DeeTox Your Presentations

I listened to a C-level presenter at a business luncheon six months ago. The first few minutes were clean and clear and then…. The fillers started with a vengeance: the next half an hour I counted over 45 “ums,” “you know’s,” and “a’s.” I couldn’t pay attention to the message…! Yes, I may listen with a different ear because it’s my profession, and still.

When you DeeTox your speeches of these killer fillers, your listeners hear a smoother and more comprehensive message.

To DeeTox from fillers, pause instead. Your listeners relish the time to consider what you’ve offered and to visualize themselves taking your advice. Add pauses, stories, humor and some statistics.

As a listener what do you remember about the last speech you heard? Was it a statistic that stood out? Was it a salient point? A story? An anecdote? Or nothing? Usually it’s the stories and the humor.

You pitch proposals and ideas to prospects; present annual or quarterly reports to boards; updates to current clients, and co-workers; new policy and procedures or several cheerleading speeches to your employees; and other myriad presentations to audiences.   Some of these topics may seem boring, but no topic is boring… it’s the speaker who’s boring.

To DeeTox technical, financial or legal information that might be boring, mix up the statistics and the mundane with stories and humor. That’s right, even the most in-depth technical, financial, legal or institutional reports can have stories, testimonials, word pictures, and even humor…if you want presentations that reflect your professionalism and add pizzazz.

If you think your audience doesn’t want and need story and humor added to statistical information, then you haven’t been an audience member.

Four DeeToxes:

  1. Pause. Give your listeners time to take in your points. Rid yourself of the fillers: um, ah, you know, so, etc.
  2. Tell stories. Human interest stories and personal experiences lend credibility and portray you in a more “like-us” image.
  3. Add humor. Not everyone is funny, and telling jokes isn’t the way to guide you down that path. Humor comes from your stories, your non-verbal language, and voice inflections.
  4. Educate your listeners. Your listeners might have to be in your audience or they’ve chosen to attend, either way, give them valid and valuable reasons to share in the experience. They’re giving you their time.

It’s about the audience, it’s not about you. Give them added value and tools to take away; they’ll remember and appreciate you.




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DeeTox Your Proofing

Your writing is a reflection on your attention to detail, on what’s important to your readers, and more importantly, on how you care.

A client of mine needs a new tech support person; the resumes flooded in. More than 100 individuals applied and only seven made it to the phone interview stage. Why? Because only those seven individuals had 100-percent-error-free cover letters.

Examples from the applicants who didn’t get past the first step:
1. My skills very across a wide field….

2. Iam organized, punctual, oriented detail, and love to learn new skills. Thanks hope to hear from you.

3. I am a very fast leaner.

4. Im fast learner, and I am certified as computer technician through my schooling (No punctuation.)

These individuals want a job and have minimal writing skills – or at least that’s what comes across to the reader. Sad.

From a FB page: This is the most egregious I’ve seen. This person is an intelligent and articulate individual – I suppose. What happens to someone’s brain when s/he starts to write?

5. My sister’s and I’s exercise walk this morning….

What do your proofing skills say about you? Take the time to read and reread your documents – emails, blogs, FB entries, LinkedIn entries.

DeeTox Your Proofing with a few of these tools:
1. Read your documents aloud.
2. Enlarge the type to 18 or 20 to see more mistakes.
3. Have two people – one who isn’t in your department – read it before you send it. The person not in your department may have questions that you assume your readers know the answers to and s/he will bring that into focus.
4. Print out and over the document with a piece of paper and read from the bottom up – you’re not concerned about the content, just the typos – scan for mistakes.
5. Before you press the “send” button save your document; get a cup of coffee, read a different file, or make a phone call, anything that takes your mind off the document. This gives your brain a new perspective when you re-read and proof.
When you read the document immediately you think you wrote it correctly. Be patient.
6. Spellcheck is good and it’s not infallible. (Your/you’re; too/to/two; its/it’s, etc.)

What do you think of the writer when you notice typos, poor grammar and spelling?  Your writing says more about you than you may realize.


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DeeTox Your Unclear or Weak Syntax

Your readers want and need clarity and comprehension, as do you when you receive any documents. Though time sometimes creates havoc when you “have” to get something to a client, prospect, manager, teammate, printer, or someone else “now,” take a few more minutes to read your sentences to make certain they not only make sense, but also are concrete for your reader.

Use bullets when you want your readers to be able to scan your information when you write more than 200 words. Graphics and charts add visuals and headers add guideposts.

