How to speak English so people will want to listen

Have you ever heard a police officer speak on TV when he is describing what happened? You might think he is talking about a member of some kind of elite school, instead of a criminal who was just caught.

The TV interview goes something like this:

Officer Joe: “The gentleman driving the vehicle was intercepted while engaging in illegal activities which involved prohibited substances and was apprehended at the junction of 2nd and 4th streets. Myself and Officer Jones had him lay down while we recuperated the substances from him; he was accompanied to the station and booked.”

If the interview were not on TV, it would be sound more like this – with a few grammatical corrections as well:
“We caught the man dealing drugs at the intersection of 2nd and 4th streets. Officer Jones and I had him lie down while we took the drugs from him; we took him to the station and booked him.”

Doesn’t the policeman in the second version sound a lot smarter, with simple vocabulary?

Sounding good isn’t only limited to TV sound bites. Many business people use language on their web sites that is meant to inform ( impress?) people, but it really does the opposite.

Take the explanation of a company’s training goals as stated on their web site:

“The goal of our work is to give people the ability to re-engineer the implementation of their job description to be ….” or…”thus, new behavioral demands accompany the strategic ones.”

What does all that mean in practical terms? For me, not much and I didn’t bother reading on.

When we write material for other people, especially online, where readers have little time or patience, it’s important to get to the point fast and to write in simple, understandable English (or whatever other language you write in). Many writers, non-native English speakers in particular, assume that if they use big words –as foreigners are quite used to doing in their own languages– they will sound cultured and knowledgeable.

The best thing is to stick to the old adage of KISS – keep it simple and short and everyone will be able to understand and appreciate what you said or wrote.

Many writers, non-native English speakers in particular [especially if they haven’t had any American accent pronunciation classes, assume that if they use big words –as foreigners are quite used to doing in their own languages– they will sound cultured and knowledgeable. So it is important to take action and finally go for that American accent pronunciation class, it’s unlikely that you can do it all alone. If you don’t have time then go take an accent reduction class online; for example you can look at my Udemy class, many people have taken it already and are clearly doing better.

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