Writing festival Stories of Influence returns to Gippsland’s Lake Tyers with focus on eco fiction

Eco-fiction, a genre of adult and children’s books driven by an underlying message of environmental conservation, is emerging as a trend in literature as storytellers seek creative ways to explore science.

Two such authors who are creating imaginary worlds inspired by natural science were featured at this year’s Stories of Influence three-day writing festival at Lake Tyers in East Gippsland.

Authors Chris Flynn and Aviva Reed imagine worlds we cannot see, using fiction to reflect on the ever-changing natural world.

Phillip Island-based author Chris Flynn’s latest book, Mammoth, depicts the imagined musings of a 13,000-year-old extinct mastodon, a Tyrannosaurus bataar, a Pterodactyl, a prehistoric penguin and the severed hand of an Egyptian mummy as their bones go under the hammer at a Manhattan natural history auction in 2007.

The writer created personalities for the bones that corresponded to the time they were exhumed.

“The story takes place the night before the auction,” Flynn said.

Having extensively researched the often gruesome, century-old trade of natural history specimens, Flynn described his book as a “non-fiction book” with a fictional framework.

Despite the book referencing humanity’s contribution to the destruction of the natural world and the continued extinction of species, Mr Flynn described Mammoth as a comedy that playfully discussed how science, religion and mythology shaped our world.

In a market saturated by titles consumed with serious takes on the environment, politics and identity Mammoth, which was short-listed for the 2021 Indie Book Awards, has captured the imagination of Australian readers.

Aviva Reed’s lavish depictions of the labyrinths that lie beneath the soil evolved from her interest in natural science.

“When I went to university, I did a Bachelor of Science, which was this awesome awakening that covered a lot of information — from climatology and hydrology and chemistry — it sort of went everywhere,” Reed said.

“Then, I went further and did a masters in the environment, and I majored in education, which really allowed me to bring my arts-science practice together.”

Reed has published a book on evolutionary theory, Eon, and four books in collaboration with the CSIRO on microbes and symbiotic relationships.

“My artistic work is all about layers,” she said.

“There is a strange sort of distortion that I often play with in my artworks where nothing is necessarily to scale, just the layers upon layers upon layers in time.”

As concepts of evolution and worlds of biodiversity are incredibly complex to comprehend, Reed said she hoped that her illustrations would encourage people to take a global view of the systems at play in the environment — how organisms communicated, interacted, affected and adapted to each other.

“Often [in] the scientific process and the education process, things get de-contextualised, and we start to stop thinking in those big time scales,” Reed said.

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Teachers, students exposed to asbestos at Sunnybank State High School amid ‘disturbing reports’ of teachers writing in dust

Builders struck an area of Sunnybank State High School known to contain asbestos in October last year while installing air-conditioning.

Seven weeks later, four contaminated blocks of the school were closed, and the school sent a letter to parents informing them of the incident on November 27.

It comes amid concerns that some teachers were writing their names in the dust on desks, unaware it could have contained asbestos, which can cause cancer.

“A contractor may have penetrated the ceiling and walls, known to contain asbestos in Block 4,” the letter sent to parents last year said.

“I can advise that the contractor has also undertaken work in other areas of the school, so in the interests of safety, the contractor has been directed to cease all work immediately pending further investigations.”

The letter said the contractor worked in Block 2 and 3 on November and October last year.

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ABC reporter Sally Sara on writing a play to recover from foreign correspondent trauma

In 2009, the ABC foreign correspondent Sally Sara walked into the Role 3 hospital at Kandahar Air Base, in Afghanistan. Role 3 was one of the busiest combat hospitals in the world, treating a near constant stream of wounded soldiers, insurgents and women and children. A sign near the entrance read “The best care anywhere”, which was no idle boast: the hospital had a 97 per cent survival rate.

Sara, who had been covering the war for a year, believed she would be filming a quick news story, but before long a surge of casualties arrived. There were 16 injured, among them an 11-year-old boy named Abdul. Abdul had been with his brother when the brother trod on a landmine. The blast killed the boy instantly and left Abdul horribly injured. Shrapnel had blown his jaw off, and the tissue on the right side of his face was largely exposed. Sara filmed the boy from a distance as the doctors worked to save his life. The footage from that day shows Abdul gritting his teeth behind the oxygen mask, his feet spasmed in agony, his voice a desperate keening so loud it almost took the roof off.

