May 29, 2009

WEEKLY UPDATE: How to Articulate Your Thoughts

One of the biggest communication blocks in any new or anxiety-producing situation (such as performing a presentation at a meeting, asking your boss for a raise or having a heart-to-heart with your significant other) is articulating your thoughts.

You may know all the right things to say—may even have rehearsed your speech over and over and over ("These budget cuts alone have not been enough to put us in the black this quarter;" "Sir, I've been your top-selling rep for three years in a row, but my compensation does not reflect this;" "Honey, I love you, but something's been bothering me lately"—gulp!). But knowing and doing are two different things. Knowing and speaking are different animals entirely.

My own speech mentor (from the public speaking club Extreme Toastmasters in Chicago), Tim Wilson, recommends visual mapping as a way to organize and memorize the words you want to say. Fellow blogger Dave Gray of St. Louis agrees: He's created a lens on Squidoo that houses a variety of mind-mapping demos. Below are links to both Dave's and Tim's public works. When you check out their sites, tell 'em Kealah sent ya!


Oh, and if you have any thoughts or experiences with visual mapping, be sure and articulate them in the comments section. Thanks!

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 27, 2009

TRULY SPEAKING: The Etymology of Etymology

Still confused about this week's bonus word? Here's the answer! I've collected (in addition to the definition of the word) a list of links to connect you to all things etymological. Enjoy!

First, the definition and word history: Etymology dates back to the 14th century in English, and means "the history of a linguistic form (as a word)," according to, and (according to Wiktionary) "an account of the origin and historical development of a word." (Truthfully, there's more to the definition—and you can learn it in full at either of those sites—but for our purposes here, this is the explanation that fits.) ... So, the etymology, or word history, of the word etymology is: from the Middle English etimologie, derived from the Old French ethimologie, which comes from the Latin word etymologia. This comes from the Ancient Greek word etumologia, a blend of two Ancient Greek words: etumon, meaning "true sense," and logia, or "the study of." We study the true sense of a word to learn its etymology.

If this kind of information gets you as excited as it does me—or even half as excited!—follow the links below for more word-sleuthing fun. And if you find all this word-speak to be just a little boring, it may help you to know that the science of etymology helps memorialize the evolution of language. (Gee, where have I heard that word before?) - an online dictionary of word etymology - a site that's "devoted to the origins of words and phrases"

Behind the Name - a dot-com site dedicated to the etymology of names in a variety of languages

Etymologically Speaking - a site that looks at the etymology of Romance language words (& my favorite site name!)

Rob's Old Norse Page - contains a list of English words derived from Old Norse

Sanskrit Etymological Sources - a page of Sanskrit etymology

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 25, 2009

WORD OF THE WEEK: Remember This Memorial Day

You might say there are two words to remember this week: The first, memorial, is defined at And that makes the second word etymology.

According to the folks at myEtymology, memorial was first used in the English language in the 14th century. And its history, or word origin—or etymology—is as follows: It's derived from the Old French word "memorial" which comes from the Late Latin word "memoriale," meaning "memorandum" or "memory," which is borne of the Latin word "memorialis" (historiographer royal, a man employed in the emporer's secretarial bureau), coming from "memoria," also Latin and meaning "memory, recollection; history." That word is derived from the Latin word "memor," meaning "remembering" or "mindful." And there you have the history (etymology) of the word "memorial"!

Can you remember all that? If you aren't sure, take notes, because—yes—there will be an upcoming quiz ....

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 22, 2009

WEEKLY UPDATE: Pouring Thoughts onto the Page

Today is not my day. Do you have them, too—the days when you oversleep, spill your coffee, fight with your spouse over space in front of the mirror, and lose your keys? Sigh! These are the days when I write a lot of "sighs" in my journal.

Journaling can be an amazing way to communicate: Not only do you practice authentic communication in print (and have an opportunity to try out new words you're just learning or play with punctuation and double-check your spelling), but you learn how to get honest and real with yourself. Once you know who you are, you can share that wonderful self with the world.

I took some time today to get real with myself by writing about it. Then I took a moment to apologize to my husband for snapping at him! I explained what was going on with me, internally, (now that I knew, thanks to my journal). Then I listened to his side. That is true communication.

