The Sound of Your Words

It’s the SOUND of the words, as well as the sound of the voice that makes more impact than you might think. It’s one of the things that separates the great speakers from the rest of the pack. Winston Churchill and Martin Luther King Jr. realized the power that the sound of their words carried. You aren’t’ limited to listening to their speeches to feel that power – you get a good dose of it by just reading their remarks.

Great speakers use poetic and literary devices to create powerful aural effects with their words. They are really very simple to incorporate – try them yourself:

  • Repetition. Echo phrases or sentences throughout an address. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” is a perfect example of this device.
  • Assonance. Repeat stressed vowel sounds, such as in “Four score and seven years ago…”
  • Parallelism. Pattern words to create rhythm. The “Rule of Three” fits this category: “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…”
  • Onomatopoeia. Use words that sounds like what they denote. “Bang” sounds like a bang. “Splash” sounds like a splash.
  • Alliteration. Repeat of consonant sounds – “Peter Piper picked a peck…” Of course, not every word in a series needs to begin with the same consonant, but it must be “visible” enough to carry an emotional context along with it. A good example is a speech Churchill gave during World War II: “The battle of Britain is about to begin…Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duty and so bear…”

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