We help you speak English clearly.
Free Speech Lesson


Presentation Time of Day: Pitfalls & How to Prevent the Bad (English Communication Skills)

Blog 182 for Thursday, Sept. 10, 2020 – Title: Presentation Time of Day- Pitfalls and How to Prevent the Bad  (English Communication Skills)


These are COVID-19 times for now and for a while to come.  Some say that this while to come will be lengthy in some sort.  Some say COVID-19 just speeded up what was along the way, anyway.  For example, using technology to do one-on-one or small group, or even large group meetings.

One thing stays constant or the same: human beings. Information gleaned about human beings in what we call the sciences of social psychology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, education, just to name a few, probably remain pretty much the same.

In that light, do the following. Yep—for face-to-face OR remote meetings OR remote teaching.

What time of day will you be speaking or doing a presentation or even teaching?  Will it make a difference? Absolutely.

Here are some pitfalls.   Know these, and you can prevent problems.  For today’s blog  we will discuss  pitfalls for morning presentations.

Breakfast/early morning

  • Listeners may be groggy. That means they are not alert.  Choose a stimulating issue which could be something that the people you are talking to do not agree on.  Or choose an anecdote to open with.   That little story could be about you (that’s actually great!) or about someone else.  Get audience involvement by having them raise their hand in agreement or disagreement.   I think even Zoom  or groups on Skype or Microsoft Teams Meeting allows for seeing  people’s faces.   The audience could raise one hand for No, or disagreement and two hands for yes, or agreement.
  •       EVEN better—is to ask your question in this manner- “Raise your hand if you or someone you know has this issue or problem.   Yay—no embarressent
  • People may be in a rush.  So this is not the time for leisurely humor or drawn-out details.  At breakfast or breakfast time, or early morning, more than any other time of day, it’s wise to heed the great US president Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s advice: “Be sincere, be brief, be seated.”  He said that 80 years ago. Still true, you think?
  • Listeners may be preoccupied with work tasks of the day.  This, of course, will affect their receptivity or their willingness to listen to your point of view.  Draw them into the topic with quick anecdotes  or very little stories or thought provoking quotations.
  • People attending your presentation whether in-person or virtual may be irritable. Why? Maybe because they had to change their morning commute to attend the meeting.  Maybe because they sure are tired of “safer at home,” or social distancing, or wearing face-masks or sure do yearn and desire for the freedom of pre COVID-19.    Lawdy… these days we ALL have lots of reasons to be irritable or grouchy or antagonistic.  And honestly, some people have more reasons than other people.


  • Listeners may need a coffee break.  If at all possible, provide coffee and tea.  If you are remote, you can’t provide caffeine liquids.  But you could announce at the beginning for everyone who can to get their cup of coffee or black or green tea or caffeine enhanced soda.  Otherwise listeners may head to the nearest cafeteria if you are in-person, or head to the kitchen area if you are remote and miss a chunk of your presentation.  That’s true for teaching too.
  • Attendees may need to use the restrooms.  A good rule of thumb, a good quick tip: If your listeners have been sitting for more than an hour – for whatever reason– give them a quick three-minute break before you talk.    Otherwise, they’ll just leave in the middle anyway.  That means if this is an in-person presentation, they will nterrupt other people  in the audience and distract you.  If this is a remote presentation, people leaving to use the restrooms have just deprived you of valuable time to impart or give your information.
  • People may need to check in to their office for messages.  These days, it is the mobile phone—for all sorts of messages.  Again, a three minute break is a good remedy—it gives them a chance to make a quick  check to their smart phone or  even to text a message or make a call without bothering the whole room, if you are in person.  Same thing is true for any remote or virtual meetings.  But don’t give them too long, or they may get bogged down with expanded work or personal life details

Immediately before lunch

  • Listeners are hungry and probably can’t concentrate well.  Don’t be surprised if no one asks any questions before lunch.  It doesn’t mean they are bored.  It only means they’d rather go eat.  Thus it is for in-person and remote or virtual meetings.  Here’s a good alternative: Invite people to ask questions throughout your presentation.  Be sure to keep questions and answers in check so you don’t run overtime.  Audiences are very forgiving – except making them late for lunch.
  • Listeners may well have been sitting all morning and may need to stretch.  What’s an easy solution? Invite them to stand up and take a thirty-second “stretch break” right at their seats.
  • Listeners may get “information overload.”  Supplement  or expand out your speaking with handouts  for gatherings in-person so people can review material later. For virtual or remote communication—have a link ready to release at the end of the presentation which has information.  For gosh sake, most experts and seasoned or experienced presenters know to never  give out the supplemental information or study guide or summary information at the beginning of the presentation.  People, including me, cannot resist the temptation to be reading that while you are talking.

