Give Your Speech Writing Flair

December 15th, 2016 by

You’ve been tasked with giving a speech to a large audience and you want to make sure it’s memorable. Here are several writing techniques you can implement to give your speech flair and get the point across.

2756494307_a0380a96e0_bEpiphora. This is the use of repetition at the end of successive clauses or phrases. Using epiphora is a great way to emphasize a specific point and amplify an important idea. A famous example of epiphora you may be familiar with is from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

“… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people,
by the people,
for the people,
shall not perish from the earth.”

Lincoln repeats “the people” three times to reinforce the idea that the government is not an abstract idea, but an institution interconnected with the people it governs.

Anaphora. Like epiphora, anaphora uses repetition except at the beginning of a clause or phrase with the same goal of reinforcing a point or idea. Martin Luther King Jr. used anaphora at a rally in Yazoo City, Mississippi.

I’m tired of war and conflict in the world.
I’m tired of shooting.
I’m tired of selfishness.
I’m tired of evil.”

Chiasmus. If you’ve heard the phrase “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” then you should already have a pretty good understanding of chiasmus. Chiasmus is the repetition of two words or phrases in a successive clause but in the reverse order. Chiasmus is a catchy technique and has been used in famous speeches such as John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address.

“Ask not what your country can do for you
— ask what you can do for your country.”

Trying to sharpen your speech writing? Take Next Step Academy’s NEW course “Developing Public Speaking Skills


How to: Cultivate Creativity

March 23rd, 2016 by

Creativity and creative expressions are as unique as each of us. And like many of our personality traits it can be developed over time. Being creative is a highly adaptable skill in all aspects of life—from writing and design to problem solving and engineering. Our world becomes increasingly creative day-by-day. With thanks to the Internet, we can share these wonderful creations and learn from each other.

So, how can you improve your own creative skills? pen-idea-bulb-paper

Stop Hesitating: “Creativity takes courage”, said French painter, Henri Matisse. Let your guard down and put aside negative thoughts and fears. Often, we let our minds get clouded by the “what-if’s”: “what if no one likes it” or “what if it doesn’t turn out the way I want?” These types of anxieties can be paralyzing. Be brave. Let go of these thoughts and you’ll feel free to begin creating.

Explore: Step outside your comfort zone. We’re all different and are inspired by different environments, so it may take time to find what awakens your creativity. Exploring new places and seeking out new experiences can be a great way to find new ways to be creative. Whether it be hiking a trail, trying a new sport, or learning a language; there are a thousand different paths to take, so take as many as you can.

Ask Questions: There’s a saying that goes, “you don’t know what you don’t know”. So, when you find yourself out in the world and encounter something unfamiliar, ask about it. Access your inner child and indulge that curiosity. Creativity can be sparked by the most unlikely of sources. Plus, the more you learn, the more experiences you have to draw from and the more references to build from. You’ll begin to appreciate all forms of creativity and develop your own unique style.                                                                             

female-865110_1920Write: Even if you don’t fancy yourself a ‘writer’, writing is an awesome tool for developing creativity. For non-writers, there are many ways to make writing work for you: idea books, mind maps, “100” lists, morning pages, and writing prompts are just some of the popular exercises. Many of these do not require proper grammar, spelling, or even full sentences. Think of these as streams of consciousness, as the words come to you, write them down, don’t second guess yourself—just write.

Challenge Yourself: Set goals for yourself. Find unusual ways to accomplish your everyday activities. Branching out to try other creative outlets can also be a challenge, especially if it’s an activity you haven’t tried before. Setting themes can help to focus your creative challenges, for instance, if you’re working with writing prompts, pick a theme for the day or week and write about related topics. If you’re focusing on visual creations, apply the same method by drawing, building or photographing objects within your theme.

At the end of the day, your own curiosity will help cultivate your creative side. Make a conscious effort each day to do, write, think or create something out-of-the-box, then share your creativity with us! We’d love to see what you’re capable of, so share your creations with us in the comments below or on any of our social media pages using #NSACreates! 

Creative resources to get you started:

Writing Exercises:                                  Creative Resources:

Writers Digest                                         Creative Thinking

Poets & Writers                                       Creative Commons

Practical Creative Writing                        Creative Bloq







Careers in Communications

March 1st, 2016 by


AdobeStock_81220856 [Converted]Students looking to study communications are often faced with one of two dreaded questions: “what are you going to do with that degree?” and “doesn’t everyone already know how to communicate?” Yes, it’s true, most of us have been developing communication skills since infancy, but it takes practice, creativity and a strong command of language to turn those skills into a profitable art.

