Examples of Good Presenters and Public Speakers – Part 3


By David Rose – Director, LACS Training Brussels

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A Belgian ex-CEO turned teacher, an American professor of Speech and Britain’s ‘TV rock star of science’…

… An eclectic mix of presenters you’d expect to have different presentation styles, yes?

Yes, their individual styles naturally vary. But they all share a common set of deliberate techniques that help make them really engaging speakers. You don’t forget how they made you feel.

So, without taking up any more of your time, here they are! Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing: Clarity of Message


By David Rose – Director, LACS Training Brussels

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Unclear or straightforward text?

Question: What is the primary flaw with a significant quantity of professional texts, whether briefings, position papers, reports, emails or otherwise?

Answer: A lack of consistent clarity – the messages they outline don’t always come across to their target audience(s) in the way the writer actually intended

As I’m sure you already know, clear and audience-focused messages form the cornerstone of effective communication.

But what really happens if your key points are not consistently crystal clear for your intended audience?

Results of lack of consistent clarity

Perhaps at this stage you’re thinking “Yes, but I already know this…” – acknowledged. However, there is very often a significant gap between theoretical awareness and its consistent application in practice…

…which explains why two common problems with clarity keep regularly appearing in the government, institutional and corporate documents, I work with:

1) ‘Buried gold’

2) ‘Sentence breakdown’

So, let’s get straight down to business – by having a look both at concrete examples of these problems and the techniques you can employ to avoid them… Continue reading

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Body Language: How It Shapes You


By David Rose – Director, LACS Training Brussels

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1 Body Language

A recent quote from Harvard University’s Ann Cuddy nicely summarises the effect our body language has on our audience during our presentations and public speaking:

Body language - Quote by Anne Cuddy, Harvard University

This point is further cemented by a quick look at today’s much-studied, media-driven political field:

Body Language - quote by B.Todorov, Princetown University

Is your body language an asset or enemy? Continue reading

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Voicing: 4 Tips for Better Public Speaking


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

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How your voice engages or loses your audienceConsistently effective public speakers have, together with a range of other skills, a voice that helps engage, inform and influence their audiences.

Question: Which three ‘voice ingredients’ do they all use?

Answer: Pausing, variation and projection

So, let’s have a look at the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of each of these in turn:

Speed and pausing in public speaking and presentations

 

 

Caution: Most speakers’ commonest mistake is not pausing regularly and systematically, especially in the crucial first minute when their adrenaline-fuelled nerves are at their highest.

Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing: How to Be Concise (in 6 steps)


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

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Definition of Conciseness in writing

Is the quote above from the latest best-selling book on effective professional writing skills?

Perhaps surprisingly, no.

It’s actually from a memo a British Prime Minister sent his cabinet of ministers about 70 years ago.

This quote serves to clearly illustrate one crucial point: conciseness or economy of words is – and has for a long time been – a central feature of professionally effective written English.

A longer, more ‘wordy’ construction is not more formal or professional.

It is, unfortunately, simply clumsy and often unclear: counterproductive to clearly communicating your intended messages and with little or no impact.

“Ah” you might say, “I work in an international environment where most of my audience is made up of capable but non-native speakers of English. Isn’t that quote only relevant to exclusively English native-speaking audiences?”

In a nutshell, no.

Bearing in mind the majority of your audience might well have English as a second (or perhaps third?) language… it is even more important your text communicates your intended messages as clearly as possible, while of course still respecting the required level of formality and diplomacy.

You have to avoid unnecessarily overcomplicated or overloaded phrases that need to be re-read to be fully understood.

Equally – and self-evidently – if your text is representing your organisation to an external audience, it’s also essential it projects a suitably positive, professional image.

On its own, however, this ‘what and why of conciseness’ doesn’t actually help you in practical terms to be more concise in your writing, does it?

You also need the ‘how’.

Recognising English favours a more concise style, how can you achieve an improved level of conciseness in your writing?

Well, here are six practical principles you can apply to help you produce consistently more concise – and consequently clear and influential – text: Continue reading

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LACS Training Blog: So Far…


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

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…Summer’s here…

So why not take the opportunity to review the 18 articles on presentations and public speaking, professional writing, meeting skills and language support currently waiting for you on the LACS Training Blog?

I wish you all a good summer break and look forward to helping you and your organisation with your training needs in September 2012.

I’d also invite you to take a look at our 2012 training catalogues to see the full range of services we offer.