Coming in a future blog will be “What about lunch presentations.?”

Copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc.

Make a Really Good Impression On People

Blog 181 for Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020

Make A Really Good Impression On People

     Best tips or advice for job interviewing will make you a star for when you first meet someone.  Especially for someone you want to impress.

      The best communicators plan and practice the following techniques whenever they can.

      Use these tips from interview experts and trainers:

  1. Learn all you can about the person/s you are going to meet and/or the organization in advance.
  2. Be ready for “Tell me about yourself,”   Even have an elevator speech ready because people love to know about your work.  It’s an entrance to connection and knowing a bunch about you quickly.  If you are internationally born or born in the US, tell them where you were born or where you grew up.  The personal information helps to set rapport and satisfy a curiosity 
  3. Know your lines. Great tip here. Actors do it, and you should do it too.  That is, do memorize a few short quotes and have them ready.  They will help you respond in a memorable manner to questions.   The lead-in to a memorable quote can even be—I heard a wise person say…  Or, for example: My mother had “patience” as her middle name.  She used to quote St. Ambrose- “Have patience with everyone, especially yourself.”

copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc

English Speech Pronunciation: How to Say Words Ending in Y, LY, Ful

Published August 24, 2020 by Dr. Antonia Lawrence Johnson and Clear Talk Mastery, Inc.

English Speech Pronunciation- How to Say Words Ending in Y, Ly, and FUL- Inherited from German

Have you ever wondered why when you add a suffix, that little syllable  at the end of word, sometimes the word syllable accent stress stays on the same syllable as the root word?  BUT you notice that  sometimes the word syllable accent stress changes to a different syllable.    How’s a person supposed to know where to put the word syllable accent stress when adding a suffix at the end of the word?

Fact is—to be good at English speech pronunciation, you have got to emphasize with your voice  the accented syllable.

Has this ever happened to you?   You say a word, pronouncing every consonant and vowel accurately.  Then the listener says, “What?”.  You say it again with perfect consonants and vowels?  Again, “What?!”  By this time the listener is frustrated. You are frustrated.  Then the listener  says, I  know. I  know.  You mean this word.  And the listener pronounces the word. BUT the listener emphasizes a syllable by going up in pitch on that syllable, the “stressed” or “emphasized” or “accented” syllable.

Both of you are now happy!. And the listener says, “You put the accent on the wrong syllable.  That’s why I could not understand the word.”

To repeat, because it is soooo important– to be good at English speech pronunciation, you have got to emphasize with your voice  the accented syllable.

Let us start with easy.  With some multiple syllable words which have the suffix “y”, “ly” and “ful”,  the emphasized syllable is the “root word” or “root”  or “stem”. 

That rule came about in German because of wanting to direct the listener to the most important part of the word.

Yay, speakers of English can thank the German language for this!

Recall that English is heavily built from  German, French and Latin languages.

Now here is your new learning.  If you see a word ending in “y, “ “ly,”  or “ful”,  pronounce the word with the emphasis or  word syllable accent or “accent” on the root.

You remember this for your Clear Talk Mastery instruction—when you emphasize a syllable in a multiple syllable word,  go up in “pitch” on that syllable and the vowel sound in that syllable.

You probably know this also:   There are languages which do not emphasize  a syllable in multiple syllable words.

You probably know this also:  Many other languages use the technique of always emphasizing a syllable in a multiple syllable word.  However, their speaking technique is to go a little  louder only on that emphasized syllable.

But the technique in English is to emphasize a syllable by going up in pitch for that syllable.

