Don’t mess up in front of your PIERS! How to avoid embarrassing word mistakes in important business presentations >

The important business presentation was very going well.

The presenter had the audience’s full attention – the graphs and numbers were impressive – but then, titters of laughter and a crash in credibility – all because of word confusion – one little mistake!

The presenter was talking about the effect of PEER group pressure – but on the screen, on the presentation was written PIER group pressure.

Some in the audience pointed out the mistake to others (accompanied with snickers and chortles and even mimed actions of reeling in a fish).

The presenter could feel the audience attention slipping away – his confidence was broken and he never recovered for the rest of the presentation.

word nerd CU

As a word nerd/business communication trainer I get paid to help make sure these mistakes don’t happen in business presentations.

I work with business people who are far smarter than I am. My talent is helping smart people with the basics – and coming up with simple, easy-to-remember ways to help business people avoid mistakes and choose the right word.

I always encourage clients to make sure they choose the right words (both the written words presented on the screen AND the spoken words).

For written words Spellcheck isn’t enough – both PIER and PEER are proper words and would slip through undetected. This presentation just had the wrong PIER.

I encourage clients to practise their presentation in front of others and catch and correct any wrong words. This is what the top business people do for presentations where there is a lot at STEAK! (Yes, that’s another common problem in the business world)

 

TB gov blg

 

Now you may ask yourself – who would make such  simple errors?

The answer: simple mistakes are very common – especially in the busy business world where:

1. presenters often “wing it” without adequate preparation

2. many younger (super-smart) business people have never been taught the basics about different words

3. many super-capable execs from ESL backgrounds (English as a Second language) get the “little things” wrong in their writing or spoken presentations

I’m often brought in to help people with the basics and with simple memory devices. Some top execs are embarrassed – but the most effective ones call in help to make sure they are using the right words. From experience, I’ve found that often in advertising, people who are exceptional in speaking have managed to cover up that they have poor spelling or written skills.

So if you sometimes have challenges choosing the right word – don’t be embarrassed – lots of super-smart business people have challenges too.

 

Anyway, we make sure we catch these wrong word mistakes and we make sure people remember the right word for next time.

An easy way to remember, is to make it visual and memorable – sometimes the letters in the word itself – of connecting to something that you can visualise.

For example:

1. Your Peers – means people like you, your equals. Remember pEEr – the two e’s that are Equal and like each other.

2. For Pier – Think of the word fIsh. It has an I in it and think fIshing off a pIer – so the pIer with an I in it is the one you can fIsh from.

3. Then there is another PEER –  the verb to look hard to try to sEE. I’m sure now you can sEE a visual/memorable way to choose the right pEEr for this meaning!

I know this may sound very basic – but I get great feedback from business people that these techniques help them remember – and the business people say they use the memory technique to explain how to choose the right word to their work colleagues, their kids, or their grandkids!

It’s funny, I owe a lot of success to the hours I put in helping my kids remember how to spell – connecting words to something interesting and memorable.

 

TB Social Media KLT

English can be such a complex language – even for native English speakers.

From my experience of helping businesses people choose the right words – other common problem words include:

wave – waive

discreet – discrete

complimentary – complementary

bear – bare

 

as well as the usual incorrect use of your/you’re and their/there/they’re

 

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TB LL mosaic

 

 

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I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

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It you are from a business and would like some discreet help to check and practise your presentations, please feel free to contact me on tonybiancotti@ozemail.com.au

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Poo Poo and Pee – Beware of Words that can mean “rude things” in other languages

If you are presenting to or speaking with people from a different language background – I encourage you to have your presentation “checked” by someone from that language.

 

pee cola

 

Also, get someone to research any possible “danger words” of what words in your language can mean something completely different (and possible negative)  in other languages.

 

international-communication TB

 

For the last ten years I’ve been helping people from different language backgrounds prepare for important presentations or meetings with people from other cultures.

 

Even if your audience speaks English –  when you use words that have rude meanings in their native language, this can cause unwanted distraction and erode your credibility.

 

I even help people from different English-speaking backgrounds (US/UK/Australia/South Africa)  avoid misunderstanding and embarrassment.

Australians use so many “rude” words with a meanings that are not intended to offend (lucky bugger, silly bugger) – but they can offend especially Americans and some Brits.

 

I recall helping a UK female exec find replacement words for “route” to avoid the chance of her Australian audience snickering like naughty school boys.

