Cherryleaf presentation on creating effective content

Just a reminder that Cherryleaf’s Ellis Pratt will be speaking at the Institute of Directors’ June 2015 Members Masterclass on “The written word – creating effective content”.

The written word is one of the key ways we communicate with others. Whether we’re telling or selling, it’s important we get our message across. Unfortunately, many people find writing time consuming, and it can often be difficult to get started on a new document.

In this session, we’ll look at some of the most effective techniques for creating the types of content created in today’s business world. You’ll discover some of the approaches used by professional technical communicators, copywriters and report writers.

Some of the issues we’ll look at include:

  • Clarity and persuasiveness
  • Getting started and organising your thoughts
  • How to structure documents
  • Getting to the point and being concise

This session is ideal for managers, engineers and other professionals interested in effective approaches to communicating more clearly and effectively in writing.

The IoD invites IoD Members and non-members to share their expertise and knowledge with other members. It will be held at 116 Pall Mall, London, on the 2nd June (18:00 – 21:00).


The written word – creating effective content.

The EU is good for Cherryleaf

Working in a country that’s a member of the European Union (EU) provides many benefits to a company such as Cherryleaf. It’s been straightforward for us to work with customers in France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, the Netherlands and elsewhere. We’ve also found it easy to hire freelancers who have been based in France and Spain.

In comparison, it’s harder for us to trade with companies based in the USA. We can deliver training and other services over the Web, but there are many barriers to doing work physically in the States. The USA requires a valid working visa, which is challenging and time consuming to obtain. In the EU, we can pass through immigration and customs in little time at all, whereas in the USA, the queueing, questioning and fingerprint scanning can take hours.

The single European market means that we can trade in a market of over 503 million people, rather than just the 64 million in the UK. If the country were outside of the EU, it would take 27 new trade agreements to be negotiated just to get back to the position it is in today.

People may complain that the EU sets rules for how much meat is in a sausage, or the type of electric adapter for battery powered cars, but somebody has to set the ground rules for doing business. Our UK customers know that if they have to create products that conform to a certain standard, their overseas competitors have to do the same, too. The rules and standards are going to be set whether the UK is in the EU or not. The difference is that those who are members of the EU have a say in setting those rules.

Barriers that have been removed are easy to forget, because they are not there. It’s important to remember, from time to time, the benefits to companies such ourselves of the UK being a member of the EU.

We’ve upgraded the software that runs our shopping cart and provides access to our e-learning system

As the headline states, we’ve upgraded the software that runs our shopping cart and provides access to our e-learning courses. The main difference delegates will notice is an improved page for the links to the modules contained in a course. There are some minor improvements: how the VAT element is processed, integration with the payment gateways, and to the invoices. We think we’ve ironed out all the bugs, but if you experience any issues, do let us know.

Teaching non-readers to read

Cherryleaf has been working on a project which shows people how to teach non-readers to read. We’ve been working with Elizabeth Ainley, who has written a book, go for it!, which can be used to teach illiterate and/or dyslexic adults.

Elizabeth asked Cherryleaf to help her re-write the existing instructions aimed at the adult coaches who will be using go for it! This involved making the instructions clearer, and clarifying the learning outcomes.

Schoolchildren in Sierra Leone have been the first users of the project. It means a 12 year old child who can read can now teach others. The school is run by Miriam mason-Sesay MBE for the Educaid, who sent Elizabeth these photos of the teaching materials in use:

IMG_2713Dyslexia teaching in Sierra Leone

Dyslexia teaching in Sierra Leone

Managing information when you are a project services company

Last week, we completed the third phase of our IT systems migration. With each phase, we’re gaining insights into how information can be best managed inside a company selling and delivering project-based services.

There are a number of basic IT systems needed to run a project-based business, such as ourselves:

  • Prospect database. This is essentially for sending out mailshots and any freebies offered on a website.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM). This is for following up new enquiries, past customers and carrying out other sales-related activities. This involves keeping a record of past conversations and next steps.
  • Project management. This involves keeping a record of conversations, repositories for files and contracts, time spent on a project, and other project-related activities.
  • Accounting. This involves invoicing and payments.

In numerous companies where I’ve worked there’s been a problem in finding the ideal solution. A single system that does everything may force you to work in a particular way of working, and these systems can be expensive for smaller organisations. Having separate systems can lead to information not being shared across the systems. For example, many of the project teams I’ve worked with have found CRM systems, such as, too complex. They simply don’t use them often enough.

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Cherryleaf “green screen” videos

We’ve been putting together some short length videos that we can use on the Cherryleaf website. These are “quick and dirty”, three to four minute videos, shot behind in front of a green screen.

One explains why technical communication is changing:

Another looks at recruiting a Technical Author:

Each video takes a couple of hours to create, and we hope to add more over time.

We’re changing IT systems this week, and emails might be delayed in getting to us

We’re changing some of our IT systems this week, including our email system. This involves some changes to DNS and TXT records that may take a while to propagate around the Internet.

If you send us an email and it seems like we’re taking an unusually long time to reply, please feel free to call us on 0207 100 4513. If we detect any serious problems that might take days to fix, we have a backup alternative gmail account we can ask you to use temporarily instead.