by Sarah Warlick, content director
Ever wondered what comes across from the things you write and say? Now you can find out the real message you’re sending.
Marketing messages come in many forms: logos, colors, fonts, body language, office styles, images and dozens of other subtle and not-so-subtle ways of getting your point across. Words, of course, are one of the prime tools we use to convey our messages to those around us.
Web copy, brochures and blog posts are just a few of the word-dependent vehicles for communication efforts, not to mention social media posts, speaking engagements, interviews…the list goes on endlessly. We are a word-focused species, and for those in professional services the word is possibly the most critical tool at our disposal for sharing our skill with clients and colleagues.
Some of us craft word-based messages with ease and agility, while others struggle each time. But whether we’re fluent or halting in our flow of words, there’s often a disconnect between the message we intend and the message that’s heard by our audience.
This is because inside our heads, we know exactly what we’re trying to say. Words are fantastically versatile, but they have their limits as well. Words are only an approximation, however close, of the ideas we’re attempting to pinpoint. Therefore our attempts to pin down and share a concept that’s clear in our heads don’t ever quite live up to the high hopes we have at the outset.
The funny thing is that we don’t notice the failure, in most cases, because the idea is perfectly clear to us both before and after we create the words to get it across. It is only the recipients of the words who are left with a different or unclear picture than we intended them to receive. So what’s the solution? Well there is none, really, but there is a super-fun toy you can play with to get a better idea of what your audiences are hearing.
It’s called Wordle and it’s a free, online word cloud generator. You just paste your text into the site (or enter a link to the content you want to use) and Wordle will put together a word cloud to help you see what you’re really saying. Is it guaranteed to give you a perfectly accurate representation of what others perceive from your words? No, but it can definitely offer you more insight about what you’re actually saying as opposed to what you think you’re saying.
You’re free to use the word clouds generated by Wordle in any way you want, including for business. Just go to Wordle.net and plug in your words, then see what comes up. The results are visually appealing – artistic even! – and helpful for demonstrating where your verbal energy is going, which might not be exactly where you thought it was. It’s a semi-legitimate use of “educational,” “work” or “artistic endeavor” time and it’s awesome, too. Have fun and let us know what you think. Were you surprised at your results?