Choose your words -
The power of words
So you are at the Choose Your Words speech and are wondering how to go about building it or you are looking for good topics for the
speech. In this article we set out to explore the concept of Choosing Your Words to craft a powerful and memorable speech.
Remember that while the focus of this speech assignment is to choose the right words, you still need to apply the lessons and skills
learned from the vocal-variety and
The first key I've found to broaden my vocabulary and color my speech is the thesaurus. A thesaurus shows you similar words to the word
you are looking for. You might for example be wondering whether 'red' is the best word to describe how you looked when that person you liked
poked fun at you. An online thesaurus like thesaurus.reference.com might tell
you that 'crimson' might be more apt to use for such an occasion.
You can start with almost any topic, even the every day mundane ones, and liven it up by changing the words you use. Write out your speech,
and start to replace the 'boring' words with more exciting, active or colorful words. Points to remember when choosing your words:
- Use descriptive words or visual words that make it easy for the audience to 'see' what is happening. 'Splats against the
windscreen', 'Curled into the fetal position' or 'Mom was hovering over my shoulder' makes it clear what is happening.
- Use shorter words. Long words take lots of cognitive effort to understand. Rather use short words (even if it is more words) as
it makes it easy for the audience to follow your tale. Change 'We went on an exciting adventure in the secluded forest behind the
reservoir' to 'we went exploring the remote woods at the city water tank'.
- Use similes and metaphors. The value of a metaphor or simile lies in the associated imagery it conjures up in the listener's
mind. 'I got caught' isn't nearly as effective as 'I got caught like a deer in headlights.'
- Avoid jargon or technical terms. Speak simply and and use terms that most of the audience will understand. Identify the words
in your speech that are 'techie' or acronyms and exchange it with more suitable words.
- Use emotive words. The words used might mean the same thing but might invoke a different emotion in the listener. Newspapers
and media do this a lot - to spot this, look at any newspaper headline or article and soon you'll spot words that are meant to invoke
anger or frustration or empathy or a host of other emotions. Instead of using the word interview, you might use interrogation, or
inquisition to invoke negative feelings about it. Or use dialogue or discussion for a more positive response.
Potential Choose Your Words speech topics
Topics that lend themselves to a choose your words speech are topics that can be enhanced with descriptive words and lots of
storytelling techniques. It might include:
- Adventures you've been on:
- The hike where we got lost and needed to be rescued by helicopter.
- Skydiving when you are terrified of heights.
- Horse riding - I swear that horse wasn't tamed.
- Interesting interpersonal situations you've been in:
- First time introducing my partner to my parents.
- Got a new pet...
- I knew I shouldn't have, but I did it anyway.
- New experiences:
- Getting up to speak in public.
- Starting that new project and how it succeeded/failed.
- My first costume party.
The thing you will learn with the Choose your words speech is that words have power. So choose your words carefully and choose your
words wisely. Say it right and you'll have the audience eating out of your hands.