3 Ways to Speak More Powerfully When You Present

3 Ways to Speak More Powerfully When You Present

3 Ways to Speak More Powerfully When You Present

You’ve had training in presentation skills. You’ve had experience presenting to different types of audiences. You know the ingredients of an effective presentation – audience profiling, clear objective and key message, coherent structure, a strong opening and ending, and a pinch of storytelling.

But what about the words and phrases you’re using? Are they sufficiently powerful and assertive to match the power of your idea?

Without language there is no presentation. And without powerful language there is no guarantee that your messages will be heard or get actioned.

Here are three techniques you can use to create some ‘oomph’ to your argument.

1. Prepare content and speak it using the ‘rule of three’.

This is one of the most common techniques for powerful public speaking. Many speeches, slogans and soundbites contain lots of phrases made up of three parts. We have stories such as the Three Blind Mice, concepts such as ‘work, rest and play’ and marketing slogans such as ‘A Mars a day helps you work, rest and play’.

We remember things easily in threes. What does this mean for your presentation? Try to structure your content into three sections and use descriptions using three adjectives, for example, ‘this is going to give us confidence, credibility and ultimately, cause for celebration’.

2. Use alliteration

Alliteration is when words in a sentence start with the same letter or sound. Notice how I coupled the rule of three with alliteration in the example in the last section! It gives flow to your spoken language, and it makes your messages stand out. 

Alliteration can also suggest balance and balance is subconsciously registered as ‘good’ by our brain. Let’s imagine you’re advocating taking more time to execute a strategy. Using alliteration can be something as simple as ‘It’s worth the wait’.

When you use alliteration, you sound smooth and polished. Don’t overdo this technique though as you can come across as contrived.

3. Use a rhetorical question and repeat key words

Sprinkling rhetorical questions throughout your presentation is a simple and effective way to encourage audience engagement as the brain automatically pays attention when it hears a question. (Again, don’t overdo this though as it can become irritating.)

You can make your rhetorical questions more powerful and consequently, your point more memorable by repeating a keyword or words.  Use the formula statement/rhetorical question/answer with repetition. For example: ‘We’re still experiencing problems with quality (statement). So, what is the solution? (rhetorical question). The solution is to outsource to a different supplier’ (answer with repetition).

Once you’ve become comfortable with basic presentation structure, focusing on language impact techniques is an excellent way to hone your skills as an effective public speaker.

Two excellent books for non-native speakers that feature language impact techniques with exercises to practise are: ‘Presentations in English’ and ‘Dynamic Presentations’ both by Mark Powell. I recommend you take a look!


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My mission is to help employees in multinational companies learn the skills and techniques they need to give outstanding presentations in English and receive the visibility and recognition they deserve.

feel confident and engage with your audience Janice Haywood