The study of communications is ultimately about understanding people and how they create, send and receive any type of message (verbal, non-verbal, visual, written, body language, etc.). It also studies how the medium (social media, television, radio etc.) affects the overall message and how mediums are best suited for sharing specific types of information. There are several major fields within communications each with their own array of subfields. If you’re an outside-the-box thinker with superb communication skills, rest assured, you will find your place within communications industry.

Public relations (PR) is a communications field concerned with organizations’ public personas and brands. PR professionals take a holistic approach to developing plans for organizations to craft and share their messages with the public. A PR professional may craft a message that portrays the organization’s image and personality, while another message could be about a campaign promoting special event or initiative. As a PR professional, you may choose to focus your career on any number of specialities such as: branding, crisis management, or event promotion. Many PR firms also offer marketing and advertising services under their public relations umbrella because these fields are closely related.

Marketing is similar to PR, but there are specific skills as a marketer you’ll want to master. For instance, writing in both short and long forms, being able to make sense of analytical information and thinking creatively in a “big picture” way. Marketing professionals tend to focus on target audiences, building brand recognition and developing two-way conversations with the organization’s audience. In this career field you may also be responsible for developing new personalities or “re-branding” organizations entirely. There is quite a bit over overlap between marketing and PR, so be prepared to wear many hats in the workplace.

Advertising, while similar to marketing, focuses more on the power of persuasion with the ultimate goal of selling a specific product or service. Advertising professionals use the research of their marketing counterparts to create advertisements for print, television, radio, billboards, and many other unique “guerilla” style tactics. The advertising professional’s responsibilities may resemble or even cross-over into marketing roles.

AdobeStock_71209553 [Converted]Journalism is not all breaking news reporting, and it is certainly not all television broadcasting. Those jobs make up only a fraction of this career field. There are as many beats (specialties) in journalism as there are topics of conversation: politics, money, food, arts, crime, science, technology, the list goes on. Journalists may work for television news networks, magazines, newspapers, or for themselves as freelance writers. No matter their beat or medium, journalists tell real-life stories from your hometown, to the other side of the world. This career path may offer unique opportunities to travel, interview different people and investigate stories.

Media is one of the larger fields within communications. The three biggest media subfields are radio, television and film. Each of these three media subfields have countless job positions to choose from: writing, producing, directing, media buying and more.

So, the next time someone asks “what are you going to do with a communications degree?”, kindly explain that a career in communications offers opportunities in multiple fields, and every other industry requires some type of communication specialist. Once you’ve made your point, send them to Next Step Academy’s “Careers in Communication” course. A career in communications could be right for them, too!



Steps to Improve Your Writing Skills

October 16th, 2015 by


Learning how to write well is a continuous process. Sure, we learned how to spell our names in kindergarten, and we’ve all been fluent in our native language for some time now, but writing well is not the same thing as simply being able to write. Written communication is a skill that needs to be constantly fostered, and can always be improved upon. Whether you’re a Pulitzer prize-winning author or a college student with 5 term papers ahead of you, we have some great steps for you to improve your writing skills…

1.Review the basics

Reviewing basic grammar rules will help you avoid common mistakes in writing that many of us make on a regular basis. While these mistakes are common, they hurt your credibility and muddle your message. These common mistakes can be easily avoided by simply reviewing the basics we all take for granted. Refresh your memory on sentence fragments, the proper use of semicolons, and subject-verb agreement. Of course, these are  just part of the basics. Take our Basic Grammar/Writing Toolkit course to cover all your bases!

2. Change your writing process

Many of us stick to writing one draft of whatever document we are producing. Rather than producing several versions of the document, this first draft is often our final draft. Maybe we feel rushed, or maybe we are just plain old lazy about writing. Whatever the reason, this habit results in a sub-par end product that is unclear and/or filled with errors. This can easily be avoided by changing how you write. Rather than trying to spill all your ideas out at once into a cohesive document (which rarely actually works), go through the steps of writing one at a time—prewrite (brainstorm, outline, etc.), write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite

You can also change how you revise and edit (or maybe you need start revising and editing…). Don’t just rely on spellcheck! Instead, read your writing aloud and listen to find out if it actually makes sense, ask someone else to read it or listen to you read, or print it out and make notes with a pen. The more you review, revise, and edit your writing, the better the end product will be.

3. Write more often.

No one is a perfect writer, but practice does make pretty-close-to-perfect. The more you write, the more you can hone your skills and develop your own unique voice. Make a habit of writing every day for at least 10 minutes. If you can, try to read every day, too. A great exercise to improve your writing skills is to read a newspaper/online article or blog post and rewrite it in your own words. This will boost your critical thinking and reading skills, your writing skills, and give your inspiration for what you want your own writing to be like.

For more tips on how to improve your writing, take the Next Step Academy Basic Grammar/Writing Toolkit course. 



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