 

A South African exec  shared with me the danger of using the word “hooters” in a presentation. He meant “car horns” – but to Americans and people familiar with the American Hooters – the word has another connotation. Not rude as such – just distracting in a presentation.

 

hooters

 

I will often sit in and listen to presentations and point out danger words and help find replacements.

 

TB Social Media KLT

 

A danger area can be answering questions where people often stray from the script of their presentation and get “more casual” and  less guarded.

 

When I help execs and specialist presenters – we even practice a Q and A as well to check for danger words.

 

And when you are speaking or presenting – often what matters is what words sound like rather than look like.

 

I am constantly learning new problem words – from the people I help and from research.

 

For example: innocent “English/US” words Gift and Cookie

 

Gift means poison in German

 

And Cookie sounds like a rude work KOKI in Hungarian

 

Although, the examples can be funny – in business they are serious and can derail a presentation or a relationship.

 

At the end of this post are links with lots of example of words that mean something innocent in one language and yet something rude in a different language. Please be warned some of these examples are RUDE (relating to bodily functions and body parts) They examples are meant to demonstrate the dangers.

 

Plus – the problem goes both ways. For example, there are many unfortunate product names that mean a good thing in one language and a bad thing in another – for example Pee Cola included in the link below.

 

My main point to you – get someone from the language background of target audience to hear your presentation and look at any slides/materials you use in the presentation. Preferably someone with not just an academic understanding of the language, but someone familiar with”slang”.

HERE are links to examples:

 

Pee cola and Poo Poo smoothies

 

Gift = poison

 

 

 

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TB international presentation coach

 

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

Or you can follow this blog.

These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.

 

TBCope.001

 

Choose the right word – hoard or horde? An easy way to remember!

I saw this word confusion mistake in the opening few lines of a magazine – to escape the HOARDS of travellers…

 

Spell check wouldn’t pick it up. Hoards is a proper word – just the wrong word in this context.

From my experience working with super-smart young people (far smarter than I am!), I find many young writers either:

1. don’t know what word to choose – when faced with similar words

2. don’t care about what word to choose. (We don’t know – our audience won’t know the difference – why care?)

If you DO care –

Horde (noun) – is a crowd or mass or large number

Hoard (noun) – is a stash or stockpile and (verb) to stash or create a stockpile.

There are TV shows about people who HOARD things.

 

hoarders

 

So, the writer in the magazine should have written – to escape the HORDES of travellers.

 

I was lucky to have great English teachers who often gave simple and very “visual” memory devices to help you remember how to tell the difference between sound-a-like words.

 

A cliche relating to hordes was to refer to the  Mongol hordes.

 

mongol-horde

These Mongol HORdES rode HORsES – so “that” word HORdE looks like the word HORsE.

 

Simplistic I know – but it’s easy to remember!

 

So, now you know.

Writers of all ages make mistakes. I make plenty – but at least I try to choose the correct word. English is such a confusing and complex and inconsistent language.

Personally, I don’t think it’s a good enough excuse to think “Why bother? My audience won’t know the difference” – especially when simple memory devices can help you choose the right word.

 

Here are some more simple memory devices.

Even if you know the different words – these devices can help you help other work colleagues or even young students you know. Many of my business clients I help tell me that they use the memory devices to help their kids!

 

I am very grateful for the wonderful English teachers I had – and I like to share the little tricks I learned and still use to choose the right word!

 

I have a hoard of tips that help hordes of writers (native English speakers and people who have English as a Second Language).

TB Social Media KLT

 

 

coarse or course

 

flout or flaunt

 

elude or allude

 

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word nerd CU

 

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

Or you can follow this blog.

These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.

 

TBCope.001

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be careful not to insult people from other cultures with the words you use in business

Tony, You are so FAT!

I could have been insulted by my guide’s words. I admit I was initially taken back at being called to my face – You are so FAT – but luckily I understood understood what he “meant to say”.

I was on a bike-riding tour around beautiful Bali – and my diminutive guide called me FAT.

TB  cut off  shirt

He was proud of his command of English – but I gave him a little tip to use words other than FAT – and to be aware that many Westerners don’t like being called FAT.

Friends from many different Asian backgrounds had explained to me that being “fat” rather than “thin” was a sign that you had plenty of money for food.

 

Maybe it is a view with older generations, but skinniness was often seen as a sign of not having money for food. Being Fat was often seen as attractive and a compliment.

My thin guide had told me: Tony you are so fat. I wish I was FAT like you. .

