When what we say is dirt-clod ordinary and egregiously expected, our audience becomes BORED and Love-Less!
It’s simple science. It’s about Broca.
We’d all go insane in the membrane if all those marketing messages registered. Our blessed brains have a built in safeguard called Broca. The Broca area of our brain anticipates, discounts and ignores the ordinary and predictable. (We also use Broca to arrange our words into understandable sentences.)
When speaking or writing, imagine Broca as your audience’s muscle-bound doorman, guarding the entryway to their conscious awareness. Mr. Broca decides if your message is worthy of attention. Broca is impressed by the surprise of the unexpected. Surprise Broca and you’re In Like Flint.
Here’s an example from Roy H. Willaims, author of the New York Times Bestseller, The Wizard Of Ads, Tools and Techniques for Profitable Persuasion.
Dirt-Clod: “Merlot is more full bodied than Cabernet.” / Broca, yawns and the audience snores.
Diamond: “Cabernet tastes of sunshine and rainbows, while Merlot is foggy, dark, and Gothic.” / Broca smiles and everyone at the table scrambles for a glass of wine
If our written and spoken message is not engineered to surprise or sprinkled with unexpected shimmer, it falls on deaf ears and closed minds. If we aren’t heard, we can’t be appreciated, approved, trusted, recommended, referred or hired.
Because the Art Of Surprise is science, anyone can learn how to surprise Broca. With a bit of scientific savvy we can consciously do what genius-class writers and speakers do instinctively. All we need to do is foreplay with wordplay.
How To Foreplay With Wordplay
There are 3 platinum pass, big Ju-Ju, rocket-surgery secrets to surprising Mr. Broca.
1. The Radioactive Verb Surprise
Dump dirt-clod common verbs and replace them with verbs that Glow Radioactive. Verbs that Bam-Boom, Sizzle-Pop, Sparkle and Fizz.
Here’s how to radioactive your verb:
A. Write like you normally do. Go ahead, clickty-clack till your done.
B. When finished, backtrack and delete the egregiously expected and dirt-clod common verbs. If you’re imagination is stuck in neutral, don’t fret, use a Thesaurus or this handy Verb Website. Can’t conjure any diamonds, no worries, Cubic Zirconias will do. Just lose the dirt-clods.
- Use a noun as a verb: “Just Harley-Davidson your way to the head of the line.”
- Use a verb as noun: “If you can’t deliver dazzle, I’ll settle for twinkle.”
- Use a modifier as a verb: “He’s planning to slippery his way through the press conference.”
- Use a verb as a modifier: “It’s a kicking shade of pink.”
- Use a modifier as a noun: “I’m on the road to lethargic.”
Will you take the time to radioactivate your writing? Try it and see how your story shimmers with new found glory.
2. The Seussing Surprise
You’ve read Dr. Seuss, right? Dr. Seuss in famous for his whimsical style of made up words and meter. Turns out Broca loves Dr. Seuess’s style too. Your message zings and Broca beams when he sees a word he’s never heard, but knows it’s meaning intuitively.
Here’s a handful example of directionally correct Seusssing Style words: Crap Sandwich, Bamboozle, Eye Candy, Shazam, Rocket-Surgery, Sheeple, Sham-Wow, Woot, Flim-Flamed, Rick-Rolled, Glarmy, Reader’s Block, Twitterrhea, Facebating, Blogger’s Butt, Shiny Object Syndrome, Punked, Blame-Storm, etc.
Are you audacious enough to go Leroy Jenkins and paint your message with unofficial word glitter? A simple brush stroke or two will zestify even the most maddening mundaneness. Try it.
Not convinced? Consider long life stickiness enjoyed by the word “Strategery”.
3. The Counter-Contextual Surprise.
We expect sales people to gush bootlick, advertisers to yammer in ad-speak, politicians to drone politician like, business people to speak stiffly-official and personality-free. When they do, and mostly they always do, we’re bored to snoredom.
Hallelujah. When they don’t. Broca’s ears perk cat-curious, the audience pauses, purrs and ponders what’s been shared. When the expected is shattered with unexpected Counter-Contextual communication, eyes, ears and minds snap to attention.
This is why:
Share expectedly correct and PC proper, eye-lids leaden. Share your story with tiny threads of unexpected irreverence, edge of the envelope off-color or counter-contextually, eyes widen and interest snaps to attention.
Telling in “drone” kills communication. Conversationally communication engages attention.
Waxing in woo-woo platitudes sucks. Sharing candid and direct, the good and not so good is appreciated and attracts.
Spewing ad-speak reeks insincere and is ignored. Sharing in your own personality infused voice is comforting, engaging and interesting.
Finally, to arch the brow of your audience, think cliche’ and throw it away.
The Journey Begins One Word At A Time
Doesn’t matter how good looking, how smart, how committed, how sincere, how honest or how much we deserve success, if our communication is dirt-clod common, we’re screwed.
Give these ideas a whirl. Be bold. Have some fun, foreplay with wordplay. Radioactive your verbs. Dr. Suess surprise. Every now and then go counter-contextual. It’s easy, it’s free and it’s smart.
Give it whirl and see what happens.
Thanks for reading.
More If You Want Can Stand It?
If you’re full, thanks for reading, tootle-loo and I’ll see you next week.
If you want more, read on.
If you’re the cat-curious type I have some recommendations for you.
If you live in or can get to Austin, TX, run don’t walk to the Wizard Academy. Visit their website. Check out their workshop schedule. If you’re not sure, sign up for this FREE day long workshop. Once you’ve attended a workshop, future classes are 1/2 off. This class will transform your ordinary writing pen into a flaming quill. Receive monthly tips and reminders (sign-up on right hand box). Lastly, if you want explode to your head and learn about 3rd Gravitating Bodies, Particle Stacking and Conflict, Portals and reveals and other fantastic stuff, attend this workshop.
Follow/Read Copyblogger Blog
Carry a Moleskine or notepad and a pen. When reading, look for snappy verbs, shiny sentences, glimmery work combinations and quotes that shout, when you find “stand outs”, write them down. Start a word jewel collection.
Here’s an award winning, heart-tug example:
If “we are what we eat” is accurate, so is, “we write what we read”. Seek out and read well written books. Here’s three recommendations:
PS. I’m not an affiliate of the Wizard Academy, I’m a simple student who believes that what’s shared there can change things for the better. Amen.