Commonly Misused Words and Phrases – Part 2

Here we are again, back to look at the other half of the dozen commonly misused words and phrases we are covering. Be sure to look back at Part 1 if you missed it!

We’ll pick up with number seven today.

  • 7. You’ve got another thing/think coming. People often say “thing” instead of “think” when using this phrase indicative of a stern warning. But it’s really “think”, not “thing”. Think about it this way: if we add the silent but understood first half of the phrase, it would read, “If you think XYZ, you’ve got another think coming!” It’s essentially saying that you need to reconsider your earlier thought, or understanding, of a situation.
  • 8. Imply/infer. The speaker in a conversation is the one who implies something. He suggests it in a roundabout way without saying it outright: “She implied that I would be laid off from work next week.” Conversely, the listener in a conversation, infers something (draws a conclusion) based on what the speaker says, “Based on her comments, I inferred that I would be laid off next week.
  • 9. Couldn’t/could care less. This one is easy to get backwards. People sometimes incorrectly say “I could care less,” when they mean just the opposite. “I could care less” indicates that it is possible for me to care less than I actually do. The correct way to say it is “I couldn’t care less,” meaning that I care so little now that I could not care any less than I do.
  • 10. Acute/chronic. This one is pretty straight forward, because the two words have entirely different meanings. “Acute” refers to a high degree of severity of a condition, i.e. “acute bronchitis”. “Chronic,” on the other hand, means on-going or constantly recurs, “She has chronic bronchitis that has persisted for a decade.” They can also be use together, “She has acute, chronic bronchitis.”
  • 11. Recur/reoccurring. The discussion of acute and chronic in number 10, above, brings us to these two easily confused words. Recur means to happens repeatedly, perhaps at regular or predictable intervals. Reoccur means something happens more than once but not predictably or at close intervals. High tide and low tide recur. Tsunamis reoccur.
  • 12. Disinterested/uninterested. Disinterested means unprejudiced or not favoring one thing over another, as in, “The judge was known for being completely disinterested while on the bench.” Uninterested means not having any interest, or being bored, by something: “She was uninterested in baseball because it was such a slow game.”

And there you have! As I wrote in Part 1, using words correctly is akin to polishing your shoes.

Many people don’t think about it or don’t bother, but those who do have an advantage in the way they are perceived by friends and colleagues.

Getting these right and showing that you are well-polished can make a big difference when you are up for a promotion, trying to win a new client, or making a presentation.

Choose just one a week to work on and let me know how it goes!


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Have you ever gone to a class or a presentation prepared to just listen or perhaps jot down a thought or two, only to be been bombarded with slide after slide of text, making you feel as if you had to get it all down? You may have left feeling as if you had drowned in a sea of information with nothing to think about after you left and a few pages of scrawled notes.

Slides are meant to punctuate your presentation, not outline it or display it nearly word for word. Remember: slides and visuals in aren’t for you. They are for you audience.

Slides with several bulleted points are too busy for the audience and takes their attention off of you. But when used correctly, slides can underscore the most important aspect of each section of your speech in your listeners’ mind.

What’s In?

Consider your audience. No more than six words on a slide, according to speaker and entrepreneur Seth Godin. And nothing on the lower quarter to third of the bottom of the slide.

Remember, depending on the setup of the room, many of your audience members may be seeing your visuals over the heads of several rows of other people. What about the design element? Find a font and color combination you like and stick with it throughout your presentation.

A powerful photograph paired with a few words can help your message resonate.

What’s out?

An entire document. Too many words will be lost on your audience and most of them won’t even be able to see it from their seats. Long lists or entire sections of your speech don’t belong.

Never, ever turn your back on your audience to read from the slide. It’s just as important as ever to make eye contact as you talk.

A good rule of thumb is no more than 10 slides for a thirty minute presentation. Even fewer is better.

Saving the Best for Last

Create your slides after your presentation is written. This will allow you to pull out a few key points you want to emphasize rather than focusing on the content of your speech at the same time you are creating slides.

Think of it as using a highlighter to mark the most important parts of an article and take a look at Nancy Duarte’s tips for creating great slides.

What Next?

Take advantage of a speech you recently gave where you wanted to use slides but weren’t sure how to, or did use slides but weren’t entirely happy with the outcome. Use some of the tips we discussed as well as this great beginner’s guide to master slide basics and see what you can come with.