A veteran foreign correspondent, Sara had reported on all manner of atrocities; rape, mass killings, murder, torture. But something about that day resonated more deeply than anything else in her career. “The boy could see me filming him,” she says. “I remember thinking, ‘There is something very wrong with the world when this can happen to a child. It is a failure on so many levels.’ ”

The doctors scanned Abdul’s head, looking for shrapnel and bleeding. His brain seemed okay, and his outlook was promising. Sara left the hospital in the early hours of the morning, after Abdul had gone into surgery. The next day she returned. Abdul was in ICU: he was in a serious but stable condition and was breathing on his own. She filmed him lying on a bed, his head bandaged up, his little face swollen and purple. After a time, she left. An hour later, Abdul suffered a massive brain haemorrhage and died: hospital staff found his father just in time so he could hold his son’s hand.

When Sara found out, she was stricken with grief and guilt. “I should have stayed,” she tells me. “I wasn’t especially tired, and it was the end of an embed, so I had nowhere else to be. But I’d had enough. I couldn’t watch it anymore.” In war reporting, a central tenet is to honour the dead – to tell their story as well as you can. As far as Sara was concerned, she had failed to fulfil one of her primary responsibilities.

In 2012, she left Afghanistan and returned to Sydney, to take up a job as the ABC’s regional and rural reporter. But the events in Kandahar stayed with her, like a tear in the fabric of her psyche that, in the coming months, grew deeper and wider. “Emotionally speaking, you can’t deal with anything over there, so if something is going to rupture, it’ll be back here, where you have time to think.” In November, 2012, she suffered a breakdown. She is not willing to go into the details, saying only that it was “a shattering experience” and that she “initially felt so ashamed and so stunned that it happened”.

Sara, who is 50, has blonde shoulder-length hair, pale colouring and eyes the colour of a Nordic lake. She is taller than she appears on television, and more reserved. When I meet her early one evening for a drink near her home in Sydney, she gives off a certain reticence, as if she’s not entirely thrilled with being the subject of a story rather than the reporter. She still suffers from symptoms of trauma, most notably a condition known as moral injury, when people witness or fail to prevent events or behaviour that go against their moral code. “For me it was seeing kids getting hurt, kids going hungry when there is plenty in the world, and often just observing, not being able to stop it.”

“The play wasn’t so much therapy as a way of reclaiming the events, turning an awful experience into something positive.”

Coming to terms with her condition was a gradual process involving several years of psychotherapy. Then, in 2015, she hit on the idea of writing a play about her experiences, focusing on that day in Kandahar and her subsequent unravelling. “The play wasn’t so much therapy as a way of reclaiming the events, turning an awful experience into something positive,” she says.

Now, five years and more than a dozen drafts later, that play, Stop Girl, is premiering on March 20 at Sydney’s Belvoir St Theatre. It’s been a long road: Sara approached nine theatre companies before being taken on by Belvoir. Yet it still feels “so new”, as she puts it. Sometimes at rehearsals Sara feels like saying, “It was only a joke! I didn’t mean for it to actually get made!”

”The whole experience is a mixture of doubt and belief,” she says. “It’s like imposter syndrome on 20 Red Bulls.”

Sally Sara reporting from Afghanistan in 2011. “When you come back, your compass is thrown out,” she says. “You realise what you’d taken to be normal over there isn’t in fact normal.”

Sally Sara reporting from Afghanistan in 2011. “When you come back, your compass is thrown out,” she says. “You realise what you’d taken to be normal over there isn’t in fact normal.” Credit:Courtesy of Sally Sara

Plenty of people say they have a book inside them: not so many claim to be lugging around a script. But before she was a journalist, Sara dreamt of being a playwright. “I always loved the theatre,” she tells me. Her grandmother, a talented singer, took part in school plays and district productions. Her mother also did amateur theatre. When Sara was growing up in the tiny town of Port Broughton, on South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula, her father would go camping with her two brothers, while her mother and Sally drove the 350-kilometre round trip to Adelaide to see a play.