I understand that FAT can be a good thing – as in: I got a fat cheque OR That’s a fat bass sound.

I suggested our guide say You are so BIG (or even better BIG and STRONG) – rather than FAT.

I suggested that he not call Western women big. 

 

I suggest to you that you avoid commenting on physical attributes all together. Even if you see it as a compliment – like being tall. Even tall people may not like being called tall – they may have stood out in their younger years by being tall and may not like people commenting on it.

everest

Also, I am not “big and strong” (especially by Australian standards) – I guess to my skinny guide, I appeared big and “FAT”.

I guess the same would apply “in reverse” – a “Westerner” thinking they are complimenting a person by telling them they are “skinny” or “thin” when being skinny is NOT seen as a good thing.

I understand that attitudes are changing over time with younger generations around the world seeing being thin as a compliment rather than an insult!

TB Social Media KLT

My point is: different cultures have different attitudes to body size and age.

Also, words have different connotations. Another example, was where a person learning English wanted to say: I want to be friends/friendly with you – but wrote I want to be intimate with you (which has a different connotation)

Here’s are two links to more on the problem of words having different connotations and the importance in business communication of having someone who understand the local culture to check and advise on the words used.

1.I want to be intimate with you

2. the danger of “false friends”

Now, the danger of insulting people also applies to English speakers communicating with people from other backgrounds.

international-communication TB

I am experienced in cross-cultural communication. I learn so much from the people I help – yet I once had to quickly correct potential “damage” when I gave what I thought was a compliment to a client from a Chinese background. I’ll share that in a future post.

If you have any work colleagues from different language backgrounds who could benefit from my coaching, please contact me. I get great results in identifying the potential “dangers” and helping speakers avoid the problems.

I have plenty of experience in helping speakers from a wide variety of backgrounds (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Spanish, French, German, Middle Eastern). I’ve even helped Brits and Americans and Canadians avoid embarrassment when presenting to Australian audiences.

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word nerd CU

f you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

Or you can follow this blog.

These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.

TBCope.001

Speaking English for Business – special help for Korea Pt 1

If you have trouble speaking English and pronouncing English sounds – you are not alone.

 

I help people from lots of different backgrounds – Japan, Korea, Russia, France, Germany, India, Italy, Singapore, China, Spain,  various South American countries (to name a few!)

international-communication TB

 

Many people who come to English from a different language, find it hard  to correctly pronounce certain sounds that are unfamiliar to their background. English speakers also often have trouble reproducing unfamiliar sounds from other languages.

 

I mainly help people quickly and effectively  improve their spoken English for Business presenting.

Other “teachers/trainers” are better if you want to cover English in other broader (beyond business) situations.

 

I will mainly come in and help people improve their Business English for business situations.

 

This post series concentrates on the challenges Koreans often have in speaking English.

 

From my experience with the Koreans I have helped, many can be very effective with written English – but can be scared of having to speak and pronounce English.

 

One female executive I helped preferred to use e-mail for communicating in English because she:

1. had time to respond correctly

2. didn’t have to worry about the sound of words

3. felt more confident

 

She was very strong with written English. In fact, in my professional opinion, her e-mails were better written than many native-born English executives I worked with 😉

 

However, I encouraged her to practise improving her spoken English as well –  because you can’t give a business presentation by e-mail!

 

The system I use to help executives improve their spoken English can be summed up:

A B C.

 

1. Be Aware of the “problem sounds”

2. Bring forth and Bold the problem sounds in your speech or presentation – you can use your computer to search for and highlight problem sounds in the text of a speech or presentation. You can use other highlighting methods. I prefer to use bold.

3. Correct the problem sounds – through repetition and practice

 

Easy-to-remember memory devices like ABC help make the process faster and more manageable – especially for busy executives who want to quickly master those difficult sounds in their speeches or presentations.

 

In this series of posts, I’ll go through these 3 stages of the ABC system  especially tailored for the challenges faced by Koreans wanting to pronounce English correctly.

 

As you may be aware, it’s a major priority for Korean families to help their children master written and spoken English. Many families like to send children to study in English-speaking countries such as The United States, Canada, The UK and Australia and New Zealand.

 

From my experience, the Korean business people I work with are very good at written English – but know they need help with improving their spoken English.

 

In the next post, I’ll share about the “problem sounds” English presents to Koreans.

 

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TBCUInternational.001

 

 

 

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious business communication tips.

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

Or you can follow this blog.