False Subjects

Rid your writing of expletives or false subjects:
* There is
*There are
* There were
* It is
* It was
It was
the last proposal that caught their eye.
Better: The last proposal caught their eye.
The reader knows the subject and the sentence is shorter and more direct.

There were 1000’s of people in need of accommodations when the blizzard hit.
Better: Thousands of people needed hotel rooms when the blizzard hit.

There are four executives who think the company needs a new direction.
Better: Four executives think the company….

Make every word count. If you were to pay me $10 for every word wouldn’t you want to pare down your sentences, focus on the meaning of the document and get to the point? Eliminate all the words you don’t need:
Very, most, many, substantial, big, a few, etc.

DeeTox your syntax with bold statements and specificity. Instead of, “We had a very good year and a big boost in profits.” What does “very good” look like to your reader? The same for “big boost.”

Write specifically: “2016 saw our client list expand from 36 to 44 and our profits grow by 8 percent. We exceeded expectations by 4 percent.” Now your readers can understand and “see” very good and big boost.

Strong Verbs
Each of you has approximately 50,000+ vocabulary words. I know you’re thinking, “No way.” It’s true! Now, how many do you use? Maybe 3,500.

Expand your “normal” vocabulary to create concrete images for your readers and to show action. Strong verbs describe the action you want the reader to take, to understand and to visualize.

When possible replace your “to be” or auxiliary verbs: is, had, has, was, were, etc. to strong verbs. Yes, auxiliary verbs are necessary, and you overuse them.

The traffic was awful this morning. Or The bumper-to-bumper traffic frustrated me and created a 40-minute delay this morning.

DeeTox your weak or cloudy syntax with three or four tweaks to your sentences and you’ll see better results: more readership, more understanding, and more responses.

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DeeTox Bad Punctuation

What are some of your punctuation questions when you’re writing? Do several continually frustrate you because you can’t remember what’s correct? You’re not alone. We all see poor punctuation in emails, reports, newspapers, documents and even briefs, but we’re also in a quandary as to what’s right.

To DeeTox poor punctuation, refresh your memory with this quick reference guide and refer to it or your office reference guide when you have questions. It’s 100 times more professional to get it right than to get it out too quickly.


  1. Separating main elements

The team worked on budget issues and end-of-month figures, and the year-end data had to wait.

  1. Separating items in a series

The team had focus, energy, and commitment to the results.

  1. Setting apart dialogue or quotations

My manager said, “Congratulations on the new client.”

  1. Separating introductory phrases

Steve’s cousin, the man in the dark glasses, just moved to town.

  1. Setting off parenthetical elements (Note the different meanings.)

Sally, thought Emily, needs a haircut.

    Sally thought Emily needs a haircut.


Use to separate two independent clauses.

My daughter needs braces; I’m saving money for them.

(Could also write as two sentences, or link them with a conjunction.)

To separate items already separated with a comma

She went to Paris, TX; Lebanon, PA; and Rome, GA

          The new officers are Max Nice, president; Nice Max, vice

president; Maxine Neet, treasurer.

Use a semicolo before a transitional expression: However, Therefore, Furthermore, Nevertheless

The lights went out; therefore, we have to study by flashlight.

Monday was a holiday; however, I went to the office.


Use a colon for lists.

  Pick up the following:  pencils, paper, and ink cartridges.

   You must have these items for the exam:

                   * Bluebook

                   * Guidelines

                   * Pencil

                   * Release form

After a formal salutation – even in e-mails.

Dear Mr. Clear:

          Dear Adam:

          Dear Committee members:

To indicate importance and/or “note what follows.”

We live in a Democracy: Get out and vote!



I won’t be able to make the meeting

                    You’re going to be just fine.

                    It’s a lovely day.

                    Who’s babysitting tonight?*

*Mind the confusion with the possessive whose


Add an ’S for singular possessives

                    She’ll be late for her doctor’s appointment.

                    The men’s (women’s/children’s) softball game is delayed.

                    Mark’s health is improving.

Add an S’ for plural nouns ending in S

                    The professor canceled the students’ classes.

                    Most sisters’ children are all in college.

                   The reports’ covers were ruined in the rain.

Mr. Jones’ car is for sale.

                    The quizzes’ answers are in the back.

Singular names that end in y, change to ies and add S’.

The lady’s dress                     The ladies’ store

Plurals add ES to the singular, then an ’.

                    The Thomases’ reunion was incredible.

                    The actresses’ contract was rejected.

