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Tom Pfeifer's Blog

The Five Elements of a Successful Elevator Speech​

February 7, 2018

I led a training session a few months back on developing an elevator speech for about 140 staffers at a local non-profit. An elevator speech is designed to sell yourself and your product in the time it takes to take an elevator up one floor, generally 30 to 45 seconds.

Memo Release Portends Extreme Repercussions for Our Republic

February 3, 2018

Congress is broken. I fear beyond repair. And it has extreme repercussions for—and possibly portends the end of—our republic.

Inconsistency in Style and Facts Can Hurt Your Brand

October 5, 2017

Every communication you post must be professional and be your best effort. Every time.

I was reminded of that when I downloaded Brian Tracy’s ebook The 6-Figure Speaker. It was not professional and I assume not representative of his best effort.

Businesses are a Disaster’s First Responders and Backbone of Recovery

September 28, 2017

Up to 40% of businesses affected by a disaster never reopen, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Which is disastrous not only for the business, but for the jurisdiction in which it resides.

Animals Reveal to Maribeth Her Gift of Virtual Mind-Melding (Part 2)

September 7, 2017

Intuitive animal communicator Maribeth Decker believes it was her training as a Reiki Master that opened her spirit to her pets’ attempts to communicate with her.

Maribeth Finds Her Spirituality—and Her Gift (Part 1)

August 31, 2017

Welcome to the life of Maribeth Decker, intuitive animal communicator. Maribeth owns and operates, “where people and pets heal and connect.” She connects “telepathically with animals to allow people to have a two-way conversation with them.” This allows animal and human to solve issues between them, such as anxiety or aggression issues. But Maribeth is not a pet trainer or behaviorist. She simply allows humans and animals to communicate.

Build Your Credibility with Style

August 17, 2017

I recently read a press release from a healthcare organization that spelled “healthcare” as a noun, but also spelled it “health care” and “health-care.”  All may be acceptable spellings, but to spell it three ways in a 500-word release is distracting, to say the least, and credibility-damaging, to say the most.

Give Your Brain & Heart a Boost on World Chocolate Day

July 7, 2017

Today is World Chocolate Day. Chocolate is good for the heart and brain, studies show, so if you have been avoiding it to slim down you just may have a stupid heart attack.

Learning Enough about Graphic Design to be Dangerous

June 30, 2017

There’s a psychology behind graphic design, graphic designer Lauma Wingrove said. Color. Placement. Font choices. Shapes. White space. Photos. They all tell the viewer something on a subconscious level and can make or break your message.

Move Your Story File Out of Your Head

June 23, 2017

After attending two storytelling workshops in recent weeks, I have started a written story file. Retrieving stories from a brain that can’t remember why it directed me to walk into a room is iffy at best. I’ll probably miss the best one to illustrate the point I want to make. Having them stored in written form makes it more likely to hit on the right one.

History of the United States Flows through Fairfax County, Virginia

June 2, 2017

The history of the United States flows through Fairfax County, Virginia. Two of our Founding Fathers called the county home, George Washington and George Mason. Washington and Mason were the brains behind the Fairfax Resolves, the first document to outline the colonies’ grievances against England.
But it goes much further back than that.

Networking Farmers Build Healthy Businesses

May 25, 2017

Networking is critical to the success of every entrepreneur. Some hunt, others farm, with the farmers more often than not finding long-term success.

It Gets Curiouser and Curiouser

May 11, 2017

And the president wonders why the latest Quinnipiac University poll, taken before the latest misstep, shows his disapproval rating at 58%, with 51% strongly disapproving and 56% saying he lacks good leadership skills.

Hug a Nurse to Celebrate Florence Nightingale’s Birthday

May 4, 2017

Perhaps it does prove our exceptionalism, because the Yankees recognized National Nurses Week first.

I Have Come to Praise Dane, Not to Bury Him

April 27, 2017

Dane was a merry prankster. Known for his French beret or Groucho glasses at any time and a trench coat for panhandling at the Walt Whitman Mall, Dane infected everyone with his devil-may-care attitude. That attitude belied the truth that Dane did care. Very much.

