Sunday, July 31, 2011

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

The latest edition of “Words of the Month,” my free vocabulary enrichment feature, has been online since the middle of this month. The six 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. perorate
2. servile
3. solicitude
4. amalgamate
5. hyperventilate
6. neophyte

Here are extracts from some of my favorite examples conscientiously designed to help enhance your vocabulary:

-- does anyone ever mention a single word or idea uttered by Sen. Edward Everett, the main speaker at the 19 November, 1863, Gettysburg dedication ceremony, who perorated for nearly two hours....

-- tomorrow’s annual meeting promises to be different: it’s not going to be some insufferable peroration

-- from an irritated person in the audience: “Please, my question does not call for a peroration. Just a simple…”

-- here is a simple technique to get a quick answer from someone who has a propensity to ramble or perorate at every opportunity…..

-- over the past 20 years, our State of the Union addresses having become unending and wearisome perorations; in the bitter fight over abortion, those for freedom of choice perorating against pro-lifers, and vice versa

-- during confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate for Supreme Court nominees, senators tending to perorate on one legal issue or the other instead of …..

-- some frustrated young workers in a Chinese city secretly telling Western interviewers about their servile employment

-- in the presence of his boss, he becomes so timid and submissive, even servile, that he’s barely audible

-- fawning officials bowing deeply, in a servile manner, when opening doors or….

-- do not behave obsequiously, and act like someone who is hopelessly servile

-- (if George W. Bush had been a very popular president during his last few years) current Republican presidential candidates would be trekking servilely to Dallas to …

-- a mule’s servility to his master…; successful CEOs surrounding themselves with smart people rather than servile employees; a bigwig who likes servile attention

-- in some cultures, a woman being required to show servile obedience to her husband

-- Amnesty International expressing solicitude for Saudi women (reference that nation’s laws barring females from driving)

-- our manager has consistently demonstrated solicitude for our health

-- my mother was applying, with tremendous solicitude, cold compresses on my forehead

-- if I see a stray dog on the street, my reaction is one of utmost solicitude for that…; she always showed great solicitude for my difficulties

-- a parent expressing so much solicitude for their teenager who has just gone to college that it borders on the overbearing and suffocating

-- the U.S., a melting pot because of the racial, ethnic, and cultural amalgamation that is constantly going on…

-- amalgamating three new parameters into the customer satisfaction index

-- he is a curious amalgam of contradictory and conflicting characteristics…; the food here is an amalgam of different cuisines from….; typical opera being an amalgam of singing, dancing, glittering sets….; the novel's hero is the amalgam of several remarkable people the author has met….

-- stock symbol HPQ appropriately representing the amalgamation of Hewlett-Packard and Compaq

-- the latest Harry Potter movie being praised as a wonderful amalgam of superb acting, gripping story, wall-to-wall action,….

-- France’s long-cherished goal of becoming a truly amalgamated nation

-- there’s no way you can effectively amalgamate these two subsidiaries because…

-- should these news reports really set off such hyperventilation throughout the nation?

-- on seeing their company’s founder and CEO up close for the first time, some of the employees began to hyperventilate

-- I’m hearing a lot of hyperventilated comments from employees about…

-- let me quickly call my boss….before he has a panic attack and starts to hyperventilate

-- dismissing a recent medical study, an expert saying: “the report is hyperventilating about small, inconsequential….”

-- following the release of the movie “Titanic,” teenaged girls swooning and hyperventilating if they saw Leonardo DiCaprio in public

-- some newspaper art, music, and theater reviews that are written in a hyperventilated style, packing language that is turgid, pompous, and bombastic

-- a travel website pointing out, justly, that guide books are “renowned for their glib hyperventilated prose”

-- a political neophyte; a neophyte at poker; neophyte investors falling victim to boiler-room stockbrokers

-- I agree that Diane is a marketing neophyte… but she is extremely smart and a quick study

-- being an absolute neophyte at trading when I was hired in your department, I was intimidated….

-- discouraging somebody from trying a blue run, the ski guide saying: “It’s not for the neophyte

-- a presenter pausing to explain some of the jargon for the benefit of the neophytes in the audience

-- a computer manufacturer’s customer service department finding itself shorthanded because of the surprisingly high percentage of calls coming in from total neophytes

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

High Impact Presentations; Overcoming the Accent Handicap: Other Easy Strategies and Tactics for Foreign-borns

Yesterday’s post focused on one of the tactics I use in the case of words that are extremely relevant to my presentations but which are sometimes misunderstood or are unintelligible to some in the audience because of my enunciation (words such as “thrust”).

Of course, as discussed in previous blog posts, foreign-borns have several other strategies and tactics in their arsenal to minimize the loss of communication that can result because of an accent. Some of these preemptive actions:

1. Speaking slower, especially at the beginning of a conversation or presentation.
2. Clearly enunciating every syllable and consonant because that is unquestionably the most effective antidote to an accent.
3. Maintaining a list of “troublesome” words—words that pose difficulty for your audiences because of the way you pronounce them—and developing a corresponding list of alternate words. [For instance, a few years ago, when I found people were having difficulty with my enunciation of “burp,” I immediately switched to saying “belch” instead.]
4. As another alternative to dealing with your list of “troublesome” words, especially while delivering presentations, having that word appear in print on a PowerPoint slide just as you are about to utter it in front of that audience for the first time.
5. Each time you say a word that you believe may not be fully understood by everyone in the audience, immediately following-up with a synonym or synonymous phrase.

For a fuller discussion of the above five tips, I would urge you to visit my blog post of June 24, 2010.

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

Saturday, July 30, 2011

For the Foreign-borns: Spelling Out a Word as a Tactic to Offset Loss of Communication Because of Accent

If you speak with an accent, as I do, chances are that some of the words you typically use in a presentation are unintelligible to many in the audience. For instance, when talking about the power of the synonym technique, I love to use the word “thrust” because it is so very apt (it’ll be clear why after you’ve read the next paragraph). Unfortunately, some in the audience mistake my “thrust” to be “trust” and, not surprisingly, become confused. So, what is the one easy tactic I employ to offset that bit of loss in communication? I simply spell out the word immediately after uttering it. I elaborate below.

Earlier this year, while speaking before large audiences at dental conventions in Phoenix and Portland (Oregon), I said “thrust” at least once in each session, and the first time I used that word before each audience, I followed up that utterance by hurriedly spelling it out as well, thus ensuring 100% understanding by everyone in the room. To go into even more detail, here is an example of what I said: “…..synonyms work powerfully because the second word amplifies or reinforces the previous word’s thrust—as in t-h-r-u-s-t—and thus makes that piece of communication much more robust, indelible, and impactful….” [In the previous sentence, I have bolded thrust to imply that it was uttered with greater emphasis and amplitude than the subsequent “as in t-h-r-u-s-t.”]

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Visual, Evocative Words to Emphasize Something: Grover Norquist’s Messianic Anti-Government Agenda

Whether you are a supporter or a critic of anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist, you’ll probably agree with the following statement: Norquist’s agenda is simply to gut the government, period. (It’s an agenda which, in my view, is utterly misguided, myopic, and reprehensible because, over the long term, a marketplace with zero regulation will severely undermine, among other things, the quality of life and safety of the American middleclass and prove ruinous for this nation’s international economic competitiveness as well as for its environment and wildlife.)

But it was only this evening, while watching “NBC Nightly News,” that I learned about the extraordinarily evocative terms in which Norquist has articulated his messianic and unambiguous anti-government fervor in the past: According to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, Norquist once told NPR: “I don’t want to abolish government, I simply want to reduce the size where I can drag it to the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

© Copyright 2011 V. J. Singal