Quotation marks: 

Enclose someone’s exact words.

            She asked, “Where do I go from here?”

Enclose personal words, thoughts or ideas.

          Marshall’s attitude is definitely, “live and let live.”

          Where did you get those “rags”?

 Periods and commas, always stay inside the quotation marks.

Please check off the last button, “undecided.”

“I can’t,” said Tim, “I have to file my taxes.”

Colons and semicolons, always stay outside the quotation marks.

At 9 a.m. you said, “The meeting is delayed”; it still hasn’t been rescheduled and it’s 2 p.m.

These are a few of the things she “demanded”: diet soda, sugar-free lemon drops, and sparkling water.

Question marks and exclamation points are fickle.

These punctuation marks stay inside ONLY when

it’s direct quotation.

He asked, “When is the next movie showing?”

She commented, “He’s amazing!”

“What brings you to town?” inquired Sarah.

They go outside when the whole sentence is either a question or an exclamation.

When did Tom say, “You can’t go”? 

The mother yelled, “It’s a home run”!


A reference book guides you to the correct grammar and punctuation: use it, study it, and memorize it because it’ll be your best friend in the long run.



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DeeTox Grammar Quiz Answers

To all of you who not only read this, but also took the quiz, kudos! Here are the answers:

Take this 12 question quiz and see how you do.

  1. Ben and ______ shared the cab to the airport.

 I (“I” is the subjective pronoun; “I shared the cab….”

2. The 2017 conference had _______ attendants than last year.

fewer (“Fewer” is quantitative – you can count the attendants. “Less” is non-quantitative. E.g.: “The 2017 conference had less excitement than last year’s.” You can’t count “excitement.”

3. Your manager said _______ doing an exceptional job.

you’re (You are doing an exceptional job.” “Your” is the possessive pronoun: Your manager liked your work.)

4. Let’s divide the project ________ marketing, finance, and IT.

 Among (“Among” is used with three or more entities, “between” is just for two.  Let’s divide the project between marketing and finance.)

5. Neither Pam nor I _______ going to the meeting.

 Is (“Neither” is an indefinite pronoun and is the subject; it’s singular. “Neither is going to the meeting.”)

6. My car had _____ engine replaced.

Its (“Its” is the possessive pronoun; “it’s” is a contraction for “it has” or “it is.”)

7. The new employee asked, “Where can I find the cafeteria”?

Incorrect (The “?” goes inside the quotation marks. It’s the direct quotation that’s a question. “Where can I find the cafeteria?”)

8. This is _____ speaking.

s/he (“This is she speaking.” Subjective pronouns are also used if they rename the subject. They will follow to be verbs, such as is, are, was, were, am, will be, had been, etc.)

9. Tell me where you found this.

Correct as is. (Please, please throw out “at” at the end of your sentences; it’s poor English.)

10. Please ______ those instructions on my desk.

 Lay (An easy tool: If you can substitute the word “put,” use “lay.” You “lie” on the couch or tell a “lie.”)

11. Each of the employees _______ taken the computer class.

has  (Same rule as #5. “Each” is an indefinite pronoun and the subject of the sentence; it’s singular. “Each has taken the computer class.”)

12. The report was delivered by my supervisor.

passive voice (In active voice you need an actor. Active voice has fewer words and identifies the subject or actor. 

The report was delivered by my supervisor. Ask, “Who delivered the report?” Answer: “my supervisor.” Active voice then: My supervisor delivered the report.” Watch for the verb “to be” and the preposition “by”; they usually identify passive voice.

I hope this helps you in your future writing.

When questions arise: and I’ll be happy to help you.


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DeeTox Poor Grammar

As one of the top writing toxins, poor grammar creeps into your writing without much awareness. You may have used improper grammar and no one’s corrected you; therefore, you think it’s right.

Take this 12 question quiz and see how you do. (I’ll give the answers tomorrow.)

  1. Ben and ______ shared the cab to the airport.

a. I   b. me   c. myself

2. The 2017 conference had _______ attendants than last year.

a. Less         b.  fewer

3. Your manager said _______ doing an exceptional job.

a. Your           b. you’re 

4. Let’s divide the project ________ marketing, finance, and IT.

a. Among              b. between

5. Neither Pam nor I _______ going to the meeting.

a. Is                    b. Are

6. My car had _____ engine replaced.

a. It’s      b. Its

7. The new employee asked, “Where can I find the cafeteria”?

a. Correct       b. Incorrect (if incorrect, please correct it.)

