Do you ever listen to someone speak, and their language just sounds so perfect? Somehow the words they use just sound better. Many times, that’s because they are using rhetorical patterns that have been used for hundreds of years. You’ve probably heard of things like alliteration and parallelism, but the ones on the list for today are more obscure but no less powerful.

So if you are ready to learn some funny words while also elevating the language in your presentations, here’s a crash course in 5 language strategies you might want to try out. Most of these (and many others) can be found at americanrhetoric.com or literarydevices.net.

1. Scesis Onomaton:

A list of words whose meanings are the same or very similar. This can be used to highlight points that you want to stand out to your audience. You can even use it add a little humor via language since the repetition isn’t necessarily adding new meaning, it’s just rephrasing what you’ve already said in another way.

Example: “Let there be no illusions about the difficulty of forming this kind of a national community. It’s tough, difficult, not easy. But a spirit of harmony will survive in America only if each of us remembers that we share a common destiny.” Barbara Jordan, 1976 DNC Keynote Address

Example: Over the course of the next 20 minutes, I hope you’ll join me on a journey, a trip, an adventure.

2. Asyndeton:

Leaving out conjunctions (and, or, for, nor, but, yet, so) where they would normally occur. This tactic can be especially powerful because it boils your sentence down to the words that matter most. It makes your language concise and memorable.

Example: “I came, I saw, I conquered.” Julius Caesar

Example: The product I’m about to introduce to you was born of creativity, of passion, of dedication, of hard work.

3. Antimetabole:

Following an A-B, B-A pattern, the word order of two consecutive phrases or sentences is replicated, but in reverse order. The audience will appreciate this clever linguistic trick. They don’t usually see it coming, so it adds an element of surprise. In addition, it helps the audience remember the phrase longer.

Example: “We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Benjamin Franklin

Example: Always take care to communicate, and communicate with care.

4. Hypophora:

The communicator both raises and answers a question. Similar to a rhetorical question, the audience knows the speaker isn’t directly addressing them. However, this tactic allows the speaker to give the audience a “voice,” by verbalizing something they might be wondering and then responding to that posed question.

Example: “When the enemy struck on that June day of 1950, what did America do? It did what it always has done in all its times of peril. It appealed to the heroism of its youth.” Dwight D. Eisenhower, I Shall Go to Korea Address

Example: How will this affect your day-to-day operations? It will make them smoother, faster, easier.

5. Epistrophe:

The use of repetition at the end of phrases, clauses, or sentences. This is a popular language strategy because it drives home a specific point. By repeating the exact words several times, the speaker can highlight that word.

Example: “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.” Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

Example: In conclusion, I hope that my words are not only fresh in your mind, but firm in your mind.

Ready to become a master wordsmith? Start small. Pick a few of your key sentences or points in your presentation. Then mold them into more beautiful and powerful sentences with the use of these language strategies. And check out a larger list here when you are ready.

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