Hello Writers All,

So you want to be a writer? Not just any old writer, but a really good one?

Desire and passion are the right stuff to help you build your stories.  But the number one thing you need to produce in order to become a paid scriptwritingsuccess, no matter how many drafts it takes, is a top-notch screenplay writing sample. Not just a mediocre draft, not the “I feel it could use some more work but hey I’m tuckered out” version.  I mean a really polished script.

Because that’s how you will get noticed in filmmaking or TV-making circles.

And it takes time and learning to become that accomplished.

The good news is that there are steps you can take to become a skilled scriptwriter more quickly.

Okay, okay yeah, here’s the part where I mention my website.  I offer screenwriting tips on my blog, and you can also read my book The Story Solution: 23 Actions All Great Heroes Must Take to get insights on creating strong characters and building solid, audience-ready plots.

There are also many other excellent screenwriting blogs and YouTube channels to learn from. (Don’t miss the great YouTube channel “Film Courage”!)  As well, there are online libraries of produced screenplays available free for downloading.  Reading scores of professional scripts is critical to writing success.

And take advantage of The Story Solution’s partnership with Final Draft, the world’s most popular screenwriting software. My proven Hero Goal Sequences® Story Structure Paradigm is now available as a downloadable template included in Final Draft 10 (under “edu templates”).

Then too, you really should consider learning to create great scripts for film and TV in a classroom.  Yes, I’m a university professor myself so I am partial to classrooms.  But there’s more to it than that.

You might already have the passion and natural talent to be a writer, but attending film school can give you the necessary skills, tools, experience and contacts you need to become a bona fide screenwriter in a much shorter period of time.  Yes, it costs money.  But so do medical schools, business schools and law schools.  In so many ways film school can really pay off for the committed screenwriter.  Here are ten of the better reasons:

  1.       There Is A Right Way And A Wrong Way to Build Stories That Grip Audiences.

This architectural skill MUST be mastered and it’s nowhere near as easy as it looks.  There’s a structure through which visual storytelling communicates both consciously and unconsciously with an audience. You also need a great story idea, of course, and then you need to add characters, write believable dialogue, and create dramatic tension throughout your story to keep an audience glued to their chairs. Film school breaks down all these elements into core fundamentals that you practice daily with mentor-instructors who are themselves experienced professional writers and filmmakers.  There is no other professional experience in the world available for screenwriters that can hold a candle to this one.

  1. You Must Learn To Write With Clarity And Depth.

Making it look simple isn’t simple at all.  Very far from it.  In a film/screenwriting M.F.A. program you gain a huge advantage over your competition by learning and mastering all the concepts and tools in a screenwriter’s toolkit so you never have to waste time floundering in confusion, or being gripped by writer’s block.  When you get hired to write a script, the producer is not going to coddle you.  You need to be a knowledgeable pro right now – so you better be ready to rock. Remember, when getting launched as a screenwriter (or TV writer, or creative executive, or studio production executive, or independent producer, or director, or or or) the definition of luck is when preparation meets opportunity.  What you learn in film school gives you the confidence to analyze dramatic material quickly, accurately, and to see in any script exactly what works, what doesn’t work, and how to fix it.  When opportunity arrives, you will be very, very ready.

  1.      You Can Grow Your Personal Network.

Every screenwriter needs industry contacts and friends in the business.  So…why not get to know all those other film school students sitting right beside you in class?  You work together and grow together and come trust each other’s opinions.  In film school you gain life-long friendships who share your passions and who understand that helping each other out is good for everybody.  After film school, writers also need a network of knowledgeable, insightful, trusted friends and mentors to react to material they write so that the work can continue to grow and improve.  You build relationships that become invaluable going forward.

