Sound smarter. Learn how to write better & speak well!

Afraid to speak out? To speak up? What if you say the wrong thing? Or the right thing, but no one understands your point? How about writing? Are you one of the millions who write in short texts and acronyms: LOL, BTW, B4, ATM, BRB, FYI?

What if WORDS fail you?

Think you’re alone?

Not even a little bit. Fear of public speaking is one of the highest recorded fears. Some numbers list this fear as high as 75% for most people. (Kids are afraid, too!) Public speaking doesn’t mean standing on a stage with notes or a teleprompter.

Places to speak in public:

  • Parent-teacher conference
  • Work meeting
  • City council
  • Best man’s/maid of honor toast

Loads of places to speak up & speak out.

What about writing?

  • Parent-teacher emails
  • Work reports
  • Business proposal (loan application, grant application, non-profit application)
  • Social media post: new business, promotion, kids’ accomplishment, spouse’s award

The list is plentiful. More importantly, it’s meaningful.

All these events impact your life. Your family’s life.

What stops you from learning to speak better? To write better?

I meant for you to think about that answer for a moment. Do you know now?

I’ll bottom-line it: ALL of us want to be understood.

We don’t want to be mocked or belittled while making our point. If it’s important enough to open our mouths or write it down . . . then it’s important and worthy to be counted.

I have a love affair with language. Words make me happy. Weird? How about this clarification — I love being understood.

I don’t mind saying something twice, even explaining it a handful of times, but I want to know when I get to the end of the exhalation of breath that I’ve accomplished my purpose. That the person I’m speaking with or writing to gets THE POINT.

Strong language–the right language–eliminates confusion.

Why do you care? Let me emphasize these again!

  • Job interview
  • 1st date, blind date, speed dating, 40th date that could mean moving the relationship to a new level
  • Meeting with a teacher, a professor, the big boss
  • Pitching a new sales idea or closing a major deal
  • Convincing a loan office to underwrite a new business idea

The list goes on and on.

Maybe, you need to convince the mechanic that something is wrong with your car . . . really wrong, and you need him/her to take longer than a fast minute and quick glance to figure it out.

Your car needs repair. You know it does because that weird thumping noise & start-stop effect is driving you (figuratively) crazy. At the dealership, the technician hooks your car up to their master computer and pronounces the vehicle fine. Of course, it’s not or you wouldn’t have spent all afternoon cooling your heels in their lobby.

So, do you give up? Or figure out a better way to communicate?

Simple language skills can make all the difference when making your point.

What if instead of thumping and the start-stop effect, you specified your language? What if you made a list BEFORE arriving at the dealership? Listing the specific problems and when they happened?

Then your mechanic conversation can go like this . . .

‘My car vibrates on the highway above 60 mph. There is a dull thumping near the passenger rear wheel. When I accelerate from a red light or stop sign, my car hesitates and hiccups until the speed reaches 30 mph or more. These two vehicle behaviors happen – every time – the car is on the highway above 60 or I’m starting and stopping on city streets.’

Why does this work? Simple words strung together in a clear, concise manner will net the most positive results.

I don’t know about you, but I have waaaay better things to do than hang out at the car dealership on any given afternoon.

Maybe you know . . . in your head . . . what you want to tell the mechanic but struggle with the right words. Your list isn’t a true representation of what’s wrong with the car.

Do you ever change the background on your phone? On your desktop? Tablet?

Well, learning to write better is changing the background on your language.

Books, in this stack, teach basic writing steps.

Because it’s the biggest, and therefore seems the scariest, let’s focus on the one at the BOTTOM.

Most folks who spend any time on a computer/phone/tablet have accessed a dictionary or a thesaurus site. Maybe you play ‘word games’ on your phone and you need to check your spelling or look up a different word. Your favorite browser will populate loads of these sites. There are no right or wrong sites, but some are more user-friendly.

Consider these:

I would like to suggest – strongly – that you buy an actual copy of a Dictionary and a Thesaurus. There’s more, so much more, to correct spellings and discovering the perfect word than typing on a keyboard.

An actual Thesaurus can strengthen language skills in a painless manner.

One of the most important differences between online Thesaurus interaction and the in-your-hand Thesaurus is the ability to truly differentiate which MEANING that you need to communicate.

I, randomly, chose Inspiration. Look at the different potential meanings for Inspiration. Each one opens a world of words to better explain, through your writing or spoken language, the exact point you wish to make.

If you have not utilized a hardcopy Thesaurus before, read the Preface or the How to Use this Book. It saves time and aggravation when you dive in the first few times.

I do NOT advocate employing grandiose words when simple will do. However, you can discover a range of words that allow you to simplify your speech. Some ‘larger’ words say more with less. Not a bad skill to develop.

Why didn’t they teach me this in school?

Maybe your teachers did start the process, but learning to write better and to speak well is not a short-term adventure. Toddlers don’t go from single words to full paragraphs. Speech, and certainly good speech, takes time.

Is all this effort really worth it? Buy a grammar book? Buy a thesaurus? Then read them. Keep them by my laptop? My work computer? What do the right words get me?

All good questions. Great questions. Time is precious . . . and valuable. Is the investment worth it?

  • People respond in a more positive manner.
  • The ability to verbalize your needs and then GET those needs met increases dramatically.
  • Saved time when repetitious explaining is eliminated. (This one is especially important to any parent out there. Constantly repeating the same thing over and over again to your kids is a beating. Personally, I think constantly explaining to a boss is worse, but that’s a personal opinion.)

Bottom-lineIt is an intentional decision to improve your language skills: a choice. To this point, your life includes certain words or key phrases–maybe a lot of acronyms (that whole LOL crew), but that’s not the end of your story. Those words are only a starting point; now, build on that foundation.

Life is opportunities. Don’t let language skills, or the lack of, limit your potential.

Language skills allow you to share love words, build kindness phrases, secure business ventures, obtain promotions, and most importantly, the perfect vehicle to being well and truly understood.

Own your words as you learn to write better and to speak well.

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