Ethan Rotman

Archive for March, 2010|Monthly archive page

Like Filler in a Hot Dog for Writers

In Delivery, Organization on March 31, 2010 at 12:01 pm

By guest author Alan Leftridge   

Alan Leftridge leads writing workshops

Writers sometimes use one or more extra words or phrases that seem to modify the meaning of a noun but do not add to the meaning of the sentence. Although these words or phrases can seem meaningful in the interpretive text, they are often just “fillers” and should be eliminated.   

Wordy Example  For all intents and purposes, American industrial productivity in the 20th Century generally depended on certain factors that are really more psychological in kind than of any given technological aspect.  

Concise rewrite  Twentieth Century American industrial productivity depended more on psychological than on technological factors. Here is a list of common words and phrases to eliminate to be concise:   

  • kind of
  • particular 
  • the field of
  • sort of
  • definitely
  • the sum of 
  • type of
  • actually
  • the study of
  • specific
  • generally
  • the fact is that 
  • really
  • individual 
  • it is 
  • basically


Replace vague prepositional phrases with simpler words:  

  • in order to                                 to
  • a lot of                                      many 
  • in regard to                               about
  • at this time                               now
  • in the interest of                       for


Many pairs of words imply each other. Finish implies complete, so the phrase completely finish is redundant, in most cases. Here are some more redundant pairs:   

  • past memories 
  • terrible tragedy
  • various differences 
  • end result
  • each individual
  • final outcome 
  • basic fundamentals
  • free gift
  • true facts 
  • past history
  • important essentials 
  • unexpected surprise 
  • future plans
  • sudden crisis
  • advance planning
  • join together 
  • general overview
  • mutual cooperation 
  • other alternative
  • two different kinds 


Specific words imply their general categories, so we do not have to state both, like:  

  • large in size in a confused state
  • often times
  • unusual in nature
  • of a bright color
  • extreme in degree
  • heavy in weight
  • of an uncertain condition
  • period of time
  • honest in character 


This is a guest post by Alan Leftridge of Swan Valley, Montana. Alan teaches writing skills, has authored more than 100 articles on writing and has published 4 books. He can be contacted  at or  

All rights reserved. Reprinted with permssion.

Are you making enough money from membership in your networking group?

In Attracting New Clients, Business Networking Groups, New Techniques, Public Speaking on March 25, 2010 at 11:32 am

It’s a fact that the number of referrals you receive in your networking group from your infomercials and 10-minute presentations – referrals you can then turn into closed business – depends on how well you present your ideas to others. It depends on how you speak and what you say. In other words, it depends on your speaking skills.

iSpeakEASY has workshops that may help improve your speaking skills. Other people who’ve attended these session have found that they are now earning more money – and they credit what they learned in the workshops for the increased income. They’re making more money. You can, too.

Workshops that help improve your credibility and confidence when speaking.  At just $97, most people earn the investment back within weeks. 

Click here to see a workshop flier.  

And, if you’d like more information, please call or send me an email. Thanks for reading this message.

Like Filler in a Hot Dog

In Confidence/Nervousness, Credibility, Delivery, Mannerisms/Habits, Public Speaking on March 18, 2010 at 7:54 am

Some words are like filler in a hot dog.

Speaking Tip # 58

Do you ever notice the words and phrases people use that have no meaning? They struggle to find something to say and throw in things that take up space but mean nothing. Words such as: 

  • Obviously
  • Let me begin by saying
  • Clearly
  • Honestly
  • As you can see
  • Really
  • Well
  • Um
  • Ah
  • In fact
  • As ‘so and so’ just said
  • In addition
  • Let me say that
  • So anyway
  • Before we begin
  • As you already know
  • Actually
  • Right

These phrases are like filler in a hot dog – they offer nothing more than bulk. There is no nutritional value or meaning. They do take up space though.

These words seem silly when read in a list, but listen for them as people around you speak. A few of these words or phrases sprinkled in a conversation may have little effect and in some cases, they may be appropriate. Most of the time, they convey a single message: The speaker does not know what to say. This hurts your credibility.

A confident demeanor demonstrates you are an expert in your field. It shows that you know what you are doing and, have the experience required to make a wise statement.

If you find yourself feeling nervous or unsure what to say, use a pause to buy you time to think. Silence is a powerful and loud tool that demonstrates you are thoughtful and credible. It buys you time to think while building your credibility.

Listen to others speak: are they using filler? If they do, how do you react when they use it? What is the impression you get when you hear them? Watch other audience members to see their reactions as well. Look at the speaker and see if you can ascertain their emotions while they do this. Do you sense confidence or panic?

It is good to speak when you have something to say. If you have nothing to say, rather than use filler, just say nothing.

 (if you have a word you like to add to the list, post it under comments. I will compile them a post the updated list)

© 2010 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops.

There Is A Chance Of It Being A Definite Possibility

In Attracting New Clients, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on March 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

The real goal here is to avoid using words that make you sound like you’re reading, instead of talking — that shatter the image you’re speaking knowledgeably to one person. By not using ‘newsspeak,’ you enhance your reputation as a communicator.”

 These are the works of Tribune CEO Randy Michaels in a memo issues to staff this week.