  1. You Can Get Out of Jail.

Writers spend way too much time alone.  And the more isolated you are, the more self-isolating your temperament becomes, as well as less self-confident.  Film school puts you in the active thick of what you love to do.  In the old days, the 1920s Paris literati had the Les Deux Magots Cafe where Ernest Hemingway, Simone de Beauvoir and James Joyce came to talk stories, share opinions and argue about their art.  And Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald and Ezra Pound had Gertrude Stein’s parlor soirees to discuss each other’s work.  In our current era, what a growing number of all the creative people in Hollywood have in common is film school.


  1. You Can Create More, and Better, Work Samples.

It is important to have a large polished portfolio of scripts and treatments in order to be taken seriously as a screenwriter by agents and producers.  Film school works with you to build your portfolio, teaches you to expand into various genres, and to have well thought-out, pitchable ideas at the ready for when that big break comes.

  1. Get the Straight Truth From Instructor-Professionals.

It’s nice when mom or dad tells you how great they think your writing is.  Maybe they’ll even take you out to dinner to celebrate your finishing that new script.  But unless mom is an established film producer, you most likely are not getting any knowledgeable, experience-based criticism. To become a better writer you need to hear the straight truth that only a circle of mentor professionals and insightful fellow students can provide. Film school puts you in the midst of people who share your passion for creating the best script you can write.  Knowledgeable criticism is essential for refining any screenplay.

  1. It Helps You Master The Rewriting Process.

Ever hear the writer Lin-Manuel Miranda talk about the work he put into creating “Hamilton,” the smash Broadway musical?  He spent years creating, writing, honing and revising – but it all paid off with a record run and 11 Tony Awards. This is what it takes to create a great Hollywood script, too. Film school gives you the motivation and environment to create and refine not only one but several scripts as you come to understand the essential process of rewriting.  And it shows you what you’re really capable of as a writer.  You come out the other side a changed, more confident and committed writer than you ever thought you could be.

  1.   You’ll Learn How The Industry Works.

Film school offers the advantage of getting students launched into the film and TV industries and teaching them how the business actually works, through internships at some of the most important Hollywood companies.  Most Master of Fine Arts graduate programs in screenwriting or film have top notch sponsored internship programs.  And some undergraduate film programs (such as the one at Cal State Northridge) have excellent internship connections as well.

  1. You Will Have Instructors Who Love To Teach.

Film school is a very unique environment.  All the instructors have already worked creatively in film and TV, and they truly love writing just like you do.  They enjoy being around eager students of all ages and backgrounds.  They love engaging in the back and forth of creative dialogue.  Respect is mutual, and enthusiasm abounds.  You learn from the best, and the relationships, experiences and knowledge acquired in film school will inevitably change you for the better and remain with you forever.  I have never heard anyone say they regretted going to film school.

  1. The M.F.A. Degree Qualifies You To Teach At Colleges And Universities Worldwide

Each year at Cal State Northridge, a number of our newly entering M.F.A. in Screenwriting students come to us already accomplished professional screen and TV writers.  They come to get that required M.F.A. degree in order to teach screenwriting and film at the university level.  These student-professionals wonderfully augment our program for ALL students, and each brings a whole career’s worth of experience with them.  Many mature professionals see the great value of a graduate degree in screenwriting/film because they now plan to transition into teaching at the university level.  On the other hand, I earned my two M.F.A.s at the very beginning of my career because I wanted to become a master at this craft, and I already knew, too, that someday I wanted to teach.  Sooner or later.  It works either way.

Yes, film school costs money.  Anything worthwhile does.  But shop around, because the price of a Master of Fine Arts in Screenwriting degree can vary a great deal.  One of the qualitatively best, and at the same time least expensive, M.F.A. programs can be found at California State University, Northridge.  Florida State has a top rated program, too.  As does Arizona.  Along with many others.  And there are scholarships, financial assistance and loans available.  I was paying off my American Film Institute loan for years after I got my degree there, but AFI kept the payments down and even during my struggling years it wasn’t that bad.  We got through okay.  And eventually with that M.F.A. degree on my wall, I became a tenured full-professor.  Frankly,  I wouldn’t trade my film school experiences for anything.

