There you are sitting in the meeting with a brilliant idea for your company. You’re enthusiastic, you’ve done research, you know your stuff, and as you wrap up your Business Message you look up and see this. A few days later, you bring the idea up again to a colleague who was at that meeting, and he responds, “What are you talking about? “I don’t remember hearing about this before.”What happened? How could you have made your brilliant idea stick with your listeners? Vivid language may be your answer.
Resound your Business Message using Chaismus
Specifically, alliteration, starting multiple words with the same first letter sound, chiasmus, reversing the turn of a phrase, concrete examples, specific incidents, metaphors, likening one idea to another, and repetition which creates a sense of rhythm. Let me give you an example of each of these five language tools. Alliteration, a manager once described her employees as competent, credible and courageous.
That repeating C sound makes the comment more memorable than if she had said, my employees are great. Chiasmus, the most popular example of chiasmus, in American rhetoric, is JFK’s, “Ask not what your country can do for you, “ask what you can do for your country.” On the business front the brilliant communicator Warren Buffet once said, “It’s far better to buy a wonderful “company at a fair price, “than a fair company at a wonderful price,” that’s chiasmus.
Concrete examples, in a Nike shareholder report several years ago the author wrote, “We sold our first shoes in China in 1984. “When we placed 200 pairs in a 50 square foot shop “called The Friendship Store in Beijing. “They sold out in 11 days. “Today the appetite for Nike products continues to grow. “The brand is known, and more importantly “understood among many of the 500 million “Chinese consumers under 25 years old, “that’s a billion feet that we’re “going after just as fast as we can.” Imagine, if instead of this the author had written, we have great brand recognition in China, and we continue to expand in that market.
The business message is essentially the same, but it doesn’t stick with you like the concrete examples of The Friendship Store and 11 days to sell out, or a billion feet. Metaphors, let’s take another look at Warren Buffet, and what he had to say in the midst of the financial crises, “Shareholders who lost money are like small birds “who strayed into a badminton game, “bloodied and confused.”Now that image will stick with you.
Sound Symbolism in your Business Message
With so many stimuli competing for attention, any hope for making it through the day without our brains feeling scrambled rests on being more conscious of how you parse attention over specific tasks. Sound symbolism can bear huge consequences for a presenter deciding on how to pitch their idea. We make judgments about words before we know what they mean, simply based on how they sound. Sound symbolism means that people are generating associations with your business message before they even know what you sell — so it’s crucial to use symbolism that delivers subliminal messages.
To demonstrate this, let’s do a quick experiment. Suppose there are two cars — a Zumango and a Zumangi. One of them is a large SUV, and the other is a sporty convertible. But which is which? Nine out of ten people identify the Zumango as the SUV and the Zumangi as the convertible. People simply have an intuitive feeling that certain sounds match certain characteristics, like weight or or sharpness. So for a strong message, use humongous and pompous vocabulary. Likewise, the Z sound is associated with quickness, and therefore the startup Zorays Solar delivers a message of agility in its services.
Let your Business Message Echo with Concerned Quarters
Finally, repetition and rhythm, listen to many of Steve Jobs’ keynote speeches, and you’ll hear this sticky language device at work. For example, in the 2007 iPhone launch he said, “That’s 58 songs every second of every minute “of every hour of every day.” Okay, it’s your turn. Think of a meeting you have coming up where you need to present an idea. Try explaining part of your idea using each of the five devices.
Now this is just for practice, you would only want to actually use one, two max in any given presentation. Once you find one that you love give it a whirl, and see Business Message start to stick.