“At the time I thought it was so sexist, that I wasn’t allowed to go camping with the boys,” she says. “So I tried to pretend that I wasn’t enjoying the theatre, but I was. It was so special, a country kid coming to Adelaide, wearing your special clothes, being there when the lights come down.”

When she was eight, she saw the musical Annie at the Festival Theatre. “When the show started, I was fascinated by every aspect of it. The musicians, the actors, the crew. The girls on stage were all my age, and I wanted to be in it, too. I wanted to be part of all of it.”

Later, she did screenwriting as a component of her arts degree at the University of South Australia. (Future Labor senator Penny Wong was in Sara’s first-year drama class.) In 1991, when she was 20, she wrote to the producers of A Country Practice, the long-running TV series, and got a shot at writing a trial script for them.

“It was just a development thing,” she says. “I saved up my money and caught the bus from Adelaide to Sydney. I stayed in a youth hostel in Darlinghurst and only had a few bucks for food. I got to sit in on the writing room for a couple of days as they were brainstorming an episode.” After a few days, she caught the bus back to Adelaide. “I then wrote my own version of the script, and someone from the writing team provided feedback. It was a great experience, a total adventure.”

Sara was desperate to write, but she was also desperate to see the world. “I thought, ‘I don’t want to sit at a desk writing yet.’ I didn’t want that solitude. I wanted to see the world, to experience everything, go places, meet people, so I pursued journalism. And I wanted to go all the way, to become a foreign correspondent.”


It was the early 1990s and the country was in a deep recession. Sara applied for 22 jobs before landing a gig at community station Outback Radio 2WEB, in Bourke. She won a few awards in her first year, then got a job as a rural reporter with the ABC in 1992. She worked in Alice Springs, Adelaide, Melbourne and Canberra, where she met Jane Wilson, then an executive assistant for ABC management. “I remember Sally as a lanky, happy, friendly country girl who was fresh-faced, keen and ambitious,” says Wilson, who became a lifelong friend. “Like many people from the country, they always seem to have that independent, adventurous streak; that innate knowledge that there is something beyond the country gate.”

In 2000, after a three-month stint in Jakarta, Sara became the ABC’s Africa correspondent. She has since reported from 40 countries, including Iraq, Sierra Leone, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you are feeling down about your own professional achievements or lack thereof, it’s best not to read the “Awards” section of her CV. She is an eight-time Walkley Award finalist, as well as a winner, in 2017, for her reporting on the famine in Somaliland. She’s bagged four UN Media Awards, and at least a dozen international honours, including for TV and radio reporting. In 2011, she became a Member of the Order of Australia for service to journalism. Oh, and she speaks Zulu.

“Sally has a compulsion to tell the stories of people who the world often forgets about.”

Sara has a particular affinity for dangerous places. “Sally has a compulsion to tell the stories of people who the world often forgets about,” says friend and fellow journalist Leigh Sales. “I was having dinner with her two years ago and I said, ‘I don’t know how you can do the reporting you do,’ and she said, ‘I don’t know how you can not.’ ”

But such work comes at a cost, especially in a place such as Afghanistan. “Afghanistan was bigger and more dangerous than a lot of the other places she’s been,” says her younger brother, Tyson. “I think she had a greater fear for her life there than in other places.”

Tyson, who is a defence industry strategist, happened to be in Afghanistan in 2011, at the same time as his sister, advising NATO commanders in the south of the country. He and Sally caught up a few times, including in the NATO base at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport, where they enjoyed a surprisingly good Thai dinner. “She was looking for her next story, and I was looking for how to help the NATO commander.” There is a high-octane allure to Afghanistan, “an air of energy about the place”, as Tyson puts it. “You are doing work you perceive as being exciting and important, and your senses are heightened all the time.”

“Sally tells complex stories through the eyes of individuals. She also wants to understand people’s motivations … [Writing a play] actually seemed almost natural.”

A hallmark of Sara’s reporting is that she “doesn’t talk about stories in a strategic sense”, says Tyson. “She tells complex stories through the eyes of individuals. She also wants to understand people’s motivations, which in itself is a creative thought.” He wasn’t entirely surprised, then, that she should write a play. “It actually seemed almost natural.”

