Thursday, October 22, 2009

Say It With Style

We have shifted our focus from building great speeches to delivering great speeches. In short, we should agree that becoming an effective speaker depends not only on what you say, but how you say it. All of our discussion (and all of the preceding blogs) are intended to help with what you say. Now, let's talk about how you say it.

First, be aware that language choice serves three key purposes as you speak:
1. Word choice helps make your ideas simple, bold, and memorable.
2. Word choice awakens emotions in your listeners.
3. Words paint mental pictures.

Learning Activities

These are a few guidelines you should try to follow:
1. Avoid jargon (unusually specialized or obscure words) and its equally fatal companion, doublespeak.
2. Pronounce nouns, pronouns, and verbs correctly as shown in this list—

Syllable emphasis
moun tain' instead of mount' un
Lay ton' instead of Layt' un
cer tain' instead of cert un'

The infamous d/t swap
matter instead of madder
battle instead of baddle

Dropping the "g" (sorry Sarah Palin)
going instead of gonna
needing instead of needin

Pronoun Slurs
our instead of ar
we'll instead of will
I'll instead of ahl
you'll instead of yul
he'll instead of hill
she'll intead of shill

Vowel errors
mail instead of mell
pillow instead of pellow
just instead of jist
get instead of git

3. Try to increase emphasis on important ideas by using parallel words or phrases:
We won't be satisfied until . . . .
We won't be satisfied until . . . .
We can't be satisfied until . . . .

4. Increase the visual power of your ideas by using figurative metaphors:
"living on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of prosperity"
"Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred."
"battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of brutality"

Try some new approaches with your language. Have a little fun.

© Frank Richardson, 2009.

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