What is pitch?  That is measured in hertz, hz.  Not decibels dB which is the measurement for volume or loudness.  Keys on a piano  from left-hand to right-hand go from low pitch to high pitch.  Do re mi fa so la ti do— Maybe you sang those 8 notes in a musical octave when  you were learning in school to sing.

Do you remember learning a song that went like this “Do/Doe, a deer a female deer. Ra/ ray a drop of golden sun. Me  a name I call myself. Fa/Fa(r) a long long way to run. So/Sew a needle pulling thread. La/Lah a note that follows so/sew. Ti/tea a drink with jam and bread. That will bring us back to  So/Sew, So/Sew , So..

This is a very famous song in North American, melody and lyrics,  the words, composed or written by  Rogers and Hammerstein for a  musical show on  the famous Broadway in New York City and the famous movie The Sound of Music.

If you play a musical instrument, if you sing, you know about pitch.

The untrained human being voice when it goes up in pitch, will also go a little louder in volume.  But importantly, singers learn to change their pitch in singing and not go up in loudness unless that is what they want.   

Children and adults  who are native-born North American speakers of English learn to do pretty much the same.  They learn to go high enough “up” in pitch for accented syllables, so that listeners can hear or notice the emphasized syllable.

Let’s circle back to multiple syllable words that end in “y”, “ly,” and “ful”.

You probably already know the general rule.  If you have a two syllable word, put the accent on the root word, not the suffix.  That’s easy!

But for 3-syllable or 4-syllable etc. words which end in “y”, “ly” and “ful”, which syllable to you emphasize? That is the question.

Here’s the answer.  Do yourself a favor, and memorize this:  Put the word syllable stress on the “root”  or “root syllable/word”.

Practice these using speaking aloud and not just reading with your eyes—

BAKE, BAK-er, BAK-er-y

FAC-tor, FAC-tor-y

FLAT-ter, FLAT-ter-y


SLIP- per, SLIP- per-y

BUB-ble, BUB-bly





PRAC-ti-cal, PRAC-ti-cal-ly

PUR-pose, PUR-pose-ly

FRIGHT, FRIGHT-ful  ___ FRIGHT-ful- ly

PUR-pose, PUR-pose-ful       ___ PUR-pose-ful-ly

WASTE, WASTE-ful __  WASTE-ful-ly

WON-der, WON-der-ful  __ WON-der-ful-ly

Frblg_20160437 copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc

English Speaking Training: Why Some English Words Have Strange Spelling –Etymological Spelling

Blog # 179 for Wed. Aug. 12, 2020  English Speaking Training: Why Some English Words Have Strange Spelling –Etymological Spelling 

Did you ever wonder why some words in English have such strange spelling?  The strange spelling gets in the way of accurate English pronunciation.  For most English words, maybe up to 70 to 75%, you can use the rules of pronunciation for the 14 vowel sounds and 26 consonants.  However, you must have noticed that some words have letters that you do not pronounce or series of letters that have a different pronunciation.  There are lots of reasons for this strange spelling in these words, but borrowing from another language’s spelling is a major reason.

Throughout history, it has been popular to borrow language and culture from other admired countries.  In Renaissance times, it became popular to borrow Latin spellings for otherwise perfectly typical words.  For example, the word debt used to be spelled dette, but the “b” was added to match the Latin word debitum.

Another example is the word doubt.  Doubt was borrowed from the French douter but was given new spelling based on the Latin dubitare.

This manner of spelling words is called Etymological Spelling.  This system of spelling relies on traditional spelling rules and not on typical English pronunciation rules or changes in pronunciation.  Other words etymologically spelled are indict(Latin indictare),  receipt (Latin recepta)  subtle (Latin subtilis).

Add this phenomenon: when the spelling was changed, sometimes the pronunciation was changed.  Enter the “th” sound.  For instance, throne used to be pronounced and spelled  trone…  until the Latin spelling was reintroduced with an “h” after the “t”, and the pronunciation changed.  But, the word “thyme” was respelled with an “h” but kept its original pronunciation.

