Sayings and turns of phrase used incorrectly can make you look bad.
People treat us by how we dress and generally present ourselves. On a conference call, when they can’t see us, they judge us by how we speak and what we say. With that in mind, we should look at some common words and phrases in everyday use and make sure we’re saying what we want our participants to hear.
First are words that are similar, but mean different things in different contexts. A common one of these is saying “further”–as in “further than I can run”–instead of “farther than thirty miles”. The difference is that farther goes with actual, measurable distance.
Along those lines, when you mean to say something is less than a specific number, you say “fewer than ten”. Alternatively, you would say, “You have less than me.”
A sneaky one is between “bring” and “take”, and it all depends on what direction the thing is going. If you are going to a party, you are taking the wine. The hostess of that same party can say that you are bringing that wine to her.
My favorite is the subtle “infer” and “imply”. If someone suggestively says something, they are implying. If we draw a conclusion from their statements, we are inferring.
What about phrases that we use almost without thinking? For example, some people say that they need to “hone in on a solution” when they actually mean to say, “home in”.
Or when they say that something is “different than” something else, it’s more correct to say it’s “different from”.
Less is more in so many things, and the same goes for speaking. One such way is to drop the “of” when combined with “outside”. It’s not that the dogs are “outside of the house”, they are simply “outside the house”.
I hope these speaking and usage tips will “raise the question”–not “beg the question”–of your verbal habits, and help you vocally put your best foot forward.