A Leadership Workshop
Barbara Ann Cox, CMP
2013 TSAE Education Symposium & Expo
What are your words saying for you, about you?
Words are powerful. Words are powerful tools to
express, clarify, explain, enlighten, entertain, teach,
inform . . . to communicate.
Words are weapons. Clear, concise and succinct use
of words can convey precisely what you want to say,
what you want others to understand.
Words are toys. Words are playful, whimsical, sassy,
comical. When cleverly used, words are musical,
• Except for private journals, the real purpose of our
writing words is for someone to READ them.
• We are communicating. With words.
• We are communicating our words, our
thoughts, our intentions, our directives.
• The better our words are put together, the easier
it is for the reader to read them and then easier to
Unique. Quite. Rather. Pretty. Really. Kind of.
Very. Actually. Basically. Practically. Virtually.
Probably. Definitely. Somewhat. Extremely.
Wordy: Actually, we basically packed up the
headquarters office, virtually leaving it in somewhat
better shape than we definitely found it.
Concise: We packed up the headquarters office,
leaving it in better shape than we found it.
Full and complete. Each and every. True facts.
First and foremost. True and accurate. Free gift.
Always and forever. Past memories. End result.
Various differences. Basic fundamentals.
Sudden crisis. Terrible tragedy. Past history.
Unexpected surprise. Important essentials.
Future plans. Final outcome.
Wordy: Each and every attendee received a gift card
as an unexpected surprise.
Concise: Each attendee received a surprise gift card.
Specific words imply a general category. The category
Large in size. Heavy in weight. At an early time.
In a confused state. Of a strange type.
Extreme in degree. Unusual in nature.
Wordy: During that time period, homes in South
Florida were painted the color pink.
Concise: During that time, South Florida homes were
One Word For A Phrase
“Circumlocutions” are common expressions that take
several words to say what could be said succinctly with
Common phrases can be replaced with a single word.
Due to the fact that…………..since
In light of the fact…………..because
Given the fact…………..why
The reason for…………..because
• In the event that…………..if
• It is necessary that…………..must
• Cannot be avoided…………..should
• Under circumstances in which…………..when
• Has the opportunity to…………..can
• There is a chance that…………..might
• The possibility exists for…………..could
• Concerning the matter of…………..about
Prepositional phrases begin with
in, for, at, on, through, over.
Wordy: The reason for the failure of the baseball
team of the University of Florida in the Final Four
game against the team from Florida State University
was that on that day and at that time, some players
could not hit the baseball.
Concise: UF’s baseball team lost the Final Four game
against FSU because the players could not hit the
Passive vs Active Voice
Passive voice puts the subject after the verb. If you
have to ask “by” who or what, you have passive
voice. Use active voice for dynamic writing and
Passive: The packages were taken to UPS by Sam.
Active: Sam hauled the packages to UPS.
Passive: HB201 was thoroughly examined by the
people in the legal department.
Active: Legal staff thoroughly examined HB201.
Beginning a sentence with It or There.
Connecting clauses with that, which, who.
Boring: It is absolutely imperative that we find a solution.
Enthusiastic: We must find a solution.
Boring: It is the executive board who sets fiscal policy.
Enthusiastic: The executive board sets fiscal policy.
Boring: There are specific rules which address the dress code.
Enthusiastic: Specific rules address the dress code.
Verbs act. Verbs move. Verbs do.
strike, soothe, grin, cry, exasperate,
hurt and heal.
Verbs make writing move and they matter more to our
language than any other part of speech.
(Donald Hall, Writing Well, Little Brown)
Dull: The reception area was full of warm lighting and
décor that was colorful.
Vivid: The reception area welcomed guests with warm
lighting and colorful décor.
Dull: The Board was upset at the results of the survey.
Vivid: The Board cringed at the results of the survey.
Dull: The keynote speaker gave the audience a really
Vivid: The keynote speaker mesmerized the audience
with his speech.
Editing & Proofreading
• Read the content first time. Make corrections.
• Then, read aloud.
• Read content backwards.
• Consult authorities when in doubt of style, form.
• Ask another person to proofread.
• Look for the obvious: headlines, tag lines, subheads, banners.
• Check names, phone numbers, websites, addresses, everything.
• Read one more time, aloud, with enthusiasm.
Peter Jacobi, Writing With Style, Ragan
Peter Jacobi’s A-B-C’s of Writing
A – Accuracy
B – Brevity
C - Clarity
• Consider who is reading your words.
• Determine what words you can and should use.
• Write appropriately to your audience.
“Never put in writing words you would not want
to see as headlines in the newspaper.”
Some Fun With Words
Nescience n. ~ Lack of knowledge, ignorance. A word of which —
unlike prescience (foreknowledge) — most people are nescient.
Hence useful for the Insult Concealed. “My Dear, I can only
marvel at the extent of your nescience.”
Facinorous a. ~ Exceedingly wicked. “I will speak no ill of my
opponent in this election campaign. All of us recognize and
accept his truly facinorous nature.”
Veneration n. ~ Profound respect and reverence. From the same
root, ultimately, as venereal (i.e., pertaining to Venus). A piquant
compliment to pay to an attractive member of the opposite sex
is: “Sir/Madam, you excite my veneration.”
Temulency n. ~ Inebriation, drunkenness. Another good one for
sick-leave application forms.