Sally Sara during a rehearsal of Stop Girl.

Sally Sara during a rehearsal of Stop Girl.Credit:Brett Boardman for Belvoir Theatre

Stop Girl begins in Kabul, with lead character Suzie Broughton, a war correspondent, sitting underneath a doona in her room recording a piece for radio. (The doona, she explains, muffles the ambient noise.) With her is Bec, a journalist and old friend of Suzie, who has been sent to write a publicity profile of her.

Bec is horrified by the pain and suffering she sees all around her; her shock is a foil to Suzie, who has become largely inured to it. At one stage, the two women visit the aftermath of a suicide bombing. When they return to their room, Bec is aghast to find human remains stuck to the sole of her shoe. “Always change your shoes after a bombing,” says Suzie. “I should have told you that.”

The play then moves to Sydney, where Suzie is dazzled by the rude bounty of First World life: the fresh food, the sunshine, the safety. Suzie has flashbacks, one of which has her standing in a maternity ward in Kabul, where nurses are beating the stomach of a pregnant woman with sticks, to make the baby come out faster, because there aren’t enough beds. The father is outside: when he is told that his child is a girl – girls are considered a burden in Afghanistan – he starts crying: “Bas bibi, bas bibi.” Stop girl, stop girl.

“When you come back, your compass is thrown out,” says Sara. “You realise what you’d taken to be normal over there isn’t in fact normal.” The apparent materialism and superficiality of Sydney was similarly disorienting. Sara remembers sitting in a cafe after her return when a man ran in and asked the person behind the bar if they had change for a $100 note because he had to pay for his dog’s haircut. “Life at home just didn’t make sense to me,” she says. “For a while, all I wanted to do was go back.”

Like her on-stage avatar, Sara worked largely by herself in Afghanistan. That self-reliance and independence made it harder for her to ask for help upon her return, but it has also aided her as a playwright. “Sally has a rich interior life,” says Leigh Sales, “and she is really observant and watchful, which is what makes her a good writer.”

Now that it’s finished, Sara can see the play in a broader context. “It’s been an absolute lifeline. It’s given me a new focus, a big challenge. It was just something lovely to have in my mind and my life.”

Now that it’s finished, Sara can see the play in a broader context. “It’s been an absolute lifeline. It’s given me a new focus, a big challenge. It was just something lovely to have in my mind and my life.”
Credit:Dominic Lorrimer

Being a journalist also helps. “It’s given me a sense of story structure, the ability to re-write, restructure and meet deadlines,” says Sara. As part of her research for Stop Girl, Sara interviewed all the real-life people who inspired the characters in the play. “It added so much more depth to the characters. As a first-time playwright, it also helped me feel comfortable, because I was at least familiar with that part of the process.”

Now that it’s finished, Sara can see the play in a broader context. “It’s been an absolute lifeline. It’s given me a new focus, a big challenge. It was just
something lovely to have in my mind and my life.”

She is still seeing a trauma psychologist, and says she has largely reconciled with her past. “I have since gone back through the events in Kandahar in detail with a psychologist,” she tells me. “I now have a different perspective. I did the best I could on a very difficult night, and that it was human to be overwhelmed. It was understandable to cry, understandable to want to leave the hospital. It was understandable to have hope for that boy. I did the best I could.”

To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

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Stop writing – Covid-19 has boosted the campaign against exams in American schools | United States

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Malia Obama Joins Writing Staff of Donald Glover’s Amazon Project – E! Online

Malia Obama‘s new job is sure to make all the other 22-year-olds out there feel like total slackers.

Barack and Michelle Obama‘s eldest daughter has joined the writers room for a potential series that Donald Glover is producing as part of his newly inked deal for Amazon Studios, according to The Hollywood Reporter‘s story on Wednesday, Feb. 17, which cited sources. Variety and Deadline also confirmed the news, citing their own sources.

The series hails from writer Janine Nabers, who previously worked on HBO’s Watchmen, and is said to center on a Beyoncé-type public figure, per THR, which also reported that Malia was recruited to work on the project.

