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Ditch The Big Words

by Tom Ruwitch

Last month, I listened to one of those podcasts that recommends new music, and a critic said this about a song: “It’s casual profundity.”

The co-host agreed.

My reaction: “What the heck is “casual profundity!?”

I looked it up. According to Webster’s, profundity means “intellectual depth” or “the quality or state of being profound or deep.”

Ahhh. Profund-ity equals profound. I get it now. But I still don’t get what it means to describe a song as “casual profundity.”

This podcast was on National Public Radio. NPR attracts listeners who like to think of themselves as smart.

So maybe it makes sense for an NPR critic to describe a song as “casual profundity.” NPR listeners hear those big words, and it reminds them that they have big brains. Many of those big-brained NPR listeners nod along with the review -- even if they don’t know what the big words mean.

There was a time when I would nod along like that. I would never admit not knowing “profundity.”

I liked to use big words back then. I opened Webster’s not to decode big words, but rather to choose a big word to replace a small word. The bigger the word, the smarter I sounded, I thought.

But no longer. I admit it now: “I don’t know “profundity.”

I prefer small words. I prefer simplicity.

If I ran a radio network that catered to people who like to think of themselves as smart, I might view this differently.

But I’m a marketer. And I help people deliver their stories clearly and concisely. So prospects get it. So prospects respond. So prospects buy.

Marketers don’t want prospects to think, “What the heck does that mean!?” That’s bad for sales.

So when you write your business stories, when you write sales copy, look out for those big words. Get rid of ‘em.

There’s often a simpler word. A shorter word. A more widely known word.

That simpler, shorter, more widely known word means the same as the big word.

The small word paints the same picture, tells the same story.

And because it’s a small word, not a big word, more people understand the story. Fewer people will say, “What the heck does that mean?!”

That’s the point. When you tell a story, you want it to connect.

Tom Ruwitch is Founder and CEO of Story Power Marketing. Coaches, consultants, and other thought leaders choose Story Power to attract more leads, keep them engaged and interested, and inspire them to act. More at StoryPowerMarketing.com.

Submitted 51 days ago
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