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The Language of Leadership

Updated: Jul 19, 2023

Be impeccable with your words

Every time you say an acronym ask yourself why you are wanting to use it. If it is to show the audience you are an insider like them, it’s good. If you are speaking to leaders who are not experts or a non-technical audience, avoid it. Even a term like “DE&I” sounds more elegant and important when you say it fully as "diversity, equity, and inclusion". --- Even though the audience knows what that is, you elevate the concept by saying the longer version.

by Stephanie Bickel

Leadership communication skills | leadership and communication skills | communication for leadership success

You don't want to sound like a brochure.

Do not use "company speak" or "consultantese".

Be audience-centric or client-centric and use more compelling and direct terms. That is the language of leadership, the language of authority, and expertise.

More compelling terms

1. Report / Document

Instead, say:

Benchmarks, KPI comparisons, customized insights and recommendations,


2. Product name "Let's put that in Salesforce"


Name the actual business expertise in the audience’s business terms (e.g.

customer database)

3. Process information and details


Give a description of the "what" (vs process which is the "how")

4. Cool, awesome

Instead, say:

Excellent, well done, exactly what we need

More direct language

1. Apples to apples

Instead, say:

Consistent definitions / robust methodology

2. Qualifiers (e.g. When it comes to deposits, balances are low, In addition to X, leading

banks should do Y


Start with the main point (e.g. Balances are low across deposit products,

Leading banks should do Y…in addition to X). Don’t bury the lead.

3. Kind of start to see, sort of see Company X

Instead, say:

Company X performed, grew, etc.

We see that Bank X sees benchmarks, data, analysis highlights,

Bank X experienced, achieved

4. Hoping to, planning to

Instead, say:

Will do (more confident)

5. Are also doing, are launching, have found ways of

Instead, say:

do, utilize, implement

6. Several things to consider when…

Instead, say:

We should consider X, Y, and Z (call out the specific things)

7. On the next page, we focus on digital sales, and as you can see from the data on the

left…so therefore digital sales are weaker than

Instead, say:

Company X’s digital sales are weaker than (lead with the main message as

the data are the supporting points) which is supported by the data…


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