Talking Chairs
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32 alternatives to “a lot”

“A lot” is a piece of land, or so said many of my high school English teachers whenever anyone used “a lot” to describe an amount. Unfortunately, in much of the work we’re asked to edit, “a lot” is used…a lot. Here are a few examples of how the term is commonly used: “There will be a lot of drinking after work tonight.” “Our style guide does not appear to be used by a lot of people.” “I try not to ask for a lot of help from the IT Department.” “There’s not a lot we can do about the CEO’s use of run-on...
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11 of your writing eccentricities

It turns out – PR Daily readers – that your writing eccentricities are considerably more interesting than mine. A few posts ago, I wrote about my one of my writing eccentricities . . . my abhorrence of periods in phone numbers. I also asked PR Daily readers to confess and share their idiosyncrasies, eccentricities, and funny writing habits. Here’s what you said. “I… am… obsessed… with… ellipses! (And you are right, not only is it annoying when folks use periods in phone numbers, it often fouls up smart phones on call-backs. Memo to your...
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17 words that aren’t spelled like ...

Sometimes the rules of English spelling make no sense. The reason for the confusion is the diverse origins of English words. German, Latin, French, and Greek are all common sources, and each language follows a different set of rules for spelling. Even the best spellers—including those who avidly read PR Daily—can be tripped up by the irregularities of English spelling. Perhaps it’s because there are so many English words that aren’t spelled the way they sound. Below are a few of the most befuddling ones. (Click on the word for an audible...
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What are your writing eccentricities?

Writers can be an eccentric bunch. Edith Wharton wrote by cutting and pasting scraps of paper together. Sir Walter Scott wrote most of Marmion while riding a horse. Edgar Allen Poe often wrote with his cat in his lap or perched on his right shoulder. When Victor Hugo was feeling distracted, he would write naked to be totally alone with his pen and paper. Throughout my career in corporate communications, I have cultivated many writing eccentricities. Now that I’m thinking about it, I have more eccentricities than I care to count. But the one I’ll admit to involves phone...
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The importance of starting with the R...

Good communicators know the importance of “starting with the why.” Whether you’re telling customers about a price increase, employees about changes in company policy, or encouraging people to get a flu shot, leading with the “why” helps everyone understand the purpose of your message right up front. Here’s an example: Because we are uncertain of the health risks associated with the use of electronic cigarettes, these devices have been banned at all facilities.  The usefulness of this technique was recently made clear to me by my 11-year-old son, in...
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11 of your favorite made-up words

A few weeks ago, I shared some of my favorite made-up words, among them: “stample,” “jobfuscate,” and “hygienevangelist.” I also asked PR Daily readers to offer their favorite coinages — which they did, along with their own definitions in some cases. Here’s what you came up with, though it seems not all of them are favorites. Use them wisely (if you dare): 1. Conversate— a combination of conversation and communicate (just in case someone’s forgotten the verb converse). Example: “Maybe we should try to conversate with Bob instead of sending an...
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5 things you can learn from a poorly des...

My son has just started middle school, and along with becoming oriented to an unfamiliar school environment, he now has “homework like never before,” and it is not just the amount of homework. His teachers no longer send home printed homework sheets. Students are expected to visit the teachers’ individual websites to download assignments, study guides, and watch lectures. And while going online is not normally a problem for technophile middle schoolers, it becomes a problem when the websites are poorly designed. Visitors come to a website to satisfy goals, to perform...
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15 made-up words

Sometimes I like to take a break from being a wordsmith of cryptic corporate speak and read about words and language. Recently, I’ve been reading about made-up words, why they were created, and how they eventually make it into the dictionary. Though I’ll never be able to use any of these words at work, here are some of my favorite fictional words: 1. Adminisphere – The level of management where far-reaching, unworkable, and counterproductive decisions are made. The decision to move from Macs to PCs was made in the adminisphere. 2. Bellignorant – The state of...