Presentations and Public Speaking Structuring your messages
Signposts and transitions
Pausing and emphasis
Body language
Effective PowerPoint design
Dealing with nerves
Good examples of public speakers 1
Good examples of public speakers 2
Professional Writing Core skills 1: audience, organisation and conciseness
Core skills 2: precision, tone and language
Linking words
Effective proofreading and editing
Meeting Facilitation Dealing with different personality types
Chairing meetings: 5 tips to do it better
Language Support Tense map
Prepositions map
Fixed verb patterns
Links to consolidate your skills

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How to Deal with Nerves in Presentations and Public Speaking


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

Link to LACS Training Services

 

Quote about nerves in presentations and public speaking

Presenting or speaking in public – as you will likely have experienced – makes people nervous… In fact, it’s one of the commonest social fears.

1. Why do we get nervous?

When we are faced with a dangerous or difficult situation our body’s automatic “fight or flight” response kicks in, pumping adrenaline into our bloodstream.

In its most extreme form, it produces a condition psychologists term ‘glossophobia’ – where the sufferer literally freezes and can’t speak.

For most of us, it’s thankfully not so severe. We just get any combination of the more typical, ‘milder’ symptoms:

2. How does it affect our performance?

Here, we need to consider three key questions:

A) When does your audience judge you – deciding you’re a ‘good’ presenter with an interesting message for them (so you’ve got their attention)… or vice-versa (so they switch off)?

Answer: in about the first ten to thirty seconds

B) When do nerves affect us the strongest?

Answer: in about the first thirty seconds

C) How often do speakers recover after a ‘nervy’ start and fully recapture the audience’s attention?

Answer: very rarely, if ever

So, we have a crucial coincidence of the peak of a speaker’s nerves and ‘instant’ audience judgment together with the fact that if you don’t start well, you’ve lost an ‘ideal’ level of audience interest and impact you will most likely never fully recover.

With this in mind, it’s hardly surprising that after your presentation or speech you might feel like…

… you’ve underperformed…

…not kept the audience’s attention as you wanted…

…not had the impact you hoped for… Continue reading

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Fixed Verb Patterns: Gerund, Infinitive or Both?


By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

Link to LACS Training Services

 

Gerund or Infinitive?

 

Together with prepositions – the subject of a recent blog post – fixed verb patterns are a common source of frustration for even the most advanced users of English.

I recommend to do it? I recommend doing it? Or both?

I suggest doing it? I suggest to do it?  Or both?

They make up a significant part of the often frequent errors I observe plaguing people’s presentations and documents in my day-to-day training work.

As I’m sure you are aware, these ‘little but frequent’ errors can lower the impact and quality of your professional communication.

Yes, substance is crucial. However, how your audience perceives your delivery of this substance also counts

So, by popular demand, here’s a ‘fat-free’, concrete overview of the main categories with clear maps of high-frequency, work-related verbs: Continue reading

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Presentations: Tips for Effective PowerPoint Design


Do your PowerPoint slides help engage your audience…or just switch them off?

By David Rose, Director LACS Training Brussels

 

Link to LACS Training Services

 

I came across a really pertinent quote recently that summed up my experience of sitting through lots of presentations…

How does this connect with your experience? Have you ‘suffered’ PowerPoint presentations over the years where your attention simply started to fade after a few minutes?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence. But why does it happen?

As I’m sure you’re aware, there are a wide range of specific skills that contribute to consistently effective presentations.

I’ve previously published a series of articles on these key ingredients: structuring, transitions & signposts, emphasis & pausing and body language [have a look if you haven’t yet done so].

However, even with strong, conscious command of these four techniques, you’re still missing a crucial element to avoid your audiences getting that ‘long’, ‘boring’ and ‘deadening’ feeling…

appropriate and well-designed PowerPoint slides.

Question 1: Which role should PowerPoint slides take in your presentation?

Should slides be fully comprehensive ‘speaking notes’, short and simple bullet points or limited to one or two key messages only?

Worst case – they contain every word you are going to say, so you basically ‘read’ them to the audience, most likely with your back to them or standing side-on and therefore not making much eye contact… i.e. giving them every reason not to listen to you and either just read the slides themselves or switch off and read the (lengthy…) PowerPoint handout afterwards…

Best case – they summarise you main messages, with you ‘expanding’ on them orally while actively facing the audience and maintaining eye contact – so giving them a reason to listen, engaging them and keeping their attention.

Importance of Effective PowerPoint Design

Question 2: Which core guidelines should you follow in designing your slides?

