Q. I am a production control manager. I am also active in my professional society. In this role, I am charged with providing speakers for our monthly meetings. My aim is to bring in successful people from our field who also are experienced speakers.

People with these qualifications are busy, and getting them to agree to speak to our group usually isn't easy. I am wondering how best to address these people when I write to invite them to speak.

Should I be myself, which tends to be a bit flippant, colorful and personal in approach, or should I adhere to the staid program-director role my peers would expect me to play? As I see it, the former approach might touch the recipients in a personal way -- perhaps amuse them -- while a formal invitation would just be one more request on their time.

A. You may have a wonderful personality, but I don't see how that would influence the decision of the individuals you invite. They will agree to come if your group's interest parallels their own or if exposure to your group appears beneficial to them.

Whether you come across as a fun person is unlikely to affect them much.

Furthermore, personal charm turned toward a stranger is likely to strike him or her as inappropriate and insincere, much like a telephone solicitor who sweetly inquires if you are having a good day before starting on the sales pitch.

Q. I was an office manager for a physician until a few months ago. In this job, I supervised a staff of several people.

I left because of severe stress from problems on the job. While I rested and looked for another job, I applied for unemployment benefits. My former employer protested my application but was overruled.

In my job applications, I stated that I left my position because of stress. Several prospective employers expressed concern over this, causing me difficulty in finding another job.

I was also concerned by the hostile attitude of my former employer, so I dropped by his office after a particularly promising interview and asked him what type of an evaluation I may expect from him.

He went into a rage and berated me for collecting unemployment and then dredged up problems he claimed I had while working for him. He never referred to any of these while I worked for him.

I am proud of my accomplishments at this job and I refuse to hide my past. How can I prevent this antagonistic ex-boss from fouling up my future chances?

A. Since reasonable accommodations between the two of you seem to be out of the question, write your former boss a letter. Ask him to give you the facts -- and only the facts -- of your employment with him in writing: When did you start working for him, how long were you there, and what your duties were.

Use this letter in lieu of a reference. Explain to prospective employers that relations between the two of you have soured, largely over your desire to collect unemployment.

Andrew Grove is president of Intel Corp. of Santa Clara, Calif. Please send questions to him in care of the San Jose Mercury News, Business News Department, 750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, Calif. 95190.