September 2020–Tell Your Story Newsletter (TYSN)

Specializing in Entrepreneurial and Organizational Storytelling Let me tell your story!


ARTICLE 1: Do you use email templates to make business communication efficient?


Bryan Garner on “plain English”




Welcome Mid-September 2020!

As I prepare this issue of “Tell Your Story Newsletter,” the cool fall air and shortening days remind us that autumn is here and winter not far behind.

In this month’s newsletter, as we all face pressures to be more productive in less time (pressures exacerbated by the current pandemic), I visit American copywriter Kaleigh Moore’s simple strategy of using email templates to communicate more efficiently with prospects and clients.

And in “Storytellers’ Corner,” I cite Bryan Garner’s example of the need for what he calls “plain English,” across all disciplines (business, academia, politics, etc.)

May the best of autumn–the warmth (physical and emotional) that can be cultivated, the nourishing food and stories we can share–be with you, as we survive the last four months of a very tumultuous year.



Principal, Storytelling Communications


Article One: Do you use email templates to make business communication efficient? 

Although I have often discussed philosophy, entrepreneurial, marketing or communications theory in this space, this month I turn to a simpler strategy for increasing your efficiency as a freelancer (or self-employed creative). This is about streamlining the preparation of business documents.

In a recent episode of Ed Gandia’s “High Income Business Writing Podcast,” American copywriter Kaleigh Moore discussed the value of communicating and negotiating projects by email templates for “day-to-day use.” While Moore has packaged a collection of templates that she sells on, we can readily borrow her outline to prepare four of our own (and save ourselves some cash).

(1) A client-screening email--writers can develop and apply a template that asks questions to determine if a prospect is a good fit for your services or products, before you waste an hour (or more) of both parties’ time, discussing projects.

For instance, what are the clients’ expectations for the writing process, rate or budget, workflow and timing, etc.? Can you meet those expectations and do you want to?

(2) A “writing brief” email–this template would gather all the essential details you need before outlining and writing an assignment. The brief makes sure you and your prospect are both on the same page.

For instance, it is not enough for a prospect to summarize the topic (and give a headline) for the writer they want to hire. Copywriters need more information, Moore says. Ask these kinds of questions: “Is the prospect clear on what their customer personas are? Do they know the value of their product or service that makes them unique from everyone else?”

Getting answers to these kinds of questions, at the outset, will make it much easier to deliver on-point copy.

(3) A proposal template email–By customizing a proposal of what services or products you provide, what your project will include, straightforwardly and consistently, a copywriter will prevent misunderstandings and wasted time and effort.

Some sections (for me) would be “Blogging Services,” “eNewsletter Services,” “Facilitation Services,” etc.

(4) A follow-up template email–Moore likens this to a written “exit interview,” for the end of a project. Ask the client to review the work and suggest ways you can improve on your product or service.

You can request testimonials if things went well and even ask for referrals. Just as important, this email will sound more professional and feel like “less of a bother,” as you wind down a successful contract.

And now it’s your turn. Would these kinds of email templates improve your efficiency, as a freelancer? Please share your ideas on 


STORYTELLER’S CORNER: Words, Stories, Riddles and Jokes on Writing and Editing . . .

This month: Plain English with etymologist Bryan Garner

American etymologist Bryan Garner wrote recently in his blog that “plain English is nobody’s mother tongue. You must work for it. You must learn to write ‘before’ and ‘after’ instead of the nearly ubiquitous ‘prior to’ and ‘subsequent to.’ ‘”

Although Garner does not use the precise term, “plain language,” he is arguing for the same process and outcome. See for example, the website and services of  local friend and colleague Michelle Boulton, on “plain language.

Bloated language is a problem for all communicators, across all fields. Unless we work to simplify the way we write, we become just another provider of what Garner terms “needless complexity and obfuscation.”

Compare the following “79 word sentence” (cited by Garner) both before and after revision (which reduces it to 22 words ):

Before: “Since, under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Guidelines pertaining to sexual harassment, an employer is liable for hostile-environment sexual harassment only if it knew or should have known of the harassment and failed to take prompt and effective steps to end the harassment, it is possible for employers to be exonerated from liability for hostile-environment sexual harassment when sexual harassment has occurred by individuals within an organization, but the organization took prompt action to prevent further harassment.”
After:  “EEOC guidelines exonerate an employer from liability for hostile-environment sexual harassment if the employer, upon discovering it, acts promptly to end it.”

Clarity and brevity replace unneeded complexity and obfuscation that never serve the writer or reader well.

Do you find yourself rewriting “bafflegab” in your work? Please write in with your examples! I’d be delighted to hear from you.



Special thanks this month to friends and colleagues whose stories of supporting aging relatives (whether now or in the past) have helped me to cope with mine. In particular, Ashleigh Mattern, Lillian McKay,

Dani vanDriel, Monica Kreuger, Elaine Mantyka, Christina Cherneskey, Barbara McEown and Delia Mavragani have lifted my spirits and deepened my understanding of what it means to shepherd our elders through their last months and years.

Thanks also to the women of the Northern Saskatchewan Independent Living Centre (NSILC) who recently hosted my webinar on revising resumes and finding work online. Ebonie Becker, Chelsea Wisser and Pat Wiebe welcomed me and provided back-up tech support. I look forward to sharing the recording of the webinar with NSILC clients, for use “on demand,” in future months.

Special thanks to the American career advisors at RochesterWorks, including Alexandria Vattimo and Rosa Montanaro, for sharing Rosa’s great webinar on preparing resumes to pass Application Tracking Systems (ATS). While some of us first felt stymied by the influence of technology on resume preparation, Rosa’s training materials demystify the process we need to turn them to an advantage. Thank you, Rosa and Alexandria!

A final thanks to those in my faith group at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian in Saskatoon, including Rev. Roberto DeSandoli and its pastoral care team. Having their support has dispelled the pain of isolation we all feel in these pandemic times, which can be intensified, when we care for aging family members.

Although I am taking a leave of absence from writing and facilitation to attend to elder care, I look forward to returning to writing projects and teaching in early 2021.

Please update me on your endeavours and stay in touch by email at



Between 2011 and December 2018, Elizabeth Shih Communications chronicled the stories of B2B marketing and communications on the Prairies and across the country.

Effective January 1, 2019, I rebranded as “Storytelling Communications.” I now assist SMEs in closing more sales by communicating more effectively.

Interested in learning more? Please contact me through my CASL-compliant website (

After I receive your message, I’ll be pleased to discuss projects with you!

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