Language Matters

You might notice the pomp and certainty in the language of Apple’s product ads.

All businesses and individuals have “audiences” in some way, shape or form. Not everyone has an audience of thousands, but thanks to social media and the ubiquity of ratings and reviews, everyone is an influence. You have a Facebook or Twitter.  You comment on blog posts.  You complain/rave about some service/experience to friends or family online. You responded to an online movie review? If so, congratulations: you have an audience.

When given 140 characters to convey your message, how you phrase a message is vital to it being understood. For better or worse, word of mouth has changed. There are online conversations going on all around us every day that inform and change our opinions. This goes not just for businesses but for individuals, too: our personal and professional reputations depend on how others perceive us, and everything we do either helps to build up or break down that reputation. So? Your actions can shape not only what others think about a certain subject, but also what your audience thinks about YOU, or your business.

Think about it. You are never not communicating. How aware are you of the messages you send through your voice and body? And why is it that mimes such as Marcel Marceau can perform in any country and still be understood?

Last year, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in the beautiful country of Italy. While I was there I met a lot of people with a variety of cultural backgrounds. And although we were all in Italy trying to speak the language, many words and phrases were lost in translation. It made simple conversations frustrating and it could be mentally exhausting trying to get your point across. This was a good reminder that speaking the same language isn’t necessarily enough – you need to speak the right language.

If you go into an interview and can’t relate to the interviewer, you’ve got a problem. If your resume floats a bunch of empty accolades like “accomplished marketer” or “web ninja” – you might not see responses. When you’re creating a new product, sermon, or even little league pep talk, find the 2-3 words or phrases that really light up your audience, and stick with those.


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