I just signed up my novel, The Tattooed Heart, for Amazon’s e-book promotion program.
But before I could do that, I had to describe the book.
This would have been torture — Sure, I can boil six years of work down to three paragraphs! —if I hadn’t used a template.
What are Templates, and Why Do You Care?
Templates are models, guides, or sets of instructions that you can customize to tell your own story more easily and effectively.
In the Amazon example, above, I had to make my own template (Amazon doesn’t offer step-by-step instructions for writing a Book Description).
So I looked up three books that I’d enjoyed reading, and copied their descriptions. Then I spread them out on my screen and looked for what made them similar or different.
I noticed that all three:
- Were between 120 and 180 words long;
- Focused on the central emotional conflict in each book;
- Listed some of the book’s quirkier elements; and
- Ended with a teaser, to get you interested in learning more.
Armed with that model, it wasn’t hard to create a Book Description of The Tattooed Heart that I hope will entice readers.
“Write a Killer Thank You Note” Is a Template
For months, I’ve been pondering the success of my blog post, After a Great Job Interview, Write a Killer Thank You Note.
That post has been read by more people than anything else I’ve ever written, and people spent an average of 5 1/2 minutes reading it (that’s a lot of time in blogging terms). Was this because of:
- The topic?
- A new interest in etiquette?
- Word of mouth?
Sure. But I think the post is also successful because it tells you exactly how to construct a thank you note, and gives you sample templates that you can copy and adapt to your own needs.
The post turns thank you note writing into a no-brainer, and people appreciate that help.
Templates are Great for Public Speaking
For most of the public speaking you’ll do — from talking in meetings to pitching a product — templates are available if you look for them.
Do you need to update your resume and make it more professional?
- Google the job title you’re applying for and the word “resume”; you’ll find impressive examples that can by adapted to professionally tell your story.
Are you submitting a proposal or report to a new client?
- Ask them to show you a document that models what they would prefer to see from you. Tell them that you want to submit something that meets their needs and expectations the first time around. Clients are often willing to show you “what good looks like.”
Are you writing a speech — let’s say a TED talk?
- My client Erica Frenkel showed me a TED talk she loved, by Daniel Kraft, on a topic that was similar to hers. We modeled Erica’s acclaimed talk about the Universal Anesthesia Machine after Daniel’s talk, and saved ourselves the anxiety of reinventing the wheel.
For public speaking in general,
- The Instant Speech model that I recommend for everything from Q&A to networking to job interviews to keynote speeches, is a template.
Templates Can Be Visual and Physical, Too
So far, I’ve been talking about templates that are detailed, specific, and that help you communicate verbally or in writing.
But we also communicate visually, and through our physical “presence.”
So even though it stretches the definition slightly, you can also think of physical and behavioral guidelines like the following as templates:
- The dress code at a company where you’ll be speaking or interviewing for a job;
- The practice of “common courtesy” that will make set you apart in people’s eyes; and
- The behavior and attitude of your Public Speaking Avatar (as well as your actual human role models!).
Collect Your Own Templates
Whether the templates that help you are written… spoken… visual… or behavioral, be sure to note them for future use.
They’ll save you time, effort, and anxiety, and make you and your public speaking more polished.