Top Ten Tips on...

High Impact Language

1 May 2023
Effective Top Tens - Podcast
Quick, practical tips on a wide range of management and personal development themes.
How to use language powerfully, including the use of exaggeration, alliteration, metaphor, contrast and appropriate humour...

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This is using a similar set of sounds to create an impression and to create something more memorable, such as short, sharp shock, or make messages memorable. Alliteration creates higher impact on the listener and makes the message more memorable And we don't have to use the same sounds at the front of our statements. You can do the same with the end of words, for example credibility, likeability, and affinity.



“I've told you a million times, not to exaggerate”. “I love you to the moon and back”. “I've got a mountain of homework to do”. These are clearly exaggerations. They're completely unreal, but they create impact because they're so extreme. And by being exaggerated, they're unusual. It's not the way we normally would speak about exaggeration, love or homework. So it makes it quite distinctive. It stands out and again has higher impact and makes the message memorable.



My favorite comic of all time is Tommy Cooper. He was brilliant at puns. The pun is based around a dual understanding of the same word. Here's one of my favorites: “Two aerials met on the roof and got married. The wedding was terrible, but the reception was fantastic.” Puns are fairly safe. They're quite childlike - but you still have to be bright enough to understand the double meaning of the word. So in a sense, it's quite a compliment to be given a pun because whoever's telling you the pun assumes that you have the wit and understanding of of language to be able to know how one word has two meanings. So it's quite a powerful and humorous technique. Another humour technique is ambiguity. You're using the fact that the word means different things, but you create ambiguity, so the other person has to think about what so funny about the statement. For example: “nothing succeeds like a toothless budgie” Well, what's funny about that? It relies on seeing ‘succeeds’ as ‘sucks seeds’. “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana”. This relies on understanding the ambiguity of ‘flies’ – as in flies through the air, or the small insect… It’s the kind of ambiguity humour that makes us think. And actually we quite appreciate the cleverness of the pun, and the cleverness of the person who's offered us the joke. So puns and ambiguity acknowledge the intelligent potential of the listener. One point about humor, always use humor, sensitively, and in particular, don't make fun of someone. You really should be laughing with people, not at people. And if you do want to laugh at someone, then make it yourself. So if you can laugh at yourself and tell jokes about yourself and create humorous situations about yourself. That's fine because the only person who's being potentially damaged is you.



I'm going to cover a lot of topics today, but this is the one message I want you to take away. Actually that isn't true, but it's an example of a contrast. “A lot” contrast with the direct opposite, “one”. We pay more attention to contrasts, so it, it sticks longer in the listeners' memory.



"Education, education, education"..."never, never, never give up"...simply repeating the word, or phrase, will give it more attention, and make it more embedded and easy to remember (think how often this applies to lyrics of songs...)



An acronym is a word, each letter of which starts a new word. An example would be SMART, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time framed. It's often used in helping people to set clear goals.



So - my mum always said…. By mentioning my mum, I’ve already personalised it by making it personal, referred to somebody who's obviously close to me. Whenever we personalise, we tend to generate more interest. Human interest.


Use visuals

Most people are visually retentive. Visuals have three benefits. They grab attention, they help explain, and they tend to be memorable. But we don’t have to provide the visuals directly. For example, surely this is a terrible tip for a podcast, which it's an audio vehicle. You can’t see anything really. So you need to tap into the power of imagination and fantasy. We don't need our eyes to see things. For example: imagine you are sitting trapped in a cold dark cellar. You can't see a thing; you're shivering. Then you feel something moving at your feet… In some ways, imagination is more powerful and more personal than an actual visual because each individual internally creates their own picture, constructs their own reality, which will be entirely personal, and being self-created, be easier to recall. So it's powerful visuals really help people understand and recall the key message. So generally speaking, use visuals whenever you can, either live in front of the person or by creating pictures in their mind.



I love metaphors or analogies. They are really helpful in making complex ideas, easier to understand, and to remember. A metaphor often starts with a phrase “it's like”, or “imagine..”, and it explains something quite difficult or, or important in an everyday context. Let me just give you one example. I'm often working with people who are clearly, clearly very able, but who are their own worst enemy. They're full of self-doubt and self limiting beliefs. So to me, these are people who are like a Ferrari driving with the handbrake on; they are powerful, but they are self-limiting.



Many great communicators are fabulous at telling stories. My best advice here is to watch any number of Ted talks that are readily available on YouTube. Three of my favorites are Steve Jobs’ Stanford address, Ken Robinson on ”Do schools kill creativity?” and Ben Zander on “The transformative power of classical music.” In fact, Ben's talk also contains most of the humour items covered in this podcast, including a great joke to start with, but you'll have to listen to his talk to find out what it is…!

Effective Top Tens - Podcast
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