This is quite the first post-college gig for the former first daughter, who is set to graduate from Harvard University as part of the class of 2021. 

Malia has shown interest in pursuing a Hollywood path for quite some time. According to THR, Malia landed an internship with The Weinstein Company in 2017 after having previously interned on HBO’s comedy Girls and worked as a production assistant on CBS’ Halle Berry drama Extant

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Write-down shows AGL has read the writing on the wall

This is a painful write-down for AGL’s shareholders and one which the subsequent share price movement suggests they had not fully anticipated. Painful though it is, it is likely to be just the beginning of the pain that new renewable electricity generators have in store for the old fossil fuel generators.

For too long Australia’s electricity consumers have been held hostage by a fossil fuel-dominated oligopoly that has sought (and mostly so far succeeded) in protecting its legacy fossil fuel positions by going slow on the development of cheaper renewable alternatives. As a result, while about 20 per cent of Australia’s electricity now comes from the wind and sun, only 8 per cent of the electricity that AGL sells comes from these sources.

AGL customers almost certainly produce more solar energy using panels on their roofs than the company does.Credit:Sydney Morning Herald

AGL’s own customers almost certainly produce far more electricity from solar panels on the roofs of their homes and businesses than AGL does from the small amount of solar generation it owns or contracts.

The write-downs are the first substantive indication that Australia’s big fossil fuel electricity generators are feeling the heat that their peers in other rich countries have long had to face.

There is an important lesson here for Australia’s competition policy. It should not be forgotten that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has long opposed the dominant position that AGL built up in coal generation. The ACCC was also not shy in drawing attention to the inadequacy of competition in electricity supply when its earlier concerns were borne out in due course.

The ACCC’s objections were repeatedly overruled on appeal by AGL, and it is not hard to imagine that many in government (and in Australia’s energy administrative institutions) were sympathetic to AGL. Where competition policy has failed, technology change is succeeding in bringing about better outcomes for consumers.

A big task lies ahead in rebuilding the electricity industry.

A big task lies ahead in rebuilding the electricity industry.Credit:Louise Kennerley

There are also important lessons here for the long standing struggle between the Australian and state governments for dominance in energy policy. Recent Australian governments have been frustrated by the inadequacy of competition in electricity production. But the federal government’s stout refusal to prioritise the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions has meant that it has undermined the one easy option – the expansion of renewable generation – that could be relied upon to stimulate competition and reduce prices.

By contrast, the NSW government, like other state governments, has embraced renewable electricity as a source of cheap electricity and obviously also, of clean energy. The NSW government’s commitment to the rapid expansion of renewable electricity generation to be delivered in a way that would undermine the oligopoly has been bitterly opposed by AGL and its fossil fuel-dominated peers. It can be no surprise that many in the oligopoly lose no chance to voice their preference for national, rather than state, energy policy.


The write-downs suggests that AGL and it coal-dominated peers are conceding defeat in these struggles, for now at least. But this is not the time to gloat. A very big task lies ahead in rebuilding the electricity industry and its administrative institutions to make the most of the opportunity that renewable generation offers for clean energy, and if well handled, also cheap energy.

Bruce Mountain is the director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre at Victoria University.

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Harsh writing advice: Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating

Harsh writing advice: Constantly talking isn’t necessarily communicating | Fortune

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Author N. Scott Momaday answers questions about his writing career

Poet, novelist, and essayist N. Scott Momaday led the renaissance of Native American writing when his first novel, “House Made of Dawn,” was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1969. He says his latest book, “Earth Keeper: Reflections on the American Land,” is a summation of many of the themes that are woven through all of his writings. He spoke with Monitor correspondent David Conrads about the book, his life, and his career from his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 

Q: What was the inspiration behind “Earth Keeper”? 

I have long been interested in ecology and the preservation of the landscape. I have a natural investment in the landscape through my ancestry. It’s something that I think about quite often and have for a long time. So I finally put it down in this book. I think of “Earth Keeper” as a kind of spiritual guide, a handbook of reflections on the essential nature of the earth.  

Q: You write that we have failed to recognize the “spiritual life of the earth.” What do you mean by that?