Market to Your Imaginary Friend

April 20, 2017

Editor's note: This was first posted on July 7, 2016. It's being republished today in honor of Get to Know Your Customers Day, which is observed annually on the third Thursday of each quarter. It's a day to reach out to your patrons and get to know them better.

The Bonus Benefits of Scheduling Social Media Posts

April 13, 2017

Is continuing education in your field is crucial to your continued growth? Do you want to be recognized as an authority in your field? Is it worth it to you to invest a couple of hours a week doing both simultaneously?

Words Matter

April 6, 2017

Words do matter. Otherwise, why does a speaker speak? Should we all stand on stage and mime our speeches? Am I the only one who finds mimes annoying?

Yes, You Can be a Better Writer and Speaker

March 31, 2017

Learning the craft—the workmanship—of communication only takes willingness and commitment. Art—the creativity—comes when you begin to play with the skills you have learned.

Imagine if You Had the Secret List of Proven Free Words that Sell

March 3, 2017

If you ask 10 marketers to list their top 10 magic words you’ll receive 10 different lists. But, while every marketer’s list is different, some words show up regularly because they are truly magic.​

Writing a Speech Using the Grocery List Method

January 19, 2017

Let’s compare the process of preparing a grocery list and writing a speech.

Remembering Our First President’s Warning on Parties

January 13, 2017

As we prepare for the peaceful transition of government in a nation divided by party, creed, economics, geography, religion, and race, it is perhaps instructive to remember this portion of George Washington’s Farewell Address:

3 Tips for Conducting an Interview for Publication

January 5, 2017

While the technology since then has made it easier in some respects to prepare and conduct an interview, the basic skills have remained the same.

Still, and Always, an Apprentice at My Craft

December 15, 2016

In most cases, the first draft is going to be, simply put, a first draft. It’s through the art of rewriting that the magic happens.

I Sprinkled Salt and Pepper on My Words and Ate Them

November 11, 2016

Trump broke all the rules of modern-day politics and won. Why? Was Clinton that weak of a candidate? Is the electorate so undisciplined that Trump’s Wild West campaigning from an Ivory Trump Tower appealed to them? Was his seemingly undisciplined campaign weirdly disciplined?

Snarky New Yorkers Tell Cubs Fans, “You’re Welcome”

October 25, 2016

During the course of the 2015 season, Jim and I had assigned the Chicago Cubs to my son-in-law, Tony. We did it as a joke. Tony had never followed sports before. It seemed natural to assign him the Cubs, a perennially hopeless team.

Undisciplined Trump Hands Election to Distrusted and Disliked Clinton

October 20, 2016

The majority of the American people do not like Hillary Clinton and do not trust her. But she will win over Donald Trump, and win handily, because hers is the more disciplined campaign.

Vote for the We Party!

September 29, 2016

My fellow Americans, I am honored to run for president of these United States as the candidate of the We Party! This is HUUUGE! We are going to Make America Intoxicated Again! Intoxicated with Freedom! Intoxicated with Security! And Just Plain Intoxicated! We can all agree on that, can’t we?

Be Stylin’ and Communicate Consistently

September 9, 2016

I love the English language. It’s got rules, man! It also has so many exceptions to the rules to make the rules virtually useless.

A Burning Desire to be Chosen

First published June 29, 2011

The difference between batter’s eye and batter’s eye is that in baseball the eye is blue and in cooking it’s yellow, the color of the sun that makes the baseball player squint. Which brings us to sunspots, the chosen, and the true timeline for the end of the world.

Licensed to Semicolon

August 4, 2016

With all due respect to transvestite hermaphrodites, I like semicolons. How else is a writer to wink at his friends? ;)

To Compete with Cats, Become an Author

July 21, 2016

Only .0004% of Americans are authors. Publishing a book puts you in very, very exclusive territory. It makes you stand out among the cat videos.

I Fear for My Country. This is My Now.

July 15, 2016

I fear for my country.

I’m old enough to say that now. I remember when my mother used to say it. I would turn to her and say, “The world has always been a mess.”

“Yes,” she would say. “But not like now.”

This is my now.

