Thought Leadership


The power of the written word

July 11, 2014

Have you ever given thought to how powerful the written word is? Safety speakers and safety professionals are primarily communicators. Understanding the tools we use to communicate is critical to our success.

In our field, you often hear phrases such as, “walking your talk,” “being a safety example” and the ever popular, “actions speak louder than words.” I would suggest words are, in fact, actions.

Words are actions

In my Safety For Leaders presentation, I teach what you talk about and how often you talk about these things sends a powerful message. If you talk about something every day and something else only once a week people quickly learn what is most important to you. Also, do the words of your leaders come from their personal experience and belief or from a power point presentation showing numbers and statistics?

Everyone in the audience knows safety is a value when a leader shares personal experiences.

YouTube understands the power of written words

Even YouTube understands the importance of words. YouTube encourages providers of video content to add transcriptions to their video.

Why do they do this?

You might think it is for close captioning, but that isn’t the primary reason. The key reason is words are searchable on the internet and that makes any video you post searchable by Google and any other search engine. It basically means your video can now be found by someone if a part of the dialogue contains their search term. Even in a world where video is their primary product, YouTube understands the power of the written word.

Ways you can use the written word for safety

  • Newsletters - electronic and printed
  • Posters
  • Emails - What percentages of emails in your company discuss safety?
  • Text messages

Editing and the written word

Another reason the written word is powerful is it has staying power. For that reason, it is good to have someone edit or just read any significant writings you put out for public consumption. It is tempting to be sloppy when it comes to emails, but if you don’t do a good job on a safety email and your other written communications are more accurate it sends a subliminal message of importance or lack thereof.

One day, I was in a hurry to get a newsletter out and I sent it without having Sandie edit it for me. The opening line was supposed to be, “Here We Go...” Unfortunately, I didn’t see that it actually said, “He We Go...” Believe me, I still hear about that mistake.

Have fun using words to convey a safety message.

Until next week,
I'll be, "Watching Out For Everyone's Safety™"

 John

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