More on “Words that work”

In Frank Luntz’s book “Words That Work”, he lists ten rules of effective language. We can apply these rules in our presentations. Frank uses advertising slogans to illustrate his points: 

  1. Simplicity.  Try to use small words whenever you can. Forget about fancy multi-syllable words.
  2. Brevity.  Try to use short sentences if you can. Nike’s “just do it” ad campaign is a good example. Have you noticed that most office memos are only one page long and have short sentences.
  3. Be credible.  A good example is Wal-Mart’s slogan “Always low price.  Always”.
  4. Be consistent. The rental car Avis’s campaign “We try harder” was launched in 1962 and the company has stuck with it for more than four decades.  The consistency of this message has helped Avis to cement its position as the second-biggest car-rental company in the world.
  5. Offer something new. Try to get the audience to think in a new way.  The success of the Volkswagen think small campaign in the late 1950s was an example of shifting the thought process in a novel way.
  6. Sound and texture do matter. The phrase “snap crackle and pop” immediately conjures up images of the actual sound of the cereal itself.
  7. Personalize your message. A good example is GE’s slogan “We bring good things to life”. It personalizes the message.
  8. Visualize.  Paint a picture. A picture is worth a thousand words. M & M’s slogan “Melts in your mouth not in your hand” has a strong visual component to it – something we can see and almost feel.
  9. Ask the audience questions.  Try to get the audience to have ownership of your presentation.
  10. Provide context and explain relevance. Burger King’s slogan “have it your way” is a good example of a message that provides context and relevance.  This slogan sets Burger King apart from the other fast food chains.  This message works because the underlying context and relevance consist of a mass-produced assembly-line food production.
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