“There’s a time and a place for showing off the William F. Buckley vocabulary – but it’s probably not in a speech to your constituents, a sales pitch to a prospective client, or at a job interview.” ― Frank Luntz, Words That Work
It’s always wise to use simple and concise language. Let’s discuss a few ways to make your language as effective as possible so that it is easy to understand.
As a rule of thumb, simple words and short phrases are best for conveying information to a wide audience. Presentation is key — the more simply you express your ideas, the more likely you are to be received. Shorter words, in the long haul, have a greater impact. Consider the case of Apple’s Macintosh computer, which was later rebranded as Mac. Moreover, shorter sentences are also more easily remembered. For instance, a good chunk of Americans still remembers Dwight Eisenhower’s 1952 campaign slogan “I like Ike,” which used the then-presidential candidate’s nickname.
For the same reason, following the rule of simplicity can help us stay on the safer side and avoid big trouble. Countless presidential candidates and other political figures worldwide have lost top-level positions because they were using words too complicated for their audience. A great example in this regard is John Kerry. One reason he lost the 2004 presidential election was that a majority of Americans could hardly understand him. Using overly complicated words and longer than necessary sentences proved detrimental to his campaign. For example, once he discussed his preference for a “progressive internationalism” over the “too often belligerent and myopic unilateralism of the Bush Administration.” For the large part, the average American had no clue what he was talking about.
Leonardo Da Vinci once said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Effective language is always simple, clear, and concise. And so when it comes to conveying your message to an audience, it’s always best to choose the “Less is more” mindset and stick to words and phrases that are clear and direct.