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5 Tips to Add Life to Your Speeches!

By J.A. Gamache

3rd place winner in the 2001
Toastmasters International
World Championship of Public Speaking

The choice of words can make the difference between an interesting speech that we soon forget and a lively speech we remember for the rest of our lives. Here are 5 tips to add life to your speeches.

1 - Involve the five senses
Make your audience live a sensorial experience by using words that involve the five senses.

  1. Sight: Instead of saying: "She was sad," you could say: "A tear glided slowly down her cheek."

  2. Touch: "He put his hand on her shoulder…" could become: "He wrapped his arm around her shoulder.…" 
  3. Smell: Replace: "He entered in the bakery…" with: "He was greeted by the smell of warm bread when he entered…"
  4. Hearing: Don't just say: "She answered…." instead, say: "With a nasal voice she answered …"
  5. Taste: "He ate an apple." is less mouth watering than: "He savoured the sweetness of the apple."


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2 - Use comparisons
Comparisons are useful to illustrate what you are saying: For example: That hockey player skates LIKE a rocket." is a stronger image than: "That hockey player skates really fast."

3 - Play with analogies.
"That hockey player IS a real rocket when he's on the ice." is an analogy.
You affirm that one thing IS something else, in other words, the hockey player IS a rocket.

4 - Go from abstract to concrete. 
Use concrete verbs. They create images in our minds that are more powerful. "He pulled out his tooth." hurts more than: "He extracted his tooth". We can easily imagine ourselves in the dentist chair when you say, "He pulled out his tooth".

5 - Replace generic terms by specific terms.
By using specific terms, you make it so much easier for people to visualize what you are describing. "She saw a bird on a branch" is less evocative than: "She saw a sparrow on a branch".

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