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Dr. Antonia Johnson

Why So Many Words for the Same Thing?

English Communication: Why so many words for the same thing?

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Roberta (from Italy) asked me, “Why does English have so many words for everything? ‘Smart,’ ‘Clever,’ ‘Brainy,’ ‘Intelligent’– in Italian we just say ‘Intelligente!’

It’s true, English has a lot of words!  Experts count at least 250,000. (Other experts say half a million, a million or even a billion. It is all in how you count them!)

No matter how you count the number of words in English, this is significantly higher than most other languages–likely more than any other language.

Why so many words?  The answer is in English’s long and complicated history of invasion and conquest.  Of different cultures (and their languages) colliding, borrowing, and merging.  And the answer is in the rapidly expanding vocabularies of all the sciences, technology, and even slang and colloquial phrases in popular culture.

Don’t worry, though– you don’t need to memorize all quarter-million (or more!) words to be a proficient English speaker.  And when it comes to words with synonyms (words with the same or similar meanings, like ‘smart’ and ‘intelligent’), you can often communicate what you need to say if you know just one or a few of the words.

On the other hand, there are a few types of words in English that have hundreds of synonyms–especially adjectives like ‘good’ and ‘bad.  For example, ‘really good’ can be expressed with words like excellent, wonderful, amazing, incredible, and many more.  With words like these that are so, so common, you probably want to be able to use a few and recognize many.

Here are other synonyms which mean “really good:”

  • Awesome
  • Fantastic
  • Cool
  • Hot

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

Contributing editor: Amber McKinney

English Communication: How to Put People at Ease At Meetings

English Communication: How to Put People at Ease at Meetings– Blog for Sept. 23, 2021

Sometimes you are going to a meeting to persuade.  In that case, use the first five minutes to put people at ease.  People’s egos are on alert the first few minutes of a meeting,;relax them so they’ll be receptive to your ideas.

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One way to relax people is to bring lots of information.  If it’s the first time you’re meeting , look up the leaders on Google and social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn so you’re up-to-date on their backgrounds and activities.  You can bring up the topic yourself during the first five minutes – “I looked you up online, you’ve had  quite a career” – or mention it when they start talking about something you recognize from your research.  Be sure to visit their company’s website.

If you already know the people, use the first five minutes to make them feel valued.  If it is a superior,  acknowledge that the person is taking time out of his or her busy day.  There are a couple of ways to do this.  You could say, “Thanks for meeting with me. I know you are busy.”  Or you can be more specific, for example by asking about a project the person is working on.  Or you could be even bolder and aim to really make an impression.   This is the suggestion of Chris St. Hilaire.  To paraphrase his example:  Think  about the last time your superior complained about  something – babies crying on the  airplane or a restaurant which never puts enough mayo on a sandwich. When you go to meet with this person, bring a pair of inexpensive headphones or a jar of mayonnaise, set it on the desk, and say, “I’ve solved your problem.  Can I have a minute of your time?”  That’s a casual touch to signal that you listen and care enough to actually go out and  buy  the item.

During the first five minutes, you will also be making a visual impression.  Here are some tips to consider. Conventional wisdom is to match your style of dress to the people you’ll be meeting which makes you one of them.   Another viewpoint is that when selling a service, you may not want to look exactly like the people you’re persuading.  If you are just like them, why do they need you?  Since they need a person who can contribute something new, dressing a little differently sets yourself apart.  Also, you are signaling that you are not competing with them.   Lastly is the old but true dictum of salesmanship that if you’re going to sell something valuable, you need to look affluent.  All this in mind, you might go with casual dress and choose a classy pullover sweater and jeans, both of which are obviously expensive.

Lastly, a way to put people at ease is knowing that other people will notice and be curious about whatever you are carrying.  It is an icebreaker.

Think about how your behavior and dress can put people at ease. That intention will direct you in your choices!

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

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copyright Clear Talk Mastery Inc 2021

English Communication Skills: Time of day tips for presentations–Lunch

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Now that it is September 2021, lunch meetings are just starting up. They may be in person or via teleconference. Lunch meetings, especially in person, is a way to combine business with pleasure.  Presenters are asked to do the noon meal.  Here are some tips for you so that this occasion for presentation can indeed combine work with pleasure.

