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Say what you mean, and mean what you say

10-29-2015

In a summer that brought drought, wildfires, and a controversial nuclear arms deal with Iran, you could sum up the biggest national story in one word – Donald.

With a blaze of words, Donald Trump vaulted to the front of the Republican side of the 2016 Presidential race and left pundits and ordinary citizens alike wondering ‐ How did he do it? While the Sunday morning talk shows will surely debate that topic during the next few weeks, Trump definitely put his way of communicating front and center in American politics.

Few people, including many of his supporters, could tell you the Donald Trump platform. But a quick Google search of Trump quotes might give you a sense of how a political novice could storm to the lead.

During the past few weeks, Trump made provocative statements about fellow candidate Carly Fiorina, Senator John McCain, and Megyn Kelly from FOX News – and people loved it. But why?

Why do many people love a candidate who freely, and regularly, just says what he thinks?

Put simply, Donald Trump is brief, plain spoken, and specific. And in the current political and social climate, where people often fear saying what they think, Trump’s words and candidness achieve a “sticky” quality all of us want.

So how can you make your words sticky too?

GET TO THE POINT

Trump says exactly what he means. You don’t wade through a lot of unnecessary language to get to his point.

What’s the value of brevity? First, you don’t fatigue your listeners, so they’re much more likely to stay with you. Plus you make it easier for them to remember your message. If you can’t make your point in 10 words or fewer, you should spend more time to figure out exactly what you want to say.

USE PLAIN LANGUAGE

Although Trump graduated from The Wharton School of Business, he rarely sounds like he did. And that’s a compliment. When Donald Trump makes a point, he uses everyday language. By doing that, he’s easy to understand and speaks the language of the very voters he’s trying to attract.

How do you make sure you speak plainly? Remove the jargon and acronyms, and use simple words whenever possible. While jargon and acronyms give us all a shorthand that’s essential to communicate at work, in many situations it only makes you more difficult to understand. Choose simple words so you impress others with your ideas instead of your vocabulary.

TAKE A SPECIFIC POSITION

This may be the area where Trump trumps just about every other politician in the field. He rarely hedges, finesses, or dilutes his message. As a result, people often feel like they know exactly where he stands.

How can you test the specificity of your message? Identify the logical counterpoint. If you can’t find the opposing position, your message needs to be more specific. Your power comes from the ability to state, and support, a distinct message.

PUT YOUR MESSAGE FIRST

Trump always leads with his message. His critics would say he delivers a message without any support. But even if that’s true, Trump states his message right up front.

Where should you put your message? Deliver your main point as close to your first sentence as possible. It’s like putting the destination in your GPS. And the longer your listeners wait to hear what you really want to say, you make it less likely that you’ll deliver your words with the impact you want because they won’t be sure where you’re taking them.

UNDERSTAND THE RISK

While Donald Trump attracted a lot of attention this past summer, he also turned‐off a lot of people. Remember that you potentially create resistance when you stake out a strong position with language that’s just as strong. So pick your spots to say what you think.

When done well, this skill can catapult you to the forefront too. And thank you, Donald, for showing us that a clear and candid message can quickly raise your visibility.

Be your best,

Sean Romanoff - Exec|Comm Consultant

Exec|Comm
What's your message to the world?

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