Sharpen Key Words to Maximize Impact

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Good speechwriters know it’s important to build a speech or presentation around a strong key message. But, what about choosing key words? Do you have to go to that level of effort? In a recent blog post, author and marketer Seth Godin said when most people scan a memo, post or ad for the first time they only pick up about 10 words. Readers can always re-read written material, unless they’re in a car speeding by a billboard. However, in many cases, listeners get one chance to hear what a presenter has to say. So, choosing key words with care is worth some effort. Besides, the exercise gives you, the writer, another useful tool for sharpening the impact of the ideas you want the audience to take away.

Follow these three steps to choose and use key words:

Look at your script and make a list of up to a dozen key words. You should find most of them in your main point and major supporting points;
Review the words on the list with an eye to choosing even better synonyms or replacing nouns with verbs; and
Ensure the words you’ve chosen show up prominently in your script (as well as on visuals if you’re preparing a presentation). And make a special effort to showcase them in your opening and closing remarks.