May 2010  
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"Writing energy is like anything else. The more you put in, the more you get out."

—Richard Reeves

Word Pair of the Month: moral, morale

Oh, the havoc one little letter can wreak! In today's case, that little letter is the “e” that changes “moral” to “morale.” Be sure you have the right word to avoid a major goof. Following is a little help for differentiating between the two.

Moral, without the “e,” refers to the accepted principles of right and wrong. It is used as an adjective in the following sentence:

We were surprised to see he took the moral route and admitted his deceptions.

The word is used as a noun in this sentence:

We found her high business morals inspiring.

When you add an “e” to moral, you get the word morale, a noun that means “spirit or mental condition,” often in the face of difficulty.

We struggled to maintain a high morale in the face of layoffs.

So keep that “e” in the right place for one more example of correct word usage.

March Writer's Forum Question

Do you handle presentations for your office? Has your method, style, or equipment changed in the past few years? Share some of your best tips for delivering your message.

New reader Myra Kagan, a sales rep working out of New York City, has totally embraced electronic presentation equipment.

I travel throughout five states doing sales presentations, and believe me, I appreciate the modern conveniences that lighten my load! I carry my computer presentation on both a CD and a flash drive, just in case one gets corrupted, but I also e-mail a PowerPoint file of my presentation ahead of time so, if necessary, I can download a print copy to distribute. Being prepared is the name of the game, and it's a lot easier nowadays!

We once again welcome comments from Vivien Yoshoko-Cooper, an administrative assistant in Los Angeles, who loves the new methods of presenting.

I used to lug a heavy briefcase filled with paper copies of my presentation for distribution. Now I just link my computer with those at the seminar, and the audience can follow along on their own screens. If multiple computers aren't available, I also carry a small projector that I can hook up to my computer. It's still less of a hassle than the old paper way, and a lot more environmentally friendly.

Jason Pattersen, security officer for a large legal firm in Chicago, finds that the changes help him to do a more efficient, effective job.

I used to have to do regular large-scale presentations of new safety information. Everyone would gather in groups in the building's largest conference room, and I would go through the material. I know most people used the time to doze or work or do crossword puzzles, and I worried that they didn't get the important information. Plus, because the room could hold only so many people, I had to do three presentations to get everyone in the firm up to speed, which took too much time. Now I just send regular e-mail updates. It makes it easier to be sure people are getting the information, too, as I can request an e-signature return and track who has or has not read the message.

A Final Thought

Taking a tip from this month's word pair, consider how high morals can raise morale. When leaders exhibit a strong moral fiber, aren't we all more confident? And don't we all work a little harder if we feel more secure? High morals and solid ethical standards can bind us together at home, in the workplace, and even as a nation. Such examples can raise morale, giving us a positive attitude and hope for the future.

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