The Long and the Short of It

“I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

– Mark Twain

Touche, Mr. Twain.  You are correct – it is difficult to condense your message into a few words.  Namely, the right words – at the right time – for the right audience.

Words pack power.  Actually, choosing the right words will help you to deliver a powerful, memorable and actionable message.  “It's not what you say, it's what people hear.”  That is the subtitle for an important new book by Dr. Frank Luntz – “Words That Work.” 

You may recognize Frank Luntz as a prominent pollster and adviser to Republican candidates.  Put politics aside – many Democrats openly admire and envy his ability to shape a focused message and coach his clients to to stay-on and deliver that message with clockwork precision.  We can learn a lot from Luntz's book.  Regardless of your profession (sales, marketing, education, politics, communications, etc.) or your personal preferences, you need to acquire skill in order to persuade others adopt your ideas, products or services.  One chapter of the book is titled, “Twenty-one words and phrases for the twenty-first century.  A few of them are:


“Renew, Revitalize, Rejuvenate, Restore, Rekindle, Reinvent”


Buy this book.  Learn the lessons Luntz teaches.  People will start to hear what you say.  They will buy your products; accept your ideas; take the actions that you propose.  You will gain power – you will persuade!

The world in which we live and work does not allow us to “beat around the bush.”  If we have a point to make – or we want public opinion we must learn to cut through the clutter.  Don't give your customers 10 reasons to buy your product.  Give them one.  Or, at the most, three.  They will never remember ten.  Get them to remember … get them to buy … get them to take the action that you recommend:

“If you have an important point to make, don't try to be subtle or clever.  Use a pile driver.  Hit the point once,  Then come back and hit it again.  Then hit it a third time with a tremendous whack.”

– Winston Churchill

I love quotations – and use them frequently to make or illustrate a point.  They are succinct.  They are memorable.  They add to my authority and credibility when I use them.. They are powerful.  They persuade.


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