I'm Tom and welcome to my site.

Want to learn how I went from writing nearly nothing to writing thousands of words a month?

($37 value). Read more here.

Enter your email address here for free updates and your free eBook. (Guaranteed 100% privacy.)

Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz
E-Book Testimonials

"Thomas Clifford has made something useful here. This report will give you some really catchy, useful ideas.

It made me reconsider how I do what I do, so you might give it a look-see, too!" 

Chris Brogan, President, Human Business Works 

"Tom Clifford is by trade a filmmaker. For most of his life, he rarely wrote anything longer than a brief comment in the margin of a script. 

Now, though, he's producing tens of thousands of words a year, first as a Fast Company "Expert Blogger," and then as a writer for the Content Marketing Institute. 

How did Tom go from a non-writer to a prolific and much-read one? His eBook, '5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways . . . , ' holds some of his secrets."

Mark Levy, Author of "Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate your Best Ideas, Insight, and Content"

“Tom is one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet—if you have the privilege to meet him. And he does sterling work as well. But don’t just take my word for it.

Read this free report and you’ll not just love its tone and content, but learn a lot as well.”

Sean D’Souza, Psychotactics.com

“Anyone who wants to improve their writing needs this e-book. A lot of ebooks are short because they just don’t have much substance to offer. They’re not worth your time (and so are many of the long ones, too, for that matter). Tom’s is short because he’s so good at giving you only what you need to know. 

‘5 (Ridiculously Simple) Ways to Write Faster, Better, Easier’ lives up to its promise by example as well as in the words themselves. Tom used the very same techniques he teaches you to write this book. 

And what’s in here is not just a rehash of the same tired ideas you find coming from people who have suddenly fancied themselves as writing gurus. There are tricks in here I never heard of (like the Writing Funnel) and some I had forgotten about and was glad to be reminded of (like Sporadic Writing).” 

Michael Martine, Blog Alchemist, Remarkablogger.com 


7 Interesting Storytellers to Follow on Twitter 

Think Twitter’s 140-character limitation deters storytellers from tweeting?
Think again. Tip: follow these 140's by grabbing their rss feed.

Keeping in the spirit of Twitter, I’ll post the following as “tweets.”

1. Terrence Gargiulo @makingstories
Author, speaker. Shares thought-provoking ideas on empowering ourselves through story. Tweets interesting and re-tweetable quotes.

2. Sean Buvala @storyteller
Funny, engaging and conversational. Sean’s tweets are packed with enough variety to keep you coming back for more.

3. Kathy Hansen @kat_hansen
Prolific blogger/author. Focuses on telling stories for career development. Unearths amazing sites on story. Also tweets @astoriedcareer.

4. Storytellin' @storytellin
Ongoing collection of Delicious bookmarks on storytelling and links are updated regularly. Features a wide variety of news.

5. Smithmag @smithmag
The king of six-word stories. Period.

6. Shawn Callahan @unorder
Interesting insights and thoughts on the role of storytelling in business.

7. Nick Morgan @nfrodom1
Communications coach/author of “Trust Me.” Encourages leadership thru better communications, gestures, listening, speaking. Wonderful tips!

BONUS: Story Corps @storycorps
NPR’s partner in storytelling. Remarkable tagline: “Our mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.”

Want to discover more people? Follow the #storytelling trend to discover story-related messages.

Over to you.

Who do you follow in the story world? Any filmmakers? Authors? Journalists? Photojournalists? Branding storytellers? Share them here for another post.



My Interview with Author and Communication Coach Nick Morgan

I am incredibly thrilled and honored to share with you my first ever blog interview.

Nick Morgan is President of Public Words Inc and author of Give Your Speech, Change the World, and Trust Me: Four Steps to Authenticity and Charisma. He is a fellow at Harvard's Kennedy Center and former editor of the Harvard Management Communication Letter.

I enjoyed "Trust Me" so much I wrote a review and then decided I wanted to ask Nick a few questions for this site. I "met" Nick on Twitter and asked him if he'd be willing to answer a few questions about his ideas in relation to corporate videos and he was happy to participate.

