How to Use Quotable Language That Connects with Your Audience

Ace Hotel lobby,

Getting my morning dose of social media, I came across an article on Fast about an intriguing hotel concept.  “Creatives gravitate to a showy New York hotel lobby [The Ace Hotel] to work hard and look good doing so,” according to the article’s author, Lizzy Goodman in \”Ace Hotel\’s Communal Workspace Shows A Winning Hand\” I highly recommend reading about this very creative — and successful — concept.

But this isn’t a blog about the Ace Hotel. This blog was inspired by a quote in the article. I’m always struck by brilliant examples of well-delivered messages, odd sentence constructions or examples of spokespersons trying too hard

“The environment here is more or less a spontaneous organism striving for homeostasis,” said one of the hotel’s co-founders.

This quote certainly makes you stop and think. But rather than ponder what the spokesperson meant, I immediately formed an impression of the spokesperson as trying too hard to be erudite.

The article’s author wrote about the experience in a way I found more immediately descriptive, “For a class of designers, academics, stylists, advertising execs, writers and entrepreneurs,” (the reader can now visualize who’s sitting in the hotel lobby), “the Ace Hotel lobby is their collective workspace….The Ace is a model of the modern workplace in a borderless world.” Got it!  And more…I love it!

Here are three suggestions for how you can speak in quotable language that connects with your audience and creates a positive impression of you as the spokesperson:

  1. Use image-rich words and metaphors that paint a picture for your audience. One example in the quote above is, “collective workplace.” Another example — very relevant during today’s tumultous economy — is the contrast between “Wall Street” and “Main Street.” Crystal clear and very visual. Here’s one more fun example:

Flight attendants typically warn us to, “Please keep your seat belts fastened until we land and the plane comes to a full stop.”  (Blah-blah-blah….) How might we listen differently if they instead said, ” If you’d like to avoid the humiliation of falling down in the aisle, please stay in your seats with your seat belts fastened until we come to a stop at the terminal.(Much more visual, conversational and fun, and this phrasing has the added benefit of being unexpected.)

2. Explore word play:

 Alliteration: “artsy ambiance,” “the practical, popular place-to-be.”

Parallel Construction: “adjusting their expectations but not yet adjusting their pocketbooks” (adapted from a quote by a financial industry spokesperson)

Compare and Contrast:

“More than 15 million people are involved in traffic crashes each year.  That’s equivalent to the populations of New York City, Chicago and the entire state of Virginia.”

“In 1990, three million people were injured and 42,000 died in auto accidents. That’s an average of 115 deaths per day or, said another way, the equivalent of a major airline crash every day of the year.”

3. Simplify or dramatize:

Physicists used to call an important phenomenon, “a gravitationally completely collapsed object.”  No one cared, or could remember the concept, until someone related the phenomenon as “a black hole.” 

Please forgive one tangent…Reading about the Ace Hotel lobby reminded me of the late 1970’s when I met with publishing friends and an occasional author in the lobby of the Algonquin Hotel. I never quite felt like an insider in this amazing lobby frequented by literary and theatrical legends, but relished every moment soaking up the ambiance. The lobby — even more than the hotel rooms — was a population destination.  

Leave a Reply