Writing Prompts #14 by Olivia Penero

Hey all! Oh my goodness. How many times can I apologize for being inconsistent with these prompts?! I feel really bad now, though I probably should've scheduled my posts in advance. Man, work can get in the way of blogging sometimes, haha. 

Anyway, I've got a fresh set of prompts for you today! Also, I'll be including some beauty-related and photography-related prompts in the coming weeks. For now, let's keep it general. :)

  1. Imagine our world in the year 3000. What would it look like? (The more detailed, the better!)
  2. Write about your alter ego. Do you think he/she would be better at living your current life?
  3. How do you feel about tattoos? Would you get one (if you don’t have any yet)? 
  4. If Facebook/Twitter were a person, what would its personality be?
  5. Do you believe in conspiracies? If so, which one tickles your fancy the most? If not, why?

Again, thanks for stopping by! I won't make any promises this time around, but probably just surprise you with an on-time post next Friday, haha. 'Til then!

Writing Prompts #13 by Olivia Penero

Hi loves! A fresh set of prompts for you. Also, what do you think of the twice-a-month schedule for prompts? Do they occur more often or less frequent than you'd like? Let me know in the comments, okay? :) More articles on the other categories will be up soon. Enjoy these for now!

 

  1. If colors had corresponding sounds, what would they sound like?
  2. Write to your future spouse. What are 5 things you’d want your spouse to understand/know about yourself?
  3. If you were a scent, how would you smell like, and why? What about other people in your family, circle of friends?
  4. If you were an author, what would your first book be about?
  5. “Rain” or “Shine”: Which end of the spectrum are you?

 

Those are the prompts for this week! Enjoy writing. Have a great long weekend!

Past Prompts:

Prompts #1 | Prompts #2 | Prompts #3 | Prompts #4 | Prompts #5 | Prompts #6 | Prompts #7 | Prompts #8 | Prompts #9 | Prompts #10 | Prompts #11 | Prompts #12

Writing Prompts #12 by Olivia Penero

Hi loves! Extremely sorry for the inactivity (especially with these prompts which I know some of you actually look forward to every week), but I was struck with the flu twice (ugh) and had to take a break from everything for a while. I have a really nice September planned out though, so we're truly back!

As promised, here are prompts for the first of September! Hopefully, these prompts will inspire you to keep writing. Have fun!

 

  1. Which social media platform do you feel is most closely related to your communication style? (Eg. Twitter, because my words are short, but every word matters.)
  2. Would you rather be a planner, or a journal?
  3. If you weren’t doing what you are doing today, what path would you most probably be on?
  4. Imagine/Create an alternate universe. What would be different? What things in this world would exist in that other universe too?
  5. What are you more afraid of, what you can see, or what you can’t?

 

And there you go! I've been meaning to ask: are 5 prompts enough for you every week, or would you like a little more? I'm looking for suggestions, people! Let me have 'em! :) 

Have a great long weekend!

Past Prompts:

Prompts #1 | Prompts #2 | Prompts #3 | Prompts #4 | Prompts #5 | Prompts #6 | Prompts #7 | Prompts #8 | Prompts #9 | Prompts #10 | Prompts #11

Writing Prompts #11 by Olivia Penero

Hey, you! It's that time of the week again! Fresh new prompts to help with writer's block. Didn't post last week due to work being such a stressful little thing, but I've got a new batch for you to continue writing. On to the prompts!

 

  1. Explain why you're a Windows / Apple type of person.
  2. Defend your right: What do you think you should be entitled to do as a citizen of your country (that isn't already in action)?
  3. What is one thing you've read about in the news that has struck you tremendously? Share your thoughts about it.
  4. Does 'love at first sight' still exist, or do you believe we have become superficial in our approach to love?
  5. Let's make a list: Jot down the perks and bums of being single or being married (depending on your current status).

 

Hope you liked this week's prompts! These are posted every Friday, every week (if I don't forget or get drowned in the sea that is my job). If you've got suggestions or any comments in general, leave them below. See you next Friday!

Have fun!

 

Past Prompts:

Prompts #1 | Prompts #2 | Prompts #3 | Prompts #4 | Prompts #5 | Prompts #6 | Prompts #7 | Prompts #8 | Prompts #9 | Prompts #10

Writing Prompts #10 by Olivia Penero

Hey, you! It's that time of the week again! Fresh new prompts to help with writer's block. I'm currently considering creating prompts that aren't limited to writing only (eg. drawing or photography) but let me know what you guys think and maybe we'll give it a try in the next ones. On to the prompts!

