Words Matter!

Nov 5, 2018 Tips

One of my favorite adages is “Make sure your brain is in gear before your mouth goes in to motion.” Do you regularly think before you speak? Even before leaving a voicemail message?

This three-part series builds on the seminal research conducted by Dr. Albert Mehrabian and chronicled in this classic book, Silent Messages. His research suggests the likability factor of a speaker is based 7% on word choice, 38% on vocal tone and 55% on visual cues. This formula is important to remember when being interviewed for a position where your goal is to be perceived as “likable.”

How can you capitalize on the channel of words? Start with these time-proven techniques:

  1. Do your research. If you haven’t invested the time to learn everything you can about the audience, then don’t bother showing up. You’ll be wasting everyone’s time, including your own. Do Internet searches, call people who know them, read industry publications. The goal? Know your audience. Equally important is knowing yourself. Why would this audience want to do business with you or hire you?
  2. Plan your message. I do this by completing the sentence that begins, “By the end of my presentation the audience will …” The fewer words you use to complete that sentence, the stronger it will be. That sentence is your objective. Now create a central idea (of 12 words or less) that summarizes how you will (or why you can) deliver on the objective. Then support that central idea with key points, each stated in 8 words or less, that are parallel on construction.
  3. Polish a story or two. Telling a well-crafted, concise story is likely to be the most memorable part of your content. Choose stories that support your key points or at least exemplify them. Make the stories concise. Use details to keep them interesting. Hint: Never make yourself the hero of any of your stories.
  4. Issue a specific call to action. As you reflect on your objective (Point 2) what will you ask of your audience? Be bold, never wimpy. A strong call to action answers the question, “Who will do what by when?” 

One last bonus tip: Simplify your content without being simplistic. If you don’t use “Show Readability Statistics” on your Microsoft Word documents, turn it on now! Measure the grade level at which you write. For most people, as we write so do we speak. Use this tool to confirm you’re writing business communications at an 8th Grade Level or lower.

Written by Rob Pocock, Coach at Jennifer Maxson & Associates.
Connect with Rob at rob[at] 



Join over 2,000 industry leaders who get fresh content from Jennifer Maxson & Associates. Free monthly updates and no spam.

Thanks for signing up.