These days, lots of people and organisations need help with how to COPE with too much work, too much information, too many meetings, delivering difficult news, business writing, effective e-mail, e-mail overload, cross-cultural communication, better social media engagement etc. I like to help people COPE.

 

TBCope.001

 

 

 

 

How to choose the right word – wonder or wander?

wonder-woman-comic

Have you even wandered about how to make sure you use the right wonder – and so you don’t don’t wonder off course in your business writing?

I often get inspiration for these posts when I see really clever people use the wrong word.

Sometimes it’s becasue they are super-busy. Sometimes they just haven’t learned how to choose the right word.

I help them remember how to choose the right word.

Here are easy tips on how to make sure you use the correct WONDER.

word nerd CU

I often help individuals or organisations find potential trouble words that can get misused. Then we come up with easy-to-remember prompts.

To help you choose the correct WONDER/WANDER:

You use wAnder (with the A) when you talk about someone who wAlks  or trAvels

to wAnder  -is to wAlk or trAvel Around

if you wAnder off course or wAnder off topic – you trAVel Away from where you should be going. You are going Astray.

The_Wanderers movie

The wAnderer in  the old Dion song and the movie – roAms Around.

Then there’s the Johnny Cash/U2 version. – “I went out wAlking..”.

wonder woman.001

wOnder with the O is for most other uses of wonder.

I think of the O in wOnder wOman

Seven wOnders of the wOrld

What a wOnderful wOrld

The wOnder of yOu

To wonder –  is to pOnder or cOntemplate

So, now you know these prompts – have I used the correct words at the start of this post?

Have you even wandered about how to make sure you use the right wonder – and so you don’t don’t wonder off course in your business writing?

That’s right – it should be: have you ever wOndered (cOntemplated/pOnderes) – and wAndered (trAvelled Away)  off course.

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If you’d like links to other easy-to-remember prompts to help you choose the right works – take a peek here!

1. sort or sought?

2.course or coarse?

3.bear or bare?

4.whether or weather?

5.peak or peek or pique

TBMMCW.001

If you notice people in your organisation are confusing their words, I’d love to help.

I can run group training sessions or 1-1 coaching.

I work with lots of smart people who just need some help remembering how to choose the right words.

They are often at the PeAK of their careers. I take a pEEK at their writing and pique their interest in improving their writing by making the sessions memorable and enjoyable.

TB training group

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious  business communication tips.

Twitter 

 

tony biancotti

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

How to choose the right word – peak or peek or pique? Here’s an easy way to remember >

twin peaks

I just saw one of my favourite writers write about “to peak interest”.

In that case the correct word should be piqueto arouse interest.

This got me thinking (piqued my interest) about all the different  sorts of “peaks” in English.

Peak – as in the pinnacle, the highest point. A mountain peak.

peek – to look at – often a quick look

and

pique – to arouse or to stimulate (interest or appetite)

word nerd CU

As a word nerd, I try to use my nerdiness for good – to  help businesses help their writers know how to choose the right words.

I often help create easy-to-remember “prompts” – often simple visual prompts based around the letters in the words or similarity to other words.

For example, to help you remember how to choose the right “peak”:

peAk – think of the peak in the A like a mountain to remember that sort of “peak”.

pEEk – think sEE. That sort of “peak” is when you take a quick pEEk so sEE.

Pique – comes from the French  – which means to prick or to irritate. That “pique” can mean to excite or arouse. It can also mean to annoy. That version of pique “looks” French to me – so I remember that pique as the “fancy, longer version”.

 

The expression: A fit of pique – is the feisty French version – being annoyed/agitated.

See here for a fuller Definition:

pique definition

I trust these memory cues will help you remember which version of “peak” to use.

Just remember:

When I took a pEEk at the TV show Twin PeAks, it piqued my interest.

twin peaks

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If you’d like links to other easy-to-remember prompts to help you choose the right works – take a peek here!

1. sort or sought?

2.course or coarse?

3.bear or bare?

4.whether or weather?

TBMMCW.001

If you notice people in your organisation are confusing their words, I’d love to help.

I can run group training sessions or 1-1 coaching.

I work with lots of smart people who just need some help remembering how to choose the right words.

They are often at the PeAK of their careers. I take a pEEK at their writing and pique their interest in improving their writing by making the sessions memorable and enjoyable.

TB training group

If you enjoyed this post – Let’s connect:

If you found this post interesting you can follow me and connect with me.

I blog about fun pop culture stuff as well as more serious  business communication tips.

Twitter 

 

tony biancotti

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti