Before we get started I just want to say for the record… I’ve never been a big fan of so called “power word” lists.
The main reason is because too many people read those lists, and then scattershot random power words throughout their writing. By the time they’re done they end up with content that might sound exciting… but has no substance.
It’s like filling your car with high octane fuel, and then driving really fast in a undisciplined direction. Eventually you run out of gas and end up in the middle of nowhere.
Personally, I prefer writing that has substance. Writing that leaves people better off for having read it.
Especially when we want people to take action from our words, having a deliberate direction is far more important than just moving fast.
So, with that as my disclaimer… I think most of us would still agree that some words have more emotional impact than others.
The goal of this post is to give you a few examples of words that can bring emotion and power to your writing.
Use them wisely, and you can embrace high impact fuel in your writing. Use them haphazardly, and I’ll call you a cab when you run out of gas…
OK, after that lengthy introduction, let’s just dive right in… Shall we…
To begin, let’s start with a couple broad based categories from some of the more powerful “Emotional Trigger” Words
Fear Based Words
Safety and Security Words
Love Based Words
Greed Based Words
FEAR BASED WORDS
Fear based words are some of the most powerful trigger words we have at our disposal. I’m not sure what that says about our species as a whole? But it is what it is. And what it is(generally speaking), is that people are scared little mammals living in an insecure world.
Even research in social sciences, and behavioral economics indicate that most humans are more motivated by the fear of loss, than by the promise of gain. (Loss of life, loss of security, loss of youth, finances, health, etc…)
So when we want to punch up our writing, we can start by exaggerating a few of the fear based words in our story…
Instead of just saying “I was scared” …
Try saying – “I was crippled with fear” – or – “I was horrified”
It can mean about the same thing, but the second and third one have much more impact.
Here’s a few more fear based words you can sprinkle into your copy…
Apocalypse – Massacre – Assault – Backlash
Beware – Murder – Blood – Bloodbath
Nightmare – Painful – Bloodcurdling – Plague
Poisonous – Catastrophe – Warning – Collapse
Cripple – Crisis – Danger – Deadly
Risky – Destroy – Devastating – Disaster
Terror – Tragedy – Worry – Hazardous
Torture – Toxic – Horrific – Trap
SAFETY AND SECURITY BASED WORDS
The flip side of fear would be the feeling of safety and security.
Not only physical safety, but also feeling safe from being taken advantage of.
When people know they can trust us to look out for their better interests, this can lead them to feel safe and secure in transacting with us.
Letting people know they can feel assured because of your “no risk guarantee” is the first step towards letting them feel safe to do business with you.
Here’s a few safety based words you can sprinkle into your copy that can help put your readers mind at ease…
Freedom – Security – Assurance – Defense
Immunity – Safe – Sanctuary – Trustworthy
Shelter – Assured – Risk free – Secure
Protected – Proven – Backed by – Guaranteed
Fail safe – Reliable – Certified – Popular
Foolproof – Scientific – No risk – Legitimate
Sure fire – Money back – Tested
ANGER BASED WORDS
There’s really no way to avoid the facts… A lot of people in this world are pissed off about a lot of things (some people are even angry about how much anger there is in the world)
Empathizing with that anger, and letting people know you understand where they’re coming from, is a very powerful way to engage with an audience.
One of the best ways to present anger in your copy is to direct it at a common enemy.
There’s an old saying that goes… “the enemy of my enemy, is my friend”.
If you and your audience share animosity towards the same institution, corporation, or diety, then you’re already on the same side. And when you’re on the same side, it’s much easier to get them to pay attention and engage with what you’re saying.
But don’t make the mistake of invoking anger just for the sake riling people up. This can be easily done, but it doesn’t lead to anything good (for you, or them).
Instead, do it to create a bridge with your solution. A solution that ends the anger and moves people towards a more positive outcome.
Here’s a few words that can help stir up a bit of anger in your copy…
Arrogant – Corrupt – Greed – Dishonest
Cruel – Contempt – Abuse – Hate
Backstabbing – Oppressive – Bullshit – Pissed off
Rotten – Defile – Evil – Disgusting
LOVE BASED WORDS
Enough with all the anger. How about showing a little love…
Love based words can give people a feeling of security, acceptance, joy, and even arousal. That’s why, with all the anger and mistrust in this world, a little love can go a long way.
There’s the love of a parent for their child… The love of a pet owner for their beloved pet… The love of a family member or close friend… Even the love for a fine bottle of expensive Tequila (just to name a few)
Depending on the context of your writing, love may, or may not be the best emotion to arouse in your audience. But here’s a few love based words you can add to your content if you decide to. (Note: I mixed in some “lust” based words because often the two can be just that close)…
Allure – Arouse – Passionate – Captivate
Pleasure – Desire – Sex – Heavenly
Hypnotic – Love – Acceptance – Precious
Protect – Beautiful – Nurture – Care for
GREED BASED WORDS
Greed based words are a staple for most, if not all, make money niches (online and offline).
But just because greed taps into a baser human need to want more, doesn’t mean greed is always a bad thing. The word is often distorted and generalized to include anyone who simply wants more out of life than they currently have.
So as long as people want more than they currently have (which includes most people) we can sprinkle some words of hope into our copy for them.
Here’s a few words you can use in your copy (for people who may want more out of life)…
Jackpot – Lowest price – Discount – Profit
Rich – Money – Free – Treasure
Wealthy – Life changing – Luxurious – Millionaire
Feast – Fortune – Huge Savings – Golden
OK, I was going to end this post at greed. But I don’t like the idea of ending on a negative sounding word.
So if you’ll bear with me for just one more moment, I’d like to toss one more into the story…
Enthusiasm Based Words
Too many people lead lives that are, what Henry David Thoreau called “a life of quiet desperation”.
Some are bored… Some are doing a job they don’t like… And some are feeling a little depressed, or disillusioned with the direction their life is going.
Simply put, when most people start reading our copy they aren’t exactly overflowing with enthusiasm. And they’re looking for anything of interest that’ll distract them or make them feel more optimistic.
So why not let our writing give them a little lift…
Here’s a few enthusiastic words you can sprinkle into your writing. But use them cautiously, because overuse can quickly turn your copy into over hyped copy. And over hyped copy usually translates into “B.S.” in the mind of your reader.
Amazing – Astounding – Magical – Life changing
Brave – Belief – Celebrate – Mind blowing
Prevail – Command – Courage – Wonderful
Dominate – Effortless – Excellent – Excited
Extraordinary – Fabulous – Terrific – Fantastic
Fearless – Tremendous – Unbeatable – Uplifting
Hero – Victory – Win – Incredible
And that brings us to the end of another interesting day… For those who enjoy “power word” lists, I trust you see a few words on this page that you can use in your own copy, from time to time.
Of course this post is not an exhaustive list of every high impact trigger word in existence. Mostly because such a list can’t exist in the real world. (For one thing, the list would be way too long. Also, different words have different meanings to different people, and a word that resonates with me might not resonate with you)
So my ultimate hope with this post is to simply get you thinking about word choices you can use to add more impact to your copy.
Until next time…
Here’s to writing more high impact copy… More often.
All the best,
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