Can Repeating Yourself Make Your Next Speech Better?

Does what you are saying bear repeating?
Does what you are saying bear repeating?
Image Credit: Thomas Hawk

So why do we give speeches? In all honesty, there are probably a bunch of different reasons. These reasons can range from trying to use the importance of public speaking to provide our audience with new information that they don’t have to trying to win them over to our way of thinking. No matter why we are giving a speech, our goal is always the same: we want to make sure that our audience hears what we are telling them and, most importantly, remembers it after our speech is over and done with. As speakers, all that we really have to work with are words. How can we use our words to make sure that what we tell our audience will stick in their minds?

Meet Your New Friends: Anaphora And Epiphora

If you want to get someone to remember what you are telling them, what’s the best way to make this happen. I almost hate to say this, but it turns out that the answer is to repeat yourself. Hold on a minute, I have probably told you before that the “tell ‘em, tell ‘em again, and the then tell ‘em again” approach to giving a speech no longer works with today’s educated audiences. That advice is still valid. However, the reality is that if in your next speech you work in some of what is called “purposeful repetition” and if you are careful to use it both strategically and sparingly then you can make an impact on your audience.

Using some repletion in your next speech can lend it a powerful emphasis, cadence, and even work some emotion into it. This approach will work especially well if the speech that you are giving is designed to serve as a call to action for your audience or as a persuasive speech. There are two powerful speaking tools that you can use to make your repetition have the most impact. The first of these tools is called anaphora and it involves repeating a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences. Epiphora involves repeating a word or phrase at the end of successive sentences.

These speaking tools have been used to great effect by some very famous speakers. Winston Churchill was one of the most quoted speakers of his time. One of his most memorable speeches used anaphora and contained the line “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields … we shall never surrender.” Martin Luther King used anaphora in his “I have a dream” speech in which he used that phrase to start eight different sentences. The power of these speeches comes from a growing sense of momentum through the use of a similar phrase. All of this was enhanced by the speaker using a rhythmic delivery to create a powerful inspirational effect within the audience. President Obama used epiphora when he made a speech in which he said “There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America – there’s the United States of America.”

How To Get Your Message To Stick

If we can agree that anaphora and epiphora are powerful tools that speakers can use in order to transform a so-so speech into a memorable speech, then how best can we use these tools in our next speech? One of the most important things that we need to learn how to do is to keep things simple. When you use these new powerful tools in your speech you are going to want to confine them to just to the primary point that you are trying to make. What this means is that you are going to want to limit the number of sentences or clauses in your speech that it encompasses.

It turns out that just positioning where you choose to use anaphora and epiphora tools is not enough. You also have to make sure that you actually use them in the correct way. When you use these tools, you are going to want to employ them in the active voice. The language that you are going to want to be repeating is going to have to be both compelling and vivid. In order to make sure that the words that you are repeating have the most impact, you are going to want to surround them with correctly used pauses. To let your audience know that they should be listening carefully to the phrases that you are repeating, you should make sure to use voice inflections when you deliver them.

The two tools that we’ve discussed, anaphora and epiphora, are both powerful tools that any speaker can use to lend more punch to their next speech. Once you’ve had a chance to use these different techniques in your speeches you will understand how best to use them. When you have accomplished this, you will then be ready to move on to the next step. The next step has a name: symplace which is what happens when you use both anaphora and epiphora in the same speech. Master the two tools and then get ready to use them together!

What All Of This Means For You

When we give a speech our motivation for giving the speech may be different for each speech that we give. However, every speech that we give shares one thing in common. We would like share the benefits of public speaking with our audience and get them to remember what we tell them. How to make this happen is a challenge for every speaker.

In order to get your next audience to remember what you have told them, you are going to have to repeat yourself. You need to be careful in how you go about doing this and you need to do it sparingly. You have two tools available to make this happen. The first of these tools is called anaphora and it involves repeating a word or phrase at the beginning of successive sentences. Epiphora involves repeating a word or phrase at the end of successive sentences. Famous speakers such as Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, and Obama have used these tools in order to deliver powerful messages. When using these tools, we need to keep things simple and restrict where we use them to just the key places in our speech. When we use them we need to use an active voice and deliver them using voice inflections. Once we’ve mastered these tools, we can start to use symplace which is the use of both tools in the same speech.

As speakers we all share the same goal of wanting to deliver speeches that will be memorable. All that we have to use to make this happen are words and so it will be how we choose to use those words that will determine how successful we will be. The speaking tools of anaphora and epiphora can equip us to use key phrases over and over in a sentence in order to make sure that our audience will remember what we have told them. Use these tools carefully in your next speech and you will become the speaker that everyone remembers!

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

Question For You: How many times do you think that you can repeat one phrase in a single speech?

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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

We all like to to be recognized for our accomplishments. What this means is that when we have done something that is memorable, people like to give us awards to celebrate our accomplishments. These are fantastic times – in front of our coworkers, peers, and potentially even our family members and friends, we get to be recognized for our accomplishments. However, it turns out that all of this recognition comes with a price. We need to know the right way to accept an award or else the whole event can come off as being flat and meaningless. What is the right way for a speaker to use the importance of public speaking to accept an award?