Leveraging the 7%

I often emphasize the physical because, although it’s 55% of our message, we rarely make conscious use of it. In contrast it’s also true that if your physical message is strong but your words are flat, your communication will lack luster and fail to move people to action. The words we use account for 7% of how our message is received and though people often focus first on the content of a presentation, they sometimes forget the importance of the tone of their words. By consciously choosing powerful words we can be sure our message will be influential and inspiring. Here are some tips:

Beware of flat or usual word choices
“Our annual Mother’s Day Promotion” vs. “Our Make Mother’s Day Memorable Mobilization”

Use the active vs. passive voice
“We will complete the program on-time” vs. “The program will be completed on-time.”

Be specific
“I designed many programs to assure compliance.” vs. “I researched, designed and implemented safety, health and employee satisfaction programs that met compliance and improved retention by 35%.”

Use exciting words like
compelling, decisive, hot, urgent, interesting, vital, exceptional, important, incredible, unique, unprecedented, new, innovative

Don’t be afraid to break out the thesaurus to find a fresh way to express a point.

Consider eliminating all cliche’s
Avoid 50¢ words
Why say “Our product presence will be ubiquitous” when you can just say “Our products will be released in all markets on the same day.”

Keep language simple and direct
I don’t mean dull.

Avoid all qualifiers –
To be honest
By the way
I’ll try
I’ll do my best
We’ll run it by…
As you know
I don’t mean to ____, but
It’s just an idea
I’m not ready to talk about this yet, but
I’m no expert
I’m sorry, but
This is probably “off,”
Ad Infinitum.
Just say it!

Don’t say “we” when you should say “I”
“We have found the best solution to be…” vs. “My research indicated the best choice was…”

Use positive terms, avoid negatives – i.e.
USE – concerns, opportunity, challenge, complex, sensitive, view
AVOID – issues, problem, trouble, difficult, dangerous, position
Use AND not BUT. Or construct two contrasting sentences.

Take the time to actively choose your words and have some fun with feeling, image, alliteration (sparingly), metaphor, 3 word groupings (Make Mother’s Day Memorable), and creative sound-bites. The extra effort will energize your presentation, add influence, and increase your audience’s retention and response levels. You’ll not only get them to do what you want, they’ll remember you and look forward to your next briefing!


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