My Interview with Author and Communications Coach Nick Morgan

1. You mention there are five basic stories in the Western culture; the quest story, the love story, the revenge story, the rags-to-riches story, and the stranger in a strange land story. You suggest the quest story is often the most important. If an organization is thinking of producing a video, can you give an example of how they might incorporate the "quest" story into their video?

In fact, it's easy to invoke a quest, because it's a story that is so basic to our culture that we're all ready and eager to go on one! The best way to incorporate a quest story is not to to use the word itself, or tell people that they're on a quest; instead you want to invoke the elements of a quest. You've got a goal that you want everyone's help in reaching. There are going to be obstacles along the way, but they won't stop you from reaching that goal. There will be people to help, and so on. Each of the pieces of the quest story will naturally coalesce in the viewers' minds and they will be on the quest with enthusiasm.

2. You write, "...we communicate first with the gesture and second with the word. This concept is central to the book." What does this idea mean to an employee who may appear in their company video?

It means that viewers will be looking at you first rather than hearing any words you might be saying. You must look like you're just having a natural conversation with someone.

It means that if you think too much about your gestures (because you're self-conscious about appearing on camera) then they are going to slow down, happen too late, and look artificial.

It means that it's absolutely essential that you focus on your emotional attitude toward any words you may be saying on the video. Let the gestures come naturally from that intent or emotional attitude. Make the words your own by starting with how you feel about them; get grounded in a strong attitude.

3. Creating an intention is another important concept you write about. What kind of intention would someone create if they were being interviewed on-camera for a business video?

Get your intent from the program or the topic that you're being interviewed about. Find the passion there. Or, if that's lacking for some reason (why are you doing it?) then think of a particular experience you've had -- a particularly wonderful customer experience, if you're being interviewed about customer relations, say -- and try to remember that experience in as much detail as possible. Put yourself back in that moment and try to feel it again.

4. I love the section in your book titled, "The Camera Is Always On You." How has YouTube and the ubiquity of video technology changed how we communicate? What does this mean to all the video producers who create videos for businesses? Does it change how we work with people appearing on-camera?

Business people have to operate with the assumption now that anything they say may become public, and that any meeting they take part in may be 'youtubed'. Don't do or say anything that doesn't pass the "how could you have been so stupid?" test. Beyond that, YouTube represents competition for viewers, and video producers have to react accordingly. The old stuffy, pompous, "pc" corporate videos won't make it anymore. Corporate videos need to be hip, ironic, edgy -- or risk becoming comic fodder on YouTube. On-camera appearances need to strive for authenticity and naturalness.

5. What are three things you would recommend to someone appearing in a company video to help them come across authentically and with charisma?

Have a passion for what you're talking about. Say it in your own, real words -- don't use corporate jargon. Get grounded in how you really feel before the cameras start rolling.

Thank you, Nick, for sharing these ideas and techniques.

Last note: Stay up to date on Nick's latest ideas through Nick Morgan's blog by grabbing his RSS feed or subscribe to his email updates.

Have further questions? What would you change or add? Have an experience based on Nick's ideas? Feel free to share them in the comments.



Introducing Speed Linking: Week #1

Several years ago, I started sharing links for my readers by bookmarking interesting things I discovered on the web through Delicious.

I always knew that there a small problem in doing that: only the RSS readers of this blog (and a handful of other Delicious users) would benefit from seeing those links.

To resolve that, I'll start "speed linking" once a week.

Speed linking was introduced a few years ago and made popular by Darren Rowse over at Problogger. "Speed linking" is simply a convenient way of rounding up five to ten links I think you'll find interesting and thought-provoking. I'll post the links here, collectively, in one weekly post.

Speed linking will also allow me to share more than just corporate video related items.

For example, if I find links on communication strategies, new media solutions, interviews with interesting people and such, I'll share them in one post. (If you missed my "Five in the Morning" post for Steve Woodruff, you might find that an enjoyable and "off-the-beaten path" read.)

I'll speed link every Tuesday and we'll see how it goes. For those who subscribe to my blog through RSS, I'll continue to occasionally post to Delicious, as well.

Ok, let's get going!

