Review of Words That Work by Frank Luntz

I’m reading a book by Frank Luntz that came highly recommended by someone I trust called: Words That Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear

The essence of his message is that crafting the right words along with the effective use of language can help you get more of what you want from life because most people hear or read and understand your messages in ways that are usually far different than the way you’d understand your own words.

It’s about using words that motivate and influence readers based on their viewpoint connections and not your own…and that the words you use to convey your message will determine whether your readers will be receptive to the rest of your message.

Luntz is very good at constructing phrases (otherwise known as *framing* or *framing an issue*) for political campaigns, so I warn you that if you’re an extreme left wing voter, you may not like this book…as he’s clearly of only Republican DNA.

I like that Luntz is on the right track thinking about ways to use words that invoke an emotional response. His thoughts can also help you beyond simple article writing as his messages are aimed at helping you become a better communicator.

The book reads like stories and examples rather than the usual bullet points type books that I enjoy. One of his theories that I’m sure is true is that how you define determines how you are received. The way you position an idea linguistically (page 45) must affirm & confirm an audience’s context because without that, you won’t provoke or evoke the exact response you want.

Knight grade = Thumbs up, especially for copywriters and article writers hoping to communicate & influence their reader with more decisiveness.



Hi Chris – Thanks for the recommendation – I’m an Amazon Prime member – so I’ll be reading it tomorrow.

Just because we know how to talk or write does not necessarily mean we know how to communicate – I think we can always improve our communication.


Comment provided May 14, 2007 at 8:51 AM


Chinmay Chakravarty writes:

This is execllent. It’s confirmation of my own thoughts.
Right, it’s what people hear that works. This is applicable for both written and phonetic sense. Words may carry a whole lot of germs like ego, veiled misinformation, verbosity and other irritants. One must write for the readers only. One must not be like some film directors who make films for themselves only and get ecstatic when nobody understands their ways.
Thanks Sir Chris.

Comment provided May 14, 2007 at 9:04 AM


Lynella Grant writes:

It’s this kind of recommendation that makes us better writers and your blog so useful. Thank you.

Have been writing about the “body language of business communications” for years. Just like face-to-face communications, the body language that accompanies a written message is more persuasive than the content of the words. It’s processed by a different part of the brain – ahead of rational thought. That part determines trust and credibility. If you don’t connect on that channel, the person is unlikely to trust the message itself (even if they don’t realize it consciously). That’s where the challenge to communicate is won or lost.

Am in the process of writing a book showing the unintended messages that a company’s ads and policies send–signals that the owner never intended. Its title – The Secret Life of Your Business.

Would like to invite relevant input or examples from members of this blog. Will start writing more articles along those lines before long.

Comment provided May 14, 2007 at 10:00 AM



Frank Lunz certainly has helped the Republican Party. Say something, a catch phrase, enough times and people take it in as fact. The Dems are beginning to catch up finding their keywords for action. Somewhere the truth must be within the words repeated but I am not sure where anymore. I admire Mr. Lunz for his observation of words and their power, even though manipulative. I almost feel out of principle however that I would not consider adding to his wealth by purchasing his book. I don’t like being manipulated especially when the outcome has been so grave.

On a lighter note:

Hey Chris, is that a candid shot of you with the sweat on your brow over your computer? I like it, very personable.

Comment provided May 14, 2007 at 11:49 AM




Yeah, that photo was taken this morning in my office.

It’s going to be 91 degrees here today, but thankfully the building has air conditioning. :)

I was trying to give a look in the shot that says, “hey, this is a good book, I’ve read quite a bit of it and I think you might like it too” in a subtle, non-excited way.

Comment provided May 14, 2007 at 11:53 AM


Chinmay Chakravarty writes:

I’m really enjoying the comments of real writer for whom word is the only word.

Yes, the power of word works when people hear it. As always there is positive informative side and there is a negative manipulative side.

I remember the brilliant film ‘Manufacturing Consent-Noam Chomsky and the Media.’

More please!

Comment provided May 14, 2007 at 12:02 PM


Jan writes:

I’m particularly fond of that book, as a writer. It’s effective and gives excellent examples of how to put words into action.

I came across it about a month ago, in a writer’s box under the signing table. He was reading it, and recommended it too.

Republican or Democrat isn’t an issue, but skill is.

I figure if a person knows how to earn the money, they probably deserve it. If they’re slime; they eventually end up at the bottom of the river, not my problem.

(Yes, I’m cold hearted. Today, at least!)


Comment provided May 14, 2007 at 12:06 PM



Hey Chris

Just started the book and like the 10 rules of effective language.

What I like best though is the Monty Python-esque cover of the book. Well done!

Comment provided May 15, 2007 at 2:29 PM


David Phillips writes:

Yes, it is very important to empathise with your reader, to understand both how they think and feel.

Comment provided May 16, 2007 at 3:26 AM


Carolyn McFann writes:

That looks like an excellent book, I’m going to check it out. I want to convert more readers to buyers at my website, maybe it can help me. Thanks for the tip.

Comment provided May 16, 2007 at 2:19 PM




Yeah, his 10 are pretty excellent!

Simplicity, Brevity, Credibility, Consistency, Novelty, Alliteration, Aspiration, Visualize, Ask a Q? and Relevance… and perhaps even more important is WHY they are important.

Comment provided May 17, 2007 at 2:31 PM


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