Have a happy autumn.. and write with fire!


p.s. Be sure to visit my website at to download complimentary film structure breakdowns for Back to the FutureBridesmaids, and Finding Nemo. 

About The Story SolutionEric Edson’s The Story Solution provides concrete insights for those interested in writing a screenplay. Regarded as one of the best books on screenwritingThe Story Solution is currently #1 in its category on China Amazon. Visit the website at to download a complimentary book chapter and to see video and hear audio clips about creating characters. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on writing a movie script and scriptwriting.


Why Incentive Programs Go Wrong and How to Fix Them

Why Incentive Programs Go Wrong and How to Fix Them

A Note From Strategic Incentives

Strategic Incentives believes strongly in the power of incentive programs to help companies achieve goals, motivate employees and reward outstanding behaviors. Our team of experts creates and facilitates effective incentive programs for clients by focusing on end results.

The unfortunate truth in incentives, though, is that some companies don’t understand the science and the process that goes into creating a solid performance improvement plan. They erroneously believe that employees are motivated by only one desire, and slap a program together without fully considering its consequences. When it fails, as poor incentive programs are likely to do, they say that incentives just don’t work and vow to never offer them again. If your company has ever been involved with an incentive program that has gone wrong, here are some suggestions on how to repair the damage it has done:

  • Unclear Goals: A workforce program must be very clear in its goals in order to be effective. How can management judge whether a program works if they don’t know what it is supposed to do? Vague goals are not helpful for anyone involved. Be very specific about what the program is supposed to accomplish and then track those results. Set concrete goals such as increase sales by “x” percent, reduce costs by “x” dollars, or reduce time lost to safety issues by “x” hours.
  • No Action Path to Success: Even when a company establishes an incentive program with clear goals, it can be unclear to the employees as to how to achieve those goals. Do you want them to cut prices to the bone to increase sales results, or to reduce quality in an effort to save money? Those would both be undesirable outcomes. To be effective, the sponsoring company needs to discern positive actions that will support the goal, and then provide the necessary education on how to perform those tasks.
  • Undesirable Incentives: Some incentive programs fail because they just don’t offer anything that is of interest to the employees. Complicated programs, or programs that require intense effort for something they could buy easily without all the work, can actually be un-motivational. If employees are expected to work harder, sell more, or reduce costs without a proper level of reward, the program is doomed from the start. Implement an employee motivation plan with desirable incentives, and they will be willing to work together to achieve the end results.

Strategic Incentives carefully researches and custom-designs rewards programs to achieve specific business objectives. We develop solutions molded to the client organization, increasing effectiveness and ease of implementation, with a focus on maximizing return on investment. Call 888-686-8116 for more information on creating an in-depth incentive plan which avoids many of these common mistakes.

About Strategic Incentives: Strategic Incentives is a leading nationwide provider of employee motivation programs. The company works with HR managers to implement sales incentive programs and safety incentives to retain employees, and loyalty programs to build customer relationships.  Visit the website at to download a complimentary PDF of “35 Ways to Use Incentive Programs.” “Like” the Facebook page to receive regular updates on sales incentives and promotional ideas. Call 888-686-8116 for more information on creating an in-depth performance improvement plan.

Strategic Incentives

Do Article Marketing and Bum Marketing Still Work?

Image result for article marketing

If you’ve been involved with online marketing for any length of time, you’re probably at least relatively familiar with the terms “article marketing” and “bum marketing.” If you’re not, don’t fret. This article will explain these two things for you. They’re actually really simple concepts to grasp, so it won’t take long for you to learn them. Then, we will discuss their current effectiveness (or lack thereof) as an internet marketer’s business model.

What Is Article Marketing?

