High Impact Words = High Impact Messages


If asked to offer aid to some people you didn’t know, would you be more inclined to help if you were told they were “starving”, they were “hungry” or that they were “food insecure”? As you think about this, do you find that each word or phrase creates in your mind a very different perception of the level of need?

The difference in impact of these three words/phrases struck me the other night at a meeting of a local group I belong to called the Harvesters Ambassadors.

As Ambassadors, we speak to area businesses, schools, churches and service groups about Harvesters, our Kansas City metro area food bank. We’re essentially educators and public relations volunteers who share information about hunger and how Harvesters is partnering with the community to overcome it.

We get together every few months to socialize, to learn about the current status of hunger in our area, and to share speaking experiences and tips.

During our meeting, one person brought up their concern about what they felt was the recent overuse of the phrase “food insecurity”. They felt that politicians were using it to soften and dilute the message about the dramatic growth in the number of hungry adults and children in our country.

Later in the meeting, another member who is a physician mentioned his involvement with a program called Meals For Minds, a school-based pantry program dedicated to supporting K-12 students. During his comments, he made the point that hunger is actually a message from the brain that the body is beginning to “starve”, which then can lead to deterioration and damage. I’d never thought about hunger in that way before.

I really appreciated hearing all the different perspectives and opinions raised at our meeting. Beyond learning more about hunger, it reinforced in me the real choice we all have to select words that will impact our listeners in the most powerful and valuable ways possible.

Of course, I don’t intend to try and raise a ruckus at my next presentation by saying that thousands of people in the KC area are “starving”. But you can bet I will work to raise hunger awareness in new ways by using an expanded and more impactful vocabulary.

“Words do two major things: They provide food for the mind and create light for understanding and awareness.”  Jim Rohn (American entrepreneur)

 Question: Where can you use choose a wider selection of high impact words to increase the impact of your messages?