21 Jul

Use appropriate words

I had a bit of a screen break, but now I’m back, with a fairly short post (and delusions of grandeur in thinking that anyone noticed I was away).

Many moons ago – about 11 years ago – I worked in a media sales environment, selling advertising space in the back of a magazine.
Staff would come and go, and a new girl started on the desk next to me. She was very well spoken, and didn’t quite fit in with the ‘alright geezer, money, money, money’ environment.
One day, I made a sarcastic comment, and she said; ‘Do you see my physiognomy? What does it tell you??’
I think she hoped to outwit me, by showing her superior vocabulary, but I simply said; ‘What does physiognomy mean?’
She replied; ‘It means face’. (it actually refers to facial expressions rather than directly meaning ‘face’)
So I followed up with; ‘Why didn’t you just use the word face then?

People around me laughed, and she looked crestfallen.

The point is, in a situation where it was more important to simply be understood, she used an alternative word, out of context, to try to sound smart.

The same applies to your copy/content.

Don’t use the word ‘interact’ when you mean ‘speak to’, or ‘reach out’ instead of ‘contact’.

Avoid ‘value-driven service’ when you actually mean ‘affordable’.

Skip referencing ‘facilitate a paradigm shift’, when you mean ‘making big changes’.

Using big words – showing off your vocabulary – where you don’t need to, doesn’t make you/your business look smart: it does the complete opposite – it makes you sound like someone who doesn’t quite know what they’re talking about.

As I often say; talk how people talk. It’s other humans who’ll read your copy.

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