Author, consultant, and fellow blogger Barbara J. Henry has a recently-published book about journaling for beginners called Journaling: Twenty-Plus Reasons Why You Should Start Now. She also blogs each week about the emotional aspect of communication (fear, forgiveness, stress, even quietude). At the end of this month, Barbara will be guest blogging on Beyond Talk to share this wisdom. I'm excited about this, because it should correspond to the launch of my own re-vamped website and e-course, "Speak Your Truth," which also contains tips for beginning journalers.

Have you ever journaled or tried to journal? What was that like for you? Remember, sharing is the first and last step in the journaling process, so DO TELL!

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 20, 2009

TRULY SPEAKING: What do you truly want out of life?

Asking ourselves, "What do I really want the most?" is the best thing we can do—any time, any place, anywhere. But the answer can be quite different from, "What do I want right now?"

In Betsy Talbot's latest Married with Luggage blog post, she asks us to ask ourselves both of those questions—and then focus on what we learn from the differences in our answers. "What do I want right now?" can still be an important question. In fact, it can be the first question to start with in conflict resolution, especially if it's followed closely by Betsy's follow-up, "What do I want most?" (And the third and equally as important question in peace-making is always, "What do I have in common with the other party, or what do we both want?")

But Betsy asks some further thought-provoking questions this week: "What does your ideal lifestyle look like? Are you on your way to creating it? What is the hardest part for you?"

Here's my answer:

I most want to help people articulate their innermost desires for good, and to be a beacon of change for the world, one person at a time. (A friend once teased me, saying the title of my biography would be "Kealah Saves the World through Off-Hand Suggestion"!) I meet at least one small goal a day toward this greater good. The hardest part: patience!

What's your answer? I truly want to know ...

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 18, 2009

Tweedy Vegans Take the Spice Route

In researching yesterday's weekly word, I learned something interesting (ain't that the point?): There are only three degrees of separation between Anu Garg, creator of the site A.Word.A.Day, and myself. Now this is a fun game!

Anu's wife, Stuti, is a fellow Blogspot blogger of mine. Her blog about the vegan lifestyle, Spice Route, features political announcements, personal tidbits, YouTube videos, and recipes galore for vegans (the hardcore, politcally- and personally-motivated vegetarians). It's informative and interesting—and, of course, full of new words!

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009


A.Word.A.Day is a site that's been around for 15 years, providing word-lovers and wannabes the world over with vocabulary-building insight in a basic, text-based fashion. ... And speaking of fashion, their featured word of choice today is "tweedy," a reference to the tweed cloth often worn by professors and scholars, both traditionally and contemporarily.

But did you know that "tweedy" doesn't have to refer to clothing? Globally, the word can reference provincial, outdoorsy types (similar to the colloquial term "granola" in the American west without the liberal political tones), as well as to those iconic scholarly types.

It probably helps to be physically wearing tweed when citing oneself as an expert if you're really looking to be called "tweedy." (AWAD references a 2003 London Times article on William Hurt as a fitting example of this.) And I wonder: Is "tweedy" in this sense synonymous with "eggheaded"? Can I be tweedy even if I have a decent fashion sense? What do you think? For more tweedy talk about words in the world's vocabulary collection, visit AWAD for yourself today. And learn something new!

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 15, 2009

WEEKLY UPDATE: Tweet me, friends! (or 3 Tips to Better Communication via Social Networking)

My friend Roger wants a place where he can write freely—a place where he can voice his thoughts uncensored, just like on his Facebook page (where only a select handful of us have made the “friend” cut to share in the dialogue). If blogging or blog commenting doesn’t hold enough of a two-way appeal for you, consider the more informal options of social networking sites.

Tweeting on Twitter and leaving messages on your Facebook friends’ walls is just one way to effectively practice and improve the way you write and speak. Here’s how:

1. Re-Read Your Posts. Pay attention to the updates & replies that you post. Do friends & followers often respond with corrections to your grammar or punctuation? Do you notice mistakes in these areas? Make a personal list of the areas you need to improve. (Hint: If you write conversationally, you’ll have the same mistakes in print as you do speaking in person!)

