When Speaking, It’s All About The Words That You Use

by drjim on April 1, 2014

Heard a good word lately?

Heard a good word lately?

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When it comes time to create your next speech, how many colors will you use? I’m not talking about paints, but rather words. For you see, every speech that we give is yet another opportunity to paint pictures in the minds of our audience. The supplies that you have to work with are words. Which words will you use in your next speech?

The Power Of Words

How does it feel to give a speech naked? Well, maybe you are (probably) wearing clothes but you are really standing up there with very little else despite knowing about the importance of public speaking. Sure you may have some PowerPoint or Keynote slides to hide behind, but you have precious little else. With one important exception. You have your words.

A speaker’s words are really the paints that we use to create our speech with. When you are creating your speech, you need to take the time to think about what kinds of words you should include in your speech in order to paint the most vivid pictures in your audience’s minds.

The words that you use in your speech should have a certain power to them. You don’t want to use words that everyone uses every day – there’s no excitement to those words. Instead, you want to use a new collection of words that your audience will recognize but which they don’t necessarily use on a daily basis. The use of these words will generate striking images in your audience’s minds and will help you to make a lasting impression on them.

How To Choose The Right Words

A big mistake that many public speakers make is trying to impress their audiences by getting out the dictionary or the thesaurus and looking up big words that they hope will make them sound smart to their audience. Using words that the majority of your audience won’t understand will do you no good and won’t help you to paint any mental pictures.

Instead, a much better approach is to keep your eyes open. We are always encountering words in our daily reading that catch our eye. They can show up in the newspaper, blogs, magazines, or even memos / emails at work. When you find these words, write them down and save them on a list that you can reference when you are building your next speech.

What you are going to want to do is to pick words that are distinctive. The goal is to use words that your audience will have already seen in their reading – that’s how you can tell that it’s a word that they’ll have a good chance of understanding when you use it. Make sure that you stay away from technical terms that will only be familiar to people who work in one particular field. Picking the right words will help to transform your speech from an everyday speech into a memorable event.

What All Of This Means For You

If we painted a picture that was all one color, then people would be hard pressed to remember seeing it the next day. The worst thing that any of us could do would be to give a speech that nobody would remember. In order to prevent this from happening, we need to take care and select the right words to use in order to make our speech memorable and share the benefits of public speaking with our audience.

Words contain power. Their power comes from the vivid imagery that they can create in the minds of your audience. The one thing that you don’t want to do in your speech is to use words that your audience hears everyday – they won’t register. Take the time to pick distinctive words that you audience knows, but does not hear every day. The words that you use should be part of everyone’s vocabulary, they shouldn’t have to look them up. However, they should be words that they don’t use that often so that when they hear you use them they make an impression.

When we give a speech we don’t have all of the supporting gear that a rock & roll star does – lasers and smoke machines. Instead, it’s pretty much just us and our words. Take the time to select the right words and you’ll come across as a rock star to your audience.

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

Question For You: What’s the best way to make sure that a word that you’ve selected will be understood by your 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

Did you know that you work in sales? It turns out that if you are giving speeches, you do. For you see, in every speech that you give you are trying to sell something. It may not be a used car or a dishwasher, but it certainly is an idea or a way of looking at the world. What this means is that if you want to be an effective speaker, then you’re going to have to work on your sales skills.

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