There are six main steps to ensuring your PowerPoint slides provide the right platform for an effective presentation:

1) Making your main message clear through limiting content

2) Ensuring simplicity and consistency of layout

3) Choosing graphics carefully

4) Maximising graphs, charts and diagrams

5) Paying attention to colour, fonts and text size

6) Using animation selectively

So, let’s now take a look at each of them in turn:

Continue reading

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Chairing Meetings: 5 strategies to do it better than most


By David Rose

What is an effective chair? Arguably something that we don’t always see in meetings…

1. Why are meeting chairs often not effective?

Considering the central role meetings play in our day-to-day working life, why indeed?

Well, let’s consider a parallel.

I’m sure many of you give presentations in your work. None of you would dream of giving a presentation without planning it carefully. Additionally, if you give them at least reasonably regularly, you’ll probably be given or choose to follow some specific training or coaching, recognising presentations is a learnt, technique-driven skill.

Chairing meetings effectively also requires a specific skills set that equally needs to be learnt and developed over time.

Surprisingly, many organisations that provide presentations training for their people then expect them to chair meetings with little or no training support at all

So, I’d argue the inconsistencies we often see in the ‘quality’ of meeting chairs are due not to a lack of motivation or effort on their part, but simply a lack of technique.

2. What should an effective chair be?

Continue reading

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Public Speaking and Presentations: Good Examples Part 2


By David Rose

As you may have already seen on the blog, I’ve published a series of three articles giving practical tools to improve your public speaking and presentation skills.

In tandem, I’ve provided some good examples of public speakers illustrating the key techniques outlined in the articles.

By popular demand, here’s a second set of example videos of excellent public speakers in action.

You’ll realise one thing when watching them… Continue reading

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Prepositions: Small but Tricky Little Things…


By David Rose

Happy New Year everyone 🙂

I’m often asked about prepositions, for example: ‘Why are they so complicated?’, ‘What’s the rule?’ and What’s the best way to learn them?’

Well, in a bid to deal with these and other such relevant questions, let’s start with the ‘technical’ definition of a preposition:

“A word used before a noun, a noun phrase or a pronoun, connecting it to another word, for example ‘We jumped in the lake’, and ‘She drove slowly down the track”

Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus 3rd Edition, Cambridge University Press

Possibly interesting, but really not useful in helping you consistently choose the correct ones in your written and spoken English, is it…?

So, now  I’d like you to consider my more ‘practical’ definition:

A) Types

How many types are there? Two – variable (e.g. I live inBrussels, I was born in November) and fixed (e.g. it depends on you).

B) Difficulty

Are they ‘easy’? No, even advanced learners of English find prepositions difficult, as a 1:1 translation is usually not possible. One preposition in your native language might have several translations depending on the situation.

C) Rules

Is there one ‘rule’ to help me choose the correct one? No, the only real way to learn them is by heart.

This second definition leads us to two important conclusions: Continue reading

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Presentations: Your Body language… Asset or Enemy?


By David Rose

You’ve prepared your presentation content and slides, your key messages are well-structured, clear and consistent, you’ve incorporated a range of techniques to ensure you are  engaging and memorable and rehearsed your content well to make sure you’re fluent and comfortable…

So, you’re 100% prepared and ready to go… or are you?

Consider this definition:

“Body Language (Noun): The gestures, movements and mannerisms by which a person communicates with others.”

Merriam Webster Dictionary

Key concept 1: body language is communication, not just a ‘garnish’ to a presentation

Now, let’s also turn to the summary result of large quantities of international research in the corporate and institutional sectors into what really contributes to ‘effectiveness’ and ‘impact’ in professional communication, especially in forming the crucial ‘first impression’:

Importance of Body Language in Communication

 

 

 

 

 

 

Key concept 2: body language can have more real impact on our audience than voice, tone or choice of words.

So, unless you’ve seriously considered your body language – for example how and when you move, your range of gestures and when and why you will use them, the overall image you project – you’re ready for only one thing…

…to underperform.

 

1. Which aspects of body language demand consideration?

Five areas need to be ‘consciously managed’ when presenting: eye contact, posture, hand gestures and position, facial gestures and movement.

Continue reading

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English Tenses: A Practical Usage Map


By David Rose

Do you ever have any doubts about the correct tense to use when speaking or writing in English? Do the same doubts sometimes make it hard for you to properly catch what you’re reading or listening to?

