How to Win with Words

How to Win with Words


If you’re like most busy professionals, you spend a lot of time drafting persuasive messages. You may be soliciting business from a prospect, requesting help from a coworker or explaining to your boss why you deserve to lead that next big project. In my work, I review hundreds of high-stakes messages. I find that many, while well-intentioned, fall short. They’re missing the competitive edge.

If you want your words to win you the support, business or opportunity you crave, keep these five techniques in mind when crafting your message:

  1. Begin with the end in mind. Be clear about what you want. Too many leaders bury this critical information at the bottom of the message under tons of context. Don’t.
  2. Use language that reinforces positive business results. It’s never about what people like or don’t like. It’s about how their livelihood will improve or how their jobs will be easier, making them more effective. Describe the specifics of those benefits and your readers/listeners will engage.
  3. Address the elephant in the room. If there’s an uncomfortable issue that needs to be addressed, don’t ignore it. Your audience knows it’s there. If you don’t deal with it head-on, you may destroy your credibility.
  4. Tighten the message. Eliminating unnecessary words shows respect for other people’s time. And it’s a surefire way to increase retention.
  5. Choose the right tone. Using the wrong words earns you enemies. The right words win hearts and minds.

Before you act . . .

My advice: Take advantage of the resources that will make your messages inspire action. And don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

  • Master the basics. My self-study courses are filled with practical advice and examples that you can put to use immediately. These web-based modules are ideal for those looking to enhance their business communication skills.
  • Many leaders routinely send messages to me for review. Others contact me when they’re at a loss for words. Either way, I quickly (and confidently) help them craft the perfect winning message. I love being their behind-the-scenes messaging expert.
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