Communication Skills

JS Tip 52: From the Communication Workshops: The Advantages of Being Short


“Are your words holding you back?”

“Are you missing out on the promotion you so richly deserve because you don’t know the fifty power words . . . ?”

You’ve heard the commercial, right?

It suggests “Big words impress people.”

It suggests “Big words make you sound intelligent.”

But as they say in the old country: “Balognik.”

Short words communicate. Short words get your point across.

Consider the great messages of our time:

“I have a dream” (Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.). Four words. Four syllables.

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” (President Franklin Roosevelt). Ten words. Twelve syllables.

“I’ll be back” (The Terminator). Three words. Three syllables.

In fact, we challenge you to name one memorable quotation from history, literature, poetry, or film that uses big words (you’re not allowed to quote from Mary Poppins).

One last question: If the power words are so powerful, why don’t they use them in the commercial? The commercial uses short words: “Are your words holding you back?” Six words. Seven syllables.

Short words communicate better.