Is what we say more important now?


Last month Peter asked, with the increase of on-line meetings and reduction in visual cues, whether I thought the language we use has become more important?

And my answer is I don’t think it’s any more important than when on the phone or talking while using a flipchart, (and having to keep turning away from your audience).

In all of these instances, first and foremost others need to hear you, so your diction and clarity is critical.

  • Are you mumbling?
  • Are you looking down as you speak?
  • Is it hard for others to distinguish between sounds such as “b” and “d”?

If the answer to any of these are true then you need to improve your diction and clarity.

The quickest solution for that is to choose some tongue twisters that get the mouth muscles moving … and practice them. For instance, if others have difficulty hearing if you are saying “b” or “d” then try “Bibbidy Bobbidy Bought A Bat” and “Ken Dodd’s Dad’s Dog’s Dead”! With practice you will enunciate your consonants more effectively and thus have more clarity.

Once you’ve made sure that you can be understood, I would say that the next most important thing is to stop using “business-speak”! My definition of business-speak? “A formal language that no one else uses or understands”. On the other hand, everyday language is clearer, easier to understand and has more impact … it’s more engaging and memorable.

Business speak refers to a strength as a “core competency” or a customer as an “end user”. Business speak uses jargon (KPI not Key Performance Indicator) … I could go on but I know you know what I mean.

If you want your audience to hear what you have to say – keep the language you use as simple and as emotionally engaging as you can.

If Martin Luther King Jr had been talking ‘business-speak’ he would have said … “I have a visual apparition appear before me while in a period of REM” and not “I have a dream”. Business-speak is neither memorable or engaging!

So yes … the language we use is important … but it always has been. Please … just tell me that you care about your customers and not that your core customer centric values allow you to deliver engagement to your end users.

What do you think?

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