Choose the Right Word, at the Right Time, for the Right Audience
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.”— J.K. Rowling’s character Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Have you ever thought about how similar public speaking is to painting?
A painter has a pallet of many colors to choose from that he or she can combine in limitless combinations to produce a painting that will change any viewer’s mood.
As a speaker, you have a pallet of words, and body language, and vocal variety. For this newsletter, let’s concentrate on your pallet of words.
The American English language has over a million words. In college, I had an English professor who said of the American English Language, “Language changes. Change is normal. Usage makes it correct.” People are adding to the American English Language every day.
As a speaker, you can combine those million-plus words in truly limitless combinations on your way to capturing the attention, engaging, and conveying a simple message to your audiences that can change their lives.
As a speaker, you can sway the mood of your audience by using the precisely appropriate word at the exact proper moment during your presentation.
You, my friend, are a painter of words!
The key is to have a cornucopia of words with their meanings stored in your gray cells, your brain, with the correct word ready to be retrieved and spoken at the right time for the right audience.
So how do your continually increase your storehouse of words with their meanings? You do this by looking up words you don’t know when you encounter them, using these new words in your speaking and writing, reading books to increase your vocabulary, and taking courses to improve your vocabulary.
Look Up Words You Don’t Know
With smartphones and the Internet, there is no excuse for not looking up words with which you are unfamiliar.
I have the Merriam-Webster Dictionary app on my smartphone. When I come to an unfamiliar word, I look up its definition, pronunciation, and usage on this app. There is a myriad of other dictionary apps in which you can do the same thing.
I might be reading something online or in print when I encounter an unfamiliar word. What do I do? I immediately go to my phone to look it up on my Merriam-Webster Dictionary app. The great thing about this app is it has an audio option to hear the word and gives you a sentence using the word to show you context.
Why is it important to know the definitions of a lot of words? Many researchers have proven that the most successful people in our society have the most extensive vocabulary through many studies.
Knowing the meaning of many words does not automatically give you the knowledge of how to use them in a sentence and conversation. The best way to make the word and its definition stick is to use the new word.
Use New Words
You can search on any activity on the Internet to find how to perform that activity.
You can find how to ride a bike on the Internet, cook an exquisite Italian dinner, or arrange flowers in a bouquet. However, even if you know the instructions to perform an activity, it does not mean you will perform the activity well at first.
There, of course, are no universal rules in this world, but there is one that comes close. Everything is hard at first. However, the more you perform an activity, the better you will become at that activity.
The more you start using new words in your writing and speaking, the more you will become better at using them. You will also be improving your vocabulary. If you use the unknown word often enough, it will eventually cease being unfamiliar and become a word you use in your writing and speaking without effort.
Communication with others, whether in-person, online, or in your writing, is fundamental to all human beings. Here is an added benefit—the size of your vocabulary tracks to the size of your income. I bet you never thought you could increase your income by increasing the size of your vocabulary!
There is a reason you went to elementary school, high school, and, probably, college. It is the fastest way to acquire the knowledge you need to earn an income. A large part of that knowledge is knowing the meaning and application in our language of many words.
The fastest way to acquire a large vocabulary is to read good vocabulary books and take a vocabulary course.
Read Vocabulary Books & Take a Vocabulary Building Course
Brian Tracy, the self-development expert, says, “Make your car a university on wheels.” Do you have a long commute to work? Why not increase your vocabulary on the way by listening to a vocabulary podcast, downloaded vocabulary book, or a talk radio station talking about the richness of words.
There is also a myriad of good books on vocabulary. Here are three I have:
The second book, Verbal Advantage: 10 Easy Steps to a Powerful Vocabulary, is even available in CD and mp3 formats.
These are fascinating books, not the old stodgy textbooks you had in high school English class. Some even tell you the history of the words cited.
After reading and rereading these and other vocabulary books, you will have the satisfaction of putting yourself on the fast track to higher levels in your chosen profession.
With the Internet, vocabulary books and courses have never been more available to you than they are right now.
Read a good vocabulary book or take a good vocabulary book. You will not regret it. But remember, using the word in your speaking and writing will ensure it will become part of your regular vocabulary.
Here’s a myth: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”
More people have moved to action by the words they have heard spoken than all the sticks and stones in the world.
A car mechanic has many tools to select the correct tool to fix the car he or she is repairing. As a speaker, you need to have a myriad of word tools so you can select the right word to engage your audience.
If you want to become a world-class speaker, constantly improve your vocabulary.
Use the right word at the right time for the right audience.
If you do, you and your audience will reap the benefits!
Call to Action
When you come to a new word in your reading or listening to a speaker, look up its definition and pronunciation
Use the new words you look up in your writing and speaking
Read good books and take a course on improving your vocabulary
“Your understanding of what you read and hear is, to a very large degree, determined by your vocabulary, so improve your vocabulary daily.”– Zig Ziglar
Introducing a new book from Frank DiBartolomeo!
“Speak Well and Prosper: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Better Presentations”
DiBartolomeo Consulting International’s (DCI) mission is to help technical professionals to inspire, motivate, and influence colleagues and other technical professionals through improving their presentation skills, communication, and personal presence.
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