iStock_000000311494SmallGetting the words right is not just important for public speakers. Every day we have the opportunity to influence others in our conversations at work and at home, at meetings and perhaps during presentations. The words you choose and use are the basic building blocks you need to be convincing and to achieve your goals, no matter what those goals might be. Here are our top ten, simple to apply tips that will enable you to make the most of your words and how you use them:

  1. State your thoughts in clear and simple language: smart speakers keep the words simple and easy to understand rather than trying to be too clever.
  2. Speak in short sentences: long sentences (more than about 20 words) confuse listeners rather than clarifying your point.
  3. Be specific: concrete words and examples are more effective than vague descriptions.
  4. Be “active” rather than “passive”: the active voice of the verb makes sentences more forceful and powerful.
  5. Be direct and positive: if you mean “I”, don’t say “we” and you can be “sure” rather than “hopeful”.
  6. Use exciting, power words: grab attention by using power words such as interesting, unusual, important…
  7. Ask rhetorical questions: the listener is not expected to answer but their attention is focused on the subject of the question.
  8. Build groups of three: for some reason, three is a magical number when it comes to impressing with words e.g. “Our goal is clear, our strategy is effective and our execution is disciplined.”
  9. Explain jargon /abbreviations: not a problem if your listeners are familiar with the technical terms and acronyms – otherwise, always explain the first time you use something they might not know.
  10. Adopt a “conversational” tone: on those occasions where you do have the chance to prepare in advance, remember that the written word is rarely designed to be spoken out loud.

How to get the words right and use classic rhetorical techniques form part of our Focus Areas “Skills for Personal Business Success” and “Personal Presence”