Money talk – invoice or bill – what’s the difference?

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500 euro notes

This is actually a really easy one, as bills and invoices are the same thing. The difference only lies in usage. My Internet service provider sends me a ‘monthly telephony invoice’ (that’s what they call it). However, I would naturally call it a ‘phone bill’. If companies really want to sound friendly and on the same level as their customers, they should use their customers’ language. I mentioned in an earlier post that my bank has this kind of philosophy and, instead of having ‘debit’ and ‘credit’ columns in their statements, they have ‘money out’ and ‘money in’ columns. So, if you want to get close to your customers, speak their language!


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Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and NASA: http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/view.php?id=57723

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia and NASA:

“English as it is spoken today will have disappeared in 100 years and could be replaced by a global language called Panglish, researchers claim.

“New words will form and meanings will change with the most dramatic changes being made by people learning English as a second language, says Dr Edwin Duncan, a historian of English at Towson University in Maryland, in the US.”

Read the full article from the Daily Telegraph

25,000 hits! Thank you!

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Photo credit - Dreamstime

Photo credit – Dreamstime

Some time last night Malcolm’s English Pages received the hits that tipped the counter over 25,000. Here’s a big free-gift “thank you” to all my readers who have made it all seem so worthwhile.

For one week only (until 15th September) you can get my three eBooks absolutely free!
“How to Create and Deliver a Great Presentation”
“How to Write Great Emails”
“How to Write Great Instructions”

Just add your email address to the form below and I’ll send them to you. NOTE: I guarantee that your email address will be used for no other purpose, and shared with no other persons.

Finland returns to work

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Well, the summer break in Finland is pretty much over and autumn is just around the corner. The kids have gone back to school and everybody has had the chance to catch up with their emails. Now is the time to get your English language web pages and other assorted documentation checked for perfect spelling, grammar and style. It’s so important to look good out there in the international market.

We offer extremely cost-effective and professional copy-editing and proofreading services at a budget €30 per thousand words of original text. You know it makes sense.

Click HERE for more details.

Presentation Tips 6 – What is the benefit?

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"Right guys! I have this idea. We need to go to the moon." You can bet that this idea needed some selling. The benefit was getting there before the Russians and staying on top. So what was the problem?

“Right guys! I have this idea. We need to go to the moon.”
You can bet that this idea needed some selling. The benefit was getting there before the Russians and staying on top. So what was the problem?

This is the critically important point that needs to be emphasised as part of your introduction.
How does your product, idea or proposal benefit the listeners?

Everybody who stands up in front of an audience to speak is really selling something – be it a product, an idea, a process – even just information. When I give a presentation about, for example, using emails more effectively, to an auditorium full of busy business people, many of whom perhaps were invited to attend (rather than signing up by choice), I’d better not waste their time.

Right up front I need to clarify what the problem is and how this problem is making their lives more difficult. I need to get them to relate to the problem and to realise that they are, in fact, suffering because of it. I then need to swiftly point out that I have a solution, and this solution is going to improve their lives. This involves me actually believing in what I am saying. It involves me actually getting excited about what I am saying. It is going to involve using strong positive adjectives and superlatives. I have to grab my audience’s attention by telling them what a huge benefit my ideas will be to them. Otherwise, they have no good reason to listen, or care.

This is a short extract from my ebook “How to Create and Deliver a Great Presentation“.

A few corporate tips

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Happy staff are the lifeblood of a company

Happy staff are the lifeblood of a company

1. Mission and vision – social responsibility – environmental issues – team spirit – lead instead of manage. Every company website seems to sing the same song, but the shop-floor reality can often be very different. Corporate culture doesn’t start from the company website – the company website should reflect the company, not just provide inspiration.

2. This includes creating and maintaining a company-wide “Well done!” culture where employees are regularly praised for good work, and where inevitable mistakes are calmly accepted as part of the learning process. If everyone simply puts their heads down and looks busy when the boss comes in, there is something wrong. 

3. Everyone should know exactly what they are supposed to be doing, and how to evaluate for themselves how well they are doing it. Responsibility and empowerment lead to the feeling of satisfaction from a job well done. Rewards for hard work, such as bonuses, should be received in the next pay packet, not at Christmas.

4. If you want to improve processes, first ask the people on the shop floor for their ideas, they’ll probably have some pretty good ones. After all, they are the ones who are actually doing the work eight hours a day. They understand the challenges and, given the chance, will know how to fix them.

5. Treat your staff as you would like them to treat your customers.


Are your staff instructions setting the right tone?

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This is just a quick post to get you thinking. Messages from management and staff, be they notices or emails, are an important communication channel that can bring you closer to your staff and create a team spirit. However, if they are written badly, they can put distance between colleagues of different levels. The days of ‘top-down, us and them’ management are pretty much over, but do your messages reflect this?

You probably speak to those you supervise in a friendly, we’re-all-on-the-same-team kind of way, with a friendly hand on the shoulder and a personal, “Can you help me out and do this for me?” Notices and other messages should be the same, using the same, equal-level words. One particular message brought this whole subject to my mind the other day. It was to do with front-line, customer service dress codes and although it was trying to be friendly, the choice of words created distance.

The notice read: “Please make sure that shirts and trousers are cleaned and neatly pressed.” The writer has fallen into the trap of using the ‘official’ language of notices – he or she would not say this to a friend. This may seem like a small thing, but look at the message itself. Even the supervisors themselves do not have their clothes cleaned and pressed, they wash and iron them like the rest of us. Only the very top people get their laundry ‘done’. Are you one of these top people? Or are you actually a member of the team?

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