Point killers are the accidental potholes in our speeches and writings that can alter or obliterate our intended meanings. In everyday speech they may merely apply the necessary pin to the balloon of a large ego.

“Speak clearly,” I once admonished a mumbling daughter. “If it’s important enough to say, then say it integgibly.” That was an embarrassing, but relatively harmless example of a point killer. Some are not that harmless.

A friend of mine, afraid his low-ranking position in a large corporation was stagnating, decided to take his destiny into his own hands. For a full half hour, he held the rapt attention of his president with a carefully planned presentation on the utter necessity of his immediate advancement.

“It is my firm conviction,” he concluded, as the tycoon nodded hypnotically, “that this corporation can only survive and thrive if led by men and women with my clear vision.” As he turned dramatically to leave, he stepped into a waste basket and hurtled through the glass door of the president’s office. He was kept on the books for another six months so he could use the company’s medical plan.

The accidental murder of a point can have more than a short term personal effect. It can change the destinies of important people and even nations. Down through the ages entire populations have been inspired by gifted speakers to accomplish the impossible for the good of mankind. But what would the world be like today if……..

“Four score and seven years ago our farforthers……”

or “Damn the tomatoes, full speed ahead!”

or “One small step for man. One giant leap (Whoops!) for mankind.”

So let us be more careful in those critical moments of our lives when precise clarity is vitally important. Strive for accruacy and avoid slaps of the tongue.

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