The Next Chapter

Sometimes in life, we have to give up something to get something else. For me, it’s time to say farewell to this blog.

Capture_CommuniqueYep, after more than 700 (!) posts, this is my last one – at least for a while.

I wrote my first post on Sept. 27, 2009 when I became president of the National Federation of Press Women. My first post was about my campaign platform. With members across the country, I was looking for a means to share knowledge with others on a regular and frequent basis. For some reason, I thought that posting three times a week would be ideal. Members and other followers responded favorably to the posts even after my term as president ended two years later.

Through the years, I did scale back. Now instead of posting three times a week (what was I thinking?!), I now post three times a month. My focus evolved, too, and my tagline became, “Navigating careers, the media and life.”

The few times when I considered ceasing publication, others would convince me to keep writing. They shared how the advice guided them through a difficult time, provided them with new tools, or reinforced messages they were sharing with their colleagues or bosses. So I kept writing.

I have enjoyed every minute of the writing. But the blog was more than writing. First came the ideas and research, then writing followed by editing. I always appreciated when my readers pointed out errors so I could fix them, even when it was a former police officer who worked for me and was so proud to point out a mistake. Harvey wasn’t trying to show me up, but rather to show me that he had learned some rules of writing from me. I was thankful he reached out.

My blog is not controversial so comments aren’t frequent. I always appreciated hearing at conferences and workshops from readers who shared, “I don’t comment on your blog, but I want you to know how much I enjoy it.” That meant the world to me because the blog truly is a labor of love.

That said, the top commenters on my blog posts are some of my favorite people. The top commentator is my former high school English/journalism teacher Roger Hudak. He encouraged me back in high school and he encourages me now. Anyone who knows Roger knows he will make a difference in your life.

I have appreciated all of the comments, but perhaps none more so than from Mary Lou Hinrichsen, whom I met through NFPW. Mary Lou was from Iowa and died at age 90 on Feb. 5, 2017. She was a journalist, farmer, and musician. Here’s what she once told me, “You do a great job of keeping me up to date our here in the cornfields of Iowa on what’s going on.”

When I write, I picture Mary Lou.

Another remembrance I wrote was of my dear friend and mentor Emyl Jenkins Sexton. Even now reading the post, I become teary-eyed, although she wouldn’t want that. I’m still working on becoming a published mystery author, and that is the reason I am ceasing my blog. It is time for me to focus full-time on publishing my books.

My travel memoir about visiting all 50 states before I turned 50 is finished. I am currently shopping it. My mystery was three-quarters finished, but I have decided to start fresh. Thanks to my friends and colleagues in Sisters in Crime and James River Writers, I have learned much about writing. I fear my manuscript will take much to get it in shape. Starting fresh is easiest. I’m hard at work. I will revisit the original manuscript at a later date. When I am a published author, I hope to see and meet many of you at book signings. And, I’m sure I’ll be promoting my books on my blog and elsewhere.

At the suggestion of many readers, I also plan to turn my blog posts into mini books, which I plan to sell. Check back here on occasion to see what I am up to. I hope you will stay subscribed for when the whim hits me to write a post.

For the last few weeks, I’ve enjoyed re-reading many of my blogs – reliving conferences, thinking about friendships, looking forward to new adventures, and yes, getting a bit sentimental. I knew it would be best to not announce the end of the blog in advance.

As I’ve told myself, and I’ll tell you: Don’t think of this as good-bye. Think of this as another chapter. I hope you will turn the page with me.

5 Tip to Ensure a Successful Presentation

Earlier this spring, my team was on the talk circuit giving three presentations in a short time span. We hadn’t given any talks in the prior three years!

Here are some of the things we did to prepare.

Consider the audience and messages. Gearing up for the presentations we considered our audience and what messages we wanted to share. We also wanted to have strong stories that would illustrate the points we wanted to make.

Think visually. We had plenty of information to convey but we didn’t want our audience to suffer from “death by PowerPoint.” We started with a rough outline in Word and noted what images we would use.

As we built the presentations (each one was a different topic), we practiced multiple times. When we couldn’t remember what we wanted to say about a slide, we knew we had the wrong image. Sometimes, it wasn’t the image but rather that we had too much information or the wrong information.

Practice. Once the presentation was finished, we asked colleagues to be our audience, and we did a practice run. One time our timing or pacing was off.  Another time, we realized one of the images didn’t convey what we really needed. Each time we tweaked and did one more practice.

We knew it was the final practice when we each felt great about our respective parts, and we were raring to deliver our presentation.

Streamline. Most of us keep several files open on their desktop. Before each presentation, we closed everything on the laptop we were using except the PowerPoint. We didn’t want emails popping up on the screen. We also checked that our computer was updated so we didn’t get the message that the computer was ready to restart.

Test the equipment. We arrived early to ensure we had all the power cords and connecting cables and that the images displayed properly. We also brought our own remote clicker so we wouldn’t be tethered. (We even had extra batteries.)

We know the presentations went well based on the questions we were asked and by the follow up inquiries we received.

Are you ready to present?