My Top 10 Blogs of 2016
I was born and raised in Edmonton and one of my favourite memories of New Year’s each year were the music countdown shows on 630 CHED radio. I remember listening to the top 100 songs of the year counted down and at midnight the countdown reached the number one song of the year, according to some magical list. My friends and I used to debate the merits of the top songs and why certain tunes should have fared better, or why we weren’t happy that some had rated so highly.
I know – pretty lame, but in fairness I was only a teenager at the time so drinking anything stronger than Coca-Cola was out of the question in those days.
Thanks to advice from my friend and mentor Hugh Culver of Kelowna, I turned my newsletter into a weekly blog this past May and released a blog each Wednesday morning. Although it's been a lot of work, I’ve enjoyed writing a blog and I hope you’ve appreciated reading them.
This will be my last blog for 2016, so without further ado here is my list of the Top 10 Most Popular Blogs of the Year, selected by you, the readers.
During the latter stages of the terribly long US election campaign, Trump ramped up his complaints about the media, saying how unfair the coverage had been. He seemed to complain that it was the media’s fault for reporting all the crazy things he was saying. Trump got the last laugh, winning the election and ironically being named Time magazine’s Person of the Year. He quickly suggested the award should go back to its old name of Man of the Year.
During the fall as I did media training people would say to me “Donald Trump breaks every rule in the book, but yet he may be the next US President. What gives?” The point of this blog was that Trump is a brand and obviously had enough of an appeal for people to vote for him. The people I do media training with don’t have that brand and as a result, can’t get away with the same things. Just ask those who have stumbled in the media and never recovered.
I really liked this blog. It looked at why swimmer Ryan Lochte used the phrase “over exaggerated” so much in his media interviews after getting into hot water at the summer Olympics in Rio. I got a lot of help in writing this blog from my friend and Edmonton lawyer Cynthia P. Carels of Miller Thomson, who also used to be in the media. If you like the blog, then let me know. If you didn’t, then blame Cynthia.
I did several presentations and workshops in 2016 on communication skills. The title was Talk Like a Leader and I worked with people to improve their communications skills by getting them to be better listeners, asking great questions to control conversations and preparing for difficult conversations. This blog took a look at how we communicate differently in the workplace than we did a generation ago. Text and emails have replaced phone calls. We talk less and write more and the difference in the workplace is noticeable and concerning.
I was kind of proud of this blog and its sister blog (#2 on the list). I had two weeks of holidays planned in July and to be really honest, I didn’t want to write a blog while my wife and I toured the Maritimes, so I thought about something I could write about before leaving that would be long enough to fill two blogs. Somehow I got the inspiration to write about eight things everyone should know about public speaking. The first four ran in a blog on July 13 and the last four were in the July 20 blog. Nobody knew the two were written in advance, until now. I know you likely don’t care, but I thought it was neat.
This blog was about how and why I use large memorable images in my PowerPoint presentations. Actually I don’t use PowerPoint, I use Keynote and like it much more, but that’s not the point. Big images and few words are clearly the way to go when you do presentations that I’m surprised so many presenters still use poor photos with small fonts. Some of these people do presentations for a living. They’re pros, but yet their presentations look amateurish in my opinion. But hey, they’re still getting hired so what do I know?
Ok, I could have titled this “5 Reasons You Should Hire Grant Ainsley to do Media Training”, but I didn’t want to look that obvious. Seriously though, there are benefits any organization gets out of having media training done and they go beyond simply teaching their spokespeople how to answer questions from the media. They may not be as obvious or valuable, but they’re beneficial to associations, corporations or government. So if you need media training, you know who to contact right?
Sometimes things just work out. In early 2016 I decided to develop an online media training product, but I didn’t know how. Then Martin Latulippe, a fellow CAPS member (Canadian Association of Professional Speakers) and speaker from New Brunswick did a terrific webinar detailing how he made money with online products. Since I had some cash sitting around from winning a hockey draft in April, I decided to invest in a camera, microphone and tripod and set up a video studio in the basement. With the help of photographer Crystal Puim and videographer Mark Remple I put the video series together and started selling online. The June blog detailed how I did it.
This was the first of my back-to-back July series on public speaking tips that I wrote about in #6. I’m not sure why it did quite a bit better than the blog that followed it, but perhaps it was just a case of the sequel never being as good as the original movie, or something like that.
This really blew me away. The blog was about my decision not to renew by print subscription to the Edmonton Journal. I had read the Journal virtually every day for over 50 years. When I wrote it, I sensed I was writing something that would grab attention and be a little different. I had no idea though how popular it would be. The number of people who read it was roughly ten times higher than my average blog on the day it was released. Readership for the blog was actually higher on the day after it was released. It got 1,286 views on October 6 because of the way the blog was shared on social media, especially Facebook. I’m pretty sure more people came to my website that day than other day since I started a site in 2008. I was even interviewed on CBC Radio in Edmonton about the blog and here’s a link to that interview.
That’s it for me for blogs for the year. I’ll be back in early January with a new blog and also a new website, so there’s lots to look forward too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the blogs and this list. Let me know your thoughts. Your comments are always appreciated.
Merry Christmas and all the best in 2017!
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