8. This is _____ speaking.

a. Her/him    b. s/he

9. Tell me where you found this _____.

a. At       b. (Correct as is)

10. Please ______ those instructions on my desk.

a. Lay     b. lie

11. Each of the employees _______ taken the computer class.

a. Has        b. have

12. The report was delivered by my supervisor.

a. Active voice       b. passive voice (If passive, change to active.)


For a brush-up and refresher: These may be remedial, and yet, vital to understand.

What exactly is grammar? It’s the words you decide to use to write complete sentences.

Good grammar ignites your documents, propels your message, and compels your readers to keep reading. Provocative prose connects with your readers. Take time to refresh the basics; relearn the importance of the eight parts of speech. What are they?

  1. Noun – person, place or thing
  2. Pronoun – take the place of nouns; me, my, you, your, his, her, its, their, etc.
  3. Adverb – describe/modify verbs, adjectives and other adverbs. They usually tell how, when, where, how much or to what degree.
  4. Adjective – describe nouns; adds information. Blue dress, hot day, ugly car, poor writing, quiet manner, etc.
  5. Preposition – show relationship: position or time. Above, beyond, between, into, next to, under, inside, etc.
  6. Conjunction – connectors: BOYSFAN – but, or, yet, so, for, and, nor
  7. Interjection – One you use more often than you realize and may not know its meaning: homework, look it up!
  8. Verb – Save the best for last; the most important part of speech – action! Everything you want your readers to do: read, reply, call, enlist, donate, proof, compare, sell, etc. Verbs create the picture you want your readers to envision.

           1a. Auxiliary verbs – the ones used most frequently and the least valuable – but necessary: be, do or have: Be: am, is, are, was,                   were; Do: does, do, did; Have has, had, have.

  1. Start with one aspect of good and correct grammar, use it, use it, and re-use it until you become its expert, then move on to another tool.



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How to DeeTox Poor Writing at Work and Home

How to DeeTox Poor Writing at Work and Home

Your writing toxins simmer in your writings and you may not realize how they are contaminating your messages: e-mails, reports, letters, memos, FB page, newsletters, and web copy. These toxins build up over months and sometimes years without your knowing it.

Make a professional – and personal – commitment to cleanse your writing toxins.

Five major writing toxins:

  1. Poor grammar
  2. Bad punctuation
  3. Unclear and weak syntax
  4. Not proofing
  5. Not writing for the reader

You can cleanse your writing and form new, good writing habits with the DeeTox Cleansing Method.

The DeeTox cleansing method:

  1. Have a good reference book by/on your desk at home and office. You can purchase and download my e-book, “The Guiding Write” or my “Quick Tools and Tips” from my website: Your reference materials are invaluable to refresh you grammar and syntax.
  2. If you don’t know the proper punctuation or the correct word – ask. Better to ask before your press the send button than to receive a reader’s edits. Become aware of your “usual” mistakes and correct them. If you know you have a tough time with “it’s” or “its” – study the right form: “it’s” – it is or it has; “The best part is that it’s done!” “Its” – the possessive. “Our manual is on its last revision.”

I almost always write “form” instead of “from.” I make an effort to notice and correct. What are some of your usual mix-ups?

Be open to feedback.

  1. Read, re-read and re-read. Does your writing make sense? To you maybe, but not necessarily to the reader. Have a co-worker or friend edit to find sentence fragments, run-on sentences or a confusing sentence. Read for comprehension, clarity, concrete images, correct and compelling syntax. (Even in technical writing, readers want a reason to follow your lead/directions.)
  2. Get two other people – one not in your department – to help proof for typos, misspellings and comprehension. Three sets of eyes produce valuable feedback and insight. It’s difficult to proof your own writing; you “thought” you wrote it a different way than what’s on the page. (Spellcheck is not the answer! “You” and “your” are correctly spelled, but wrong in syntax. See my example of “form” and “from.)
  1. Who’s your audience? Are they internal, external or both? Write for the reader. Do your readers have the same language, vocabulary and knowledge you do? Never assume they do. Delete jargon and acronyms if you’re writing to external audiences; explain an acronym and then you can use it throughout your document.

Give your reader specific information and tools to know how to proceed with your information.

I’ll go more in depth with the five toxins each week. When questions arise, please e-mail me: and I’m happy to answer your questions.

A DeeTox takes time: start using one tool and keep at it until it’s a positive habit, then move on to the next tool.

Until next week. Here’s to a good cleanse.

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