Practice #18: Successful people motivate and inspire others through powerful language. They talk like winners. There’s nothing mysterious about this. Success is a learned skill. A terrific way to observe these word patterns is in political candidates. Extensive analysis of the communication styles of candidates, particularly in presidential races, shows us that words matter.
Words predict success
Here’s what’s astonishing. Winning candidates and successful leaders have common characteristics in their language. The kind of words candidates use is so important that it’s frequently a predictor of the winning candidate. These techniques can be learned. Talk like a winner by doing these six things.
1. Speak about emotion, not facts
Facts make people’s eyes glaze over. People are moved by feelings and emotions. Emotion inspires and creates a bond with your audience. That’s why leaders tell stories in their speeches of ordinary people overcoming adversity and doing extraordinary things. Use facts to support your point of view. Do this and you’ll talk like a winner.
2. Create a positive vision
Winning leaders talk about a better tomorrow. We all want to believe that we’re part of brilliant vision grander than ourselves.
Microsoft’s current mission statement states, “To empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” Wow. They don’t even mention computers or software. Ikea’s mission is to make everyday life better for their customers. They don’t say they make affordable furniture. The leaders who crafted these statements rallied around a vision that spoke to the emotional benefit of their products, not the product itself.
These messages are grand and easy to understand. Talk like a winner by creating a hopeful vision of the future.
3. Use sensory language
Sensory language creates sights, sounds, feelings and even smells in our imagination. It’s storytelling at its core. Use descriptive words of action that help your audience imagine themselves in the story.
Think about words that give your audience an experience. Help them join you on a journey and you’ll talk like a winner.
4. Use collective language instead of self-reference language
If you want to inspire people, stop talking about yourself. Speak as a member of their community, not as an individual. Leaders who constantly talk about themselves, persistently saying, “I did this,” “I’m going to,” “I think that,” are not effective. Those who speak using what’s called collective language win. These are words such as we, us, our, team, and community. Experience how different these phrases sound: “I’m going to lead the way in innovation.” Or, “Together, we’re going to lead the way in innovation.” Two simple word changes make all the difference in how this message is received. This is how to talk like a winner.
5. Use simple language
The average American reads at an 8th grade level. Use words most people can understand. If you can use a simpler word, do it. Keep your message concise.
6. Use repetition
Repeat key phrases over and over. People need to hear a message multiple times to remember it. Did you notice how many times you read the phrase, “talk like a winner,” in this piece? Repetition has been deliberately used to make the point memorable.
Great leaders are made not born. The language of leadership is a learned skill. Practice these six winning techniques and you’ll talk like a winner.