  1. If your favorite drink (any type) was a person, what would he/she be like? 
  2. If you could control free will, what would be the first thing you'd use it on and why?
  3. Write a letter to your 50-year-old self. Make it as long or short as you want. 
  4. Insert yourself into one of your favorite books. What character would you be and what's your role in relation to the hero/heroine?
  5. Let's say you're the President of your country. What would be the first thing you'd want to do (or have people stop doing)?

Hope you liked this week's prompts! These are posted every Friday, every week (if I don't forget or get drowned in the sea that is my job). If you've got suggestions or any comments in general, leave them below. See you next Friday!

Have fun!

 

Past Prompts:

Prompts #1 | Prompts #2 | Prompts #3 | Prompts #4 | Prompts #5 | Prompts #6 | Prompts #7 | Prompts #8 | Prompts #9

Writing Prompts #9 by Olivia Penero

Hey, you! It's that time of the week again! Fresh new prompts to help with writer's block. I've been gone for the whole of June with this series, but it feels great to get back! Work can be such a drag sometimes, haha. Okay, let's get started!

  1. You’re given the chance to rewrite your life. How would you change it (if you will)?
  2. Recall a time in your life when you thought there was no way you’d overcome the situation, and write about how you did. What was your motivation?
  3. If you were a music genre, what would you be and why do you think so?
  4. List 5 things you want to do before you die (make it as exciting/unconventional as you can).
  5. How do you plan to change the world?

Hope you liked this week's prompts! These are posted every Friday, every week (if I don't forget or get drowned in the sea that is my job). If you've got suggestions or any comments in general, leave them below. See you next Friday!

Have fun!

 

Past Prompts:

Prompts #1 | Prompts #2 | Prompts #3 | Prompts #4 | Prompts #5 | Prompts #6 | Prompts #7 | Prompts #8

Public Speaking: Just Get Up There! by Olivia Penero

I used to be a really, really shy teen. Growing up, I was told I used to be comfortable singing in front of relatives during family gatherings, but as I matured, I started building a shell around me. Eventually, this turned into a bad case of introversion, causing me to underperform during high school and shy away from the stage during elementary as much as I could. Not that this prevented my teachers from pushing me forward. 

Numerous times, I was tasked to do speeches, asked to sing in front of my peers and a larger audience, participate in debates, speak for my group during discussions - and other things that required a "me-against-the-world" type of setting. It made me uncomfortable to speak my mind to a large group of people who might not even care about what I wanted to say, and the mere thought of being rejected and openly dismissed scared the crap out of me. 

These days, I'm not too worried anymore. No, it's not because I'm an expert or that I no longer have the fear of messing up - rather, it's because I've learned something about myself that made me realize I didn't have to freeze in terror.

Before I get to that, here are a few tips I'd like to give those who are struggling with speaking in public, to help you perform better and get rid of "the-world-is-gonna-eat-me-alive" thinking.

 

1. Know your crowd.

Control is everything, more so in public speaking. To know your audience is to know how to calibrate your choice of words, your tone, your voice, your style of persuading and/or informing, and how strong you'll need to come on with your topic. What kind of people are they, and why did they attend to hear you talk? This is about them believing in what you're proposing. If you've been invited as a speaker, ask the organizer about the event's demographics. The more you speak your audience's language, the easier it will be to convince them of something.

 

2. Trust your knowledge.

Chances are, whoever tapped you to speak knew what they were doing and respects your experience. You were asked to speak for an audience in need of what you know, so use that to boost your confidence. Sure, others in the crowd might have their own opinions of how, say, a newbie blogger should get started, but for the period of your talk, they're there to learn from you and pick up new ideas. You wouldn't have been put in that situation if no one believed you were ready. Trust what you know (but don't stop there).

 

3. Relax, be yourself.

Okay, this is such a cliché, and I'm sorry if you cringed. But this is true in almost all cases of public speaking. People listen to those they can relate to, and if you come across as robotic, monotonous, or incredibly superior to them, they'll tune out. That human aspect you bring to your talks is the anchor to your believability. I've attended seminars and workshops over the years, and some of the best speakers I've heard used their 'humanity' to connect, instead of pushing the audience to believe what they're saying. Once you connect on that level of familiarity with your audience, you can persuade them to believe anything you say.