Quite simply, article marketing is the process of writing simple articles and submitting them to websites known as “article directories.” Such directories include sites like EzineArticles, ArticlesBase, and GoArticles. At the end of each article you submit, you are able to include links back to your website (or landing page), where you make your offer.

What Is Bum Marketing?

“Bum Marketing” is a term that was coined a few years back by a top internet marketer named Travis Sago. It is essentially the same as article marketing, but incorporates the use of all types of free social media sites, commonly known as “web 2.0 properties.” In addition to the article directories, bum marketers will be submitting their articles to sites such as,, and the “big daddy” of the bum marketing world, Squidoo.

How Effective Are These Business Models?

The truth is, both bum marketing and straight article directory marketing were once incredibly powerful business models. All sorts of folks were making healthy online incomes using one or both of these methods. Unfortunately, if you fast-forward to a few Google updates later, the story changes dramatically.

You see, the name of the game in the world of free online marketing is to get your content ranked high in the organic results of the search engines, especially Google. And articles submitted to article directories and web 2.0 sites used to consistently rank on the first page of the engines, sending droves of free traffic to these articles, which would in turn send lots of great targeted leads to the marketer’s offer pages.

Sadly, this is no longer the case.

Today, self-hosted websites get the lion’s share of search engine love. This is not to say that article marketing and bum marketing techniques don’t still have their place. They most assuredly do. But their primary role has shifted dramatically.

Instead of using these particular strategies to send direct traffic to your money sites, it is now far more advisable to use both the article directories and web 2.0 sites to gain valuable, in-content, anchor text backlinks pointing to your self-hosted web pages in an effort to get these pages themselves ranking in Google and other search engines.

Ever wondered how those super successful Internet Marketers make all that money?

It’s really simple… they know how to generate traffic cheaply and send it to high converting sales pages!

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A Critical Appreciation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

Image result for shakespeare Sonnet 18

The poem is a Shakespearean sonnet. Its 14 lines are divided in three quatrains. The idea of the beauty of the “fair youth” has been introduced by a comparison with the charm of a summer’s day in the first quatrain. In Britain, a day in summer is well-known for its dazzling sunshine, beauty and loveliness. The image of the “summer’s day” has been used here to indicate the brightness, beauty and charm of the “fair youth”. To the speaker, his friend first comes as radiant, mirthful and charming as day in summer. But soon he repairs himself saying that his friend is “more lovely and more temperate”.

However, there is a doubt posted in the first line: whether “a summer’s day” is a benefiting comparison to his friend. The suspicion has been logically represented in the following lines. It has been explained through a series contrast. Several images have been used to establish the fact that the qualities of the friend are better than those of the summer’s day.

In the second quatrain, the speaker further argues logically in order to establish that his suspicion is correct. Here the speaker used several images to prove that the qualities of his friend are better than those of summer. The beauty of a day in summer is characteristically uncertain. Because the summer sun suddenly becomes very hot. Sometimes, suddenly it becomes dim due to clouds in the sky. All these imply that the beauty of the friend is not subject to destruction.

In the third quatrain the speaker passes on to the positive qualities of the “fair youth”. The beauty of the “fair youth” will never fade nor will lose it. Death will never be able to defeat him and enjoy proudly its win because the speaker has sheltered him in the immortal lines of this poem.

This is Shakespearean sonnet and bears the traces of Elizabethan period. Shakespeare like other English sonneteers borrowed the Petrarchan sonnet form. The praise of the beauty of the addressee is in tune with the Petrarchan tradition. However, Shakespeare differs from Petrarchan rhyme scheme. Petrarch’s rhyme scheme is abba abba cde cde or cde dcd. But Shakespeare’s rhyme scheme is abab cdcd efef gg. Moreover, Petrarch’s sonnet lines are hendecasyballic (eleven syllabic) while Shakespeare’s lines are ten syllabic.

The words selected by Shakespeare are lucid, and easily managed to fit to the unaccented and accented beats and to the particular rhyme scheme.

