • repeating words like “ah,” “uh,” “you know”

How to Field Difficult Presentation Questions

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Corporate Seminars | Comments Off on How to Field Difficult Presentation Questions

  1. Tie all your answers back to your communications objective
  2. Repeat question to buy time
  3. Write question on board to buy time
  4. Ask audience for answer to question
  5. Say you will meet afterwards with person
  6. Say you will get back to person with answer (and be sure to)

How to Prepare for a Presentation

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Corporate Seminars | Comments Off on How to Prepare for a Presentation


  • With a live audience if possible
  • In front of mirror
  • On an audiotape or video
  • With sound system, if not done it before

Avoid problems and surprises

Arrive early

  • Be familiar with equipment
  • No “oops, just a minute!”
  • Expect nervousness
  • Loosen up beforehand (breathe, stretch, yoga, hum, play games like “name states, fruits”)

How to Plan a Presentation

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Corporate Seminars | Comments Off on How to Plan a Presentation

Know Your Communications Objective

  • First, know what you want as desired result
  • What do you want audience to learn, do, or believe?

Learn, do, believe

  • I want you to believe that you can be a powerful presenter even if you are nervous
  • I want you to learn tricks that you may add to your toolbox

Know Your Audience

  • Ask general questions: each group is different
  • Larger the group, the harder to present
  • What do they expect or want when they show up?
  • What is the context of the presentation?
  • What is their position on subject you are talking about?
  • What is their level of knowledge about specific subject?

How to Look Good and Act Professional When Presenting

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Corporate Seminars | Comments Off on How to Look Good and Act Professional When Presenting

Be clear about the image you want to project. The relationship you foster with audience is critical to success.

How You Look To Audience: Image/Rapport

You are the biggest visual. You are projecting an image.

  • Try to look confident
  • Whistle a happy tune
  • Wear appropriate business clothes
  • No tight clothes
  • No dangling jewelry
  • No outfits for the first time

Avoid talking head syndrome

  • Move around
  • Make presence dynamic
  • Use gestures

Don’t over rely on podium

  • Gripping podium
  • No body movement
  • No facial expression
  • The frozen face
  • Try a smile

Avoid verbal and body language tics

  • Verbal (uh, ah, like, etc.
  • Visual:  can be anything

Watch your body language

  • Posture
  • Sit on your jacket on a seated panel
  • Your body speaks too
  • Use hands to show transition
  • Lean forward to show intimacy, etc.

How You Look At Audience

  • Use blind spot (dead spot) to your advantage and put a supporter in that spot
  • Don’t stare at anyone
  • Keep eyes moving – not a tennis match, though
  • Don’t look in just one direction

How You Sound To Audience

  • Use pauses to get and hold attention
  • Vary inflection
  • Vary speed
  • Watch out for speaking too fast
  • Vary volume
  • Vary tone, speed, volume
  • Loud but don’t shout
  • Be aware of talking from throat—too shrill