Why short words work best

There is no doubt. Short words have a power that long words do not. Phrases with short words stick in our heads. We repeat them back – they touch us because we know what they mean. It’s not just the stuff of the big speech – always best spoken simply: “New Deal”; “Peace in our Time”; “Don’t ask, Don’t tell”; and “Yes, we can” – but of the best ads too: – “Just do it”; “The King of Beers”; and “It’s the Real Thing.”

Too many of us hide behind long words. It gives us short-term power over others – and we assume that others admire us for “knowing” more than they do. They don’t. How can they if they don’t know what we’re trying to say?

My plea to you, when you write, blog, or speak today is to drop all long words for short ones, the sort used by most people. See if you can get through the day doing this. You won’t be able to, but you will learn a lot if you try. Look into the eyes of those you try to reach and you will know straight away that you need never use a long word again when a short one will do.

(PS Every word in this article has only 1 or 2 syllables. Except that last one…)


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Merriborn Media is a business dedicated to developing clever content, engaged online communities and effective collaborative working and learning for clients. Both Merriborn Media and its founder Trevor Merriden were ranked in the Top 3 of social learning evangelists for 2016 in a recent major study.

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