Monday, March 23, 2009

As a writer be aware of words

1. Simplicity: use small words. The more simply an idea is presented, the easier it is to understand – and, therefore, the more credible it will be.

2. Brevity: use short sentences. This is less about self-restraint than it is a matter of finding exactly the right piece of the language jigsaw puzzle to fit the precise space you’re trying to fill.

3. Credibility is as important as philosophy. If your words lack sincerity, if they contradict accepted facts, circumstances or perceptions, they will lack impact. Tell people who you are or what you do. Then be that person, and do what you have said you would do.

4. Consistency matters. Repetition. Repetition. Repetition. Remember, you may be making yourself sick by saying the same exact thing for the umpteenth time, but many in your audience will be hearing it for the first time.
5But offer something new. If something doesn’t shock us or bores us, we move on to something else. If what you say generates an ‘I didn’t know that’ response, you have succeeded.

6. Sound and texture matter. The sounds and textures of words should be just as memorable as the words themselves. The rhythm of language is in itself musical.

7. Speak aspirationally. Messages need to say what people want to hear, to touch people at the most fundamental, primal level, by speaking to their deepest hopes, fears and dreams. The best speeches make idealists of us all.

8. Visualise. Paint a vivid picture. Take M&M’s: ‘Melts in your mouth, not in your hand’. The slogans we remember for a lifetime almost always have a strong visual component, something we can see and almost feel.

9. Ask a question. A customer complaining to the shop manager that her meat has too much fat in it is less effective than if she asked: ‘Does this look lean to you?’. Similarly, asking ‘What would you do if you were in my shoes?’, puts direct pressure on the recipient of your complaint to see things your way. Making a statement in the form of a rhetorical question makes the reaction personal.

10. Provide context. You have to give people the ‘why’ of a message before you tell them the ‘therefore’ and the ‘so that’.

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