So why do we go to the effort of giving speeches? I think that it’s pretty safe to say that the reason that we do this is because we want to use the importance of public speaking to be remembered. We want the words that we shared with our audience to remain in their heads long after our speech is over and done with. This presents us with quite a problem. All of us engage in lots of different conversations every day and by the end of the day if you asked us to remember any of them we would be hard pressed to remember them. What we need to do as speakers is to find a way to add more flair to our next speech.
It’s All About Flair
So if we want to make our next speech more memorable, what do we need to do? It’s actually pretty easy. What we need to start to do is to use rhetorical devices that will make what we are saying have a pleasant pattern that will be remembered by our audience. One way to go about doing this in your next speech is to use the technique that is called a “triad”. This occurs when you link three words together such as when Julius Caesar said “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Another technique that we can use is called an “anaphora”. This is defined as being the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. A good example of this technique would be the phrase “The wrong person was selected for the wrong job, at the wrong time, for the wrong purpose.”
One of the most important things that we can control when we are giving a speech is how well the words that we are using rhyme together. The fancy word for this technique is “alliteration”. Just as proof of how powerful this technique is, I can take you back to the OJ Simpson trial in which the defense attorney Johnnie Cochran said as a part of his defense argument “If the glove does not fit, then you must acquit.” This technique is so powerful that you don’t even have to use words that all start with the same letter. The classic example of this is the phrase “Reading, Writing, and ‘Rithmetic.”
Another way to capture our audience’s attention and get them to remember what we have told them is to say something unexpected. A classic way to do this is to use a metaphor which is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. A great example of this would be if during a speech on depression you said “I had fallen through a trapdoor of depression.” Another way to accomplish the same thing is to use a simile which is when we use a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind. Examples could include “As cute as a kitten” or “As happy as a clam”. Another technique that we can use is called a hyperbole which are exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally. An example of this would be “I am so hungry I could eat a horse.”
Making your next speech become memorable is not an easy thing to do. You are going to have to pick the speaking tool that you think will serve you the best. However, the effort often turns out to be well worth it. There seems to be something deeply satisfying about using one of the rhetorical devices that we’ve just discussed. What seems to make these tools so powerful is that when we use them, they stand in contrast to the normal words that we’ve used in the rest of our speech. The power of these techniques is that they serve to make what you are saying memorable to your audience. They can make your ideas stand out and, with a little luck, will make your ideas linger in the minds of your audience long after your speech is over and done with.
What makes these techniques work? It could be the beat of the words that you are saying, it could be the sound they they make when spoken, it could even be the mental picture that you draw in your audience’s mind. It really does not matter – rhetorical devices are a great way to enhance the longevity and the effectiveness of what you are saying. This impact of using them should be enough to convince you to start to use them in your speeches as much as you possibly can. However, it turns out that there is another reason that as speakers we should always be looking for a way to add another rhetorical device to a speech that we are working on: they are fun to say. A part of your speech that has just the right amount of cadence will become that much easier for you to deliver to your audience. The end result of all of this is that your speech will be presented with more flair.
Now that you have a full collection of rhetorical devices, you are going to have to pick which ones you want to make the most use of. They are all equally powerful; however, public speakers seem to gravitate towards the triad as the one that they like to use the most. Both speakers and audiences seem to respond well when things are listed in groups of three. The good news about this technique is that you really can’t overuse it – multiple triads can be worked into a single speech. Although we don’t often sing our speeches, it turns out that words that we speak are similar to a song in that they have a cadence to them. If we do a good job with our delivery, then we can work in a type of melody and perhaps a type of drama. These are exactly the types of things that rhetorical tools can help us to enhance in our next speech. Now you know what they are, go ahead and use them!
What All Of This Means For You
Every speech that we give has a goal associated with it. We want our audience to leave with a crystal clear memory of what we have shared with them and we’d like use the benefits of public speaking to allow them to remember it for a long time. However, this can be quite difficult to do. What we need to do is to understand how we can create a speech that will contain words and phrases that will stick in our audience’s minds. It turns out that this is possible to do. What we need to learn how to do is to use rhetorical devices that allow our message to become memorable.
One way to make this happen is to use three linked together words in what is called a triad. Another way is to insert an anaphora into our speech where we repeat the same words at the beginning of each sentence. In order to make our words memorable, we may want to use the technique called alliteration and make them rhyme with each other. We can work unexpected things into our next speech by adding metaphors and similes. Using a rhetorical device in our speech can really make our words and ideas stand out. In addition to being powerful speaking tools, they can also be fun to say. Speakers seem to use triads the most when they are creating a speech because they cannot use too many of these.
As a speaker, it is your job to find ways to make your next speech become memorable to your audience. All you have to work with are words and so you need to discover what rhetorical devices you can use to make your words create lasting memories for your audience. Take the time to study what rhetorical devices are available to you and select the ones that you think will work the best. Use them to make your next speech the most memorable ever!
Question For You: Which rhetorical device do think would make the biggest impact on your next audience?
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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!
What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time
When we are creating a speech, we’ve got a lot of work to do in order to capture the importance of public speaking. There’s the opening, the middle, and the ending. Each one of these parts is important. However, we might be able to say that the opening is just a little bit more important because of the impact that it can have on our audience. When we start a speech, our audience is trying to make up their minds as to if they should pay attention to us. How we begin a speech will determine if they decide to give us their attention…