Should we simplify everything we write?

In my last article, I discussed the idea of keeping it simple and speaking to your audience within the context of a historical site or museum.  This week, I’d like to look at writing text for art exhibits, which is a more difficult task because art itself is so much more subjective than historical events.  But that also begs the question: do we need to simplify everything we write?

When people look at art, they can experience it on two different levels:  what it says to them personally, and perhaps, what the artist wants them to hear. But how do … Read the rest

Keep it simple and speak to your audience

One of my professional passions is to help people make the complex simple. For some reason, people think that to sound intelligent, or be taken seriously, they have to give long, complicated explanations.  In fact, the opposite is true. There is a genius in simplicity.

This idea of simplicity translates across industries. Let me give you an example from the non-museum world.

One of my clients, an engineer, was tired of the management team in New York asking the same questions over and over again.  It was obvious they weren’t satisfied with his answers, and his boss was getting frustrated … Read the rest

Customer Service is Everything

Top tips to make your guests feel like VIPs

The coronavirus numbers in Germany are dropping nicely, so my husband and I decided to book a holiday for late summer. That said, we are being quite conservative about the whole thing. The first thing we agreed on was no flights. Instead, we plan to drive. We also wanted to be able to cancel at late notice, just in case the infection rate starts going up again.

Before we settled on a location or booked our hotel, we did one last thing: we checked the major review sites to reassure ourselves … Read the rest

Museums in a post-pandemic world

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what life will be like once this pandemic has finished once and for all.  Some people I’ve spoken to think that life will go back to exactly as it was pre-pandemic.  Others, like me, think that we can’t put the genie back in the bottle.  I’m not sure who or what that genie is, but I really don’t think things will ever be the same.

Most of the post-pandemic trend forecasts I’ve read deal with technology and shopping patterns, which are important.  But the most interesting report I’ve read so far isn’t … Read the rest

Tell Me a Story: How to develop a tour people will remember

Last week, we discussed how to develop a tour when English isn’t your first language.  But understanding the language doesn’t guarantee that you’ll give a good tour.  In fact, when I asked a question on LinkedIn about language issues, many people said it wasn’t the guide’s language skills that determined the quality of the tour. It was their ability to tell a good story.

Here are some of the responses:

“Of course, grammar, pronunciation, and vocabulary are important, but I can tell from my experience so far, that visitors enjoy the story more than jargon, used by some guides … Read the rest

Developing a tour when English isn’t your first language

English for tour guides

Last week, I wrote about the need for good English skills in the tourism and heritage industries and that you don’t need to speak English fluently to get the job done. Instead, I recommended aiming for functional fluency, which is a narrower approach to vocabulary and grammar.

Ideally, you would have a great English trainer (like me 🙂) to help you reach functional fluency, but not everyone has that option.  So, here’s the technique I developed to help you build your confidence giving tours in English.

Start by writing the tour in your own language. Remember: you are telling a … Read the rest

Is fluency really necessary?

I recently read a conference paper about the lack of English language skills among the tour guides at the Aceh Tsunami Museum in Indonesia.  The author concluded that of the thirteen guides tested, only one was considered fluent in that “their speech would be fully acceptable by native speaking standards.”

Of course, being able to speak English is becoming essential within the tourism industry, even more so in a country like Indonesia, where tourism represents 4.1 percent of the country’s GDP. But does one need to be fluent to perform their job well?  Should that be the standard to … Read the rest

The professional benefits of volunteering

Landing a job that requires experience presents a real Catch-22 situation for anyone trying to break into a new field. How are you supposed to get professional experience if no one will give you a job to get that experience?

That was the situation I found myself in after I graduated with my BA in history. I wanted to work in the museum field and go on to graduate school. But every job, even entry-level ones, wanted experience working in a museum and/or a master’s degree.   It seemed like a vicious circle that I could never break. Luckily for me, … Read the rest

Are you sending the right message on your video calls?

Over the past two months, I have seen a deluge of articles about video conferences and online meetings: how to look good online, basic etiquette, and how to deal with technical issues. But few are addressing one of the basic communication issues that arise during these online meetings: that more than 70 per cent of communication is non-verbal. Non-verbal signals can be communicated through our facial expressions, our body language, and the tone of our voice.

Unfortunately, much of this is lost during a video conference.

I’ll give you an example.  A friend recently complained to me that only being … Read the rest

Writing your CV, Part 3: Describing your professional experience

Last week we looked at the Objective and Summary sections of your CV.  This week, I’d like to discuss how to describe your professional experience.


The most important thing to keep in mind when writing this section is that your experience must connect to the job description.

To give you a real-life example, I would like to go back to the Visual Merchandiser job we looked at last week.  If you remember, we used the Key Requirements of the job to build the Skills Summary section.  Now let’s look at the actual job description.  This is found in Key Accountabilities.… Read the rest

CV Writing, Part 2: the Objective and Skills Summary

Last week, we talked about how to layout your CV and what to include in it. Today, I’d like to talk about writing the Objective and Summary.

CV is short for curriculum vitae, which literally means “the course of my life.”  It’s a story.  The Objective introduces the main character (you) and the Summary tells you what the story is about.  It makes the reader want to find out more.

If you are going to post your CV to job websites like Indeed or Monster, you can write an Objective and Summary based on skills generally required … Read the rest

It’s time to update your CV

Let’s face it: with everything happening in the world, you might need to look for a new job. That means writing a CV, building your network, and job interviews. But what if you have to do it all in English? No worries! We’ll be discussing this and much more over the next couple of weeks.


Analysts around the world are trying to figure out what the economy will look like after the coronavirus pandemic is over. While it’s hard to predict, one thing is sure: unemployment will rise. That means you need to start updating your CV and building your … Read the rest