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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