Find the Perfect Phrase

by R. L. Howser on January 2, 2014 · 0 comments

It’s better to burn out than to fade away.
– Neil Young
Burning out are much better than it fades away gradually.
– Japanese T-shirt

There are always many different ways to put your thoughts into words. You can make different word choices, use different grammatical structures or change the order in which you present your ideas.

Other than the obvious grammatical errors in the latter version, the two quotes above both make the same basic point. But I suspect you would agree that Neil Young phrased the point much more clearly, succinctly and powerfully than did the maker of the T-shirt.

Quite often, our words come out of us in a jumble. We may think we know what we think, but somehow what comes out of our mouths is not as clear as it seemed in our minds.

Too late, we spot the inconsistencies, ambiguities and unnecessary complications that have everyone around us scratching their heads in puzzlement, or worse, misunderstanding our intentions.

Of course, we can always double back and explain what we meant to say, clear up the confusion and correct the misinterpretations, but that’s never as good as saying it well in the first place.

I’m not a proponent of writing and memorizing you speech, unless it is less than a minute or two. I’ve successfully memorized speeches of up to ten minutes, but I’ve paid a price for such precision. I might have delivered my speech exactly as I intended, but always at the cost of the spontaneity and authenticity that would have forged a stronger rapport with my audience.

It’s not worth it.

I do, however, strongly recommend that you write out your speech, especially the key points and phrases that you want your audience to remember and act on. Play with the grammar. Toy with the vocabulary. Switch up the order or twist the structure around.

Find that perfect phrase that says exactly what you want them to hear and tuck it away in your mental pocket, so when the time is right you know exactly what to say for maximum effect.

Burning out are much better than it fades away gradually, but who’s going to remember that?


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