Word Power: Why It Matters And What You Can Do To Get It
As a young professional, you have no doubt had to make a presentation of some sort. Thorough preparation for such an event will usually results in success. However, the underlying skill of oral communication is one that you should continue to cultivate outside of the boardroom.
The importance of being good with words—of gaining word power—cannot be overestimated. The phrase ‘actions matter more than words’ is not only a cliché, it is a nonsensical cliché. As a man of business, you cannot direct action without words. You cannot persuade, instruct, enlighten, or guide without knowing how to clearly express your aims and ideas.
One of the keys to unlocking the doors to success is having the ability to project your thought and will through speech. This does not always take the form of a formal presentation. In fact, most of your opportunities to speak take place in more informal settings. Daily meetings, weekly conferences, company socials, impromptu discussions with your boss and your colleagues—these are the times when it is important for you to shine and make an impression.
How is this done?
The first thing to understand is that gaining word power is a process. It is not something to be achieved overnight. However, there are a few things you can avoid doing that will put you in the way of becoming more lucid and composed when you speak:
- Avoid using the word ‘like’—It may seem strange to focus on a single word, but this one seems to control the speech of a great many people. It is used as filler for breaks and pauses between statements. Whenever you feel the need to say ‘like’, simply continue with what you want to say. Take more time to gather your thoughts if you need to, but don’t say ‘like’. You may become the only person in your office able to resist this verbal tick, which will make you stand out among your peers.
- Avoid cant phrases—You know them when you hear them. ‘Think globally, act locally’, ‘There is no I in team’, ‘Pulling on the same oar’, ‘Asleep at the wheel’, ‘One hand washes the other’—these are but a fraction of the canned phrases that circulate endlessly in modern speech. Metaphors are good; stale metaphors are not so good. When you feel yourself about to use one, take a moment to think out in plain words what you want to say, and then say it.
- Avoid excessive use of jargon—This is a hard one because using professional jargon is a part of working in a particular field or organization. However, such technical terms need not be ever-present in your speech. When you can speak directly and simply to a matter, you should do so.
These are the actions to avoid. What are the actions to take?
Read—read, read. The quickest way to increase your word power is to read good books. Go to one of the many 100 Greatest Books lists and start working your way through their recommendations. Yes, you’re a busy man. But you would be surprised at how much reading you can get done during your morning and evening commute and at night before you turn the lights out.
About Christopher Reid Chris was born in Washington, D.C. and lives in Britain. He works as a blogger, essayist, and novelist. His first book, Tea with Maureen, has just been published.