You can also sit down with your speech and go through it highlight the points you want to illustrate. Transfer each point to one side of a small card or Post-It note and, on the other side, write down no more than three words that describe what you want to illustrate. You can use those words to look for images later.

Send me an example of one your slides that you’re most proud of. I would love to know how it went in the comment section below!

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Six Steps to Master Public Speaking

You’ll find a huge number of public speaking tips on the Internet. It can be overwhelming! Today I want to narrow down your game plan to just six steps. Six steps to mastering public speaking, some of which go beyond the basics by looking at what you can do to build on your existing skills. The new year is a great time to look at upping your public speaking game!

Beyond Being Prepared

Most people preparing to give a public speech work hard to prepare. They make notes, draft and revise their speech, and rehearse until they feel as comfortable as possible. What else can you do? Visit the space you’ll speak in. If possible, stand at the podium or dais where you’ll deliver your message. What could go wrong? What if you plan to use a mic and it isn’t working the day of your speech? Is there room to move closer to the audience? If the visual equipment goes out, can you speak without the help of your visual aids? Are you confident in you will get to the site if it’s an unfamiliar one?


Spend some time drafting opening sentences that will challenge your audience when you are asked to give a speech. What is something that would surprise them to know? How does your work positively influence the world or fill a gap in an unexpected way?

When you give a speech, opening with something surprising will grab your audience’s attention. Furthermore, having a few of these on hand that you use regularly will help you feel confident every time you take the podium.

Use Your Professional Knowledge

You know your subject or industry best. Help others see it from a variety of perspectives, including their own. How do industry outsider’s opinions of your work influence how they see you? Are their opinions negative or neutral? What could you tell them about your work that would change those opinions?

If they already understand or support your work, tell them about something new that’s happening. This is a great public speaking tip that will help keep your audience’s interest. People like learning something new.

Engage the Audience

Engage your listeners by involving them. Ask questions, take polls, tell stories. If your audience is too large to question individually, use rhetorical questions to get everyone thinking. “What would you do if…” or “Have you run into this problem before?

Adding active participation keeps people focused on your message or draws them back in if their minds have wandered.

The Closing

Don’t end your speech with phrases such as “That’s all I have” or “I’m done, thank you.

Instead, provide a call to action or something you want them to remember as they leave. Try connecting your closing words to your opening sentences.

It will help them to walk away thinking about what you said and what their next steps will be, instead of what’s for lunch.

It’s Your Turn

Try out some of my public speaking tips to help master your own skills and let me know what you think. Have some of your own to share? Send me a note with your thoughts. I would love to hear about them!


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Mind Mapping: Picture Your Speech

Mind mapping is an effective and powerful tool to remember your speeches. It is the easiest way to put and keep information in your brain, it literally maps out your thoughts.

Using this technique is also more interesting and fun than just memorizing a script or note-cards.

To start, write down your topic or central idea in the middle of your page. From your center, you start adding branches, using one word or image at a time. With each new word or picture, your brain will start making connections. Each fact or idea is written down and linked by curves, thus creating a map of relationships. The more images you have the better; as images have a much greater impact than words. Also, adding color to your map adds excitement, energy and interest.

“The mind map will change your life” – Tony Buzan

Why it Works

The purpose of this technique is to facilitate ideas and concepts and to capture and ingrain these ideas in our brains. Our brains like to work in a way that deals with connections and associations and can connect memories or information to literally thousands of other ideas. Also, our brains perform in a circular fashion.

Even though most people still use lists to organize thoughts and ideas, it is far more effective to use a mind map as it will access all parts of your brain and will get out all applicable information. The trick is to not over complicate things, the simpler you make things the easier it will be to let your thoughts connect and the more you will remember.

One key thing to keep in mind is to only write down one word or image at each branch. If you do more than that, you will complicate things and disrupt the connective flow. When you are creating your map, you are drawing connections between information, highlighting important pieces which gives you the opportunity to remember vast quantities of information. The fact that you physically created your map helps you visualize it when you are giving your speech.

In the video, How to Use a Mind Map, Tony Buzan explains how to effectively use this technique.

Visualize Your Ideas

Mind mapping is essential for tapping into your ideas on a much deeper level than just writing down bullet points or lists. You will be able to prioritize key pieces of information which you find the most relevant. Allowing yourself to visualize your ideas will greatly support the flow of your speech.

I encourage you to utilize the mind map method in your next speech to unleash your brains potential in creativity and memory.

In Closing

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