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Philip Yaffe Collection

  • The 7% rule revisited

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    In this installment, Philip Yaffe debunks the myth of verbal versus non-verbal communication.

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  • Banishing the fear of public speaking

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    In this installment, Philip Yaffe explores how speak to a crowd.

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  • How to make dull information exciting

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    In this installment, Philip Yaffe explains how to give the reader what they want.

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  • First write like you speak, then write like you write

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

    In this installment, Philip Yaffe introduces a two-step plan to create well-written text that will not only impress the reader, but also engage the reader to digest and comprehend new ideas or concepts with ease.

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  • How to say what you mean and mean what you say

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; this week learn how to construct truly effective sentences. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

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  • Why writing short sentences may be short-changing your reader

    Each "Communication Corner" essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay.

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  • How to improve your writing by standing on your head

    Newspapers provide the best examples of clear, concise writing you can find anywhere. Learning how journalists work their magic can help you write better, and it all begins with the "inverted pyramid."

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  • The three acid tests of persuasive writing

    Each Communication Corner essay is self-contained; however, they build on each other. For best results, if you have not already done so, before reading this essay and doing the exercise, go to the first essay "How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan," then read each succeeding essay sequentially.

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  • How an Ugly Duckling Became a Swan

    The thrust of the Communication Corner is to offer step-by-step advice to help you become a better writer and speaker. This first essay explains how Phillip Yaffe went from being a very poor writer and speaker to being a recognizably good one, almost despite himself.

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  • Science, Reason, and Robots

    Science depends on logical reasoning. However, the conclusions one comes to intimately depend on the explicit, or more often implicit, assumptions on which the reasoning is based. Here is an example of how logical reasoning based on different assumptions can lead to diametrically opposite conclusions.

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  • Ubiquity symposium: The science in computer science: the sixteen character traits of science

    Phil Yaffe has provided numerous commentaries on various aspects of professional communication, which have helped readers more effectively articulate their own ideas about the future of computing. Here he tells us about how scientists see the world---the "scientific approach," he calls it---because he thinks many non-scientists see the world in a similar way. This realization can lower barriers of communication with scientists.

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  • The 7% rule: fact, fiction, or misunderstanding

    In 1971, Albert Mehrabian published a book Silent Messages, in which he discussed his research on non-verbal communication. He concluded that prospects based their assessments of credibility on factors other than the words the salesperson spoke---the prospects studied assigned 55 percent of their weight to the speaker's body language and another 38 percent to the tone and music of their voice. They assigned only 7 percent of their credibility assessment to the salesperson's actual words. Over the years, this limited experiment evolved to a belief that movement and voice coaches would be more valuable to teaching successful communication than speechwriters. In fact, in 2007 Allen Weiner published So Smart But… discussing how to put this principle to work in organizations.

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  • Resurrecting the bullet point: the return of an old and valued friend

    PowerPoint has come under attack in recent years. Well known figures such as Edward Tufte have castigated PowerPoint for corrupting minds and numbing thought. Some sociologists have condemned it for luring people away from listening to each other and communicating effectively. Scott Adams (author of Dilbert) often depicts PowerPoint as a facilitator of office dysfunction. From all this, you might think PowerPoint has badly wounded us and our society with its barrage of bullet points.

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  • How to Rapidly Improve Speaking Skills
    Even as written communication is important, spoken communication has been assuming an increasing role. We are called on to speak in such media as videos, teleconferences, and podcasts. Our ability to speak clearly is as important as our ability to formulate our arguments concisely and clearly. Phil Yaffe, who has provided advice to Ubiquity readers on how to write clearly and concisely, offers advice on how to speak clearly. ...
  • How to Generate Reader Interest in What You Write
    Who has not discovered to their dismay that no one wants to read their most carefully crafted, meritorious, compelling, and passionate writings? Think of all the proposals you have written that no one is interested in. Or the web pages, the blog posts, or the company brochures. Chances are, your failures are linked to an inability to connect with what your readers would be interested in reading. Our intrepid writer about writing, Phil Yaffe, offers some valuable insight into how to get people to read your stuff. He says you need to adopt the "expository writing challenge": that no one is interested in what you are inclined to write, therefore you must discover what they want to read. Only then you can get started, and only then you can succeed. ...
  • How Crafty Word Order Can Instantly Improve Your Writing
    I am usually very reticent about offering writing tips. Unless they are linked to the absolute, inescapable fundamental principles of good writing, such tips are too often poorly applied or misapplied. There is really only a handful of fundamental writing principles. Before this extraordinary tip can be properly revealed, we need to review three of them: 1) clarity, 2) conciseness, and 3) density. ...
  • The Three Acid Tests of Persuasive Writing
    If there are still scientists toiling away with little regard for what others may think of their efforts, it's time to drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century. In today's interconnected world, what scientists do is of vital concern to the wider public. And vice versa. Just consider the controversies surrounding nuclear energy, genetic engineering, telephone antennas, global warming -- and even the effects of computers on education and individual liberty (surveillance society). ...
  • Why Does Time Go Faster As We Get Older?
    Persons in every age group wonder why time seems to move so much faster than it did in their pasts. It seems as if there is never enough time to get everything done and that the situation only gets worse. Many explanations have been offered for this, but few seem to hit the target as well as Phil Yaffe's explanation. We hope you enjoy and find it provocative. Phil has been a writer and journalist for over four decades and is able to write eloquently about his personal experience with accelerating time. ...
  • Why visual aids need to be less visual
    I was recently invited to a presentation by an accomplished speaker. Needless to say, his speech was well structured, his manner relaxed and confident, his eye contact and body language excellent, etc. He normally spoke without slides, but this time he felt they would reinforce and illuminate his message. They didnt. In fact, they were more of a hindrance than a help. ...
  • How to use presentation slides to best effect
    How often have you attended a presentation where great attention apparently went into designing the slides - and apparently none into how they were used? Or the speaker played with the slides as if to entertain rather than edify? ...
  • Is a worldwide common language just over the horizon?
    I am an American living in Belgium since 1974. Ever since arriving here, I have been hearing the mantra To be a good European, you should learn several languages. Almost from the very beginning, I suggested going the other way: To be a good European, everyone should learn a single common language. ...