9 ultimate quiz questions for your favourite know-it-all…

Know someone who knows it all? Here’s the ultimate quiz for people who know absolutely  everything…

Ultimate quiz questions from How To Write Better

And interestingly enough, these are not trick questions. I’m told they are straight questions with straight answers.

Bonne chance… [Read more…]

How to write a good questionnaire

How to write,questionnaire,questions,answersWriting the bare bones of a questionnaire should, some say, be left to the industrial psychologists and other scientific experts who know how to get inside our brains and wriggle around in there to extract useful information.

I don’t agree. (Now there’s a surprise, huh.) Why? [Read more…]

How to write a bloody awful FAQ page

FAQ,FAQ page,bloody awful,frequently asked questions,page,website,writing,questions,customers

Is your FAQ page as awful as it should be?

FAQ pages are another great way to promote your business, right? Never mind what customers and prospects really would ask. This is simply a page where you can put up “questions” that you would like  your customers to ask, so feeding you the lines you need to bring out important sales points. [Read more…]

The A-2-Z of business blog writing: Q is for Questions and Answers

business,blog,writing,questions,answers

If you’re not confident that you know
what sort of questions your customers
may ask, go and ask them.

Questions and answers are often a good way to get information across in a way that suggests input from outsiders, to which you supply answers that cordially address their particular problems and inveigle them, and others, into your way of thinking and so into your potential client base.

No-one in business is naïve enough to think that the average written Q&A session is made up solely of genuine questioners asking genuine questions… [Read more…]

Why teachers drink: some written evidence

Many thanks to my intrepid cousin Alyson for this alarming information…

Why teachers drink: some written evidence - humor

Why teachers drink…

These are genuine answers (from 16 year olds)….. and they WILL breed.

Q. Name the four seasons
A. Salt, pepper, mustard and vinegar

Q. Explain one of the processes by which water can be made safe to drink
A. Flirtation makes water safe to drink because it removes large pollutants like grit, sand, dead sheep and canoeists

Q. How is dew formed?
A. The sun shines down on the leaves and makes them perspire

Q. What causes the tides in the oceans?
A. The tides are a fight between the earth and the moon. All water tends to flow towards the moon, because there is no water on the moon, and nature abhors a vacuum. I forget where the sun joins the fight

Q. What guarantees may a mortgage company insist on?
A. If you are buying a house they will insist that you are well endowed

Q. In a democratic society, how important are elections?
A. Very important. Sex can only happen when a male gets an election

Q. What are steroids?
A. Things for keeping carpets still on the stairs

Q.. What happens to your body as you age?
A. When you get old, so do your bowels and you get intercontinental

Q. What happens to a boy when he reaches puberty?
A. He says goodbye to his boyhood and looks forward to his adultery

Q. Name a major disease associated with cigarettes
A. Premature death

Q. What is artificial insemination?
A. When the farmer does it to the bull instead of the cow

Q. How can you delay milk turning sour?
A. Keep it in the cow

Q. How are the main 20 parts of the body categorised (e.g. The abdomen)?
A. The body is consisted into 3 parts – the brainium, the borax and the abdominal cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs and the abdominal cavity contains the five bowels: A, E, I, O ,U….

Q. What is the fibula?
A. A small lie

Q. What does ‘varicose’ mean?
A. Nearby

Q. What is the most common form of birth control?
A. Most people prevent contraception by wearing a condominium

Q. Give the meaning of the term ‘Caesarean section’
A. The caesarean section is a district in Rome

Q. What is a seizure?
A. A Roman Emperor.

Q. What is a terminal illness?
A. When you are sick at the airport.

Q. Give an example of a fungus. What is a characteristic feature?
A. Mushrooms. They always grow in damp places and they look like umbrellas

Q. Use the word ‘judicious’ in a sentence to show you understand its meaning
A. Hands that judicious can be soft as your face.

Q. What does the word ‘benign’ mean?
A. Benign is what you will be after you be eight.

Q. What is a turbine?
A. Something an Arab or Shreik wears on his head.

Driving your customers and colleagues to drink with your bad writing? Here’s the cure!

“How To Write About Yourself”…how to make the most of yourself, whatever you need to write

“Business Writing Made Easy”…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

photo credit: mark sebastian via photopin cc

How to get good text-based interviews for your blog or website

These days people are far too busy to take time out and be physically “interviewed” to provide quotes, information, testimonials, endorsements, etc. And apart from the fact that to obtain a live face-to-face interview with someone (especially someone famous) takes more organizing than a nationwide military coup, you’ll often find that the face-to-face variety isn’t all that good anyway.