 

4. Organize your thoughts into segments.

People in general don't like storms (for good reason). It's a given that if your speech is all over the place, no one, not even those with hard copies of your speech, will understand your point. Plan your 'opening grabber' (an introduction that will capture your audience's interest), your points to highlight, and your explosive ending. Endings don't have to always be something that leaves your listeners weirded out or shocked - just a little something to keep them thinking about your talk hours (or days) after it's over. 

Of course, if something happens in the middle of your talk, following your outline might be the worst thing you could do. Learn how to easily adapt to changes in your audience's mood and interest. You might have a story or two to help them further understand your point or just to lighten up the room a bit. 

 

5. Smile.

We forget a lot of things when we're afraid or shocked, and during public speeches, forgetting to smile is one that's been on the list since the beginning of time. Remember, the people you're talking to are there to listen to you and learn from your expertise. A smile instantly tells your audience that (1) you're confident with what you're saying, (2) you're approachable, and (3) have their interests at heart. Be the friend that will help them ease into doing whatever you're talking about, and let them know you can be trusted. Some smiles deceive - let yours encourage.

 

Practicing, being prepared, and doing mouth exercises are all helpful, and are a given in getting better at public speaking. What I listed are those which helped me break most of my shell, and I'm still at work. I've done workshops and seminars in the past, and those experiences have helped take away my shyness in talking to a crowd. 

Have any tips for your fellows? Let me know in the comments! 

 

Need help? I'm always ready. Shoot me an email at hello@oliviapenero.com :)

How To 'Wing' Any Task, Every Single Time by Olivia Penero

You may have, unbeknownst to you, done this a few times in your life already, but how do you go about actually ‘winging’ certain tasks? What situations do you have to be in to ‘wing’ them? What does ‘winging’ even mean?

To ‘wing it’ is to simply perform well at something you otherwise have little or no skill to accomplish. Some classic examples could be doing a talk on a topic you don’t really know about or playing a sport you’ve had no training at whatsoever (thank your genes). 

© Source

Winging things in life has its perks, and I’ve definitely had some great experiences with it. I’ve winged so many tests at college, winged reports, winged interviews, meetings I’ve had at work, and even some tasks I’ve never done (but have heard about a few times). While I always recommend being prepared for anything, there are times when you need to wing yourself out of (or into) situations. 

Winging things can only be successful if you’re confident you can get away with it. Confidence is key here. You’ll need to know how to keep eye contact, modulate your voice that’ll make you sound believable (if you’re doing a speech or something similar), use body language to exude power (link to my article), and hold yourself as someone with the authority to be doing that specific task. It will also help if you’re a wide reader

© Source

Now, a question usually posed to me is this: Isn’t ‘winging’ lying or deceiving other people? Personally, I don’t think so. Deception is often intentional, while winging is having to improvise when you’re left with no other choice. If you’re suddenly put in a position where you’ve got zilch time to prepare, there’s no other choice than to wing it.

I remember having to wing a debate in college, about whether or not sleeping with the lights on is better than sleeping with the lights off. Our team had very little time to prepare, if at all, and in the end, after looking my classmates square in the face as I refuted the statements of the other party (we were assigned the ‘lights on’ position by the way), we won. Scientifically, sleeping with the lights off provides more benefits, but because our team spoke with such confidence, we managed to steer the audience our way. 

Also, back in Oman (a country 4 hours away from Dubai where I spent three years after high school in), I had to play bowling with some friends from church. I didn’t say I had zero experience ‘cause they might not give me the time of day, but once I got into it, I started getting the hang of holding the bowling ball and ‘steering’ it where I needed it to go. After a few hours, I felt like I had been bowling all my life. No one knew I’d never bowled before too, and I got away with it. Not only did I spend such a great time with friends, but I learned how to bowl just by observing others doing it.

© Source

Another example of winging something is going to a meeting unprepared but still providing input into the conversation. Sometimes, I have no idea what we’re talking about but then I hear a word or two that gives me a hint and I go for it. It works out all the time for me. In this case, the key is being attentive to the words being exchanged. You pick up hints when you do, and using these little keywords, you try to inject related items until you understand what you’re meeting about fully. Call it luck during the first go, but if this happens often, it’s no longer just that. It’s winging it. 

It takes practice to be great at this. You might feel awkward and very self-aware when you try it for the first time, but as you are pushed to keep doing it, it’ll get easier. Like I mentioned before, I’ve been winging things since my school days (which I’m sure you have done too), making me look so prepared all the time and knowledgeable about a lot of things. Believe me - I don’t know everything. Hell, I’ve winged conversations I had no knowledge about, but people still saw me as sort of an expert on it after. 