2. Play with Your Replies. Change your status updates & your replies—especially on friendly Facebook—by rewording what you’ve already written. Re-Tweet as needed: People will comment on your multi-posts, providing you with valuable feedback that informs the way you write & speak.

3. Find Me! Follow me on Twitter (as KealahParkinson—I just joined today!) & become my fan on Facebook (as Kealah Parkinson-KiKi Productions). I’ll continue to offer tweet tips & friendly info. that’s customized to your needs if you share in the dialogue now.

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 13, 2009

TRULY SPEAKING: Improve Your Vocabulary with WordThink

If you’ve been whingeing about how out of touch this week’s vocabulary word is with today’s world, you aren’t alone. Even I am having a hard time confirming how to properly spell the various conjugations of the word “whinge.” (Microsoft Word’s spell-checking tool doesn’t recognize any spelling at all—including that of the word itself!)

But don’t get me wrong: I’m not complaining. Instead, I found a new source that’s as useful as it is helpful.

“What’s the difference?” you ask. Well, while WordThink helps me learn new words to build my vocabulary, it also teaches me words I can actually use in a sentence with my colleagues. The WordThink site says:

“While there are many dictionary sites that provide a ‘Word of The Day’ listing, too often they include obscure words that would never be used in a typical conversation or letter. … The WordThink staff routinely examines hundreds of daily news media stories to find words that are compelling and persuasive in getting your point across — NOT wasting time on cryptic words that will never be spoken or used in a cognitive sentence.

“WordThink provides you with a daily reminder to use many of the words you may already know, and add hundreds of new words to your vocabulary that you can actually use every day.”

Now that’s truly speaking with a better vocabulary!

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 11, 2009

WORD OF THE WEEK: Why whinge when you can whine—or not?

Today's Word of the Week comes from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. And it's timely as ever: Last night, I (yes, really) watched the season finale of "The Celebrity Apprentice." I was surprised at the winner—but more surprised at the whinging of contestant Annie Duke, celebrity poker player. After weeks of putting on her poker face and playing in stride through comedian Joan Rivers' exaggerated insults, Duke spent her last moments in Donald Trump's "board room" complaining about the personal attacks. With that, she seemed to give it all away.

Here's what Merriam-Webster has to say about the word "'whinge': • \WINJ\ • verb: to complain fretfully : whine

"Example Sentence:

"She urged her fellow workers to stop whinging about how they were victims of 'the system' and to do something to change that system.

"Did you know?

"'Whinge' isn't just a spelling variant of 'whine.' 'Whinge' and 'whine' are actually entirely different words with separate histories. 'Whine' traces to an Old English verb, 'hwinan,' which means 'to make a humming or whirring sound.' When 'hwinan' became 'whinen' in Middle English, it meant 'to wail distressfully'; 'whine' didn't acquire its 'complain' sense until the 16th century. 'Whinge,' on the other hand, comes from a different Old English verb, 'hwinsian,' which means 'to wail or moan discontentedly.' 'Whinge' retains that original sense today, though nowadays it puts less emphasis on the sound of the complaining and more on the discontentment behind the complaint."

I was further surprised last night to hear Joan Rivers argue emphatically against Duke's style of business, saying (or shouting) that it exemplified all that America is moving away from: focus on the bottom line, and lack of human consideration. She punctuated her argument with a rousing rebel cry, yelling (something along the lines of), "Let's show the world that America really cares!"

Ever heard the phrase, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease"? If a whine is an amplified squeak, then maybe it's best to wail? That is, if you're working for The Donald. ... What are YOU whinging about?

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 8, 2009

WEEKLY UPDATE: Beyond Talk Announces Change for the Better

This week, I heard about an amazing documentary called “Playing for Change: Peace through Music” by Mark Johnson and his crew at The movie, still in production, documents the efforts to bring street musicians from around the world—along with some celebrities, both living and dead—together to harmonize and synchronize on a handful of powerful songs. (My favorites are “War/No More Trouble” and “Stand By Me.”) In an effort to practice what they preach, Playing For Change Foundation was formed as an international non-profit to bring funding to music and art schools to some of the most struggling corners of the globe.

Playing For Change is an organization that speaks the truth as a beautiful mouthpiece for the underprivileged, giving voice not just to their troubles, but also their deepest longings for betterment.

