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Every occasionally, I think about "words".
How often we belittle its influence, its reach and its power. How mere 'words' can induce so much emotions. How it's used to encourage, to build and to grow; or how it's used to criticise, to demean or devastate.

Dr. Frank Luntz, America's premier communications expert shares his wisdom on how the words we choose can change the course of business, of politics, and of life. Frank uses his knowledge of words to help more than two dozen Fortune 500 companies grow. So when you can't afford to hire his talent, reading his book; "Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear" is next best thing to do.

Rules of Effective Language

1) Use small words
Use Acronyms. Simplify.
Think SMS.

2) Use short sentences
Be appropriate.
Small beats large. Short beats long. And plain beats complex.

3) Credibility

Be aware of expectations.
Say what you mean, mean what you say.

4) Consistency matters
Repetitions, Repetitions, Repetitions.
Find a good message and stick with it.

5) Surprise
Tell people something they do not know.
Shift the thought process.

6) Sound and texture matters
Use sound associated with the product.
Tap on the rhythm of the language.
Use catchy word phrases.

7) Speak with aspiration
Speak what people want to hear. Speak to their deepest fears, deepest hopes and greatest dreams.
Personalise and humanise the message to trigger an emotional rememberance.
People will forget what you say but they will never forget how you make them feel.
Make people identify, it's always about the "You".

8) Visualise
The most important word - "Imagine".

9) Ask a question
It's not what you say, but what you ask that creates an impact.
Questions make the reaction personal. A personalised communication is the best communication.
Rhetorical questions require responses and responses require interaction.

10) Provide context and reveal relevance

Apply knowledge and frame of reference. Simply because assumptions, education, ethnicity and generations' live experiences differs.
Relevance is what makes market research so critical.
See the world through the eyes of the audience.

11) Order of presentation matters
The presentation of A+B+C is not necessary the same as B+C+A

12) Gender Matters
Men and women uses different metaphor.
Use the language of everyday life.
Men respond better to scientific and factual scenarios while women to stories and antipodes.

13) Listening
How often we talk so much more.
Listening implies consideration and requires thought.
It means the listener is taking the question seriously with respect and value the opinion.

An example of how the above rules can be applied to a stump speech delivered by Hillary Clinton outlining the 'four big goals' she would have as president in September 2007. In it, she used the following language:
"Restore America's standing in the world."
"Rebuild America's middle class and the economy to support it."
"Reform our government."
"Reclaim the future for our children."

A more effective representation would have been:
"Reclaim America's standing in the world."
"Reclaim America for the middle class."
"Reclaim our government."
"Reclaim the future for our children."

Brief, consistent and aspirational. Reclaim is used because it implies that something has been wrongly taken away or even stolen. Reclaim gets the nervous system firing. It is rich and motivational. By changing just one word, the message morphs from something that’s not very inspirational and, frankly, forgettable, into a memorable series of statements that builds in impact and pushes all the right emotional buttons. In fact, if people just remember the word 'Reclaim' and associate it with Hillary Clinton, it might have been a success. Think Obama - think 'Change'

In his book, words or phrases that work include: imagine, hassle-free, lifestyle, accountability, results, innovation, renew, revitalize, rejuvenate, restore, reinvent, efficient, investment, independent, all-American, prosperity, financial security & "a culture of...".

In the office, I like to use words like: strategy, objective, purpose, productivity, efficiency, management, dashboard, real-time, business intelligence, streamline, workflow, exceed. So corporate!

I am reminded to think, re-think, and then think some more about the words we use.

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