I opened the car door with a gentle nudge. Stepping out of my 2001 PT Cruiser in all of its indigo glory, my sturdy hiking boots landed on the frozen ground. After nearly 20 hours of driving, my brother and I reached our final destination. Our visit to Colorado had just begun.

In the scene I painted above, there are 5 adjectives which I have highlighted. Throughout the course of the short story, the adjectives allow me – the writer – to help you – the reader – visualize a moment you didn’t experience. Although adjectives like innovative, incredible, dynamic, and intensive are used to describe everything from a smartphone to a pet food dish, the grammatical device has not lost its effect in public speaking and presentations.

The Function of an Adjective

As you likely learned in grade school, the purpose of an adjective – the reason it rolls out of bed every morning – is to illustrate a concept, theme, event, or item. Adjectives serve to enhance the emotive qualities of your copy and increase the audience connection with your message. You may not believe you need adjectives in your professional presentations. The opposite is true. Using adjectives with intention in your speaking script or on your presentation slides empowers the presenter with opportunities to deepen listener’s understanding of subject matter.

The Value Adjectives Add to Speeches

Researchers have conducted extensive studies about the incorporation of adjectives into daily communication. A 2005 study discussed the pivotal nature of the adjective in shaping advertising style.

presenter's guide

“Advertising style developed, not just to sell products and services, but also to model the identities and values of consumer society.” – David Machin and Theo van Leeuwen

Fashion brands and the consumer goods industry promote their products alongside copy that includes adjectives. The adjectives advertisers use are most effective when they describe not only the product for sell, but also the target audience and its perception of the value a product provides.

In your speeches and presentations, adjectives become a tool for connecting your idea, opinion, service, or product with your audiences.

How Presenters Implement Adjectives

Instead of tossing adjectives around your copy like marchers with candy during a parade, insert adjectives where they will clear up confusion or evoke an emotional response.

Set the Scene for Your Message

Much like the paragraph I began this article with, presenters can use adjectives as part of a personal story or client or customer experience story. Describe the look on a client’s face after viewing the piece of artwork you painted for him or her. Tell your audience the type of car you were driving before your company finally took off. Details that demonstrate contrast amplify the impact of a message or claim.

Simplify a Process

Some presenters shy away from adjectives because they deem the parts of speech too colorful and fluffy. And they certainly are when used incorrectly in the context of a business presentation. Adjectives enable presenters to convey steps in a logical order. Use words like first, second, third, and even next.

Using adjectives can create valuable opportunities for your presentation delivery. Don’t miss out on the chance to resonate with your audience members and aid comprehension of your message. For more presentation grammar tips and techniques, check out the posts below:

How to Use Correct Subject-Verb Agreement in Your Presentations

Capitalization in a Presentation: Why Consistency is King

Public Speaking Skills: Using Vignettes in Your Presentations


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