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Word Work

A.S.T. - District 50, Area 66, Club 9872


Toastmaster Speech Manual Number Six

Work with Words  


i.   To select precisely the right words required to communicate your ideas clearly and vividly 
ii.  To avoid lengthy words and sentences and jargon 
iii. TIME: Five to seven minutes 

    When you don't understand a section of a book or magazine article you are reading, you can read it again until the meaning is clear to you. When you are speaking, your listeners do not have this luxury. They hear your words only once. If you want them to understand your message when they hear it, you must use words that your audience will understand and will accurately convey your message, and you must construct your sentences so they are simple and clear.   
    This project will help you understand the basic uses of words in speaking and help you choose and arrange them to express exactly what you mean.   

Write for the Ear 
Although good speech and good writing have much in common, each has a different emphasis. Oral language must be immediately understandable to the ear, since listeners don't have the opportunity to study and reflect on your words as they often do when reading. Oral language is also much less formal than listeners will better remember certain points.  
    If you want your audience to understand and accept you, you must speak informally, the same way they speak. If you use familiar words and concepts, everyone will be more interested, attentive, and receptive to your message.  
    In order to help your audience understand speech, you must construct it in an oral style.  

Use Short Words  
Some people believe they impress others when they use long, convoluted words. This does not apply in speaking. The most effective and memorable words to listeners are short usually one syllable.  
    Review your speech draft and count the number of syllables in each word. If most words have three, four, five, or more syllables, your audience may have difficulty understanding your message. This doesn't mean every word you see should have 
one syllable, only that most of your words should.  
    Following are some multi-syllable words you can easily eliminate from your speeches, along with better, shorter replacement words:  

 cut out  
 speed, rush  
 make, easy  
 make, cause  
 see, watch  


Don't Use Jargon  
Most likely you are heard speakers use sports terms as they talk about business or politics, or business words they talk about art or theater. Avoid specialized words generally found only in certain professions unless you are speaking to people in those 
    Some words can be considered jargon even though though they are not specifically related to any one profession. Following are some of these words and the more acceptable words to use instead:  

 laying off  
 begin, use  
 talk with  
 workable, possible 


Use Vivid Words  
Use descriptive, expressive words that paint pictures the audience can see. Descriptive words can convey emotion and action, stirring the audience's imagination and making your message more memorable.  
    Instead of saying, "Helen picked up the jar and looked at it," try, "Helena picked up blue porcelain jar and ran her fingers over the smooth surface."  

Use Words Economically  
As a speaker, you should strive to say a lot in as few words as possible. Many words are unnecessary or are used as "fillers." For example, phrases such as" as you knows," I think, ""you may be aware of, ""needless to say, ""it has been shown that,""to be honest," or "it is widely known that" can be eliminated entirely. Replace trite clichés such as "dog-tried, "quick as a flash" with more appropriate, descriptive, shorter words or phrases.  
    Other phrases can be reduced to one or two words. "A large number of "can be reduced to "many" at the present time" can become "now" and " in the event of" can become "if". Do not use two or more words if one word will suffice.  

Use Short Sentences  
Long,, complex sentences are difficult for your audience to follow and understand. By the time listeners hear the last words, they can't remember the first ones, and your points is lost. Short sentences have more power and impact, and audiences will remember them longer. However, a speech made entirely of short sentences can become boring and tedious to hear. Use longer sentences periodically to add variety, but make sure the audience can easily follow them.  

Use Active, Not Passive, Voice  
In the English language, sentences have a voice. This voice is defined by the verb in the sentence. The verb indicates whether the subject performs the action.  
    In the active voice, the subject does something. "The club elected Marion president." The active voice clearly states who is doing what. In the passive voice, something is done to the subject." Marion was elected president by the club."  
    The active voice uses fewer words, is easier to follow, and sounds more vigorous and interesting. Use the active voice whenever possible in your sentences.  

Use Rhetorical Devices  
Many literary devices will add power to a speech, attracting the audience's attention and illustrating your message even more. A simile is a comparison that uses the words "like" or "as." 'If we deny our children and education, ignorance will grow like a cancer." A metaphor merely implies the comparison. "Ignorance is a cancer that must be cured." In alliteration, the initial sounds  in words or in stressed syllables within the words are repeated in a pleasing or memorable manner. "Unnoticed and unused," "hallowed halls," "protect and preserve peace."  
    Triads are another device. Group ideas, adjectives, and points in threes. Expressed in threes, thoughts have a pleasant rhythm, are dramatic, and become more memorable. For example, the sentence "... we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor" attracts attention and is easy to remember.  
    As you prepare your speech, avoid words that may evoke a negative emotional response. Some people find vulgarity offensive. Others find terms like "third world" or "disadvantaged people" irritating. Vague appeals to authority ("The experts agree.""My team is unbeatable") also can anger people. Avoid words that are ambiguous or have multiple meaning, too. For example, the word "cheap" can mean inexpensive, affordable, or poorly made. "Liberal" and "conservative" also have no clear meanings-what one people considers conservative, another may not.  

Preparing Your Talk  
For this project select a subject that will allow you to use words as described above. Carefully select your words, making sure they are clear, accurate, colorful, and as short as possible. Pay attention to sentence construction and length. Analyze your words and sentences to be certain they convey your meaning to the audience. Rehearse your speech baffler your family or another Club member and ask for feedback on the effectiveness and clarity of your message. If necessary, select better word and sentence combination to communicate your message.  

Your Evaluation   
Your evaluator will expect you are to use words and sentences that clearly communicate your ideas to the audience, paying particular attention to words or jargon, use of descriptive words and active voice, and use of rhetorical devices. Be sure to organize your talk and use appropriate body language and vocal variety as well. 

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