[Quick public speaking tip] Switch audience attention to the words you choose

Your speech flows along.

It makes sense.

Your audience is listening, watching, presumably absorbed.

Keep them that way. A speech that flows along like that will get boring before long unless you introduce something that brings your audience’s comfort up short.


Today’s quick tip is one little device that will interrupt the normal communication process and rather than following the flow of ideas, the listener focuses on the words instead. Using this effect, you can have your audience stop, and really listen – to all that you want them to understand, engage with and remember.

This effect is to do with the sounds within words.

One way to create this effect with sounds is to use alliteration. Alliteration is one of the most powerful ways. Here, each word begins with the same sound. So I might have a “particularly powerful proposition” or an idea may be “Revolutionary and radical.” Can you feel the device working, drawing your attention to the words and all that they mean?

Another technique using sound is rhyme. Like all devices, it can evoke emotion which is one of the best ways to resonate and engage with your audience. It can also be used very effectively to create humour… Ogden Nash wrote: “Candy is dandy. But liquor is quicker.” How much meaning there is in those few words … and he draws attention to them using rhyme.

These are also the words that will create what I call a “bright spot” in a speech – a place you can call back to. Use it to identify a point in your speech, or a moment in the presentation as a whole.

So start getting into the habit of incorporating alliteration and rhyme into your speeches – at times when you want to slow things down and make a major point. They will be a powerful ally for you.

Quick public speaking tip – the words you use

Consider your audience when you are choosing the words that you use –the vocabulary. Speak to them in a language they understand. Look at your technical terms, and any jargon that they may not understand. Use examples, stories, quotes and other support material that has relevance to their lives and their interests. You will keep their attention and their interest.

Compare your reading skills

This is a fun quick interactive test of your reading speed, comprehension,

It’s FREE and only takes six minutes.

Find out how your skills compare.

Your results are reported at the end of the questions. This test is standardized against the results of 30,592 participants.

To start, click on the “Next button”.