Use the subject as the subject

A reader asks about my feelings toward phrases such as “This paper will discuss” or “The
purpose of this document is to”. In a nutshell, I find nothing wrong with them (on the contrary)… at least, if they have the right focus, use the right verb form, and appear in the right place.

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Tying your Tuareg turban blindfolded

During a recent camel trek deep into the heart of the Sahara, I was eager to visualize the animal that had visited our bivouac at night and that our Tuareg guide had identified by its tracks as a fennec, so I turned to my Lonely Planet printouts for help. Alas, no pictures: text, text, and more text—even for how to tie your Tuareg turban!

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That’s not the way it is done

While resistance to change is an intrinsic facet of human nature, it never ceases to amaze me when it is exhibited by individuals whose lofty purpose in life is precisely to be imaginative—able to think for themselves, challenge false beliefs, and come up with inventive, original, groundbreaking concepts or solutions. I am referring to engineers, scientists, and other researchers.

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The more you buy, the more you save

I am amazed at how many people draw incorrect conclusions by confusing absolute and relative values. One example is the recent survey of religious faith in Belgium published in Le Soir. A better visual representation would help.

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I’m a boy

Every picture tells a story, according to the saying (and a song by Rod Stewart). Does it, really? Certainly not on its own (or at least not unambiguously), but a few well-chosen words can help.

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Sprechen Sie Belgian?

Since the same language can be spoken in several countries and conversely several languages spoken in the same country, I have never understood why Web designers would choose to use country flags as a way to represent languages visually.

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A holistically unclear service proposition

A recent seminar announcement about “Service Design” reminded me of why consultant babble does not rhyme with effective communication: because of vagueness, neologisms, and hype. But perhaps I should give it a try in my own marketing? ;–)

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Zero tolerance for bad presentations

One reason why we still see so many appalling presentations is that too many audience members put up with them. Fortunately, there is hope: newspeople are starting to complain openly about business presentations they consider torture.

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In the beginning was the verb

Are the titles of your slides phrased as a sentence? If not, they are most likely not getting the message across. The power of an assertion is in its verb.

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Making sure You won’t read any of it

The Programme rental terms & conditions for the Hertz #1 Club Gold are doing everything possible to make me not want to read them: 72 pages of typical legal copy in one of the worst page layout I have seen lately.

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