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

 

 

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.

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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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Be careful not to insult business people from other cultures with comments you mean as compliments

When dealing with people from other cultures be careful you do not insult them – even if you intend a comment as a compliment.

 

international-communication TB

 

Things that might be positive in YOUR culture can be offensive in their culture.

 

 

In  previous post, I shared about a Balinese guide who called me FAT – meaning it as a compliment. Link at the end of this post.

 

In this post I share about how I had to “recover” when I risked insulting a business woman from China.

 

A quick context

 

I am proud to call myself a down-to-earth, laid-back “Country Kid” who moved to the city.

I come from North Queensland, Australia where life moves at a slower pace – at least it did when I was a kid.

 

I remember flying “home” to North Queensland when I was a TV reporter covering a visit from then US President Bill Clinton.

 

I lived and worked in Sydney at the time and the locals encouraged me and my TV crew to slow down rather than rushing around at SYDNEY pace. The locals were laid-back and relaxed.

 

TB training group

 

Anyway, I was helping a Chinese business woman and she had, in my opinion, a comforting laid-back demeanor. She looked relaxed. She sounded relaxed. She sounded “chilled”.

Her smiling face changed to a frown when I asked if she was “from the country”.

 

To me, being from the country seemed to be a positive thing.

 

But as I later found out, to her, the country was for uneducated peasants. She was educated and sophisticated and was from THE CITY not THE COUNTRY!

 

I had to explain that I meant it as a compliment and that I was originally from a laid-back country area and proud of it –  rather than from a busy, big city.

Her frown DID turn back into a smile, but this experience taught me that what I think is positive and a compliment may not be a compliment to others.

 

I encourage you to find out about other cultures you are dealing with in business.

 

I often help “Westerners” dealing with different Asian cultures and Asian businesses dealing with different Western Cultures.

 

When I first started working with different Asian cultures about ten years ago had to adjust to things like their constant enquiries about age and family. I’ll share more about these topics in future posts.

 

Here’s a link to the FAT post.

You are so FAT!

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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 3 – B

In this part of our series on helping people from Korean backgrounds pronounce English words we look at the B part of the A B C technique.

 

international-communication TB

 

Part A dealt with Awareness of the main pronunciation challenges for Koreans speaking English – link at the end of this post.

 

 

 

B – (this post) – deals with BRINGING FORTH and BOLDING the problem words.

 

If you (the speaker) have an electronic copy of your speech or your PowerPoint presentation – you can do a search for words with the problem sounds (discussed in Part 2) or you can go through your speech manually and mark the problem sounds.

 

Once you have brought forth and bolded the problem words you then:

 

1. Replace  

2. Reduce

2. Rehearse until you master the problem sounds.

 

TB Social Media KLT

I’ve helped people from Korean backgrounds master problem words. The best illustrative examples of the A B C technique involved a super-smart female executive who needed to do an important business presentation. She was from a Chinese background and pronounced Ls like Rs and, to a lesser extent, her Rs sounded like Ls.

In the B part of our process, we

We brought forth and bolded all the words with problem L and R sounds. The problem sounds were made visually obvious on her presentation. Then she needed to say the presentation out loud so we could hear what words were the greatest challenge.

Some L and R problem words were less obvious than others. You need to practice the speech or presentation out loud to know what problem words stand out.

 

This can depend on where the problem sounds appear within a word and where those words appear within the speech or presentation.

With the problem words that were more obvious and prominent,  we could replace with words that meant the same thing but did not have the problematic Ls or Rs in them.

 

The biggest problem word was the name of the product the presentation was about. The name had an L in it. We could reduce the number of times she used the word – but she would have to say it. We had to get that word right!

 

So, after we replaced and reduced we had to then rehearse saying the word – again and again.

 

I’ll share more about that in out next part – the C part of the  A B C technique – and that deals with Correcting the problem sounds through practice or rehearsal.

Here are links to

1. the set-up to this series part 1 – set-up

2. Awareness – part 2 – awareness

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.

——————

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

When the correct word alludes you – elude or allude? Here’s an easy way to remember >

This post was inspired by reading the writing of a very clever writer – a clever writer who made a common mistake confusing sound-a-like words allude and elude.

“…most examples are sales related, the tool our speaker eluded to can be applied across all professions.” 

It should be alluded to rather than eluded to.

An easy way to remember the difference and how to choose the correct word:

To elude means to escape.

An easy way to remember is to remember the EsElude to Escape

 

To allude to is to refer to indirectly.

 

I’m sure there is an easy way to remember this –  but the memory trick alludes me at the moment!

word nerd CU

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

1. wonder or wander?

2. sort or sought?

3. peak or peek or pique

 

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