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Archive for the 'Language' Category

In Honor of Presidents’ Day: Public Speaking Lessons from George Washington

Presidents’ Day, also known as George Washington Day, was the first federal holiday to honor an American citizen and was initially celebrated on Washington’s actual birthday, February 22. On January 1, 1971, the federal holiday was shifted to the third Monday in February by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. This date places the holiday between [...]

Use the Pareto Principle for More Powerful Presentations

The 80/20 Rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, helps explain the power of simplicity. The 80/20 Rule is pervasive in our world. For example:

80% of traffic jams occur on the 20% of roads
80% of beer is consumed by 20% of drinkers
80% of profits come from 20% of customers
80% of sales are generated by 20% [...]

Winning the Future: Reflections on President Obama’s State of the Union Address

I love the pomp and circumstance of the State of the Union address. Anytime our leaders gather together to celebrate our history and our future, I am moved and inspired. I was especially so last night as I watched President Obama take control of the podium and deliver a well-structured speech that reiterated for all [...]

A Time to Shine: Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

When you’re looking for powerful material for your next speech—from examples and metaphors to stories and themes—look no further than your own life. In fact, the best content often comes from your personal challenges and tribulations, from your joys and successes, and from people you know who have survived adversity and risen above it. So [...]

“…Words Will Never Hurt Me” – Or Will They? What we can learn from the Gabrielle Giffords tragedy

Gabrielle Giffords’ mentor, Robert Reich, has said that he believed Gabby would be the first or second female president of the United States. She was a rising star in the Democratic Party and much loved by her constituents in Tucson. Now she is fighting for her life. No one can make sense of such a [...]

Giving Thanks for Mark Twain

This year, 2010, marks the centennial year of the death of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (a.k.a., Mark Twain). It is also his 175th birthday and the 125th anniversary of the American publication of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. It’s a big year for Twain, and I’m sure he’s bummed that he’s not here.
But there’s no need to [...]

How Not to Stumble from Mumbles

I once knew a man who had such a serious problem with mumbling that everyone called him ‘Mumbles.’ He spoke in his own private language, sounding as if his mouth was filled with a mixture of peanut butter, guacamole, and oatmeal. Sometimes you could understand the beginning of his sentence, but by the time he [...]

A GBP (Guest Blog Post) about Acronyms

Industries have acronyms.  Corporations have even more.  It’s engrained in their cultures.
But do you know all the acronyms at your company?  Or do you sometimes pretend you do because you don’t want to appear stupid?
If you’re a manager, what messages are you sending to your reports if you don’t speak up when you don’t understand [...]

The Big Spill: Who’s the Enemy?

I had a “business as usual” blog ready to post today, but I can’t in good conscience pretend that business is usual right now.
Today is day 50 of the biggest environmental disaster in U.S. history. As I write this, 50,932,978 gallons and counting of crude oil are pouring into the Gulf of Mexico. The toxic [...]

Today’s Slang: Words Without Definition?

In August, I wrote a blog about hippie-era slang that coincided with the 40th anniversary of Woodstock . I explained how speech has always been a principle medium for cultures to define and differentiate themselves. Today, it is clear to linguists and laymen alike that people are incorporating language that reflects their online activity into [...]

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