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A Critical Appreciation of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18

A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy; a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim. -Maya Angelou

For all the years that I have developed a consciousness like mine, I was constantly slapped in the face by the incandescent standards of the universe and its littlest portion on how women should be. A woman is always portrayed as a gift from the skies, pretty and elegant, or a royalty in distress saved by a hero who makes her swoon, or an evil witch behind every man’s failure. But a woman is not a gift, she is not a possession, she is not an asset. A woman is not someone to be saved, if she is to be protected, then from what? And yes, this paragraph is always present on my feminist articles. The most tiring thing about being a woman is the fact that we should still have to battle for our image as individuals, which is an inflection of how I came into the idea that the purpose of human kind is to breakout from the chains of the stereotypical. Humans try to debunk and destroy what exists, from beliefs to lifestyles and even to the right color of pants to match your socks. This urge to be free is the reason why Jose was shot in a park, why Romeo and Juliet died, and why all the revolutions and wars occurred.

Grace Ogot or Grace Emily Akinyi, the Kenyan writer who happens to be the author of the story ‘The Rain Came’ and many other stories, presented the “Breaking-out” moment through the characters’ struggle against the binding chains of traditions and culture. Many of her stories are set against the scenic background of Lake Victoria and the traditions of the Luo people. Luo people are interesting, in fact too interesting, specifically their traditions. They don’t practice the common ritual of circumcision for males; instead they pull out 6 frontal teeth as a sign of initiation towards manhood. And these traditions are the common theme of Ogot’s stories, including folklore, mythologies and sometimes, oral traditions.

This theme is actually the center of “The Rain Came”, a story about a chief’s daughter who was chosen by the gods to be sacrificed in order for the rain to come. The story was originally entitled “A Year of Sacrifice” but changed into how it is now because of reasons I didn’t really get into. Ogot’s inspirations on writing were mostly form her grandmother’s stories to her when she was still young and her perception of conflicts of tradition in the society was further fed when she worked as a nurse and midwife in both Uganda and England. She also represented her people in the UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization).

In the story “The Rain Came” a myriad of traditional beliefs and societal rules were presented. The element of sacrifice, suppression of women’s rights, gender inequality, and the power of traditions was established. That statement will be explicated through the following analyses.


The story depicts Labong’o as a chief who, for the whole course of his life, tried to accept the order of the Luo ancestors. He married five women so he can get a daughter, and there came Oganda, but the confusion kicked in as the ancestors came into the medicine man, Ndithi’s dreams, that Oganda was chosen to be the sacrificial piece to the lake monster in order to end the drought and lure the rain in.

There are two implications of sacrifice in Labong’o’s character. First was when he didn’t have the choice but marry and marry again until he finally has a daughter, which was, as said, ironically taken away from him, making his efforts irrelevant, if I may say.

The second sacrifice is his daughter. As the people’s chief, he is obliged to always choose the betterment of the town over anything or anyone, even if it is his family, or himself. That is when the conflict of his role as a chief and as a father started.

”Never in his life had he been faced with such an impossible decision. Refusing to yield to the rainmaker’s request would mean sacrificing the whole tribe, putting the interests of the individual above those of the society. More than that. It would mean disobeying the ancestors, and most probably wiping the Luo people from the surface of the earth. On the other hand, to let Oganda die as a ransom for the people would permanently cripple Labong’o spiritually. He knew he would never be the same chief again.”

He was torn between tradition and family, but as how all contradictions in the world end, one of the opposing aspects prevails, and it is his role as a great chief. He chose to let Oganda go to the lake and die for the rain to come, for the people to live,to remain as the great chief who always puts the town first.


“The ancestors have chosen her as a sacrifice to the lake monster in order that we may have rain.”

That is the line Labong’o said in front of the people as a declaration of Oganda’s fate. Oganda is the chief of the Luo people’s daughter, and yet, her status didn’t help to change her fate. She was chosen by the ancestors and there was nothing neither she nor her father can do against it.