With the industrial revolution we have lost sight of the land and lost the sense of its spirituality. The Native American preserves that, in a way, and has a deeper understanding of the earth, having been on the North American continent for thousands of years, and has developed a kind of an attitude and a reverence for the land. I inherit that and I’m very grateful for that. It’s been a principal subject of my writing and will continue to be. 

Q: Do you see any remedy for this failure?

I think that we’re being pushed to a greater awareness of the importance of preserving the earth and developing a spiritual attitude towards it. I think climate change is going to be responsible, in part, for the return to the land. At least, that’s my hope. I think it’s critical. We face the destruction of ourselves, as well as the earth, by our indifference towards the land. We rape the land. We think it’s something to be exploited. I think that’s not the right idea. It’s something to be revered and protected. 

Q: How has your Kiowa heritage impacted your writing?

It’s been crucial. I’m very much aware of that background and I write out of it. I have a great respect for my ancestry and what it means, that Native people came to this continent thousands of years ago and have developed a kind of conservation attitude towards the land. Not simply for the sake of preserving landscapes, but also an awareness of the deeper meaning of the land. We need to rely on science, but before anything, we need to understand that the earth is possessed of spirit. We can’t save the earth without it. 

Q: You write in “The Death of Sitting Bear,” which was published earlier this year, that poetry is “the highest form of verbal expression.” Why?

Because poetry is the best possible way of saying something. It is the highest achievement of language. It’s precise. It makes no room for extraneous matter. It has to be carefully measured. That’s the definition of poetry. That is, it’s composed of verse and verse is measure. That’s a very high form of expression. The highest, I think. 

Q: How does that square with your regard for the Kiowa oral tradition, which does not include poetry?

That’s true. There’s no such thing as poetry in Native American language, strictly speaking. There is something poetic, of course, in the oral tradition that makes use of rhythms and sounds. It’s a highly poetic kind of language, but it is not poetry as we define that term. Poetry, to my understanding, is a statement concerning the human condition composed in verse. That’s exclusive. There’s nothing like it in Native American oral tradition, but there is a strong sensitivity to language and the sound of language and the meaning of language in the Native oral tradition. So it is not poetry, as such, but it is poetic and that’s primarily what influenced my writing.

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Tips for Improving Business Writing Skills in the Fitness Industry

Writing, like networking and sales, is a business skill that many people find intimidating and tough to master. While writing may fall outside your wheelhouse and feel uncomfortable at first, few things affect the first impression you make on a potential customer—for better or worse—more than the written word. A few simple strategies can help you improve this vital business skill. 

You may think that writing isn’t an important element of being a health coach or exercise professional but, even if you don’t write blogs or maintain a robust website, you likely communicate with potential and current clients or participants via social media posts, emails and texts each and every day.  

You can probably recall situations when you were considering using a product or service but were turned off by the unprofessionalism of a poorly written email or a website riddled with typos, misspellings or confusing instruction. Perhaps the opposite is also true: Have you ever been unsure about a purchase until you visited a website or read through social media posts and came away impressed enough to buy?  

You want to be sure you’re on the right side of that equation, and the key is to always maintain professionalism. 

Here are a few tips that will help improve your business writing: 

  • Remember the value of good writing. Be mindful of the fact that every time you communicate with a potential or current client, you have the opportunity to establish your professionalism and make a good impression. This holds true whether you’re talking face to face, texting to confirm an appointment or posting a motivational tip on social media. A good businessperson never squanders an opportunity to connect. 
  • Think first. Be sure to think through what you want to say before writing it down. It’s generally obvious when something is written in a stream-of-consciousness manner; these communications tend to confuse, meander or miss the point entirely. 
  • Be direct. If you’re asking a question or confirming an appointment, state this clearly in the first sentence. Respect your customers’ time by getting right to the point. 
  • Avoid slang, jargon and abbreviations. Casual writing is perfectly fine in a group text among a circle of friends but should be avoided when you are representing yourself or your business. Proper grammar, spelling and punctuation are foundational elements of good writing. 
  • Be courteous and respectful. Always say please and thank you, and use a professional closing, such as “Best regards,” or “Sincerely.” If you’re attempting to sell your services, you may want to close an email with something more engaging and action-oriented, like “Thanks in advance” or “I look forward to hearing from you.” 
  • Proofread before hitting “send.” Always re-read what you write before sending it to a client or participant before posting it online. This will help you avoid simple and potentially embarrassing mistakes.  
  • Hire some help if you need it. Hiring a professional writer to develop your website or post a weekly blog that will educate your clients or drive potential sales may be a worthwhile investment. You can also hire services to post social media updates or edit email templates that you can use repeatedly. Remember, you may not be able to manage every aspect of your business, so offloading tasks that fall outside your current skill set can save you a lot of time that you could be spending more wisely.

