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Welcome to Ubiquity’s Communication Corner

The Communication Corner is dedicated to helping you better write and speak about your professional specialty. It is a monthly feature, programmed to help you progressively acquire the skills of professional writers and speakers.

Each monthly installment will have three parts: An essay on a fundamental aspect of effective writing or speaking, a do-it-yourself exercise to help you practice the topic being discussed, and an invitation to submit your exercise for a possible (but not guaranteed) commentary on your draft.

Philip Yaffe, a retired journalist for the Wall Street Journal and a member of the Ubiquity editorial board, is the moderator of the Communication Corner.

We invite you to subscribe via the signup box at the left.  We will send you announcements of new installments of the Communication Corner, approximately once a month.

Readers who subscribe will be able to download a free PDF copy of Philip Yaffe's book The Gettysburg Approach to Writing & Speaking like a Professional.

Articles

  • Different words, same message

    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.

    All good writers (and by extension public speakers) who stop to reflect on what makes them so good generally come to the same conclusions. However, the way they express these common conclusions can be quite different. One formulation of a key idea may strike a responsive chord with one reader but not with another. To improve one's writing and speaking skills, it is therefore useful, in fact imperative, to seek out and evaluate the advice of at least two or more professionals.

  • Can the fundamental principles of non-fiction writing be applied to fiction?

    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.

    So-called "creative writing" (fiction) and "expository writing" (non-fiction) are often thought of as distinct (and even antithetical) disciplines. True, there are significant differences, but there are also significant similarities. These should not be ignored.

  • Why is expository writing so undervalued---and what to do about it

    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.

    Expository (non-fiction) writing is the kind of writing most people do in their jobs and elsewhere. Yet the importance of good expository writing is generally underrated, often severely so. This Communication Corner essay explores why undervaluing expository writing is so costly and detrimental, and what might be done about it.

  • Just who do I think I am?

    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.

    Good advice is good advice no matter the source. However knowing something about its source can significantly reinforce one's desire to put that good advice into practice.

  • The surprising benefits of a pre-first draft

    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.

    Good expository (non-fiction) writers are good because they have interesting and important things to say. Wrong. Virtually everyone has interesting and important things to say; it's just that we aren't aware of them. Here is a technique to help you find your inner voice.

  • Slips of the tongue and what to do about them

    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.

    One of the most dreaded hobgoblins of public speaking is the pervasive fear that you will say something you didn't really mean to say. This is indeed a problem, but perhaps much less so than you might imagine.

  • Making sense of nonsense: writing advice from Lewis Carroll and the "Jabberwocky"

    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.

    Lewis Carroll is justifiably world-renowned for his whimsical and sometime apparently ridiculously incongruous works of fiction, e.g. Alice in Wonderland. However, underneath the charming facade, there is very good advice which, once uncovered, can help expository (non-fiction) writers significantly improve their work.