Oganda is a name which literally means ‘beans’ because of her white skin, which is a rarity in Luo people which are a native of ebony people.

When her family sat inside the room with her outside, she thought that maybe they were just planning her wedding, and that alone signifies the inability of women in their society to make a stand on her own marriage. But the fact is, Oganda, and all the other women in their society just accept that as part of their life, and no trace of resistance from any female species was presented. They just accept things the society has to offer, it doesn’t matter if they deserve it, whatever they dictate, and that alone is sacrifice.

She was afraid at first, which is a natural reaction if you knew your life has to end for the security of the majority, but she still bravely walked alone to the lake and succumbs into her own death. Her courage was already established, putting honor to the women’s team, but Ogot made a twist. The man Oganda loves, and obviously loves her back, came behind her in the middle of her journey to the lake, and saves her.

“We must escape quickly to the unknown land,” Osinda said urgently. “We must run away from the wrath of the ancestors and the retaliation of the monster.”

Just when the going gets tough, when she’s all dried up without any water to drink, a man comes and saves her. Osinda, the great and the wonderful, comes to her aide. It is so cliché in so many levels like how Superman always saves Lois Lane, like Spiderman to Mary Jane. Men behind the hero masks, which reminds me of how female superhero characters are presented with minimal costume and perfect hair amidst all the battles and stunts. The way media portray beauty makes me want to vomit.

What does it really mean to be a woman? In this story there are a lot of mirrors that reflects women. Oganda is the woman who makes sacrifices. Even in Greek mythology, women makes sacrifices, even Gods. Hestia sacrificed her throne for Dionysus. Oganda’s mother is also one reflection. Her mother was sad, in fact mortified, that her only daughter has to die to make others live, but the only thing she could do is cry. Women are sometimes powerless. They are always under husbands and under societal rules, and I don’t mean it literally.

In the end, Oganda ran away with Osinda from the town and its entire people. She gave in to Osinda’s offer to run away and live happily ever after, away from the lake monster, away from the eyes of the ancestors, and away from her family. And just when they turned their backs, the sky turned dark and bore droplets of water. It rained. Everybody got their happiness.


Rain is one of the most emotional symbols used in literature, and in this story, all the characters’ actions is connected to this rain. The townspeople were beginning to panic for it’s been so long since it last rained and their resources are running out, and the fear of death among them started to rise as the coming of the drought. And as they say, desperate times call for desperate measures, so the people came into the decision of sacrificing a woman who has not yet met a man, which means a ‘virgin’, to yield rain, which is a very barbaric thing to do. All this sacrifice thing happening in the story makes me think that in all the stories I have read, it is a ‘must’ that the person to be sacrificed is always a virgin woman, even in the bible (Jephtha’s daughter). Why not a virgin man?

Anyway, at the end of the story, even if Oganda wasn’t actually offered to and devoured by the lake monster, the skies still shed rain. It can mean that, Oganda’s acceptance of her fate as a sacrificial lamb is enough to please the ancestors and give them the rain they want.

This story is a proof on how traditions influence a human’s decisions and acts. What we are today as individuals and as the human race in general, is a result of centuries and centuries of conditioning. Who’s to say that one’s tradition and beliefs is wrong? Who’s to say that we belong to a generation of idiots having our brains replaced by a virtual world we developed and coexist with, called the internet? What does it really mean to be a woman? Who sets the norms? I don’t know the answers to my own questions, all I know is we all have our own mind and it is a responsibility to actually use it.

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Eric Edson’s Screenwriting Book Now Available in Chinese

What Is A Typical Career For A Working Screenwriter In Hollywood? by Professor Eric Edson

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 03, 2017, Los Angeles:  Eric Edson, author of The Story Solution, a how-to book on screenwriting and storytelling, was recently interviewed by Film Courage.

