Book Review: Dr. Frank Luntz Words That Work, It’s Not What you Say, It’s what people hear

Book Review: Dr. Frank Luntz Words That Work, It’s Not What you Say, It’s what people hear

Dr. Frank Luntz leads think tanks or groups of people in question sessions. He uses the information from these sessions to help his clients sell products or ideas to the general public. Throughout his book he indicates a lot of work is confidential.
He gives us a glimpse into the future regarding social security. Large private banks and other institutions will lobby to privatize social security by “personalizing social security.”  This is how these business people will try to convince the public to subject social security to the bust and booms of Wall Street markets.
He writes that if people hear it enough, they will believe it. The most prominent example that I can think of is CNN’s and Fox’s pro-war entertianment agenda. War against terror is like war on drugs, because both are wars against ideas. That gives latitude to go after whoever and present salicous pro-hate and pro-war stories.
On page 55 he provides George Orwell’s language rules:

  1. Never use a metaphor or simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do
  3. If it’s possible to cut out a word, cut it out
  4. Never use the passive when you can use the active
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English  equivalent

He writes, “good communication requires conviction and authenticity.”  He has 10 principles or rules of communication:

  1. simplicity
  2. Brevity
  3. Credibility
  4. Consistently
  5. Novelty
  6. Alliteration
  7. Aspiration
  8. Visualization
  9. Questioning
  10. Context

On page 98 he writes, “language encourages listeners to envision a powerful future.”  Good communicators must show, not tell or explain.  People care about a sense of passion, passion for understanding, passion for communication and passion for success.

Transformational vocabulary and words that work are powerful because they connect ideas, emotions, hopes and fears.  Some political power words he shares are:

  1. Principles
  2. Equal Opportunity (more than fairness)
  3. Opportunity of ownership
  4. Community – community relationships & behavioral communities
  5. Common sense
  6. Getting “value” from government
  7. Convenience
  8. Main Street, not Wall Street
  9. Family Values – Moral values
  10. The future (not the past)
  11. Positive messages
  12. Accountability
  13. Respect
  14. Solutions

He gives readers 21 words or phrases for a powerful 21st century:

  1. Imagine
  2. Hassle-free
  3. Lifestyle
  4. Accountability
  5. Results and the can-do spirit
  6. Innovation
  7. Renew, revitalize, rejuvenate, restore, rekindle, reinvent
  8. Efficient and efficiency
  9. The right to….
  10. Patient-centered
  11. Investment
  12. Casual elegance
  13. Independent
  14. Peace of mind
  15. Certified
  16. All-American
  17. Prosperity
  18. Spirituality
  19. Financial security
  20. A balanced approach
  21. A culture of accountability

Remember, “you are the message.” There is much to be gained by being upbeat and optimistic.  The best warrior is a happy warrior.  A solid positive message will triumph over negativity.  Know your audience. Challenge them but don’t offend them.  There are consequences to inaction.