History proves time and time again that words, our messages, carry more power than anything else in this world. Words can build up, tear down, bring laughter, bring tears, empower a people, take a life.
It is the choice of each person, each one of us, to choose our words carefully. A choice to choose when, who (if there is a spokesperson involved), what and how we say something. If you want to create powerful messages, you need to pay attention to the words you choose. Always remember that great words are preceded by great listening.
“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” – Proverbs 25:11 (ESV)
Tips to Create Powerful Messages
1. Words to avoid
Slang, jargon, acronyms (unless specific paper to a specific audience that understands these acronyms and even then…be careful). Avoid words that are false, pretentious, racist or sexist.
First get your facts right. Know your audience and choose your words carefully. If you are speaking or writing for an international audience watch for translation and how the culture understands certain words.
3. Pay attention to non-verbal cues
When speaking, body language and tone of voice must ‘say’ the same thing for it to be accepted as truth. Practice your speech in front of peers to get their feedback. If you can’t do that, video tape yourself and watch with a critical eye. When both language and speech say the same thing – WOW! What an impact it can make.
4. Be careful
In a crisis you must be timely in your response, but take as much time as possible to craft your response. Plan ahead. Make sure your organization has a crisis communication plan in place.
5. Frame your message
Take the time to put your message into context to help reach compliance, understanding and/or agreement. Clay Schoenfeld suggests a “30-3-30” rule. 30 seconds to get their attention, 3 minutes (for some) to skim through and read headlines or bolded text, and 30 minutes (for a select few) to read the whole article.
6. Is your audience ‘with you’ or ‘against you’?
- With you? INSTRUCTION/DIRECTION is your primary focus. You have their attention, so make sure the last thing you say resonates with your audience and the message ‘sticks’.
- Against you? You need to PERSUADE so make sure the first part of your message has the greatest impact to get their interest.
7. Be Clear, Be Succinct
Say as few words as possible. With the world of social media and information overload, we need to say what we need to say – nothing more, nothing less. A good tool to use is the Fog Index (Gunning Read-ability Formula). This tool will evaluate your writing and give you a grade level score. Know the reading level of your audience and adjust your writing so that they will understand your message.
Inspirational Quotes from Famous Leaders
How to create powerful messages from historical leaders; leaders that changed history with their powerful messages.
- “Speech is the mirror of the soul; as a man speaks, so is he.” – Publilius Syrus
- “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” - Mother Teresa
- “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.” – Winston Churchill
- “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” - Apostle Paul (Colossians 4:6)
- Effective Public Relations - Cutlip & Center - 11th Edition
- Strategic Communication in Business and the Professions - O'Hair, Friedrich, Dixon - 6th Edition
- Strategic Planning for Public Relations - Ronald D. Smith
- Image - via Pinterest