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Speaking in front of a small group or a large audience can instill fear in most people. In fact one of the things most Americans fear most is public speaking. While speaking publicly can be a daunting proposition for most people, there are a few basic principles and steps anyone can use to get over the fear and speak effectively. Here are a few keys to becoming an effective public speaker: 1). Have a Clear and Simple Message--Decide the main point you want to express to your audience. 2). Organize Your Thoughts--Develop a simple three-step organizational plan for your talk. 3) Practice, Practice, Practice--Do not leave your public speaking to chance. Rehearse what you want to say, and how you are going to say it. 4) Talk to People, Not a Group--It is much easier to talk to one person at a time in a group, than it is to talk to an audience. 5) Prepare Some More--You can never have too much preparation. There is more to speaking effectively, but a good... read more

Writing the Perfect College Essay* Why is it that merely mentioning “college essay” strikes fear in the hearts of high school seniors? I can help you break down the writing process into manageable steps and help take the stress out of it. Step 1: Don’t Procrastinate: Get started right away. Now is a great time to start! Deadlines approach much faster than you expect. Last-minute essays are usually poorly written and contain careless mistakes. Step 2: Think Before You Write: Brainstorm to identify topics that communicate your positive attributes and demonstrate your ability to succeed in college. But remember to focus! Your topic should be something that you can realistically cover in 1-2 single-spaced pages. And make sure the topic is about you. If you want to write about your grandmother, that’s great, but write about how she affected your life. Remember: we’re not admitting your grandmother! Hint: The way you craft your essay is every bit as important as the topic... read more

Many students are very concerned about their ability to communicate well in English, both in writing and in the spoken word. The good news is that effective communication is a skill that can be mastered with diligence and determination. If you are committed to putting in the time, you will see improvement and results. A very simple exercise which can be performed by anyone wishing to improve their spoken English is to read the newspaper aloud, and record their voice. The act of reading the newspaper aloud can help to attune your eyes and ears to simple, straightforward English usage. This will help to acclimate your perspective to basic English construction and grammar. Speak slowly and clearly, pronouncing every word and syllable. For many non-native speakers, mastering the pace of spoken English can be a challenge. English can be spoken more slowly than languages such as Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Korean or Farsi. You do not have to speak as rapidly in English as you... read more

For many high school and college seniors, Fall is the time when college and graduate school applications come to dominate their lives. The "college application essay" has taken on a life of its own, and many students dread the thought of condensing their hopes, dreams and aspirations to 1,000 or 2,000 words. Fear not. The essay portion of your application does not have to be the bane of your short life. In fact, with ample planning, preparation and practice, your essay can become the shining centerpiece of your application. After all, this is where the admissions reviewers can get to know you beyond your grades and test scores. Everyone has a unique story to tell. Yours is just as valuable as the next person, and you should welcome the opportunity to tell them as much about your life, interests and experiences as possible. Before you write a single word, it is important that you have a good idea of the portrait you want to paint with your essay. Will it be a... read more

When it comes to writing,simplicity is elegance. Many inexperienced writers believe they must string together long and complex sentences to be effective. That is not true. Some of the best writers, and most enjoyable passages, use short sentences and plain language. In fact, it is usually harder to write in a plain, straightforward way than it is to put a lot of words in a sentence. One of the most refined skills you can learn is to simplify and streamline your writing, stripping it of unnecessary words and phrases. To make it easy, just thinking of writing with a K.I.S.S.--Keep it Short and Simple.

Many students want to improve their writing skills, but they do not know what to do on their own to help in this endeavor. By far, the most significant self-taught action any student can undertake to improve his/her writing skills is to read. I recommend reading major newspapers such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Get a hard copy of the newspapers. Find an article that appeals to your interests. Read it first for information. Then re-read the article, paying close attention to how the sentences are phrased. Look at the paragraphs. Look at the overall construction of the article from start to finish. Try to dissect what is going on in the article in terms of structure, content, tone, pace and word usage. Re-read the article once again. After you have read the article twice, put it away. Now for your exercise, write an article on the same subject in your own words. Compare your article with the original. Look at your version in contrast... read more

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