Getting our message across with Accuracy, Brevity and Clarity is basic to every speech, presentation or briefing. Word Power is essential as it helps us project, persuade, promote and project through correct word choice. The other important ingredient is Effective Language.
What, then, is Effective Language?
Let us begin with what it is NOT. Effective language means doing away with the following:
Complex Words – words with three or more syllables: detrimental, approximately, endeavour, indisposed, temperamental. These words can be easily replaced by shorter, simpler words. Do you know what they are? There are often used complex words which we understand but, the general rule is, use a simpler word if possible.
Circumlocution. It is “beating about the bush” – talking around a point before getting to the point. Have you ever asked a question and experienced this before the answer is given?
Verbosity. Lengthy and unnecessary words to get a simple message across. During WW2, when asked to sign a White House Security order reading: ”It is mandatory to extinguish all illumination upon vacating of the premises”, President Roosevelt responded with “Why the hell can’t we say ‘Switch off the lights when you leave’.”
Tautology. Using words that do not add to the meaning of the word prior to it. We hear of “repeat again”, reply back”, “armed gunmen”. Do you see which words are not required?
Apologies though for using such complex words to describe what effective language is not. English is indeed a strange language!
The key to Effective Language is therefore Simple Language. People use ‘big words’ and ‘flowery’ sentences to IMPRESS. Well, remember that we speak to EXPRESS and never to IMPRESS.
Keep it simple and you will certainly impress your listeners.
A closing thought:
“Simplicity is greatness and all great men are simple.” Anon