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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@tonybiancotti
Linked In – under Tony Biancotti

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

Speaking English for Business – special help for Korea Pt 2 – Awareness

You can quickly check out the introduction and context for this series of posts in Part 1 – here:

Part 1 – intro

 

I’ll outline a 3 step process to help people from Korean backgrounds speak English for business presentations and meetings.

 

A – B – C

 

Awareness of problem sounds

Bolding problem words in a speech or presentation

Correcting problem words through repetition and practice.

 

TB Social Media KLT

 

Part 2 – deals with Awareness of  main problem sounds in pronouncing english words for Koreans.

From my direct experience working with Korean business people – the main problems are with consonant sounds that do not exist in Korean – especially the TH sound – in words such THem and THings.

 

Actually many languages including European languages such as French do not have a TH sound – so words are often pronounced with just the T – Things sounds like T-ings!

 

From my experience, even some people from Irish backgrounds say T instead of TH – as in tirty tree tousand – instead of THirty THree THousand.

 

Even some Australians have trouble saying TH. They’ll say New Sou-FF Wales rather than New SouTH Wales – but that’s another story. This post is about helping people from Korean backgrounds.

 

My point is – if you find it hard saying the TH sound – you are not alone.

 

The first step to correcting it is AWARENESS so you can correct it (in a later post).

 

Another problem sound can be the PH sound in words such as PHone. Some Koreans say P-one rather than PHone.

 

Another problem is word order – not technically the sound of words – but still a problem.

 

As a smart young Korean guy explained to me. The English order is SVO – Subject Verb Object – whereas the Korean order is SOV.

 

As he explained – instead of saying I GO HOME – he would naturally say I HOME GO.

 

He smiled and told me that he liked Yoda from Star Wars – because he sounded like a wise Korean!

 

From my research, I understand the writers of Star Wars changed Yoda’s word order to sound ancient and mystical.

 

Anyway, there are some of the major problem sounds for Koreans to be AWARE of when speaking English.

 

TH

PH

and SVO ( word order)

 

In the next two posts, I’ll share how to Bold problem words and Correct by practice and repetition.

 

—————-

international-communication TB

 

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

 

 

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