Toastmaster Speech Manual Number
Work with Words
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
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:
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 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 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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