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Writing to Influence: The Ten Most Powerful Words

Posted by Alan Magnan on 9/19/11 5:00 AM
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I recently looked up the ten most powerful words in the English language. These words are key tools used by advertisers, marketers, writers, and business people for marketing and influencing purposes. Here is an adaptation of these words for training professionals. Some ideal places to use these words would be in our course descriptions, welcome emails, needs analysis proposals, and training evaluation reports.


Writing directly to your reader commands attention. Trainers have done this in training materials seemingly forever. We can write in the second person in our course descriptions as well.

How perfectly does this match up with our fourth level of evaluation? We shouldn't just limit this word to evaluation reports, though. Describe expected changes in business results in your needs analysis proposals, for example.

Perfect for safety training. You can express outcomes in terms that mean more to your audience using this word.

Some of the guarantees we may be able to offer in training are: “Our training is performance-based.” “You will get to practice real life situations.” “You will enjoy a safe learning environment.” Just make sure you've designed the training to deliver on your promises.

As an example, in your course descriptions, invite your learners to “Discover new, more efficient ways to get more work done with fewer resources."

If you love training, exclaim that you love what you do. Tell your learners that this improves the odds that they'll love their training experience. Also sounds like a good element to add to the pre-course email learners receive.

First ensure your training is based on job tasks that were documented in thorough detail and were well validated. Then you can confidently proclaim your training will teach proven processes guaranteed to produce significant results.

I'll defer physical safety to the third bullet (“Health”) listed above. Instead, let me focus this word on social safety with an example: “Enjoy the chance to practice and master new skills in the safety of a training room without negative consequences.” How's that for a course description item?

Granted, employees may not be saving money of their own because of a training course. But they might be able to save time, or effort, or their department's operating budget as a result of the new skills they learn.

Sure, our content is often new. But how about our instructional methods? If you're trying new training techniques, make that part of your internal advertising. People can be excited about the process as well as the content.

As trainers we deal with a lot of technical writing. Procedural documents tend to be dry and to-the-point. Hopefully, in all our other forms of writing, these words can help make our messages more compelling and further our cause: improving employee performance by giving them more knowledge and skills.


Alan has been a course leader with Langevin since 1996. He studied business administration at Algonquin College of Applied Arts and Technology. Alan’s philosophy on training is that it can be fun, engaging, and active, but that’s just what’s on the surface. Training must also be practical, realistic, and applicable. Alan is a computer geek at heart and enjoys programming and gaming in his spare time. He’s also a great fan of the outdoors during the summer months, and when the winter moves in, you’ll find him reading, or recording and playing music.

Topics: influencing, tips-for-trainers

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