 

When was a time you winged something? How was the experience?

3 Ways to Make Designer/Client Relationships Work by Olivia Penero

So you’ve got a client, and you’re very excited to get started on your project. The first few stages roll out fine, but you notice your relationship becoming quite strained. You find yourself wanting to speak with your client less and less, and you just want the project to be done with. You may have finished the job, but how did your relationship with your client fare?

This dynamic could be very powerful if handled correctly, and it doesn’t require a magician to keep things running smoothly between designers and clients. What does it take to make this relationship (or any other relationship, in fact) work at top condition?

 

1. Communicate continuously.

As a Designer, when you’ve got the green light to start working, that doesn’t mean you speed up so fast there’s no time for pit stops. I get it - you’re a free spirit whose creativity shouldn’t be confined to a box, but you’re 50% responsible for delivering the project as best you can. You’re part of a team of yourself and your client. Be open to your client and make sure you’re both on the same page. Keep each other in the loop of whatever developments happen. That doesn’t mean staying connected 24/7 of course, but major movements need to be reported.

As a Client, giving the designer a green light doesn’t mean you can just sit back and give the whole task solely in the hands of your employed worker. Yes, while the whole point of you getting someone to work on it was for you to be able to relax and be worry-free, you handle 50% of the success of the relationship too! Staying in the loop allows you to work on developing the project together, making necessary adjustments that will benefit both you and the designer. 

Lack of communication often leads to misunderstandings, causing “I told you so’s” and generally a sour relationship between both parties. Instead of having an awesome project which you both can be proud of, either one or both of you may feel cheated or feel they’ve wasted time on it. Most problems come from the fact that there was no communication in the duration of the project, and the expectation that the ‘designer should know what to do’ or the lament that ‘the client wasn’t very clear about what the next developments will be’, could’ve been avoided altogether.

 

2. Set expectations.

While we’re on the subject of expectations, I’d like to say that it’s better to set these before the project even begins, and the more detailed, the better. I’m sure you already know this, but setting expectations help put milestones on the map, and both parties are then able to see the roadmap more clearly. Expectations help make the blueprint of the whole engagement - you know what’s expected of you as a designer, you are clear on what you need from the designer as a client, and anyone can look back on that list further down the timeline and not get lost in terms of what they need to deliver. 

As someone who’s been doing professional freelance design work for 4-5 years now, I’ve experienced clients who have no idea what they should expect, and in this case, it’s our role as designers to educate them. This will make things easier for us ‘free-spirited’ people, because once we’re clear on each others’ expectations, only then can we actually use our creativity to execute it as we see fit. 

When we do video or voice calls over Skype (most clients are foreign employers) and they finish giving a very vague brief of what they want done, I go over what they’ve mentioned. An example would be if someone wanted an animated video done, ‘with pictures and a character in it’, I go back and ask what they mean. Is it a video that’s 2D, or 3D? What’s their general idea of “pictures with a character”, and so on. More often, all they want is an infographic with “moving pictures”, and not a fully animated character. Again, we go back to item number one - communicate

 

3. Understand where both parties are coming from.

We tend to get impatient with others who don’t understand what we’re saying, and that happens even in normal conversations, right? More so in this dynamic. Often, clients who want some design work done have no idea how to call something so trivial to us, and we involuntarily widen the gap between us and the client by perceiving them as idiots. We’ve got to understand that they didn’t study Fine Arts or get a degree in Design to learn the jargon. They wouldn’t know the difference between “raster” and “vector” images even if they went to the best University in the country. It’s not their chosen discipline. 

This is the same for us designers. If we’re employed by a businessman, we also wouldn’t know jargon related to their field. If they looked like idiots to us for not knowing Color Theory, we’ll look like idiots to them for not knowing simple business terminology. We’ve all got our strengths, and the reason why they come to us for design help is because they know we know what we’re doing. We also go to other professions for help in their related areas, like a doctor or a veterinarian for example. 

Patience goes a long way in making relationships work, and that applies to the work dynamic too. Don’t get tired of interacting with your client or your designer. The more you start getting fed up by the other, that emotion will rub off on them. It’s a cycle, really. Be more understanding of each other’s short comings. Give it time, as long as that time doesn’t hurt the deadline. 

 

Have you ever experienced anything like this in your career? How did it go? How did you make your relationship work?