How to convey ENERGY, CONFIDENCE AND KNOWLEDGE in your communication

I am a broken record on this and designers- professional consultants- still use verbiage that could be so much better .  I realize some may disagree on a few of these words but I maintain certain words devalue your professional practice. We jokingly forbid these words in our firm as they create a mindset I do not want my team to even consider. ( the retail shop is a different animal but we have words we do not use there too!)

Why there are better choices for professionals

For those of you who have not heard my spiel on this- the “there is a better choice” list of words we do not use in our professional design business- PLEASE do not take offense to this list or what I am trying to convey. If you do not agree, that is fine. I am sure there are thousands of successful designers who do not think these words are a problem- but it would not be me and if you work with me, I will try and persuade you to think of your firm in a different manner to elevate you amongst your peers.

1. Be mindful about your choice of words to describe your business and transactions

Words or phrases to reconsider

  1. “Package”-We are not walmart or UPS.  We have services not packages. Unless you fancy yourself Santa Clause, leave the packages for Santa. And UPS.
  2. “Pick”– A child may pick their nose ( hopefully not)  but professional designers select furnishings and other items for someone’s home.
  3. “Red flag”– we do not use this phrase because it is used too often and is a lazy way of attributing behavior to a client, vendor or potential new client without always examining the situation or your own behavior or reaction first.
  4. Budget”– This is not bad but we prefer investment.
  5. Discount”– There is nothing wrong with this word in the right hands, but too many use it in a way puts the focus on “saving money” rather than focusing on the final product you will deliver to your client.
  6. “Match”– we laughingly tell clients we do not “match” elements on purpose. We want magic to happen not to match. Anyone can do that.
  7. “Packet”– I don’t love this word- as in a welcome packet. Maybe is just me. But we call our intro a client introduction.

Often I do not think people think about their choice of words as often as they should. Ironically, there are people who would say this about me. Without a doubt, I shoot from the hip, am honest to a fault, and sometimes could phrase things less directly I suppose.

I counter all of this with I wish to hell others would be more direct.We all got our “things”.

Perception is reality- how do you want your business to be perceived?

2.Passive and active voice- use active voice

Active voice conveys strength. No doubt about it. But many designers still communicate passively.

What is passive voice?- When the subject is acted upon the verb.

Example:The service provided by In Detail Interiors is unmatched by our competition.

What is active voice? – The subject performs the verb’s action.

Example: In Detail Interiors provides a level of service unmatched by our competitors.

“The passive voice is convoluted; it takes the energy out of your writing and makes your message flaccid. It is absolutely homicidal – it kills the people in your prose. . . .The passive voice invariably comes across as pontificating, patronizing, talking down. It sounds insincere, even dishonest, and it makes the reader uncomfortable, not trusting, though usually the reader cannot put her finger on why.” — Henriette Anne Klauser, Writing on Both Sides of the Brain

I cannot say it better than Henriette!

Using active voice in your proposals vs passive voice is essential to good business communication

Active voice is far easier to understand, less wordy, and in most cases shows more strength. Bear in mind I am talking about persuasive business writing here- not a writing a novel.  But this is an important mindset as well as use of the right words!

3. Make a bold statement- Do not be afraid but make it real, compelling and supported by your work

Your website is your chance to shine. AND to stand out. Do not go overboard and brag but you do need to drill down to your USP (unique selling point) and make it known throughout the site.

“If you are building a new home- you want Cheryl to have her eyes and pencil on those plans. Believe it.”

This statement is on my website. Cocky? or Confident? That is up to the consumer to decide but I give them ample documentation in the way of our portfolio to substantiate the bold declaration. This is key- but you also need some bravado to make an impact. But be sincere and truthful!

4. Certain words simply convey more authority- find the ones that work for your business and use them


“We start the process by…..”

is better said-

“Our process begins….”


“I have an eye for design and a passionate love for making homes beautiful” Blech.

So what does that do for me? How does that very common statement on many websites help a client? It is just worthless words. FOCUS on what you are going to do for the client and the benefit to working with you.

5.Focus on benefits not features.

This is the biggest wording mistake I see on websites.

No one cares you are magna cum laude di dah or “award winning” ( I think we say this somewhere too!) or you are the best designer on the planet. A potential client simply wants to know if you can solve their problems. That is the top concern for anyone engaging on a remodel or new construction. If the project is more decor, their “problem” could be low budgets or conflicting spousal needs and wants or concern you will not get their style etc.

Make a list of concerns you have run into and then address them in strong language. Now. Today. ( and no not the cursing type strong language!) But with strong  verbs, active voice, phrasing that differentiates you and conveys your sweet spot.

Think about what you do in your work- then say that- but be detailed and precise.

We research, create, communicate, organize. lead, supervise, manage resources, and execute. Think of your role and what you do and break it down- it really helps when you are stuck on what to say. Wow. That is a lot of roles in a strong design firm right? So let people know!

So now you know why we do not use certain words- but what are good words to use? I like power verbs in writing- proposals, invoices, on our website, in our emails and so on.

You may recall this sort of thing when learning to write a resume. I have not done one since cavemen pounded it out on stone tablets but I have helped my kids. These are words to use to CONVEY VALUE and they are important in not only getting a job but well, getting a client too!

I outlined the power verbs before a long time ago and I am sure you can add more. But this began as a way to find the right words when your brain is on overdrive and the right words are elusive. What do we do?

BONUS- Our “go to” list of power verbs

We use these words in proposals, website, invoicing, emails and any communication we need them. Download this infographic or save to your Pinterest page for when you get stuck!

Does this post resonate with you? If you would like to work together to improve your processes, sales,  goal setting or anything related to running your business, call me!

Damn Good Designer- consulting and trade partnership

Join our awesome free face book group!

Learn more about our methods, proposals and projecting income, minimum expenditures and flat fees here!