Sounding Smart.

During my time in University I had one very influential professor whose favorite quote was : “the only thing better than being smart is sounding smart.” Some people may not agree with this statement; however my university found that this man was valuable enough to fly him down from his other job inWashington DC where he worked as aWhite House advisor three days a week. And, many Fortune 500 companies found him valuable enough to pay him big bucks to teach his writing style to their employees.

I will now pass along a few of his simpler speaking and writing tips.

1st It is imperative that at all times you speak and write with authority using only the active voice. (what is the active voice you ask) the active voice quite simply is the absence of the passive voice. (what’s that?) the passive voice is the one that we use most commonly, but we often do this shun responsibility for our comments.

Example:

Passive Voice

The car was red and it was going too fast so it had an accident.

Active Voice

The driver caused the accident by driving his red car too fast.
As you can see the active voice gives responsibility and immediacy to all of the words.

The car was red: the car is always red, or maybe it was recently painted and is now blue.
The red car: there is no doubt about the details of this car’s color

The car was going too fast: it is true the car was going too fast, but why? Surely it was not doing it by itself.
The driver drove the car too fast: this puts the responsibility on the driver, not the car.

The car had an accident: why?
The driver caused the accident: ooo that’s why!

Example finished:

The active voice is more direct and more professional. It also makes it seem like you have the facts and know what you are talking about, not that you are leaving out details that you don’t know.

2nd USE SPELLING AND GRAMMAR CHECK!!!! Though studies show that correct spelling is not essential to relay the meaning of what you are saying, nothing is more embarrassing in a professional setting. I repeatedly hear participants comment on the numerous grammar errors on the signs we have in the bathrooms.

3rd do not use contractions, just don’t do it. Contractions were introduced into the English language as a form of short hand writing derived from people speaking the language incorrectly. It is normal in casual conversation or even casual emails. It looks bad in proposals and marketing material.

Speaking:

1st As we mentioned before use the active voice whenever it is possible. In actuality it is always possible to avoid the passive voice, but this is not easy to do so start out by reducing how often you use it.

2nd Do not use slang. Each culture has their own slang words, mine is aint. It means am not, therefore I say am not when speaking to participants.

3rd Train yourself to stop using pause words. I had a high school teacher take off one point for every pause word we used in presentations. Some of us would have negative scores if we were graded now. It is not easy but we must eliminate: uh, um, ah, ok, and alright. (Like I said, not easy)

Application:

Changing language will never happen over night, however if we practice and politely remind each other of our mistakes we will slowly improve.

Changing writing can happen immediately if you are willing to sacrifice the time. You should already be using spell check. Now after you use spell check use (Ctrl F) and search for anywhere in your paper that you have used these words: am, is, are, was, were, be, been. (that’s right, no linking verbs) wherever you find these words you have used the passive voice and should reword the sentence into the active voice.

This will be a good first step towards speaking and writing at the highest level of professionalism. Our company is a leading brand in our field, it is time that we started looking and sounding like it.

(note: this article did not use any of the advice that I have written when it was made.)

(Note: this article did use the advice that I have written when I made it.)

-Notice the difference in the flow of the article.

Sounding Smart

During my time in University I had one very influential professor whose favorite quote stated: “the only thing better than being smart is sounding smart.” Some people may not agree with this statement; however my university considered this man valuable enough to fly him down from his other job inWashington DC where he worked as aWhite House advisor three days a week. And, many Fortune 500 companies found him valuable enough to pay him impressive amounts to teach his writing style to their employees.

I will now pass along a few of his simpler speaking and writing tips.

1st professionals must speak with authority, using only the active voice at all times. (How can you recognize the use of the active voice?) The active voice quite simply represents the absence of the passive voice. (How can I recognize the passive voice?) People speak using the passive voice most of the time in order to shun responsibility for their comments.

Example:

Passive Voice

The car was red and it was going too fast so it had an accident.

Active Voice

The driver caused the accident by driving his red car too fast.
As you can see the active voice gives responsibility and immediacy to
all of the words.

The car was red: the car is always red, or maybe it was recently painted and is now blue.
The red car: there is no doubt about the details of this car’s color

The car was going too fast: it is true the car was going too fast, but why? Surely it was not doing it by itself.
The driver drove the car too fast: this puts the responsibility on the driver, not the car.

The car had an accident: why?
The driver caused the accident: ooo that is why!

Example finished:

Professionals using the active voice sound more direct and professional than those who do not. It also makes it seem like you have the facts and knowledge of the subject matter, not like they have left out details because they do not know them.

2nd USE SPELLING AND GRAMMAR CHECK!!!! Though, studies have shown that authors do not need to spell correctly to properly relay the meaning of their work. It spares them from the embarrassment of spelling incorrectly in a professional setting. I repeatedly hear participants comment on the numerous grammar errors on the signs we have in the bathrooms.

3rd do not use contractions, just “don’t” do it. Contractions began in the English language as a form of short hand writing derived from people speaking the language incorrectly. Speakers often use contractions in casual conversation or even casual emails. However, it looks bad in proposals and marketing material.

Speaking:

1st As mentioned before, orators should use the active voice whenever possible. In actuality orators could always avoid the passive voice, but this may prove challenging, so start
out by reducing how often you use it.

2nd Do not use slang. Each culture has its own slang words; I use the slang word “aint.” It means “am not”, therefore I say “am not” when speaking to participants.

3rd Train yourself to stop using pause words. I had a high school teacher take off one point for every pause word we used during presentations. Some of us would have negative scores if a teacher graded our presentations now. It may challenge your vernacular, but we must eliminate: uh, um, ah, ok, and alright. (Like I said, not easy)

Application:

Changing language will never happen over night, however if we practice and politely remind each other of our mistakes we will slowly improve.

Changing writing can happen immediately if you apply yourself and sacrifice the needed time. You should already use spell check. Now after you use spell check use (Ctrl F) and search for anywhere in your paper that you have used these words: am, is, are, was, were, be, been. (That is right, no linking verbs) wherever you find these words you have used the passive voice and should reword the sentence into the active voice.

This serves as a good first step towards speaking and writing at the highest level of professionalism. Our company recently received recognition as a leading brand in our field, we should start looking and sounding like it.