Choosing Words For The Best Effect In Your Speech
Date: January 5, 2016
Words have meaning and selecting the right ones can make the world of difference to your speech. More significantly, each of the 600,000+ words in our English dictionary carries a different connotation and you want to be confident that you’re saying what you truly mean.
If you want to be a better speaker, you have to change what you’re currently doing. Fixing your body language and writing content specific to your audience are just two things that’ll have an impact.
But for now, we’ll concentrate on the flow of your speech, because choosing the right words can make your message clearer and avoid misconceptions and lazy jargon.
Why Words Are Important In Your Speech
Firstly, let’s make it clear: just because you don’t know insightful terms and you’re not a walking thesaurus, doesn’t mean you won’t be an effective speaker.
Imagine you’re reading a book. If the descriptions were poor, dialogue was limited and there were rare explanations of the scenery, how would you interpret the plot – the meaning – of the book? It’d be exceptionally difficult. This is because words are how we communicate facts, emotions and humour.
We all know people who speak for around five minutes until they finally get to their point, or people who communicate clear and concisely. The difference in these two people affects your attention span, interests and admiration.
We’d all rather be around someone who says what they mean, rather than going round and round in circles to only avoid their point in the end.
Admittedly, it’s not just the words that affect their meaning, but their delivery also. You could say “I’m happy” with confidence and a smile, or at a low volume with slight uncertainty. Both of which carry different meanings, but for now, we’ll just focus on the phrases and ignore the delivery.
Putting aside the meaning of your speech, words also affect the tone. So if you want it to be light-hearted or more serious and thoughtful, you can decipher between these two emotions through your choices.
If you don’t have a wide vocabulary, you might be panicking right now. Don’t wory, we’re not trying to encourage you to swallow a Dictionary.
Using Words To Describe The Scenery
If you don’t give your audience enough description, then they can’t possibly imagine the scene in the way you want them to.
“I picked up my bag and left forever” is simple. It explains what happened, but the problem with this, is that it’s a depiction of an action and doesn’t explain how anyone felt.
However, “with tears in my eyes, I reluctantly picked up my bag and left forever” offers something more. Just by adding in the word “reluctantly”, we’re aware how that the person didn’t want to leave out of choice – and this isn’t made clear in the previous example.
“With tears in my eyes” is enough to approach the sentence sensitively and give it some emotion, which it was lacking before.
You don’t want to use too many words or your speech will become long, and you’ll end up describing things that don’t really matter. Only focus your energy on sentences that are the main points in your speech.
Using four words instead of one isn’t necessarily a good thing because the idea isn’t represented clearly then.
For example, “the view took my breath away and I couldn’t believe it” could be simplified to “the view was breathtaking”.
Both of these sentences say the same thing, but the second is more confined. So play around with your content and make sure that you’re not just adding in words for the sake of thickening your speech.
Alternatively, some successful speakers don’t give their listeners everything. They ‘show and don’t tell’. When your friend is sad, they don’t just say “I’m sad”, they show it through their change of behaviour; watery eyes, their posture is hunched and they avoid conversations.
If you use words to ‘show and not tell‘ how you felt in a situation, you’re more likely to get your audience to feel and put them in a more vulnerable situation.
Another way to mix up your content, is to use metaphors. Metaphors are a vehicle to aiding in the mood of the speech and making your language sound more creative.
An example of a metaphor is, “he broke my heart”. Your heart didn’t literally break, but by using this metaphorical expression, you give your audience more room to feel, than saying “he really upset me”.
Metaphors give more effect to your sentences so they don’t just state a fact, but inject some life into it. To write a metaphor, decide what it is you want to say and think how you could add some flavour to it.
Do you want to say that you felt sad? That won’t get much of a reaction compared to “my tears could’ve filled a fountain.” Do you notice the difference between the two?
Don’t overuse metaphors or they’ll lose their affect, and try to avoid clichés or you’re better off not using them at all. If they don’t make sense to you, they won’t to your audience either.
Choose your words wisely
This article is designed to make you aware of how words can make a huge difference to your speech, so don’t get too frustrated if you feel you don’t know what to write.
Try to avoid lengthy phrases, when you can just use one or two words instead to carry the same meaning.
Jazz up your writing with the use of metaphors and emotive language.
Your job after all is to entertain, so use terms that make your content more exciting. A good exercise is to read more and pick out sentences in books that really stand out to you.
Be specific about why you think they add something to the setting and story line. Do they too use metaphors, or only provide you with the details and miss out any irrelevant facts?
Read through your content so far and use these techniques, and get ready to receive a better reaction at your next speech!