by Barbara McNichol
Have you heard that gestures, tone of voice, and facial expressions carry significantly more weight in communication than words? Being a wordsmith, I never bought into this belief, and I’m grateful and relieved it’s been busted. Words matter!
This video demonstrates why the oft-referenced Mehrabian study needs to be examined more accurately. A fun production to watch!
Conclusion: Of course, words matter–a lot. Learning how to use them effectively should never stop!
Share your thoughts about what makes communication successful below.
Do you agree or disagree with these? Comment here!
by Paulette Ensign
Have you ever noticed what it is that draws you into an article, book, blog post, booklet, or anything else you’re reading? Yes, the content is certainly a key part of what attracts you. The overall style or tone of the writer is another part that keeps you reading.
There is still something else you may never have considered, something that can feel like an annoying pebble in your shoe without ever realizing exactly what it is that’s somehow off the mark, unsettling, and even annoying.
That one thing triggering your reaction can be that the writer is mixing it up in talking about themselves, talking to you, and then talking about something that is neither you nor them. They are confusing you in the process of all of that.
When you are writing, these are among the possibilities where your focus is going, intentionally or unintentionally.
All About You
Talking about “I,” “my,” “me,” and “mine” serves a limited purpose. Your readers expect your experience to be the basis of the information you are sharing with them, so all that self focus is unnecessary within the information you are sharing with them. When you talk about “we” or “us,” you are being presumptuous in including them in your statement. You may feel you are using that as a way to draw in your readers.
Still, your choice in doing that is often counterproductive and more divisive than inclusive.
All About Someone Else
Using examples of “them” can be helpful. Those examples can be even more helpful when you bring the example clearly back around to directly referencing your reader and their situation. There are ways to make that connection so you still use the example of someone else.
All About Your Reader
My suggestion? Talk to the reader. A generous use of “you” and “yours” is the magnet to draw your readers into what you are sharing with them. You can personalize your presentation so it becomes a conversation between you and your reader.
For example, you may have a proven system that you know will solve their concerns. That is what is important to them, that you have something that solves their problem. The difference between “you will experience the results you want from a proven system” and “I have a proven system I use with my clients” is a subtle and powerful difference.
The most unnerving, unsettling, and confusing of all is when you mix up your writing to have all of those targets within the same publication, writing about you, them, and someone else. Your readers may not know exactly what is causing their negative reaction to your otherwise brilliant information. However, their reaction may ultimately send them away from you instead of toward you.
Talk TO the Reader: ACTION – Review your writing to see how much and how consistently you are talking TO your reader. Talking TO your reader is one of the easiest and quickest ways to deepen your relationship with whomever reads or hears anything you share with people who are eager to learn from you.
Paulette Ensign, Tips Products International Founder, never dreamed of selling a million+ copies of her 16-page tips booklet 110 Ideas for Organizing Your Business Life, much less in four languages and various formats without a penny on advertising. She’s made a handsome living and cross-country move from New York to San Diego recycling those same 3500 words since 1991. With over forty years’ experience worldwide with small businesses, corporations, and professional associations in numerous industries, she lives a mile from the beach, keeping her young at heart. Learn more at http://www.tipsbooklets.com
How do you talk TO your reader? Share your practices here.
by Barbara McNichol
What’s the single most important change you can make in your writing? Learn to use active construction to add clarity and action to your message.
Watch out for “is” words and their various cousins.
Stay alert to phrases like “is happening” or “was being good”;
change them to “happens” or “behaved.” Search out every
weak “is” form in your manuscript and find a strong
Avoid “Start” and “Begin”–“Just” too
Don’t overuse the words “start to” and “begin.” What
can you do differently? “Start to rub your hands together”
becomes “rub your hands together”; “allow your energy
fields to begin merg ing” becomes “allow your energy fields
to merge.” Are you guilty of overusing these two weak words?
In fact, I’d put the word “just” in the same “weak” category.
I love what one of my subscribers wrote: “I don’t have a
Begin or Start habit. I do, though, have a Just habit. I just
can’t kick it. It just seems appropriate when you just do
something . . . like I just read your newsletter. Without the
just, I could have read it anytime.”
Lazy Linking Phrases
Add to that a few lazy linking phrases like “there are” and
“there will be.” Rewrite them! For example, “There will be
many representatives elected” becomes “voters will elect
many representatives.” (Better yet, instead of many, use a
Why do I call these phrases lazy? Because they often lead
into long passive sentences that stem the flow and slow
readers down. When your readers have to swim upstream to
follow what you write, they tend to give up. Better to ease
them along with crisp, sharp prose—especially active verbs!
Yes, I do keep beating this drum about active verbs because
they will make your writing better. Change passive to active
and you’ll see how they improve the flow, enhance the clarity,
and add muscle to the meaning.
Challenge: Rewrite these sentences using active construction:
- Passive: This policy is being implemented in an effort to streamline our process.
- Passive: Improvement will be noted in most cases (or instances).
- Passive: The procedure was changed in order to reduce the necessary steps.