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Cleaning Up Your Language - Persuasive Oration


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Language is a skill and an art, as is persuasion, and both can most definitely be mangled and turned into a disadvantage if used improperly. Unless you're a child prodigy, as Mozart was with composing and playing music, as H. P. Lovecraft was with writing poems, and as Pablo Picasso was artistically, then you will most likely have to practice whichever art you choose to become good at.

As persuaders we primarily use our language skills to work with our affluent prospects and clients. We are served well when we use these language properly and speak powerfully.

If you're a reader - magazines, books, newspapers, internet, or what have you - the bigger your vocabulary will be (unless you're reading gossip mags, in which case your vocabulary will not improve). So the first thing you can do to increase your vocabulary is read.

With that said, having a huge vocabulary doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to be a great speaker. Oration is completely different from vocabulary. A huge percentage of people have the fear of public speaking. There's also the little issue of having something of interest to say.

So say you've overcome the fear, have something to say that will interest folks, well, then there's the the next challenge - the delivery.

Recently my transcriptionist told me that I say the phrase ‘in other words’ a lot. She makes a good point. I suppose I do this for two reasons. The first is that I am attempting to deliver the information I have for my students in as many ways as possible. Secondly, I'm not one to use the stalling word ‘um', and ‘in other words’ may be taking the place of ‘um’ in how I speak.

I just started a book called “Um. . . Slips, Stumbles and Verbal Blunders and What They Mean" by Michael Erard. Something phenomenal I learned in just the first few pages is that the word ‘um. . . ’ is universal. All languages have their own version of ‘um’. In Spain it's ‘eh’ and in France ‘euh’. Mr. Erard goes on to say that the use of these fillers has been around since at least as far back as the Ancient Greeks and Egyptians.

Only since the twentieth century has ‘um. . . ‘ become unpopular likely with the advent of television and radio. And if you were in the debate club in school or did any public speaking in an academic setting, you know that teachers frown upon and attempt to vanquish ‘um’ from all presentations.

The beginning of ‘Um. . . ’ (the book) describes the transcriptionists of the Federal News Service. These transcriptionists do the closed captions that scroll across you TV screen. The FNS has style guidelines that their workers must follow, for example, ‘umms', ‘ahs', ‘uhs’ and ‘ers', are all left out. If the speaker has a false start of one or two words, that's left out as are partial words. There is one exception to this rule: everything a policymaker says is typed out verbatim, ums, ers, uhs, partial words and fragments included.

I haven't finished the book yet, but I couldn't stop myself from skipping to the chapter on George W. Bush. It's not as funny as the book ‘Bushisms’ but it is an interesting perspective. People view him, as a result of what the author calls ‘disfluencies', either as ‘down home', ‘one of the common people', with his gaffes making him appear more accessible, others consider his blunders a lack of intelligence and a dangerous indication that he is not connected to reality. Regardless of which side of the argument you fall, some of the more memorable disfluencies are pretty funny.

This week, pay close attention to the way you talk. How many times do you use um or uh? How often do you start a thought and then let it fall away? How many blunders do you make? And pay attention to the way other people talk too and how their language affects the way you perceive them.

Kenrick Cleveland teaches techniques to sell to affluent clients using persuasion strategies . He runs unique public and private seminars and offers home study courses, audio/visual learning tools, and coaching programs in persuasion techniques . Find more free articles at - Be sure to sign up for his free report entitled “Yes! Persuasion"


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