Escape gravity and make your writing soar

Eager for adventure? If so, you can always satisfy the urge by taking flight in a hot air balloon. It worked for me. Writing was the last thing on my mind as I soared above the New Mexico desert during the 2013 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. But, later, I began to see parallels between the job of piloting a balloon, and the more earthly task of writing a speech or presentation. Here are five challenges that aeronauts and scribes share.

1. Balloon pilots show up well before dawn to plan and prepare for a morning launch, just as writers have to get a jump on the deadline to do good work.

2. No one takes off from the balloon field without a final check by a launch director or zebra, so named because of their black and white-striped outfits. Writers also benefit from having a second set of eyes look over their work to make sure it’s airworthy.

3. Once aloft, pilots give their balloons a burst of flame at intervals to keep them flying high. In the same way, writers can keep listeners engaged by injecting energy with word play, questions, examples and imagery. 

4. Knowing their flying range is limited, pilots keep a close watch on the fuel gauge. Writers have to be equally mindful of the human attention span: 2-5 minutes is plenty of time for most ceremonial speeches, while keynotes should go no longer than 20 minutes.

5. When it’s time to return to earth, pilots aim for a smooth landing. Writers achieve the same when they create conclusions that leave listeners with a clear message to ponder or a strong call to action.

So, act like an aeronaut rather than an earthling, and take your speeches and presentations to new heights.