How to Use Words Effectively in Public Speaking

An effective public speaker clearly expresses an idea in a way that keeps the audience interested. A skilled public speaker can inspire people with words. The best public speakers possess an extensive vocabulary, good knowledge of grammar, correct pronunciation and varied sentence length. The effective use of words in public speaking is a skill that you can learn. Learning a few simple tools, increasing your vocabulary and practicing can greatly improve your use of words in public speaking.

Vary the length of your sentences. Use short sentences to emphasize a point and longer sentences when explaining a point. Simple sentences effectively introduce a topic. Longer sentences help when expanding upon an idea or explaining a concept. There are no strict rules about sentence length. A good rule is to end a sentence when you express a complete idea. Too many short sentences will result in monotonous speech. Sentences that are too long will confuse the audience.

Use varied sentence structure that takes full advantage of the different parts of speech. Sentences that are well-constructed will result in a speech that is easy to understand. Simple and compound sentences and the use of conjunctions can help keep the audience's attention. Introductory and propositional phrases can help clarify your thoughts for better communication of your ideas.

Demonstrate your vocabulary by using synonyms in place of trite expressions. An audience will become bored quickly if your speech contains too many commonly used phrases. Refrain from phrases such as “in other words” and “on the other hand.” Learn to use synonyms for common words and phrases to develop your ability to convey your ideas in an attention-grabbing way. An audience will remember a speech that is original.

Tell a humorous story to break the ice or to introduce a subject that may be difficult to discuss. The best public speakers use humor effectively to get the audience’s attention and to hold it throughout the speech. Listeners will remember a funny story.

According to the Advanced Public Speaking Institute, business leaders and politicians use humor in their speeches because it is effective. Humor helps to get your audience’s attention and makes you more likable to your listeners.

Practice your speech several times. Record yourself giving the speech and play it back. Listen for mispronounced words, bad speech habits (i.e., saying “uh” or “like”) and errors in grammar. Practice until you correct these errors.

Give your speech to an audience of friends and family. Ask for their honest feedback and critique.

Pay attention to body language when giving a speech, and practice your speech regularly to help you be more relaxed.

Avoid using profanity in public speaking.

Do not tell off-color or offensive jokes. If you are unsure of how your audience will respond, do not tell the joke.

Do not use sexist, racist or ethnically insensitive words.

Cite this Article