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Tag: copywriting

In my past three blog posts, I’ve focused on the planning and production of January Leadership Conferences.  Many of my suggestions concerned using your January Conference to gather what you need to promote your big event, your national conference, which most companies hold in the summer.   

 For the most part we’ve discussed what to do.  Today, I’d like to explore who will do these things, and how they’ll get them done.  But first, let’s take a quick look back at the key “what’s.” 

 WHAT:  At your January Leadership Conference, what you want to do is:

-         Collect  quotes about your 2010 event

-         Record leaders talking about your 2011 theme

-         Gather stories you can use at your 2011 event

WHO: Since we’re essentially talking about interviews, you need an interviewer. Make being that interviewer someone’s assigned job. Don’t let it be something someone will get to at some point. If your company has a relationship with a local videographer, consider bringing him or her with you to do it.  If not, designate someone on your January Conference team as the official interviewer.  This should be someone who can devote a couple of hours a day to the project and is comfortable working with the sales force.


1.  First, invest in some kind of video camera if you don’t have one already.  Prices have dropped amazingly over the past few years, and the week after Christmas is a great time to find bargains.  A collapsible tripod is a good idea too.

2.  Set a time and place at your January Leadership conference for the interviewer to videotape Leaders.  A separate room is best.  How many Leaders you interview is up to you, but definitely set a schedule. 

3.  Create a list of interview questions. Then share those questions well ahead of time with the people you’re going to interview. You want them to already have their answers in mind when you meet with them.

4.  Ask open-ended questions that can’t be answered with a simple yes or no. Some examples might be:

-         What is your fondest memory of our 2010 event?

-         What would you say to someone considering coming to their first national conference?

-         Describe what (2011 theme) means to you.

-         How would you relate (2011 theme) to our business?

-         What made you decide to become a Leader?

-         What person or event has most shaped you professionally?  Tell us about that.

As mentioned in an earlier blog post, asking attendees to bring a personal photo they can tell a story about is a great way to get compelling stories. 

It may sound like work now, but it’s truly time well spent. Once you have these interviews done, you’ll be amazed at the wealth of rich, human-interest material you’ve accumulated. You’ll have everything you need to promote your national conference, and build great presentations for it as well.  

Writer/Events Producer Dick Wilson has been adding creative touches to direct sales meetings for over 20 years.  Learn more how Dick can help you at

Remember Joe the Plumber?  Of course you do.  He became one of the stars of the 2008 presidential election, a living symbol of the issues that divided Republicans and Democrats. Joe the Plumber was a classic example of using storytelling to liven up otherwise unlively information.  That’s because storytelling is a great tool, and it’s something that should be part of every one of your events.

Why?  Simple—people love hearing about other people.  And whether you use storytelling to illustrate a theme, support change or inspire performance, it’s arguably the best way to hold an audience’s attention while you make your point.

We hit on the idea of storytelling briefly in my last blog post, when I wrote about using the personal photos of leaders to build content at your January Leadership Conference.  Collecting photos and inviting people to talk about what’s in those photos is a fantastic way to incorporate the power of storytelling into your key messages.  You have words AND pictures.  But there are other ways to go about it as well.  Here are just a few ideas:

 1- Solicit!  Your audience at any event is a library full of stories waiting to be told.  Before, or even during an event, ask who has a great personal story that can support an idea you’re presenting.  Then incorporate that story into your presentation, or better yet, ask the owner of the story to tell it.  Your January Leadership Conference is a great place to collect and solicit stories you can use throughout the year and at your national convention.  Don’t miss the opportunity!

 2- Search!  What’s your topic? What words or terms might be related to your topic?  Use Google or any other search engine to uncover news, anecdotes, videos and more things that will add variety and human interest to your presentation.  Or go to the creative commons section of or other photo websites to find images that can help turn your words into pictures.

 3- Reflect!  What about your own stories?  What moment happened in your own personal life or career could carry your message forward?  The memory doesn’t even have to relate directly to your topic, as long as it helps you transition to it.   

 I’ll leave you with two great websites that are excellent storytelling resources.  Check out and  They’re both full of great stories from everyday people.  And if you still doubt the power of storytelling to add power to your event, check this out– The Moth website even has its own Corporate Training & Events page at

Writer/Events Producer Dick Wilson has been adding creative touches– like storytelling– to direct sales meetings for over 20 years.  Learn more how Dick can help you at

This is the time of year when many direct sales companies plan an event for leaders only.  Most often taking place in early/mid January, leadership conferences are a great way to move your sales force out of holiday mode and back into business mode.  But despite their limited attendance, planning a leadership conference requires just about as much thought and work as your national convention.  So here are a few thoughts you might want to keep in mind if a leadership conference is in your company’s plans.

It all comes down to one word: promote!  Treat your leadership conference with the same degree of enthusiasm, anticipation and “you gotta be there” as you’ll give to your national convention. For the most part, promotion=communication.  And the more frequent and specific that communication is the better.  For instance:

Invitations—Whether it’s printed or via email, extend an official invitation to your leaders.  Even if it’s only a “save the date” invitation, it’s important to let everyone know where & when  your leadership conference is happening, and why they’ll want to be there.  And if you’re going to a warm weather location, promote that too! Who won’t be ready for change in the cold weather by January?

Event Recognition—Now is the time most direct sales companies enjoy their best sales.  Leverage that fact by structuring your recognition so that it will include all levels, not just the heavy hitters.   