How to get good text-based interviews for your blog or website

Want a good interview for your blog or website? Email the questions to your interviewee…

The answer?

Email them the questions.

This is not as simple as it sounds. People are a) busy and b) lazy, so if you want to get some good results you need to make it very, very easy for them to respond.

First, the practical bits

Naturally you need to establish that whoever you are to interview is happy with the arrangement. In the main you’ll find that the prospect of their being able to answer questions in their own time, when it suits them, without an interviewer breathing down
their neck, works for them much better than any other alternative.

Next, prepare your email carefully. Write it out with a short introduction or recap on what you have agreed, then place your questions below. Embolden each question individually; if you embolden all questions in one sweep the response will come back in bold, too, which may make it hard for you to decipher.

And the questions? (Not too many…)

Essentially these should be focused on the old journalistic principles of “who, what, where, when and how,” with appropriate modification. But here’s a warning; don’t overdo the number of questions. People are put off by a long list.

Let’s say you’re looking to obtain a good testimonial for a client (alter appropriately if the project is to get a testimonial for your own business). Here’s a list of questions from another article of mine which should give you a good spread of quotes, but select only 5 or 6 or them if you don’t want to scare your interviewee off:

  • What is it that you think makes XXX different from their competitors?
  • Just how much better than the competition do you feel XXX really is?
  • Why do you feel that XXX is more efficient than other, similar (whatever)?
  • How would you rate your experience of working with/using XXX?
  • Compared with their competitors, how do you rate your experience of working with/using XXX?
  • On a 1 to 10 scale, how would you rate your experience of working with/using XXX, and why?
  • What difference has using XXX made to your business’s/department’s performance?
  • What is it about XXX’s performance/service that makes the different?
  • What was it that made you choose XXX in the first place?
  • What was it that made you choose XXX instead of their competitors?
  • What was it that made you change from your previous (whatever) to XXX?
  • What additional benefits have you found through using XXX?
  • What are the three main benefits of working with XXX?
  • In summary, then, what would you say is the key benefit of working with XXX?
  • In summary, then, what difference has working with/using XXX made to your bottom line?
  • How important is it to you that you should work with/use XXX in the future?
  • What sort of future do you think XXX can look forward to?
  • If I were someone considering using XXX, what advice would you give me?

And for some more general questions?

When you’re doing an email interview with someone to obtain information that’s not necessarily an endorsement or testimonial, you need to research the topic a little bit more thoroughly and plan whatever it is you’re going to write, so that your email interview questions run alongside your plan and so lead to providing you with the information you need.

For example, let’s look at an email interview about the need for businesses to employ a truly professional recruitment agency: here are the questions I would ask of the recruitment agency head honcho for a blog post or article aimed at his/her potential clients:

1.To what extent do you feel that the recruitment process for managers is a continuous cycle, rather than a linear process?

2.What are the benefits to a client company of hiring a recruitment agency as opposed to setting up and internal recruitment function?

3.In your experience, what are the most important criteria for a client to consider when selecting a recruitment agency, in order of importance, and why?

4.How should a client company in this sector go about the process of selecting an agency?

5.At selection stage, what should the client company expect the agency to do in terms of research and information-seeking?

6.Once the agency is selected, what are the most important elements to incorporate into the formal appointment? (E.g. contract, T&Cs, length of agreement, timing of reviews, termination terms, etc., but especially anything over and above what a client company would ordinarily expect)

Assessing your results and using them

Much as people might tell you that interviewing by email doesn’t result in such thorough responses as you might get from the F2F variety, I disagree … not because I’m a bolshie cow, but because in my experience it just doesn’t work out that way.

Invariably the results I get from these emailed interview questions are good because a) the responses are relatively short and sweet which for contemporary online purposes is what we need, and b) the fact that people have time to think about what they’re going to respond with enables them to do it better than they would “off the cuff.”

Good luck with your email interviewing – it’s the way ahead, I’m sure!

Now, let’s write up those interviews perfectly:

“Business Writing Made Easy…everything you need to know about writing for business in English

“Banana Skin Words and how not to slip on them”…over 1,500 spelling and grammar tips to perfect your written English

“English to English: the A to Z of British-American translations”…more than 2,000 business and social terms from the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand

photo credit: Marco Bellucci via photopin cc

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