I’d ask you to consider these two quotes:

(i) Writer Bill Bryson on how English grammar is ‘different’ to other languages:

“Making English grammar conform to Latin rules is like asking people to play baseball using the rules of football”

 (ii) The American poet and journalist Walt Whitman on how English has evolved as a language

“Viewed freely, the English language is the accretion and growth of every dialect, race, and range of time, and is both the free and compacted composition of all”

So, as I’m sure you’ve already realised to some extent, English grammar is different to Latin grammar and the Language itself is a complex mix of inputs from many languages.

Hardly surprising you have some doubts then, is it…!

So, without any further preamble, I’m now going to outline a practical usage map of the most frequently ‘problematic’ tenses and forms to hopefully take away your doubts: Continue reading

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Professional Writing Part 3: Efficient Proofreading and Editing


By David Rose

As some of you will already know, I published a two-part series earlier this year outlining the six key principles of ‘Effective Professional Writing’.

Containing a framework of ready-to-use tools to immediately boost the quality of your professional documents, I urge you to read them now if you haven’t done so yet:

Part 1 – Audience, organisation and conciseness

Part 2 – Precision, tone and language

These two articles focus on the before and during of an effective, time-efficient writing process.

Now, logically, it’s time to focus on what follows after you have produced your draft document proofreading and editing.

1. How do most people proofread/edit?

Through absolutely no lack of effort or professionalism, most people’s proofreading and editing is unfortunately time-inefficient and frankly not as comprehensive as it could be.

Consider your own experience…

In all honesty, how many times have you proofread/edited a document, only to discover some errors and inconsistencies of style and clarity after it’s been submitted/published/ sent… i.e. when it’s too late…?

I have a 14-year experience of providing drafting training in the institutional and corporate sectors, as well as providing editing support for ‘key’ external documents e.g. position papers, marketing materials and annual reports.

Throughout these years, I have continued to see a pattern of avoidable errors, inconsistencies of style and lack of clarity in what are intended to be final documents…

Why? Because like consistently high-level writing, consistently comprehensive and time-efficient proofreading and editing is a schematic process rather than a linear, often (slightly) disorganised act, regardless of time constraints.

In a moment, I’m going to present a concrete, schematic procedure for the day-to-day proofreading and editing of your own and/or others’ texts.

First, though, I’d like you to consider a few key questions: Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing: Linking Words


Effective Professional Writing: Linking Words

By David Rose

As some of you will already know, I published a two-part series earlier this year outlining the key principles of ‘Effective Professional Writing’ with a series of practical guidelines and immediately applicable tools

If you haven’t read them yet, then I suggest you go first to part one.

Since then, I’ve received quite a number of requests for a ready-to-use ‘map’ or ‘menu’ of one of the key ingredients for writing clearly and concisely in Professional English – linking words.

Frankly, these requests came as no surprise… linking words are, after all, a 3-dimensional puzzle.

A 3-D puzzle, you ask?  Yes – using them effectively means being fully aware of three specific aspects: use, level of formality and grammar.

1. Use

What exactly do we use each one for – e.g. what’s the basic difference in meaning between ‘however’, ‘consequently’, ‘additionally’ and ‘although’? Continue reading

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Meeting Skills 1: Recognising and Effectively Dealing with Different Personality Types


By David Rose

“To get something done a meeting should consist of no more than three people, two of whom are absent” – Robert Copeland

“A meeting is a group that keeps minutes and loses hours” – Milton Berle

Meetings are undeniably a central part of professional life. At best, they provide a productive exchange of ideas and help build /strengthen relationships. At worst, as highlighted by the two quotes above, they waste valuable time with no tangible value-added.

Why do meetings sometimes have a ‘bad name’ in many organisations?

Well, as I’m sure your experience will tell you, there is no single or simple answer to this. Effective meetings need good organisation (clear purpose, agenda), an effective chair or facilitator (time management, balanced contributions) and clear outcomes (minutes with action points, responsibilities and deadlines) to name a few.

Here, however, I’m going to focus on one of the key causal factors for ‘difficulties’ in the meeting room: different personality types.

As meetings are so interlinked with an organisation’s efficiency, it’s unsurprising that a huge quantity of research has been carried out on meeting psychology. One important area of this covers the distinct personality types recognisable in meetings and their typical behavioural characteristics.

Having a better insight into each ‘type’ will help you better interact with them – whether you’re participating, facilitating or chairing – so raising the effectiveness of your meetings. Continue reading

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Best of the Rest: Free Online Resources to Consolidate and Build your English Language Skills


By David Rose

The internet is often described by parents, teachers, governments and many others, for a wide range of social reasons, as a double-edged sword – something with both positive and negative sides.

