Thursday, March 31, 2011

Immortal Speeches

Reference President Reagan’s famous speech delivered on June 12, 1987, from West Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. In my post of January 28, I described that speech as being a first-rate example of a presentation that has become immortal because of a simple line within it having such acute resonance that the words reverberate even today, decades later. Finally, I have a video clip of that line, unquestionably the most famous words uttered publicly by Reagan during his eight years as president. Incidentally, this clip too is from CBS "Sunday Morning," my favorite television show.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Building a Powerful Vocabulary: New Edition of “Words of the Month”

The latest edition of “Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enhancement feature, has been online since the beginning of this month. Among the featured words, all of which lie within the conversational vocabulary of America’s most articulate (as is the case with all of the words featured in my book, “The Articulate Professional-3rd Edition”):

1. pecuniary
2. kerfuffle
3. tendentious
4. acolyte
5. duplicitous
6. impassioned

Here are extracts from some of my favorite examples, all carefully designed to help you implant the featured word into your conversational vocabulary and use it with confidence:


-- after the Tucson shootings, Sheriff Dupnik saying that much of the (political) venom being spouted on radio & TV arises from talk show hosts’ pecuniary motives

-- don’t park here—it’s a pecuniary offense; a lawyer being reprimanded by the judge for “putting his pecuniary interests above those of his client”

-- global warming will be less of an abstraction if we can explain to John Q. Public what sort of pecuniary effects it is having or will have on each individual

-- an NPR guest pointing out that in the case of poets, their pursuit does not arise out of a pecuniary goal


-- the current kerfuffle in Washington D.C. over how to rein in the budget deficits

-- the proposal to reduce the football team’s budget causing such a kerfuffle that the idea was quickly dropped

-- (after two longtime members suddenly opposed everyone else’s unanimous choice for club president) “I tell you, the resulting kerfuffle has badly upset the harmony within the club”


-- “No way can you call this book objective. It is highly tendentious.

-- some radio and TV channels that are clearly tendentious, thus giving their audience a distorted and unbalanced perspective

-- the tendentiousness that invariably creeps into the “historical account” of any great battle because….

-- after looking at identical data, many leading economists and lawmakers coming up with totally different conclusions, thanks to their tendentious interpretation of the facts

-- somebody promoting a tendentious theory; a tendentious translation of an ancient scripture; a tendentious history


-- according to CBS, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s acolytes include “geek circles and hacking circles for whom he is a hero”

-- this author telling an audience: “I am a fervent acolyte of two television shows: ‘CBS Sunday Morning’ and ‘PBS NewsHour’”

-- in a recent interview, Donald Rumsfeld telling Diane Sawyer that the younger Bush appointed him defense secretary knowing full well that he (Rumsfeld) was a critic and detractor rather than an acolyte of George H.W. Bush


-- Tab Hunter, the young matinee idol of the 1950s, telling CBS that he had been duplicitous all along—that the portrayal of him as an eligible heartthrob…

-- somebody who is extremely straightforward and simply incapable of duplicity;  her snickering about my plans is really duplicitous of her because…

-- according to some leading economists, including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, the errors in judgment and duplicities of the credit rating agencies partly to blame for the recent financial crisis

-- New York’s then-attorney general Eliot Spitzer discovering that Wall Street analysts were engaging in stunningly duplicitous behavior


-- one of JFK’s most memorable and impassioned lines from his presidential speeches: “Ask not what your country can do for you….”

-- I bet we’ll get an impassioned, table-pounding speech from …; he is one heck of an impassioned and articulate guy

-- an impassioned email;  impassioned support from a top exec giving a boost to your controversial plan; a defense attorney’s impassioned closing arguments; Julia Roberts’s impassioned plea before Congress for …; media being flooded with impassioned statements both in support of and against a U.S. Supreme Court nominee

© Copyright 2011  V. J. Singal

Monday, March 28, 2011

Beware of Donning Badly Soiled Neckties—They Ooze Ugliness; Video Clip of a Highly Regarded Talking Head Wearing One

In yesterday’s post, I wrote that is not uncommon to see even men of prominence wear badly soiled neckties – ties that have acquired a clearly visible dark and ugly hue around the knot because of the wearer constantly tying and untying them with unclean hands.

