Wednesday, August 17, 2011

It Is How, Not What You Say

The words we use and the way in which we use them can have a huge impact on how we are perceived by our audience. As Mark Twain said, “The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

The airline industry has some good examples of creative packaging, too: “delayed” instead of “late” and “flotation device” instead of “life preserver.” If we examined other industries, the list could go on and on. You can take a cue from these industry giants by employing a bit of your own verbal packaging. That is, it would be a great idea for you to develop your own list of words and phrases that are relevant to your industry or topic. That way, you will have alternatives in your persuasive toolbox for words that may be jarring or have negative connotations.

Other ways you can make your language more effective are to use words like “we” and “us” more. That way, you can engage your audience and create a cooperative, “we’re in this together” feel to your presentation.

You might also consider making your language verb-oriented. Doing so gives your speech a feeling of energy, momentum and vitality. When you’re really trying to paint the picture and help your prospects feel like they’re in the actual situation you’re describing, use vivid language.

As a generally rule, and particularly when you’re trying to get a key point across, always lean toward being concise rather than verbose. If you can get the point across in five words instead of ten, then don’t complicate your message by trying to be flowery and clever. Chances are people will start thinking about how pretentious you are rather than focusing on the point you’re trying to get across. As we were discussing in relation to structuring your message, it holds true here as well that clear and concise are your safest bets.

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