How Word Choice Can Sink or Swim Your Content

Mar 22, 2022

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The words you use influence your communication more than you may realize. Many times, poor word choice can confuse your audience and even upset them. How, then, can you make sure you choose the right words? Below are three aspects to consider when assessing how word choice can sink or swim your content. 

Analyze Your Audience

How does my audience dictate my word choice?

Audience analysis is key to any type of communication. If you do not understand your target audience, your writing will most likely be ineffective. Knowing the background and general experiences of your target publics will dictate your tone and the way you present your content.

How does word choice fit into audience analysis? You need to use words that your audience will understand. Think of the words you use as the building blocks of your message. You need a strong foundation of clear communication in order to communicate with your audience effectively. Technical jargon comes into play here as well. If you are communicating in your field, then you can use those niche terms. However, if your audience is not in your field, you will need to break down those terms so they can understand them. Make sure, however, that your audience does not feel like you are pandering to them. Explain the terms or concepts clearly and without any judgment. Once you analyze your audience, it will be easier to choose the words that will best reach them.

Understand the Context and Connotations

Why should the context and connotations influence my word choice?

Words carry different meanings. This is especially frustrating as this all depends on the context of the situation. Many of these situations depend on how you are using the word, whether it is a noun, adjective, or verb etc. While this seems easy to avoid, these kinds of words sneak up on you, especially in writing. Clarity should be your number one priority, so make sure your word choice reflects that.

The connotations of words also vary immensely. This is even more difficult in writing because you lose the tone of voice when someone is talking to you. The lack of inflection can turn a well-meaning joke into an insult. Even words that are synonymous to each other can change the whole meaning of a sentence. Be aware of what message you want to convey and make sure your words represent that without a doubt. Also, you need to be aware of how the words you use communicate between cultures. Some words you think are okay to use may be offensive to someone else. Always err on the side of caution in these situations as you do not want to upset anyone. Check out Salvador Ordorica’s article, “How Language And Word Choice Can Affect Your Business,” at Forbes to learn more about the importance of word choice in marketing.

Avoid Becoming a Thesaurus

Why should I be careful when using a thesaurus? 

Now, of course, you cannot technically become a thesaurus. However, you should be careful when using one as you write. You do not want to fall into the trap that many young writers do as they think the biggest word is the best word. Again, clarity is your priority. Choose words that effectively deliver your message. Using large, unnecessary words will not make you appear smarter; on the contrary, this will make you look condescending and less intelligent, especially if you misuse the words. 

This does not mean, however, that you should never use a thesaurus. It can be a useful tool when trying to decide which word best fits the context of your message. Thesauruses can also be helpful if you are struggling to think of that perfect word. Just be careful when using them because you do not want to fall into the large word trap.

The words you use greatly impact your content. In order to choose effective words, you should analyze your audience, understand the context and connotations, and be mindful when using a thesaurus. Hopefully by following these three tips your content will swim and not sink. Want to learn more about word choice in your content? RedMoxy is here to help! Contact us here to learn more.