The same principle holds true if you consider the internet as a potential source of free tools to help you consolidate and/or build your English language skills, either for specifically professional or more general use.

There is a huge range of practice materials online – for example putting ‘English practice exercises’ into Google.com produces “about 45,300,000 results” – yes, really, over 45 million!

However, besides many requiring subscription and you then receiving a barrage of unwanted spam, the real issue is quality. How reliable are they? Are they correct? Do they provide ‘real’ language use or simply an ‘artificial’ type of scholastic English? Equally, do you have time to check so many possibilities and evaluate which are better quality and more useful? I’m assuming no.

So, I’ve tried to bypass these issues for you by providing a quality (rather than quantity) list of some of the best online tools to help you develop your English language skills in the following 8 categories:

1. General English               4. Writing Skills        7. Exam English

2. Professional English     5. Pronunciation      8. Dictionaries

3. Listening Skills                6. Reading Skills

And here they are…!

Continue reading

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Public Speaking and Presentations: Good Examples


By David Rose

Following my series of three articles on practical tools to improve your public speaking and presentations, I’d like to share some good examples of different public speakers illustrating these techniques in practice.

I hope you find them useful!

1. Chunking (pausing and emphasis) and Body Language

Note the use of chunking and co-ordinated body language (hand gestures to illustrate key points, ranging eye contact etc.) in the two speeches below:

(a) Tony Blair, Council on Foreign Relations, 03/12/08 – VIDEO

http://www.cfr.org/publication/17926/conversation_with_tony_blair_video.html

Continue reading

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Public Speaking and Presentations (3/3): Emphasis and Pausing


By David Rose

Right – here we are again for the third and final part of my series on how to boost your public speaking and presentations skills.

The first two parts in this series have covered how to clearly structure your message and how to effectively link it with transitions and signposts. If you haven’t yet read these, I’d invite you to do so first 🙂

Now, we turn our attention to the remaining group of ingredients to ensure your public speaking is consistently effective and achieves the desired impact: emphasis and pausing. Continue reading

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Public Speaking and Presentations (2/3): Transitions and Signposting – ‘Speaking Glue’


Public Speaking and Presentations (2/3): Transitions and Signposting – ‘Speaking Glue’

By David Rose

After an enforced break to move into my new house in Brussels and prepare for a new government training project in Serbia (I’m currently there – writing this in a hotel in Belgrade), I’m back with the second of three articles on public speaking skills: Transitions and Signposting – ‘Speaking Glue’.

The first article in this series – ‘Structure for Success’ – outlined how to achieve an overall planned, cyclic structure for your key messages and content to enhance your presentation, meeting intervention or speech.

Now, as promised, we come to the methods, techniques and language to effectively use transitions and signposts – the connections that ‘glue’ your messages together into coherent parts, so keeping your audience engaged and making your key messages clearer and more memorable. Continue reading

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Public Speaking and Presentations (1/3): Structure for Success


Public Speaking and Presentations (1/3): Structure for Success

By David Rose

Have you ever had to give a presentation, present a new idea, initiative or position in a meeting, speak at a conference, give a speech, do a press conference or do an interview? If you’ve experienced any of these, you’ll be very familiar with the unsettling, nerves and adrenaline rush that inevitably comes the first time (and usually more than just the first time!).

If, however, you’ve had to do any of these in a foreign language, you’ll also be no stranger to the often frequent problem of the words not coming when you need them – what I term the ‘goldfish syndrome’: the mouth opens and closes like a goldfish but no words come out! Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing in English – Practical Principles and Tools to Raise Your Game (Part 2 of 2)


Effective Professional Writing in English – Practical Principles and Tools to Raise Your Game (Part 2 of 2)

By David Rose

So, here we are again with the second part of ‘Effective Professional Writing’.

As outlined in the first part, there are six interrelated principles to consistently apply to your writing: audience, organisation, conciseness, precision, tone and language.

Having already covered the first three of these, it’s now time to turn to the remaining three… Continue reading

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Effective Professional Writing in English – Practical Principles and Tools to Raise Your Game (Part 1 of 2)


Effective Professional Writing in English – Practical Principles and Tools to Raise Your Game (Part 1 of 2)

By David Rose

If you’re reading this, it’s likely to be because your everyday work involves writing any given combination of the diverse range of common professional documents: reports, position papers, press releases, marketing materials, meeting minutes or any of the others out there. What’s the one thing you probably all have in common? More than likely, it’s that achieving a consistently clear and effective writing style under time pressure in your second (or perhaps third?) language is challenging at the best of times. Continue reading

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