Well, to see a video clip of a glaringly soiled necktie, click here. It will transport you to a recent appearance by the Kauffman Foundation’s Tim Kane on PBS’s highly regarded “Nightly Business Report.” Incidentally, Tim Kane is someone whose commentaries I always look forward to because they are so pithy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

“Oh, Please Don’t Touch The Tie! Just Tell Me What’s Wrong.” – The Problem of Soiled Ties

Last October, just as I was getting ready to be introduced before my presentation on “Simple Verbal & Nonverbal Skills for Creating a Highly Favorable First Impression” at the Project Management Institute’s Global Congress 2010 North America held in National Harbor, Md., I quietly asked a woman seated in the front row whether my hair looked combed and whether the tie and shirt collar were in alignment. [During the previous 15 minutes or so, I had been struggling with some of the equipment in the room.] Apparently, everything was not okay with the way I looked because this person raised her hands with alacrity to center my tie, at which point I instantly recoiled and blurted out “Oh, please don’t touch the tie!”

Since there wasn’t sufficient time for me to run to the men’s room and fine tune my attire, I quickly took out a clean handkerchief, placed it on the knot of the tie, and said to that helpful woman, “OK, now go ahead and straighten it,” thus ensuring that she wouldn’t be touching the knot with her bare hands. And while she was engaged in all that manipulation, I politely explained to her and to the couple of others looking on in bemusement that one should never ever touch a tie, especially the length that goes into the making of the knot, unless one’s hands have been freshly washed. Why? Because each time you tie a knot with even mildly unclean hands, the natural oils and any dirt on the fingers leave a stain on the tie—a stain that is, of course, indiscernible at first but which, with repeated tying of the knot with oily or dirty hands, will develop into a dark and ugly patch.

Indeed, it is not uncommon to see men who are in high positions and frequently grace television don ties that are clearly soiled around the knot. See video link in next blog post. [BTW, if you have not noticed anyone wearing soiled ties so far, you certainly will after reading this blog post.]

Solution. So, what is a man to do? Because ties don’t take kindly to dry cleaning, and since there are supposedly only a handful of highly reliable dry cleaners in the nation when it comes to ties, here is my two-part solution, something that I have been practicing for over 15 years: First, just before putting on a tie, wash your hands with soap and water and then dry them thoroughly. Second, when untying the knot, simply use a fresh, clean tissue or something equivalent as a membrane between your fingers and the tie. This will obviate the need to wash and dry your hands when removing a tie.

Let me know if you have a better idea.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Weak Presentations: Poor Use of the Eyes When Emphasizing Something

One of the pointers under my “Uncommon Tips for Highly Effective Presentations,” (click here and then read the second bullet), which has been on my website for several years, urges presenters to beware of what I call “misplaced eye emphasis.”

The 19-second video clip below--excerpted from "NBC Nightly News" last week--is an example of what I mean. While making the headline grabbing announcement that Hispanics now account for more than half of the total growth in the U.S. population, Census Bureau spokesperson Nicholas Jones utters the following words in the second half of the featured sentence: “…and people of Hispanic origin now clearly represent the second largest group in the country.” Hence the following question for you: Which is the most significant part of his utterance?

Clearly, it's the words “the second largest group in the country.” Yet, the spokesman is looking at his notes when uttering those words; he was looking at the audience when saying the preceding words (“People of Hispanic origin”) which needed no emphasis since that entire presentation was about Hispanics! Note that if Jones had been looking at the audience while saying the key words, he could have used not only his eyes but other facial gestures for added emphasis.