Last week I published a post about communication.
Today on BBC International News there was an excellent example of someone talking about a very serious incident – people were killed – without the usual flood of words like “devastated” that are so often thrown around like confetti.
Glen Plake, a survivor of the avalanche in Nepal that killed 9 mountaineers and left 3 more still missing was describing how the avalanche swept over the group without any warning while they were sleeping in their tents.
The survivor although clearly still upset at the loss of his friends and fellow climbers spoke calmly and rationally. He told the interviewer that what happened was a tragic accident, that climbing mountains is a dangerous occupation but it is what climbers do. Perhaps because he is a free style skier who has appeared in extreme skiing documentaries, he is used to danger and risk.
Whatever the reason, his calm and practical delivery gave me a better picture of the event than the hysterical, over-the-top performances we so often see in the media.
That’s not to say that the man was callous or indifferent, quite the opposite, his emotion was obvious, he just did not use all the commonly abused superlatives to describe the incident.
The emotion was there without the drama.
Drama that seems to get turned on almost automatically as soon as a news reporter’s camera or microphone enter the picture.
That is why the words and language we use are important. Over use of certain words and phrases, particularly superlatives, soon rob them of their power and impact. Sometimes a calmer type of message carries much more weight.
We are likely to use less emotional language when we are talking or writing about familiar events, incidents and activities than those with which we have no experience. I have had my share of falls from horses so I can describe them fairly unemotionally. Ask a person who has recently experienced their first fall or mad ride on a run-away horse to describe their experience and it will be a much more excitable tale.
Emotion in stories and sales messages makes them come alive, but that life comes from the skilled use of words and language, not just from using dramatic words.
Is it any wonder that very few of the hyped up marketing emails get opened?
Sometimes the understated, quieter message stands out, because it is the exception.
A short post today and no audio, I am off to participate in a Toastmasters contest. Toastmasters is an excellent organisation to sharpen public speaking skills in a supportive and encouraging environment. Better use of spoken words and language helps with writing skills too.
What do you think about over the top dramatic language? Does it turn you off? Or am I just letting my baby boomer upbringing affect my thinking?
Wishing you success.