We all desire change for the better, and many of us struggle to make our voices heard. Beyond Talk wants to see you succeed in all your goals and dreams. Our new blog schedule aims to help you do just that! Look each week for the following posts:

MondaysWord of the Week, a vocabulary-expanding post that also spotlights online resources like e-dictionaries

WednesdaysTruly Speaking, dynamic posts that feature common areas of communication improvement for your benefit

FridaysWeekly Update, which gives you a sneak peek behind the scenes at Beyond Talk to learn the latest in what’s happening with Kealah Parkinson and KiKi Productions, Inc.

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 6, 2009

Improve Your Skills with the Help of Your Fairy Godmother

If the Fairy Godmother of Communications came to visit you today and granted you just 2 wishes, what would you have her improve about the way you write or speak? Why?

As a professional speaker, writer, editor, and coach, even I have an answer to this question—because there's always room for improvement, no matter who you are: I’d work on my confidence. And then I’d focus on the way I articulate—not just increasing my vocabulary, but also improving the way I organize my thoughts to find the right words at the right time (and say them in the right order!).

Confidence is one of the key factors in relating to an audience—whether it's an audience of thousands or merely one. (Ever get the jitters when asking your boss for a raise or approaching a critical co-worker for a favor?) But no matter how confident you are, that can only get you so far if you use the wrong words to convey your message.

And speaking of messages, Beyond Talk will soon receive a makeover. Thanks to feedback from our own fairy godmothers—YOU—this blog will launch a new and improved version this month. Check back to see Beyond Talk 2.0!

Speaking of spirit,

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009

May 1, 2009

Good News: Selling Positively

Standard news that sells is often meant to spark controversy in order to gain readers, viewers, and/or listeners. The same principal of “rubber-necking,” or gawking at an accident on the roadside as you drive past, applies to the theory that negativity breeds publicity (as summarized in the old P.R. slogan, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”). This outlook is even more obvious in the old journalistic maxim, “If it bleeds, it leads,” which dictates what stories gain front-page placement in newspapers and magazines, or what sound bytes and videos get prime programming placement in broadcast news shows.

But some audiences are so fed up with such viewpoints, they’ve turned to wholly positive alternatives—Spirituality and Health Magazine, Positive News, and, just to name a few. These publications follow a different philosophy, that of, “happiness is contagious.” The opposite of “viral videos,” perhaps their material should be known as “immuno info”?

Positive News, a quarterly international newspaper with both online and print editions in several languages and countries, demonstrates the scientifically supported idea that happiness is contagious: New countries add their own editions every year—not by a conglomerate launch driven by marketing metrics, but rather via foreign readers who partner with Positive News Publishing Ltd. (founded in 1993). While the paper’s major slant is on the upside of world politics, it also spotlights small businesses around the globe who do good. Positive News has a youth edition, as well, that is currently offering a course in “positive journalism” in Shropshire, England, for international students aged 16–24. (If you or someone you know is interested, please note the deadline is July 1st, 2009). takes an even broader approach to joyful living, going beyond merely reporting good news and into the realm of teaching the art of living well—in every facet. In fact, the website shares an online magazine format with other features: from videos about cute animals and international feel-good news (“Supermarket to the Poor Opens in Serbia”) to mostly positively worded reviews of products and gadgets (“Reusable Water Bottles Go the Distance") to even—yes—positive world news on a variety of subjects, like “Environment,” “Health,” and even “Business/Money.” (Today’s surprising top headline: “Some Iranians Eager to do Business with U.S.”)

Spirituality and Health Magazine may have a more limited overarching theme (started in 1997 and published bi-monthly, it focuses primarily on “the people, the practices, and the ideas of the current spiritual renaissance”), but it, too, offers reviews—of books, films, and music that’s spirit-related. And in this case, “spirit” refers to all things heartwarming and uplifting, not to mention pan-religious.

Are you having a hard time looking on the bright side to see beyond the gloomy forecast of today’s rainy spring weather or troublesome world finances? Perhaps you simply need to read the right story about the promising power of growth through adversity to get you through your rut. Check out any of the links above, then check back here to talk about good news!

(c) KiKi Productions, Inc. 2009