Although it's painfully obvious that a poor vocabulary won't keep you out of White House, people do judge you by words you use -- making assumptions about your intelligence, education, and capabilities.
Having a vast "stable" of words that you are confident in using allows you to choose just right one when you need it. This can help make your copywriting, client conversations, arguments, and sales presentations incredibly powerful and concise. And it never hurts to appear smarter than you are.
In grade school, we were given vocabulary lessons and quizzes that forced us to learn meanings of new words. But now, as grown-ups in our increasingly "dumbed-down" society, it's not easy to keep learning new words without working at it. The six-o'clock news and "People" magazine won't do much to increase your word power.
So how can you increase your vocab without spending hours studying your dictionary or a book on subject? Here are a few easy ways that I've found helpful:
1. Read more publications.
"The New York Times" and even news magazines such as "Time" and "Newsweek" often throw in words that fall above country's average 6th grade reading level. (That sounds mighty low, I know, but that's target for most publications aimed at general public.) Keep a small dictionary with you, and when you come across words you're not familiar with, look them up. Don't be embarrassed about not knowing then -- just learn them!
2. Get your "Word of Day."
Dictionary.com offers a daily e-mail that gives you interesting and useful words, along with their definitions, pronunciations, and three examples of their usage. Since it's easier to learn in small bits, this is an ideal way to pick up new words you can really use. For example, yesterday's nugget was: "pervicacious pur-vih-KAY-shus, adjective: Refusing to change one's ideas, behavior, etc.; stubborn; obstinate." (I'm sure we know many people who are pervicacious.)