Sounds Good on Paper

Emma De Vita reviews Roger Horberry's book about the importance of language.

"Yoda, the diminutive Jedi master from Star Wars, had a real way with words," says copywriter Roger Horberry, the author of Sounds Good on Paper.

The little guy was particularly adept at "figures of speech" - creative turns of phrase that give words more colour, emphasis and impact.

Why should you be more like Yoda? Because using language effectively can make the difference between a boring, run-of-the-mill written communication and inspiring and persuasive writing. This is particularly important if you are responsible for marketing materials aimed at potential donors, but it also matters on a smaller scale: the emails you send are a reflection of your managerial ability, so it pays to use your words wisely.

So how do you go about making the mundane marvellous? One of Horberry's tricks is to make the most of striking imagery - something that similes are good for. Try this one by Truman Capote: "Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go." Or you might have been accused of "running around the office like a headless chicken".

Include a little more of this kind of thing in your everyday written communication and wait for impressive results.

- Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today.

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