Here are five links that caught my eye this past week:

1. I don't know how I stumbled upon the "Soul of Athens" but I'm sure I glad I did. A beautiful website dedicated to capturing the spirit of the Appalachian spirit, people and culture. The media, comprised largely of still photos, is produced by students at Ohio University’s School of Visual Communication and E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Be prepared to stay a while; the stories are fascinating.

2. Here's a most interesting question: Who Owns Your Tweets – Twitter, You Or Anyone? A must-read, even if you're not on Twitter.

3. Why do we pursue some ideas and abandon others? My friend Rajesh Setty has a neat riff on The Three Stages of an Idea.

4. Be sure to put The Documentary Blog on your radar. The Documentary Blog finally joined Twitter, if you want to follow them.

5. Beware (be aware) of abstruse ideas. Branding guru Tom Asacker shares an interesting psychological study on flawed reasoning and how it relates to branding.

BONUS: This just came thru my feed. About.com announces PBS's 4-hour special, "The Ascent of Money," will be airing in July. This looks incredible!

Happy linking!



Can We Capture Reality? The Art of Documentary Amazing Website

I can't believe it. I haven't seen anything like this. Ever.

What am I talking about? It's perhaps the most amazing website the documentary world has seen.

The National Film Board of Canada has recently announced on their blog an incredible new website, "Capturing Reality: The Art of Documentary."

This media-rich site is packed with over 30 master documentary filmmakers like Errol Morris, Werner Herzog, Albert Maysles sharing their thoughts and insights on the craft of making documentaries and how they try to capture that all too slippery thing called, "the truth."

The site features over 160 snack-sized interview clips of the filmmakers covering a variety of topics:

  • Getting Started
  • Exploring the Genre
  • Planning & Preparation
  • Relationships
  • Truth, Perspective & Ethics
  • The Shoot
  • Sound
  • Editing
  • Final Thoughts & Anecdotes

A 2 DVD set is available through Amazon. It's has four hours of extra bonus material on disc two plus all the interviews from the site on disc one.

A downloadable 19 page educational guide suitable for classroom use is also available to further extend the experience for teachers and students. The guide has discussion starters and theme-based chapters- perfect for teachers.

Stop what you're doing and check this site out! I was stuck for over an hour watching the clips and reading the guide.


PS. If you're a regular reader, are you starting to see a trend lately in the how organizations are integrating "thought-leadership" video clips, like "Capturing Reality," into their websites? I can only imagine more and more of this happening as video technology enable more users to create their own video. If you spot other sites like this, drop me a note or leave a comment here so others can discover them, too. Thanks!


What's Next for Company Videos? 5 Links to Get You Thinking 

I’ve recently bookmarked so many interesting sites on how companies use video I figured it’s time to open the vault and share a few of my favorite discoveries with you. I hope you’ll find something interesting, useful and thought-provoking here.

While I don't have a crystal ball, the trends are crystal clear.

1. Herman Miller Video: Making of Setu
Watch how the team members sit around a table and one team member shares their compliments about another person on the team; interesting spin on the traditional interview. We also get a quick tour, see the chair in action and catch some philosophy along the way. It’s a simple video with a simple design structure. A perfect compliment to the Herman Miller brand.
(Hat tip to my blogging friend and branding guru Tom Asacker for this link.)

2. Multimedia Journalists Discover Life After Newspapers

Welcome to the future of corporate video storytelling. A must-read article pointing to how former newspaper photographers are preparing for new career directions by creating web videos that help companies and nonprofits tell their stories.

3. Have you seen the Rhode Island School of Design videos?
Definitely check out the “RISD Profile” videos. I really enjoyed John Maeda’s interview, the President of RISD.

4. Video to Flood Corporate Networks, Too
Hold on to your hats, folks. From the article: “Cisco's famous "Zettaflood" report last year predicted that video would make up half of the Internet's traffic by 2012…” This brief article is a great snapshot indicating the enormous rise in video usage; now and in the future.

5. NYTimes “Conversations” Videos
I love these short conversational videos from the NYTimes. This is from the home page: “Candid conversations with some of today’s most interesting people about their passions, their lives and NYTimes.com.” Perhaps it’s another glimpse into one of the ways organizations will use video?

What do you think? How are organizations using new media? Is the trend internal? External? Over to you.