The Impact of Using the Correct Words

“The difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.”   – Mark Twain

Meditate on that quote for a little while. How many times have you written something that didn’t jump out at you?

Well, if it doesn’t excite you, it surely won’t arouse the recipient(s) either; and if your audience isn’t enthused, the message won’t be memorable. (And what’s the point of saying anything if no one will remember it?)

A sure way of making your message stick is by evoking your audience’s emotions. As Hollywood legend Warren Beatty said, “People will forget what you say, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

In your organization’s mission, slogan, tagline, messages, etc., you have to make your public feel a certain way and sense a certain something.  Don’t settle for mediocrity and clichés. Think outside the box.

Still don’t get it? You will after viewing this video. (You may want to have the tissues handy for this one.)

In that situation, writing, “I’m blind, please help” wasn’t connecting with anyone. They probably see people who need help frequently, and they just couldn’t relate to it.

But there was an obvious change in response when the sign was rewritten to pull on the audience’s emotions: “It’s a beautiful day and I can’t see it.” Suddenly, bystanders could connect to the message and think, “Wow… it is a beautiful day and I’m fortunate enough to see it, while this man cannot.”

That’s the impact of using the correct words. It’s not aimlessly playing with semantics to change “happy” to “excited” or “building” to “structure”, it’s about changing your message from mere words on a page to making the reader experience what you’re saying.

Hope Boyd
Written by:
Hope Boyd
Director of Communications, Strategic Government Resources

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