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Germany is writing a law to give the legal right to work from home

Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter are some of the companies that are reviewing their telecommuting policies.

5 min read

This article was translated from our Spanish edition using AI technologies. Errors may exist due to this process.

This story originally appeared on Foro Económico Mundial

By David Elliott , Senior Writer, Formative Content at FEM en Español

  • Germany will publish a bill to make working from home a legal right, its labor minister has said.
  • Strengthening workers’ rights and regulating home work are central to the plans.
  • Facebook, Microsoft and Twitter are some of the companies that are reviewing their telecommuting policies.
  • The World Economic Forum’s Job Restart Summit will explore how to shape fairer and more sustainable organizations and workplaces as we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.

Germany has said it wants to give its citizens the legal right to work from home.

Workers in many parts of the world are now much more familiar with the ins and outs of the remote office than they were at the beginning of this year. In Germany, around 40% of people wanted to work from home at least part of the time even before the pandemic hit.

And the country has been seeking initiatives for companies to allow employees to work from home since early 2019. Now, as the pandemic has given a glimpse of what is possible, it is looking to make it official. The bill will be published in a few weeks, the country’s labor minister told the Financial Times.

98% of employees would like to telecommute at least part of the volume for the rest of their careers / Image: Buffer / Visual Capitalist

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Hubertus Heil said in the interview that the law would give employees the option to work from home when possible.

And crucially, there is a plan to strengthen workers’ rights and establish clearer boundaries between personal and work life.

It is an issue that is on the minds of many people after months of home work caused by the crisis. Before COVID-19, a survey found that the world’s population was even more effusive than Germany’s when it came to working from home – 98% said they sometimes wanted to telecommute .

But recent IBM research has found that while bosses think their companies have done well to manage the shift to new ways of working, employees don’t always agree. Many feel exhausted, and only 46% think that the organization they work for does enough to help them with their well-being.

There is a disparity between employees and employers on a number of issues. There is a disparity between employees and employers on a number of issues / Image: IBM

Once a week

Still, as the move from Germany suggests, telecommuting somehow looks set to play a much bigger role in many people’s lives.

Google, Salesforce and Facebook are among the companies that have said employees can work from home until at least next summer. Microsoft and Twitter have said that some employees can do it forever. And in the United States, 69% of financial services companies surveyed by PwC said they expect nearly two-thirds of their staff to work from home once a week in the future. Before the pandemic, this figure was 29%.

Despite the concerns of some companies about the impact on teamwork and productivity, it could be very profitable in terms of cost savings: Research has found that a typical employer could save about $ 11,000 a year for each person who he works remotely half the time .

And burnout aside, it appears that many employees are still on board, too. A survey of US workers revealed that nearly half wanted to continue working from home after the pandemic, and that the shift to telecommuting had a positive impact on their view of the company.

Fair and sustainable

But there are also concerns. Not everyone is capable of working from home. A study conducted in the United States revealed that mothers who work at home spend more time on housework and childcare than fathers .

And the president of the German Employers’ Association has warned that his country’s proposals could encourage companies to outsource jobs abroad to cheaper workers.

But Germany’s plan is an example of how governments try to ensure that the new world of work works for everyone. Spain, Greece and Ireland also want to develop new regulations for home work, according to the FT.

The World Economic Forum’s Work Restart Summit will explore how we can shape more inclusive, fair and sustainable organizations and workplaces as we emerge from the crisis.

The question is, as the German Hubertus Heil told the FT, “How can we turn technological progress, new business models and increased productivity into progress not just for a few, but for many people?”

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