Summary of Words That Work

It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear

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Words That Work book summary
How you say something is as important as what you expert's practical guide to communication.


9 Overall

9 Applicability

7 Innovation

8 Style


This book's readability says a lot about the power of author Frank Luntz's advice on communicating. The text flows, usually matching actions with concepts. For instance, Luntz repeats how important it is to repeat your message. He uses simple language to illustrate the importance of simple language, and so on. What's more, the book is entertaining. Luntz has been involved in major media campaigns with key American products and politicians, and his story about demonstrating an important principle to the Senate is hypnotic. The caveat is that such stories sometimes seem boastful and end up being off-putting when they are clearly meant to be engaging. That grain of salt aside, getAbstract recommends this extremely useful book to those who want to improve their communication skills. The book is directed toward Americans, though it debunks myths about them for the entertainment and edification of everyone else. Some of the book's principles are familiar, but so deeply fundamental that they are worth repeating – which is actually Luntz's fourth rule of effective language use. Say it right, and then say it again.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What ten rules govern the effective use of language
  • How to employ these principles in speeches, ads and political campaigns


"The Ten Rules of Effective Language"
To communicate successfully, learn one core principle: "It's not what you say, it's what people hear." People don't listen objectively. They filter what they hear and see through their personal lenses. Tailor your words accordingly...
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About the Author

Frank Luntz has supervised more than 1,000 focus groups or surveys, and has advised business and political leaders on shaping their messages.

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    Don Irby 2 years ago
    "Successful, effective messages...stick in our brains and never leave.."
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    Julie Smith 4 years ago
    Enjoyable read and some crisp clear messages. For a non Amercian audience or for those who are not trading in Amercia the myths about people and language of Amercians is not relevant although interesting. If you struggle with the people of the UK then try 'watching the English' an accurate if slightly sarcastic portrayal of our foibles!
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    Raul Torres 4 years ago
    Great resource to read.

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Contained in Knowledge Pack:

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    Business Writing
    Helpful pointers for writing effective email messages, reports, proposals and presentations

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