In his recent interview with Film Courage, Professor Eric Edson recalls the early days of his career and offers sage words of advice to new and aspiring screenwriters.  Eric recounts the sale of his first screenplay and how the reality of being a working screenwriter does not always meet lofty expectations.

Edson, Professor of Screenwriting and Director Emeritus of the MFA Program in Screenwriting at California State University, Northridge, describes how the sale of his first screenplay at the age of 24 changed his direction in life, and led him to enroll in the MFA program at the American Film Institute.

When asked by Film Courage whether he had expected to “capture lightning in a bottle” again in the years immediately following that first sale, he explained that his optimism was definitely tempered with realism. It would be another eight years before Edson sold his next screenplay. He warns that a career as a professional writer is not for the faint of heart, explaining that “you are going to get kicked in the teeth.” His advice is to “toughen your skin,” persevere, and above all else, “learn from everything.” He credits his own eventual success to making himself inevitable by “continuing to crank out original material.” By writing and rewriting and reading many books on screenwriting, he perfected his craft and created a drawer full of good scripts.

Edson cautions those entering the field to have realistic expectations. Much of the work screenwriters sell might not actually be filmed.  In order to achieve even a small amount of success you must be prepared to pay your dues. Overnight sensations are not what the industry is comprised of.  It takes hard work, dedication, the ability to accept defeat without being defeated, and a willingness to “buckle down for the long haul” to make a name and a living for yourself in screenwriting.

Eric Edson’s The Story Solution provides screenwriting tips for those interested in screenplay writing. Seen as one of the best books on screenwriting and currently #1 in its category on China Amazon, Edson outlines 23 actions used to create three dimensional heroes. Visit the website at to learn about writing a movie script. “Like” the Facebook page to receive tips on scriptwriting.

follow this link for the 2nd interview


12 Conversation Starters to Increase Employee Engagement

12 Conversation Starters to Increase Employee Engagement

A Note From Strategic Incentives

One goal of a dynamic, goal-oriented organization should be to have employees that are engaged, enthusiastic, and motivated. Strategic Incentives has plenty of solid incentive programs to help with the motivation end of things, but how do you create engagement with employees?

Unfortunately, most companies simply don’t have engagement high on their list of priorities. According to Gallup in fact, there is an engagement crisis. Although their research shows that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in EPS, they also concluded that “a staggering 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged.”

So where can a business start to build engagement? Given the different demographic groups that supervisors and managers have to deal with – Baby Boomers, Millennials, and Generation Xers – gathering impressions and employee motivation keys can be complex. Try to get employees engaged by talking about their ideas, and by asking open-ended questions. Don’t form any judgments on the responses; just listen and take in the information. Try not to get defensive if you hear something negative; ask probing questions instead to find out more.

Here are 12 conversation starters that will help build employee engagement:

1. What is a quality you admire most with our company?
2. What is a quality we lack in as a company?
3. What can we do to make the workplace more enjoyable?
4. What could we do to improve our communications with employees and customers?
5. Are we doing anything that hurts our customer relationships?
6. What can we do to make our customer experience better?
7. Tell me what excites you most about your job here, and what parts of your job don’t you find fulfilling?
8. What can we do to assure projects are completed effectively and in a timely manner?”
9. What kind of rewards do you think would be most effective to motivate you and improve performance?
10. What types of  training or opportunities can we provide that will make you more effective at your job?
11. What skills do you have that could best contribute to the organization, but are being underutilized?
12. What attributes do you provide that will be beneficial to our brand?

An engagement conversation is best when it is conducted as a dialogue between two people who have the company’s best interests at heart. This is not the time to offer criticism or direction, but to gather insights and build enthusiasm.

Strategic Incentives carefully researches and custom-designs workforce programs to achieve specific business objectives. We develop solutions molded to the client organization, increasing effectiveness and ease of implementation, with a focus on maximizing return on investment.

Strategic Incentives