Words are the building blocks of public speaking. They can inform, inspire, instruct, tantalise and confuse.

We use words to construct our speeches and to create verbal pictures to sell our messages. They are our connection to the audience.

When we choose the right word it works beautifully and our speeches flow and we succeed. There are some great techniques we can use with our words to enhance our message.

Alliteration is the repetition of sounds at the beginnings of words. For example, The waves washed wistfully against the shores.

The use of Triplets (using repetition of phrases or word/s three times) can make a great impact on the audience. For example: We will search, we will destroy, we will rebuild or Today is the time, Today become one, Today we succeed.

Juxtaposition is to place to opposing thoughts next to each other. For example: John F Kennedy: ‘Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.’

Metaphors and Similes can paint very effective verbal pictures. Metaphors are where an implied comparison is made between two unlike objects that have something in common. Some common metaphors are calling a person a “night owl” or an “early bird” or saying “life is a journey”. Similes are where two unrelated things are compared usually using the word “like” or “as” to begin the phrase. For example: “Life is like an onion: You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” (Carl Sandburg) or “as clear as mud”, “as big as a bus”.

Catchphrases are common phrases that resonating with the audience and can be effective in making a connection. They can be tag lines from ads, or phrases from T- shirts. For example: “Make my day” – Clint Eastwood or “I know nothing.” (Manuel’s catchphrase in Fawlty Towers). Be careful in using catchphrases as they can quickly wear out from overuse thus reducing their effectiveness in your speeches.

A good guideline for your word usage is to keep the words simple. Avoid the use of clichés, jargon or complicated convoluted words.

Cliches are phrases that have become overused. Such as “without further ado” or “what goes around comes around”.

Jargon is specialised language to groups that is not understood by those outside the group. For example, scientific terms, computer terms, medical language or military language. Ensure your words are understood by all in the audience.

Have fun crafting your speeches with words. Avoid the traps and practice some of the word techniques mentioned here to help you shine with your public speaking.

Trish @ Trischel

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