September 2012  
UpWrite Press Writing eTips

“One should aim not at being possible to understand, but at being impossible to misunderstand.”

—Quintilian, Roman rhetorician (35-100 A.D.)

Word “Pair” of the Month: sight, site, cite

This month’s words sound exactly the same but have different spellings, meanings, and uses.

Sight can be a noun or a verb. As a noun, it generally refers to (1) the function of seeing, (2) something to view, or (3) a device for aiming one’s vision toward an object:

  1. Of the five human senses, sight has the greatest range.
  2. On our trip to Tokyo, the sights that Golden Gai offered were the most interesting.
  3. We used our new camera with the red-dot sight system.

As a verb, sight refers to the act of seeing:

We did not sight land for days.

Site, on the other hand, is a noun meaning “a place.”

I found the perfect site to house our new shop.

Cite, with a “c,” is a verb meaning “to reference.” In research situations, cite refers to identifying the sources of information.

To justify the investment, the senator cited the budget committee’s report.

One way to remember the meaning of cite is to note that the word “recite” means “to say again.”

Using the wrong word can diminish your credibility with readers, so be careful to use the correct one in each situation.

September Writers’ Forum Question

With the fall season coming, we’re bound to see—and participate in— a lot of multivendor events. How about sharing your favorite tips for making the most of a trade show or convention?

Parker Vance, an account manager in Boston, says you have to be your own brand:

Talk to people. Those gathered around exhibits you’re interested in will be ready to discuss that particular presentation. This is a good time to learn something new about your field, get other peoples’ views on trends, or just have an interesting conversation, make a contact, maybe a friend.

Brendan Goodman of Queens, New York, says a trade show is a good place to promote yourself and your company:

Take along your business cards, and maybe some résumés, so you will be ready if an opportunity appears. And make sure they are the cleanest, best written, most attractive possible. A sharp, professional card case and file cover make a great first impression. When you accept someone else’s business card, jot down a few identifying features of the person on the back of the card. Short notes like “purple nail polish” or “bushy gray eyebrows” can help you remember later who is who.

L’Shondra Jones of Los Angeles thinks it’s important to be organized:

The first thing you should do is find a map of the show floor and mark down the exhibits that are of most interest and help to you. Plan a route so you don’t waste time backtracking up and down the show floor. If you’re really efficient, you’ve cased the joint beforehand and are ready to roll when you hit the floor. If you’re going with an office team, split up and cover the floor more efficiently. Later you can compare notes.

Nancy Huan of Portland, Oregon, says clarity is vital:

You should be taking notes as you go from exhibit to exhibit. This can be a good time for a voice recorder, if the noise level isn’t too high. If you’re writing notes instead, keep in mind that notes written hurriedly are often incomplete. So take the time during a break to go over them, revising anything that is vague, and adding any comments that will be helpful later when you’re trying to remember if an exhibitor offered the right services for your company.

Dev Patel of Baltimore suggests that comfort is the order of the day:

Wear comfortable shoes. You’re going to be meeting people, maybe prospective contacts or clients, and when your feet hurt, it really shows on your face! Dress in light clothes, maybe a couple of light layers. You never know if the exhibit hall will be overheated or freezing, so be prepared to adjust when you get there. Carry a tote for materials. Frankly, I always bring a light backpack with our company logo. It’s much more comfortable for hauling materials I collect, and it’s good advertising!

A Final Thought

Want to increase employee morale? Keep a separate file labeled “Positives” and use it to keep good news about your employees, along with the date. That news might be something company related, such as a project goal met or exceeded; or it might be something personal, such as an employee’s son winning a spelling bee. Then, at the next meeting or event including that employee, make a point of congratulating him or her. These small gestures go a long way toward making someone feel appreciated and motivated.

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