Vocabulary selection in a speech

Confidence helps to deliver a powerful speech, but sole self-confidence only brings half of success. The other half is hidden in the words you choose to deliver your message.

The target audience subconsciously judges whether a speech given by this speaker is worth their time by their impression and credibility. The first impression given by the speaker is from their choice of words. People from different cultural backgrounds would acquire and apply distinct vocabulary, thus, to build an advanced self-image, effective speakers choose uncommon expressions to add sophistication and persuasiveness to their speech. When presenting favourable outcomes in a professional setting, an average speaker would frequently use the word “success”. However, since every one in the room is familiar with “success”, a sophisticated impression is hardly given out by the speaker. Instead of using cliché vocabulary, “accomplishments”, “achievements” and “attainment” all share a similar meaning. Not only do these words sound more mature, they give out a more cultured impression for establishing a professional image.

Another aim for delivering a speech is to address audience’s needs regardless of the context. Whether it is in an interview, a storytelling competition or the opening ceremony of an event, a smart speaker chooses vocabulary by assessing the identity and the aim of target recipients. To convey ideas to children, it is essential to keep words simple, yet vivid. When describing delicious chocolate, a smart speaker tones down “luscious” into “heavenly” to provoke a heavenly image in children’s minds. While when a speech about gender equality is given to the general public, gender neutral and simple vocabulary is selected. The simple vocabulary allows every member of the audience to understand the message, while gender neutral words subtly promotes the idea, leading to an influential result.

To grasp the skill of word selection, research has to be done often. The easiest way to start is by looking up frequently used words in a thesaurus. Try reading different synonyms aloud to see which one suits your personality best. Then memorize a few to replace cliché words in your daily lives. It may sound unnatural for the first few times, but practice always makes perfect. An advanced technique is to do research on your target audience. If you are giving a speech at the opening ceremony of a sports event, you should take note of who will be present, will it be general sports lovers, or key opinion leaders (KOLs) who help to promote a sports brand. Choose expressions that can relate to different recipients. An effective speech has to grab the attention of the audience in order to deliver thoughts.

By mastering this technique, you will be able to mould yourself into an accomplished speaker who can talk to any target groups, as well as developing an enhanced self-perception for a confidence boost.

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