Words that Work – Part 3 of 4

On Tuesday, I started a series of lessons from the book Words that Work by Frank Luntz by giving you his first four rules of communication. Here are rules five through nine:

Rule Five…Novelty: Offer Something New
Words that work often involve a new definition of an old idea. (In preaching the goal is not to have a ‘new idea’ but to share the ‘old ideas’ in new ways.) There’s a simple test to determine whether or not your message has met this rule. If it generates an “I didn’t know that” response, you have succeeded.

Rule Six…Sound and Texture Matter

Says (Aaron) Sorkin: “The greatest speech of all time is ‘I Have a Dream.’ You read the speech and it’s perfect. Listen to the speech, it gets more perfect. The way as the speech moved on, the phrase ‘I have a dream’ stopped being the beginning of each stanza and began being the end, ‘That one day, we will be judged not by the color of our skin, by the content of our character, I have a dream.’ That’s what jazz musicians do. They take a phrase and they move it. It was phenomenal delivery.”

Rule Eight…Visualize

The word: imagine. Whether it’s the car of your dreams or the candidate of your choice, the word imagine is perhaps the single most powerful communication tool because it allows individuals to picture whatever personal vision is in their hearts and minds.

Rule Nine…Ask a Question

“Is it live, or is it Memorex?” “Where do you want to go today?” (Microsoft) “Can you hear me now?” (Verizon Wireless) “Got Milk?” In his work, (Tony) Schwartz found that people reacted best to language and messages that were participatory—allowing the receiver to interact with the message and the messenger.

Rule Ten…Provide Context and Explain Relevance
You have to give people the “why” of a message before you tell them the “therefore” and the “so that.”
Some people call this framing.

This is no doubt the best book on communication that I’ve read in the last year. How about you? What’s the best communication book have you read lately? Feel free to share your comments below.


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About Nelson Searcy

Nelson Searcy is an experienced church planter, coach and church growth strategist, working with churches in over 45 denominations. Nelson is also the Founding and Lead Pastor of The Journey Church, with locations across New York City and in San Francisco and Boca Raton, FL. He first developed the Assimilation System 10 years ago at the Journey Church and has since implemented and improved these strategies with over 3,000 churches across all sizes and denominations. He started coaching pastors in 2006 and has personally coached over 2100+ senior pastors, helping them break common growth barriers like 125, 250, 500, 1000 and beyond, all while maintaining personal life and ministry balance. As founder of Church Leader Insights and the Renegade Pastors Network, he has trained more than 50,000 church leaders (3,000+ church planters). He is the author of over 85 church growth resources and 17+ books, including Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully-Engaged Members of Your Church and The Renegade Pastor: Abandoning Average in Your Life and Ministry. His continued mission is to help church leaders around the world cooperate with God in creating healthy, thriving churches. Nelson is married to Kelley and together they have one son, Alexander.

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