If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Words give ideas forms so they can be seen and heard—carried and shared. At their best, they give an idea its true form. You don’t have to be a poet to recognize when something is said completely purely right. Like a wine glass struck in just the right spot, it reverberates cleanly and at exactly the right frequency, staying with you like an echo.
More and more, the business world is recognizing the power of eloquence. The challenge is how to harness it. It’s a timeless question that has tortured the greatest writers in history, and you could spend a lifetime chasing the answers. However, while the nuances of great writing are endless, two fundamentals are always the same.
- Great writing finds harmony. Resonance needs harmony between source and recipient—between the idea and the people receiving it. That means finding the words and rhythms that represent the idea and represent something deeper in the audience. It’s one step further than “speaking their language.” It’s speaking to what they need to hear. Harmony begins with empathy.
- Great writing strips the noise. This doesn’t mean removing detail or color that add to the emotional or intellectual draw of the idea—it means removing anything that doesn’t. That way, the note that needs to be heard can be pure and clear. Back to the original point; for ideas to travel, they must be aerodynamic.
Of course, eloquence isn’t about formulas; it’s about finding a way to reach each other. These fundamentals are not just true for good writing, but for showing compassion, building community, and finding common ground. All things of which the business world, and the world as a whole, could use a little more.
Have you read or heard any writing lately that has resonated with you through its eloquence? Comment below.