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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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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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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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 – 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:

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

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tony biancotti

@tonybiancotti

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Hair-brained News Writing – hair or hare?

Do you know whether you should write HAIR or HARE when it comes to the expression HAIR/HARE-BRAINED?

A few moments ago I read a tweet from a Radio News service writing about a “hair brain” idea.

hare

I won’t mention the name of the news organisation. As a journalist I understand how mistakes can occur when writing under deadline pressure or pumping out so many tweets.

I use this tweet – purely as an instructive example of word confusion.

Here’s the actual tweet:

Qld Teachers Union labels State Govt’s plan for students to give feedback on their teachers’ performance a “hair-brain” idea.

My understanding is that the correct expression is hare-brained – and the expression should be brain-ED not just brain.

The expression “a hare-brained idea or plan” comes from something being as flighty (all over the place) as a darting hare.

I found something I didn’t know – that “hair-brained” was also commonly used and has an “explanation” – but that hare-brained is the correct expression.

Here’s the link supporting the use of hare-brained 

“While hairbrained continues to be used and confused, it should be avoided in favor of harebrained which has been established as the correct spelling.” SEE:

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/harebrained

I note that in the tweet – “hair brain” is in quotation marks. Perhaps the tweet is quoting the  actual words of the Qld Teachers Union.

If that is the case – it’s not the news service but the union that needs a lesson in how to choose the right words or expression.

Then again, maybe I am being pedantic – and I’m just spilling HARES! 😉

word nerd CU

The vial errors in modern newspaper writing

This post was inspired by a media friend who spotted an error in a mainstream newspaper – an article  about students buying “viles of drugs from overseas” – confusing the words vial and vile.

vial

I argue that many people who still read newspapersdead-tree papers  or online versions  – know and care about reporters using the correct words.

I understand that smart, young reporters are skilled in so many ways that previous generations of journalists were not.

Yet many young writers do not know the difference between similar words – vial/vile, peer/pier, piece/peace and even weather/whether.

To be fair – I don’t know the age of the person who made the VILE/VIAL error. It could have been an older writer!

I just know that I often need to help younger reporters remember the correct words to use. They were not taught what previous reporters were taught as “the basics”.

I still argue that – for business and credibility reasons – it’s worth educating writers (younger and older) in how to choose the correct words from confusing sound-alike or look-alike words.

vial

A friend of mine developed a visual learning resource to help her daughter who had a learning challenge.

She used the “memorable grossness” of stepping in Elephant poo to convey the meaning of VILE.

vile

So remember – the Elephant poo version is with VILE with the E!

I remember “the other vial”  – by remembering it as a  smAll, nArrow contAiner.

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TB training group

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

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tony biancotti

@tonybiancotti

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How to choose the right word – course/coarse

Is it hard to choose the right word? – of coarse!

Especially with similar sounding and similar looking words such as course and coarse!

You can even add CAUSE confusion for non-native English speakers. People from non-English speaking backgrounds often have trouble hearing the difference between words such as course and cause. Native English speakers often  take hearing the differences in sounds for granted.

This post is about how to use the correct course/coarse words.

first course

Even native English speakers who are well educated can make word mistakes that can make them look not-so-smart – even coarse and unrefined.

Imagine you are a professional and you use the wrong word. Will some of your readers judge you unkindly?

Those who know the correct words may doubt the accuracy of the rest of your work if you choose the wrong word.

Here’s an easy way to remember how to choose the correct word in the course/coarse confusion.

golf course

Most times you will use COURSE – a golf course, a photography course, in the course of events, first course (on a menu)

The “other” similar word COARSE is for when something is rough – for example COARSE FABRIC, COARSE GRASS, or even COARSE language.

I had great “teachers”  through my school and work as a journalist who helped me (and my classmates) remember what word to use. I often share their memory devices.

Just think that coARSE language might use include the word ARSE. And ARSE rhymes with GRASS!

MBE course sign

TBCUInternational.001

If a love of language is coursing through your veins and you’d like more tips on how to choose the right words – you can follow this blog, of course! Or you can get me in for a quick, tailored course on how to help you remember the confusing word challenges in your business.

You’d be amazed how many big businesses let mistakes slip through on their websites and in their marketing collateral.

weather/whether

bare/bear

complimentary/complementary

Don’t let it happen to your business!

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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.

Twitter 

 

tony biancotti

@tonybiancotti

Linked In – under Tony Biancotti