This also brings up the age-old question: Should we just recognize those in attendance, or include those who don’t come as well?  My personal feeling- event recognition is meant to draw people to your event, so recognition should be reserved for those attend. Nothing else falls flatter than announcing a name for recognition, only to follow it with “(name) couldn’t be with us today.” Non-attendance can turn recognition into a downer.  Instead, consider building promotions that help leaders earn their way to your leader conference through their holiday sales or recruits. 

Training—“Teach me how to make more money” is what gets people to events, and your leadership conference is no exception.  That means now is the time to decide what your training topics are, who’s going to be presenting those topics, and what the specific key points/actions/skills your workshops are going to focus on.  Make sure there is something for everybody, from the newest leader to the oldest old-timer.   Promote that training, including any special guest speakers, in every phone call, email, tweet or other communiqué that goes out to your leaders.

Perhaps most important, promote the exclusivity and prestige of being a leader and being eligible to attend leadership conference in the first place.  Remind your leaders they’re important to your company; their input counts big time.  Encourage senior leaders to carry this message to their downline leaders.  Your January leadership conference is a unique opportunity to foster a heightened sense of pride, professionalism and camaraderie.  Make it count for all you can!

Writer/Events Producer Dick Wilson has been adding creative touches to direct sales meetings for over 20 years.  Learn more how Dick can help you at

So many companies begin the event planning process by pulling out their last schedule and using it as a template for their next schedule- new products on the first night, awards on the second night, incentive trip on the last day and so on.  That approach certainly works.  And it’s certainly boring and predictable.

Of course there are often good reasons to do some presentations “the way we’ve always done them.”  But that doesn’t hold true for all presentations all the time, year in and year out.  Which is why now is a great to time to think about mixing things up at your 2011 event.

You still begin by looking at your 2010 schedule.  Identify the key events.  Assuming they were in the right place to begin with, ask yourself if they really need to be in same place next year, or if they need to even need to be at all.  For example, could the recognitions that made up your awards night be spread throughout the entire event?   Did having a guest speaker make that much of an impact on your sales force and how they approach their business?  How many keynote speeches were there, and how much value did they really add?  In other words, what would really be missed by your attendees if it weren’t there? 

Once you’ve determined what really needs to be part of the program, take a look where you placed it on the schedule.  Does it have to have the same time and place in your schedule again this year, or can it occur elsewhere?   For example, maybe this year your new product introductions needed to be followed by training, but that’s not going to be the case next year.  So maybe your new product introductions could wait until the last day instead of being earlier.

Or instead of waiting until the last day to kick your 2011 incentive trip, do it on the first night, then follow it up with intensive “How You’re Going to Qualify” training the next day.  Maybe you could even turn your incentive trip announcement into your opening presentation and accomplish two things at once.

There are many ways you can approach your schedule.  But the one approach you definitely want to avoid is making your 2011 schedule an exact copy of what you’ve done before.  That’s no treat for anyone.

Writer/Producer Dick Wilson has been adding creative touches to direct sales meetings for over 20 years.  Learn more how Dick can help you at

Pumpkin carving & photo: Dick Wilson

Do you spend a lot of time looking for information that you already have? I do, even though I’m very careful about creating folders, subfolders and everything else you’re supposed to do to keep computer files organized. Usually if I can’t find what I need, the reason is often the same. It has everything to do with the name of the file.

What makes a file name good or not so good? It’s all about your point of view, or rather, thinking in terms of the other person’s point of view. So many people consider only their own perspective. I can’t tell you how many documents I’ve received with names like “Speech” or “My Presentation.” Names like those aren’t much help to anyone, including the document’s creator.

So if you’re creating a document that’s likely to be shared, give it a name that makes sense from anyone’s frame of reference. Instead of “My Presentation,” name it something like “(Your Name) (Your company) 2009 Marketing Presentation.” Or if the presentation already has an “official” name, perhaps as part of an event schedule, use that name. Assigning the right file name makes things easier for everyone.

dickwilson-headshotDick’s an accomplished print writer, audio/video copywriter, promotional writer, script & speech writer, director/producer of conventions & events, . He can craft an effective message in almost any medium. He understands how to motivate, inform and entertain a direct sales audience.  Learn more about how he can help you at


Dick Wilson

I coined the term “Revenge of the Word Processor” in the early ’80s, when I first began using a computer. The phrase refers to the unintentionally amusing, embarrassing, or goofy results that happen when people let their spell check software run, well, unchecked.

A great example of this happened last week to a luckless copy editor at Brigham Young University’s student newspaper. Spell check turned what should have been the word “apostle” into “apostate,” which means almost the exact opposite. A quick proofreading would have revealed the mistake, but that didn’t happen. Instead, thousands of newspapers were printed, distributed and then hastily recalled.

The moral? Take the time to proofread. Spell check is a great first step to help catch common spelling or typographical errors. But step #2 should always be a careful proofreading by at least one pair of human eyes. That’s the only way to make sure you don‟t fall victim to Revenge of the Word Processor.

How do you handle the copy you produce for your events and publications?  Would love hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Dick’s an accomplished print writer, audio/video copywriter, promotional writer, script & speech writer, director/producer of conventions & events, he can craft an effective message in almost any medium. He understands how to motivate, inform and entertain a direct sales audience.  Learn more about how he can help you at