Michaels is trying to help his radio staff sound professional by forcing them to avoid words and phrases that mean next to nothing. A few of my favorites are listed below and I encourage you to read the entire article at

 Next week, I will post a list of phrases speakers (as opposed to newscasters) commonly use that mean very little. You can see how many of them are in your vocabulary. 

  • “Good” or “bad” news
  •  “Some” meaning “about”
  • “Two to one margin” . . . “Two to one” is a ratio, not a margin. A margin is measured in points. It’s not a ratio.
  •  “Youth” meaning “child”
  • 5 a.m. in the morning
  • Alleged
  • Area residents
  • As expected
  • At risk
  • At this point in time
  • Bare naked
  • Behind bars
  • Behind the podium (you mean lectern) [sic]
  • Best kept secret
  • Clash with police
  • Close proximity
  • Complete surprise
  • Definitely possible
  • Dubbaya when you mean double you
  • Everybody (when referring to the audience)
  • False pretenses
  • Famed
  • Fatal death
  • Giving 110%
  • Going forward
  • In a surprise move
  • In harm’s way
  • Informed sources say . . .
  • Literally
  • Medical hospital
  • Mute point. (It’s moot point, but don’t say that either)
  • Near miss
  • Perfect storm
  • Really
  • Reportedly
  • Senseless murder
  • Sketchy details
  • Sources say . . .
  • Speaking out
  • The fact of the matter
  • Untimely death
  • Utilize (you mean use)
  • Went terribly wrong

This Has Nothing To Do With Public Speaking…

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2010 at 9:13 pm

The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational once again invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding,  subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.

Here are the winners:

1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.

2. Ignoranus : A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.

3. Intaxicaton : Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.

4. Reintarnation : Coming back to life as a  hillbilly.

5. Bozone ( n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

6. Foreploy : Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.

7.. Giraffiti : Vandalism spray-painted very, very high

8.. Sarchasm : The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.

9. Inoculatte : To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.

10. Osteopornosis : A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)

11. Karmageddon : It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer……like

12. Decafalon (n.): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.

13. Glibido : All talk and no action.

14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.

16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.

17. Caterpallor ( n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.

The Washington Post has also published the winning submissions to its yearly contest, in which readers are asked to supply alternate meanings for common words.

And the winners are:

1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.

2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.

3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.

4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.

5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.

6. Negligent, adj. Absentmindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.

7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.

8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.

9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.

10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.

11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.

12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.

13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.

14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.

15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.

16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.

PowerPoint – The Rule of Thirds

In Uncategorized on March 9, 2010 at 8:33 am

Do you use PowerPoint as a visual aid or a sleep aid? Don’t laugh, most of what we see is the latter.

 Andrew Dlugan offers excellent tips to help you design slides that capture and hold the attention of your audience. The beauty of his article is he outlines simple techniques that you can immediately use without additional training or software. It just requires a small amount of thought.

Avoid this!

 Well-designed slides are only part of the equation for a good presentation. You still need to have a clear message and a well-constructed presentation. For today though, take a few minutes to focus just on the design of your slides.

The Less You Give, The More Your Audience Will Remember

In Attracting New Clients, BNI or other Networking Groups, Credibility, Delivery, Public Speaking on March 5, 2010 at 12:51 pm

The Rule of Three

The Less You Give, The More Your Audience Will Remember 

Simplicity and repetition are effective tools for helping your audience to understand your point. 

An example of this is race for Governor in California. Meg Whitman, the Republican candidate has been running a series of campaign on the radio. The beauty and effectiveness of these ads is in how they are structured. Meg Whitman, is able to take something as complex as the economic crisis in California and boil it down to three simple issues. For each issue she offers one solution. 

The rule of three. We can all remember three. Almost everything she says is in sets of three. The problems, the solutions, even her experience. Listen to her ads and count. 

Jerry Brown seems to have taken note of this as well. When he announced his candidacy, he also listed three major issues facing California. 

Regardless of your political views, the ads are brilliant. Brown and Whitman have taken very complicated issues with very complicated solutions and made them understandable and memorable. Listen to the ads and you will know their political platform. Chances are you will remember it as well. After all, we can all remember three. 

What is it that Brown and Whitman know? That psychologists and learning specialist long ago figured out there is a limit to how much new information people can take in at one time. They know that complex issues must be marketed in simple terms. They know that their audience does not want (or need) to know all the details – they just want to know what it means. While the ads are simple, they are very effective. 

We often are lured into saying far more about our topic than our audience both cares to know and have the ability to remember. The more we give our audiences, the less they remember. The less we give them, the more they remember. 

The next time you speak, divide your topic into three facts, and talk about those. Just three – the rest are overkill and probably irrelevant. If Whitman and Brown can simplify the problems of the most populated state in the US into three issues, it should be possible for you to present your ideas with three facts as well. 

(This is a re-write of a previously published article. It seems Jerry Brown took notice of the effective techniques used by Meg Whitman and adopted them into his campaign.)  


© 2010 iSpeakEASY. All rights reserved – This speaking tip is one in a series provided by iSpeakEASY. We help people profit from their words. Call for information on individual coaching or group workshops. More tips can be found at