Bankrupt got its “p” from the Latin  rupta.  Baptism used to be bapteme from French, but an “s” was added to match the Latin baptismus.

The difficult thing about Etymological Spelling is that it makes pronunciation difficult.  However,  for written English, it has the advantage of similar spelling of the root word for many words. It also enables our subconscious to focus on and intuitively understand the  meanings of many related words. Put another way, our mind recognizes patterns of word meaning  based on etymological spelling.

Nice! Now you understand more about the “th” and why some letters like “b,” “p,” “t,”  and “s” have come into the spelling of particular English words. 

For more, see www.aloveofwords.com/209/09/02/renaissance-spelling by Maggie

Frblg4­_01102014  copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc

Accent Reduction – Why Does English have 2 or 3 Words for the Same Thing

Blog published 08062020 | By Dr. Antonia Johnson

Accent Reduction – Why Does English have 2 or 3 Words for the Same Thing

Have you ever wondered why English often has two or three words for the same thing?.  These different words allow us to express ideas with different degrees of formality.  For example “help” is an English root, “aid” comes from French, “assist” is from Latin.

How did English come to have these different words?  That’s the topic.

You already know this adage or advice: If you understand why, you will understand how. Thus, I think if you understand why English has different words and where they came from, you will understand better how to choose which word to use.  More about that later.  But first, where did these different words come from?

Over centuries English has been constructed with words from other lands and people.  English started out as a kind of German.  Importantly, when the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes (and also Frisians) brought Germanic speech to English speech, the island England was already inhabited by people who spoke Celtic languages. Today Celtic languages are represented by Welsh and Irish, and Breton which is across the Channel in France.

In the 9th century invaders of the England island were speaking another Germanic offshoot, Old Norse.  Instead of the invaders imposing their language, they married local women and switched to English.  However, they were adults, who often don’t pick up new languages easily. That is especially true when there are no schools and no media, and you re in an oral society. So, they spoke a modified or changed Old English.  Their children heard as much of the modified English as “Old English” and the English language changed accordingly.

After the Norse came the French.  The Normans, who were descended from the Vikings, conquered England and ruled for several centuries.  That meant English picked up 10,000 new words.

Then starting in the 16th century, there came to be a good number of  educated people who spoke English while living in a country with more than one language. These people, called Anglophones, began to develop English as a vehicle for complex and sophisticated writing.  Notably,at that time, it became popular to pick words from Latin to give the language more prestige and  to make it more high class.

At this time English acquired such words as crucified, fundamental, definition, and conclusion.

And from this time, English had thousands of new words competing with native English words for the same things.  As mentioned in the beginning of this article, one result was multiple words which allowed people to express ideas with different degrees of formality. 

In like manner are ‘triplets (3), “kingly” is English, “royal” is French, “regal” is Latin.

Then there are doublets (2) such as “begin” is English, “commence” is French.

“Want” is English, “desire” is French.

This double vocabulary is especially common for culinary/food vocabulary.

For example, we kill a “cow” or a “pig” (English).  From that we cook “beef” or “pork” (French).

Why the two words for food?  The answer lies in the division of labor in Norman England.   That is, English-speaking laborers did the slaughtering or killing for the wealthier French speakers.

Thus, the different ways of referring to meat depended on one’s place in the society or broad community.   These distinctions come to us in the English vocabulary today.

And  an important last comment.  Latin came to be designated by scientists, people of medicine, and the law to be the basis for each profession’s or discipline’s new vocabulary.  Thus the new terms or word were made from Latin words or syllables for prefixes, suffixes and root words. 

Let us circle back to you, speaking and writing English.  You get to choose which of several words to use.  You might choose on the basis of formality, for example, conversation with friend vs. presentation. Thus you would choose “help,” or “aid,” or  “assist”  In a similar manner, professions such as sciences likely choose “adjacent” instead of “next to”.  In “adjacent,” the Latin prefix, suffix and root are found in many of the words of their discipline.  Native-born English speakers and nonnative-born speakers  learn the patterns as they learn the vocabulary of their professions.  Research articles and conferences are often conducted in English to the international community.

-frpub042016_159   copyright 2020 Clear Talk Mastery, Inc