Good writing is rare. In emails, it's almost mythical. This week I received an invitation to a presentation, and it stood out from the rivers of grey 'corporatese' that usually flood my mailbox. It went like this: 

'If there were permanent armed robbers outside your house and the only deterrent between you and them is your guard dog, what would you feed that dog?  Would you feed it bones and porridge and have a fat, lazy, lethargic dog? Or would you invest in the best dog food you can buy and have an alert, sharp, intelligent dog? Your brain is attacked on a daily basis by stressors as dangerous as armed robbers. Stress can kill you. Would you not want your brain to function at optimal clear strength to protect your whole system?  We are more concerned about anti-virus protection for our computers, than we are about preserving our own brains.' 

Studies repeatedly show that when you can get your reading audience to 'see' what you mean, your writing becomes more effective. Yet too many leaders and managers continue to use buzz-words and abstract concepts; words that mean a great deal to them, but very little to their listening audience. For instance, when a manager speaks about 'deliverables,' or 'favourable returns,' these words possess great depth of meaning to them, but often, very little real-world meaning to their staff. 

Word-pictures are much better. Concrete language, which help us to see an idea in our mind's eye, activates the imagination, and thus causes our brains to 'do more' in the presence of an idea. 

This week, I challenge you to use this concept on purpose at least once. Whether it's in an email, a presentation, or a communication to your customers. Find a way to turn a buzzword into a small picture-story. If they can 'see' what you mean, you will cut through the clutter. Stand out with your expressive brilliance, and you could own your industry. 


Douglas Kruger is a professional speaker and the author of six business books published by Penguin. He is a 'Hall of Fame' speaker, who helps businesses and brands to position themselves as the top player in their industry. See him in action, or book him as the motivational speaker for your next event, at