Quick Tip:
The Sesquipedalian Lesson

Keep It Simple … Make Your Sale

Give yourself 20 extra-credit points if you know what "sesquipedalian" means. Take 50 points away … no, make that 5,000 … if you've ever used it in a promotion.

In the search to find the perfect word – the one perfect word that will tell our prospect exactly what we want to say – we sometimes forget that "less is best."

Use shorter paragraphs.

Use shorter sentences.

And use shorter, simpler words. They bond you to your prospect, while longer words set you apart from him.

Instead of "acquire," use "get." Instead of "utilize," use the simpler "use." In fact, if at all possible, reject all words that end in "ize." They're almost always overblown (I mean, "too fancy").

The rule of thumb is to avoid words of more than three syllables. I'll make it even simpler. Avoid words of more than eight letters.

Use your computer's thesaurus if you find yourself falling into the "sesquipedalian trap" – that is, if you find yourself using long words where shorter, simpler ones would work just as well.

Augment (I mean, "add to") your computer's thesaurus by getting a copy of the best synonym finder in the world: "The Synonym Finder" from Rodale Press.

Some people might argue that a six-syllable, 14-letter word exactly captures what they want to say. But don't do it.

Even if it takes you 10 short words to do the same work, your prospect will understand you better when you do. And that gives you a much better chance to make your sale.

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Published: November 15, 2004

1 Response to “Quick Tip: The Sesquipedalian Lesson”

  1. Ok, so use the "KISS" (Keep It Simple Stupid)rule right? But honestly, the word "sesquipedalian" in the title of this tip did catch my attention and enticed me to read it. (And yes, I did have to look it up to see the meaning!)
    I love using very descriptive words when writing to add color and interest, so this helps me to remember to "curb my enthusiasm" in that regard. Excellent tip!

    NicoleTNovember 16, 2011 at 8:24 pm


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