In everyday conversation, we rarely take time to choose one word over another. We often ‘grab’ the first word that comes to mind so that we can continue to speak – because stopping to think about which word is best might allow other people break in and take over.
Conversations are actually quite competitive which is why we often interject an “um” or an “err” into a conversation rather than leave a pause into which another person might jump!
However, when we are giving a speech or presentation we can choose our words during the preparation time and thereby enrich a speech. Consider the scenario where a friend asks you about your holiday. Your ‘of the top of your head’ response might be
“It was fantastic, there were lots of secluded white sandy beaches surrounded by colourful trees and bushes.” This really paints a picture for your friend, but imagine communicating this scenario in a speech – what would you need to add to it to make an audience imagine the scene you have actually seen and experienced?
- Don’t be afraid to take some poetic licence and embellish your description so that people who have not seen it can imagine it as if they were there
- Open your thesaurus and ponder over your descriptive words and how well they paint the picture for your description – see if you can find more vivid words to describe the scene for your audience
Your speech could then sound something like this. “It was truly amazing, we discovered a beautiful cove surrounded by lush vegetation that shimmered in every shade of green from lime through jade to emerald, with flowers of every rainbow colour dancing in the breeze. There were cobalt and sapphire blues. There were crimsons and scarlets and every shade between. The sea was an unbroken azure vista that stretched as far as the eye could see and the silvery, sands showed not even a solitary footprint, leaving us feeling as if we were the only people on the planet.”
Which of those statements do you think would hold the audience’s attention the longest?
Don’t be shy. It may not feel natural at first so just change one or two words to begin with and as you feel more comfortable with the new style of vocabulary add a few more descriptive words.
And one warning – be careful not to get so carried away with rich vocabulary that you obscure the message instead of emphasising it.