Market to Your Imaginary Friend

July 7, 2016

It doesn’t matter if you’re selling shoes, decks, or graphic design, you must start with knowing your audience’s wants and needs before you can create the message that brings you business. Your imaginary friend is that one person whose wants and needs you know so well you can discuss it with them. Who you can bounce ideas off of to see if they like it or not. Like you did as a child, but this time with a structured purpose. That purpose is to focus your message.

Same Old Tom Meets Tom the Author

May 1, 2016

I’ve found that much of the world runs in Erin’s circles, not mine. They’ve never met an author before. To many people, I’m unique to their circle.

I Want Your E-Book! How?

April 8, 2016

When I published my new e-book on Tuesday, I did not anticipate the number of unforeseen questions and problems that would arise.

Hint to future self-published authors: Do not schedule oral surgery on the same day you publish a book. You don’t have three hours to be out of pocket.

Begin with a Bang

March 31, 2016

(Editor's note: This is excerpted from Tom Pfeifer’s book, Write It, Speak It, available on on April 5, 2016.)

In 2015, the attention span of humans fell to eight seconds, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute. It’s not much time. You don’t want to waste it. Once you lose your audience it’s very difficult to get them back. So you need to begin with a bang and grab their attention right away.

Storytelling Makes Your Speeches Memorable

February 18, 2016

(Editor's note: This is excerpted from Tom Pfeifer's upcoming book, Write It, Speak It.)

Think about all the family stories you’ve heard that have been passed down from generation to generation. We relate to stories—and the storyteller—and are much more likely to remember what he or she said, as well as comprehend it.

Commas Rule When Comma Rules Are Followed

February 12, 2016

Comma rules are pretty straightforward, although there’s disagreement on just how many rules there are. Jane Straus, who literally wrote a book on punctuation, lists 16 rules with several sub-rules. Purdue University lists a mere 11. Utah Valley University rounds it down to 10. I am not going to recite a comprehensive list. But here are a few I see violated often.

First Rule of Good Writing: It’s Not about You

February 4, 2016

(Editor's note: This is excerpted from Tom Pfeifer's upcoming book, Write It, Speak It.)

People today have the ability to target just what interests them and shut out the rest. In such a world of targeted expectations, if you want others to read your prose or come to hear you speak, you need to know what interests them. More importantly, you need to know why they are interested in reading your prose or coming to hear you speak. Think: “What’s in it for them?” Because I guarantee you, they’re thinking: “What’s in it for me?”

TBT: It’s the sauce that makes the message tasty

(Editor's note: This was first published on Jan. 1, 2013.)

Not incorporating the communications team in a communications plan is a recipe for failure. Communicators take the complex, simplify it accurately, and disseminate it with the greatest

chance of positive impact.

Complete Your Goals by Jan. 1 and Your Resolutions Are Complete

December 31, 2015

The blogosphere is inundated right now with “How to Keep Your Resolutions” tutorials and “10 Easy Goal-setting Tips,” so I won’t bore you with yet another. Instead, let’s celebrate

Jan. 1 as the day of firsts.

Solution elusive for tax small businesses love to hate

December 11, 2015

There is little more despised in the Virginia small business community than BPOL (Virginia’s business, professional, and

occupational license tax). Everyone agreesit needs to be eliminated or modified. Getting there, however, has proven elusive.

Lessons Learned from Losing

November 19, 2015

I competed in the Toastmasters International District 27 Humorous Speech Contest finals last week. The audience loved my speech. The judges didn’t.

’Tis the Season to Draw Oxford Commas on Starbucks Cups

November 13, 2015

I was going to write about Starbucks cups this week, but it’s not controversial enough. Instead, I bring you another rant

on the Oxford comma.

A 6,000-mile First Step to Saving Veterans from Suicide

November 6, 2015

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu is widely quoted as saying.

What if your first step is a 6,000-mile cross-country round trip to meet with military, veterans, and their families to put faces on the suicide epidemic?

That’s the philosophy behind the Drive for Life Veteran Suicide Awareness Campaign recently kicked off by Warrior Research Foundation executives Shelia Kirkbride and Summer Watson.