Using Words To Connect With Your Audience

If you want to connect with your audience, you'll need to learn how to use words
If you want to connect with your audience, you’ll need to learn how to use words
Image Credit: Barney Moss

As speakers we often get a chance to hear other speakers present. Sometimes we’ll be memorized when a speaker puts on a show that captivates their audience. They are able to deliver a powerful speech for a number of reasons. Perhaps they have mastered the art of using body language. Maybe they used props that caught our attention. However, all too often it can be easy to get dazzled by things that are on the surface of a speech and end up overlooking how a great speech is really built: using words. The good news for us is that if we want to create a powerful speech, all we have to do is to pick the right words.

Always Be Exact, Never Be Generic

In order to create a powerful speech we need to make sure that we are aware of the words that we will be using in our speech. It’s critical that as speakers we realize that the words that we use when giving a speech are not real. Instead, what they are a means by which we encode actions, objects, and even feelings. Perhaps a better way to say this is that words act as proxies when we use them in our speeches.

When we are creating a speech, we need to take a careful look at the words that we are planning on using. Specifically, we want to carefully pick the words that we’ll be using to describe things. As an example, if we were trying to communicate that somebody was a “cold person”, we could say that. However a much better way to go about communicating this would be that “their frosty nature could be felt in their ice-like handshake.” Carefully picking the right words can also save us from fumbling around and using too many words to poorly describe something.

Every Word Has A Personality – Use It

Speakers need to understand that the words that they fill their speeches with have a personality of their own. How a word sounds determines what its personality is. Words such as swish, screech, and even crash have their own distinct personalities that demand respect. Speakers need to realize that the role that consonants play in words comes across as being abrasive. In contrast to this, when a word has one or more vowels these serve to bring peace and calm to what you are saying. When speakers can start to appreciate the words that they are using for the word’s different personalities then we’ll be able to develop a better relationship with them.

Make Use Of Metaphors

It turns out that speakers have a secret weapon that we can use any time we want to take control of our audience’s brain. All we have to do is to work a reference to a famous historical figure that our audience will know well. Good examples would be President Barack Obama, Elton John, or even Captain Kangaroo. Since your audience has taken in so much information about all of these people, if you drop their name during your speech your audience will go silent as their minds are filled with all of their memories of these people.

It turns out that the same thing can happen when we use a metaphor in our speech. A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true, but helps explain an idea or make a comparison. When you use your words to make a comparison to something that your audience is intimately familiar with, you’ll draw them in and capture their imagination as you put together two things that they would never have thought to put together. This can create a lasting memory.

What All Of This Means For You

The one thing that every speaker has to work with as they stand in front of their next audience is words. It’s the words that we choose to use in our speech that can make the speech something that will be remembered by our audience. We need to understand that picking the right words to use at the right time is what creating a powerful and effective speech is all about. The trick is knowing how to select the right words.

In order to create a great speech, we have to make sure that we are aware of the words that we are using. Words are the way that we encode what we want to say. When we are describing something, we need to be careful about the words that we choose to use. Picking the right words can allow us to be direct and forceful. Speakers need to understand that every word has a personality. We need to understand these personalities and find ways to incorporate them into our speeches. During a speech a speaker can drop the name of a famous person and cause a flood of memories to wash over our audience. We can also use metaphors in order to connect things in a way that our audience has not seen before. By doing this we can create lasting memories.

Although the only thing that a speaker has to work with when giving a speech is words, it turns out that words are quite powerful. We need to learn to respect the power of the words that we choose to use in our speech. Pick them carefully and during your speech they’ll end up doing all of the hard work for you!

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: What is the best way to discover what the personality of the words that you are using in your speech are?

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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 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

As speakers we spend a great deal of time worrying about the importance of public speaking and what we are going to be saying the next time that we give a speech. We think about our topic. We mull over the words that we’ll use. Finally, we lay out the sequence that we want to use in order to share our thoughts with our audience. This is a lot of work. However, it turns out that we may be missing a key part of what it takes to deliver a great speech. The way that we speak affects how our audience listens. In fact, how they listen, affects how we speak. Just exactly how are we supposed to make use of this circle of communication?