Presentations during lunch:

  • Lunch presents problems for listeners, who, of course, want to eat.  Never talk when your listeners are trying to enjoy the main part of their meal.  If you must talk during dessert, that’s doable. But if in person, be prepared for the sounds of clinking forks and rattling coffee cups.
  • Lunch also presents a double problem for speakers.  You, as presenter, need food for energy.  But you can’t eat a big meal right before you speak because it will just sit there in your stomach as a big lump.  Then there is the added danger of getting food stuck in your teeth.  Distracting? Yes!  It is distracting for listeners to watch the  spinach stuck between your front teeth flapping in the breeze of your “s” and “z”.  Best option?  Consider doing a light snack before you arrive.  Then skip the served meal.  For politeness sake, you can move the food around on your plate. Use your table time to relax and find out what other people are thinking.
  • Participants want to talk with their friends.  Do make your luncheon talk as informal and conversational as possible – so listeners feel like you’re at the table conversing with them.
  • Luncheon groups want to have fun.  Give them fun—real life examples, anecdotes, clever quotes.  Remember: Lunch is meant to be a relaxing break in their day

Presentations Immediately after lunch

  • Listeners may be drowsy after eating a big meal.  Make the opening of your speech attention-grabbing.
  • Post-lunch attendees may not be able to arrive on time.  If you don’t want your opening to be interrupted, consider starting a few minutes late.  You could even usher late arrivals into the room personally.
  • Listeners may have a difficult time switching from an “entertainment mode” to a “learning mode.”  Consider opening with something lighthearted to make that transition easier for them
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Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

Tips for Teleconferences -Zoom, Skype

Tips for Teleconferences

Monday, Sept. 13, 2021 Speech Tips

Pause so another person can speak.

Save complex questions for e-mail unless you need an immediate answer.

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English Communication: How to Establish Rapport at Meeings

English Communication: How to Establish Rapport at Meeings

Blog for Saturday, July 17, 2021

Sometimes you going to a meeting to persuade.  The meeting could be one-on-one, you with a group, person-to-person or virtual. Use the first five minutes to establish rapport and relax people.  Egos are on alert the first few minutes of a meeting, and by putting people at ease, they’ll be receptive to your ideas.

shutterstock_85385041

One way to rapport is to bring lots of information with you.  Say it’s the first time you’re meeting with the group, then Google the leaders and social networking sites like Facebook or LinkedIn so you have current info on their backgrounds and activities.  During the first five minutes you could say – “I looked you up online, you’ve had  quite a career” – or mention it when they start talking about something you recognize from your research.  Visit their company’s website.

If you know the people you’re meeting with, use the first five minutes to make them feel valued.  If it is a superior,  acknowledge that the person is taking time out of his or her busy day.  You could say, “Thanks for meeting with me. I know you are busy.”  Or you can be more specific, for example by asking about a project the person is working on.  Or you could be even bolder and aim to be memorable.   The suggestion of Chris St. Hilaire is to think  about the last time your superior/boss or member of management complained about  something – babies crying on the  airplane or a restaurant which never puts enough mayo on a sandwich. When you go to meet with this person, bring a pair of inexpensive headphones or a jar of mayonnaise, set it on the desk, and say, “I’ve solved your problem.  Can I have a minute of your time?”  It is using a casual touch to signal that you listen to the other person and care enough to actually go out and  buy  the item.

During the first five minutes, you will also be making a visual impression.  Here are some tips to consider. Conventional wisdom is to match your dress style to the people you’ll be meeting—this makes you one of them.  

Another tip is that when you are selling a service, consider that you may not want to look exactly like the people you’re persuading.  If you are just like them, why do they need you?  They need a person who can contribute something new.  So consider dressing a little differently to set yourself a little apart.  In this fashion, you are also signaling that you are not competing with them.   Then there is the old but true wisdom of salesmanship that if you’re going to sell something valuable, you need to look affluent.  With all this in mind, you might go with casual dress and choose a classy pullover sweater and jeans, both of which are obviously expensive. Expensive shoes work too.

Lastly, put people at ease knowing that other people will notice and be curious about whatever you are carrying.  It is an icebreaker and rapport building.

Think about how your behavior and dress can put people at ease. Your intention will then direct you in your choices!

Be sure to watch our English Speech Tips videos and Accent Reduction Tip videos  for more English pronunciation and accent reduction exercises.

copyright Clear Talk Mastery, Inc 2021

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