3/21 Meeting Recap: Weekend Language

By: Tiffany Lin

As innate storytellers, Weekend Language is our default when we are out of the office, two days out of every week. Andy Craig, Principal at Elevator Speech Inc., came in to talk to us about weekend language and how we should use our default setting in any professional setting.

On the weekends, we tell stories to our friends, families or even strangers. If the story is good, our audiences tell our stories to their friends, families and strangers to them, which is communication nirvana. Companies want that same effect in journalists and consumers.

When we are placed in front of cameras, we tend to switch to our more “business” side and use the most ridiculous language to sound more professional. Questions like “What do you do” and “What’s going on these days” become the hardest to answer. Interviewees have a difficult time boiling down everything they know into one to two sentences. The downside to complicated language is it turns audiences away, which is bad for business. These same questions translate to “Tell me about yourself” in an internship or job interview setting and how you answer them can greatly impact the end result.

Craig then introduces us to what he calls Magic Words. Magic words like “Imagine… For example… Think about it this way” help translate, summarize, and illustrate your knowledge and experience to your audience to the point where they a) understand and b) care about what you’re talking about. Analogies and metaphors can also do the trick; they are tweetable and relatable. Journalists love them. Next, Craig shows us how we can build a narrative through the lead, story and language.

Firstly, how do you find your lead? Creating your lead is not focused on who, what, when, why and how. It is the entire point of the passage and pulls people in. Journalists have two tasks: report and write. No reader is going to care about all the research journalists have done or how well they have written it if it doesn’t relate to them at first glance. The same thing applies when trying to obtain your next internship or job: find what the interviewer or company cares about and start with that.

The story is the second piece in the narrative puzzle. Anyone can walk down a resume but telling a cohesive story that explains your skills and what you actually did during your time at the internship is what will really grab your interviewer’s attention.

Lastly, the more conversational your language is, the better. Companies typically want to include as much fancy jargon and claims as they can like “leading provider.” But these meaningless words can often chip away at the company’s credibility, and these words can do the same to you when in an interview. Speaking a bunch of complicated words doesn’t mean you are communicating.

Weekend Language helps companies reach their audiences and can help you get your next internship or job — your narrative is what sets you apart.