I try to drink my coffee black, or with some natural Stevia in it at most. However, there is something about adding cream to coffee that makes it so much tastier. A creamy coffee, whether it be made at home or a Vanilla Latte from Starbucks, is so much more tasty. Well, just as cream makes your coffee more pleasing to the palate, there are words you can use (and an order to use them) that makes them more pleasing to the ear.
In James Humes' book “Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln”, he states that the greatest leaders are the greatest speakers. Humes goes on to say that by using certain strategies in your delivery, you can be come a “Lion” of speaking, and that when you deliver lines in your speeches using 5 specific elements, your words will linger in your listener's mind. For the purpose of your speeches, ensure that you add some of the following speech elements to your lines of delivery, or risk those lines being forgotten. Be deliberate with your delivery, and your lines will surely linger.
Speech Element 1: “C” Contrast
The element of contrast simply means using contrasting phrases very close together. For example, a line from Winston Churchill, “There is only one answer to defeat, and that is victory”, is an example of contrast. “Defeat” and “Victory” are opposite words, therefore they create contrast. Other examples are “Friend and Foe”, “High and Low”, etc.
Speech Element 2: “R” Rhyme
The most popular use of this element is “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”. “Day” rhymes with “Away”. Be careful with this element to ensure that your speech does not become a song or poem, but used sparingly, this can have a lasting effect. Proof? When you think of Muhammed Ali, what fight titles do you think of? It is likely that the “Thrilla in Manilla” or “Rumble in the Jungle” were the first to pop into your head. That is no accident!! (The naming of those fights was not accidental either).
Speech Element 3: “E” Echo
Echo is simply using the same word multiple times in a short space – a sentence or 2. John F. Kennedy probably has the most famous use of the Echo in history. “Ask not what your country can do for you, but rather what you can do for your country.” Six words are repeated in this ONE sentence: What, You, Can, Do, Country, and For. Echoing words in your delivery sinks your message into your listener's brain.
Speech Element 4: “A” Alliteration
Alliteration is defined as the commencement of two or more words of a word group with the same letter. Remember “She sells seashells by the sea shore.”? It does not have to be that many words, just a few will do. Humes suggests consonants are better than vowels. You can apply alliteration in a much more subtle way and achieve the same effect. (Hint: Look at the title of this article!)
Speech Element 5: “M” Metaphor
A Metaphor is a comparison. It relates the unknown to the known. It creates a visual comparison of your topic to something that everyone can relate to, to get them to connect to what you have to say. When Muhammad Ali, “floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee”, he was comparing how he moved in the ring, to the gentle and graceful movement of a butterfly. He compared how he punched his opponents to the harsh sting of a bee. He used 2 metaphors beautifully to relate boxing, which most of us have not ever done, to the common experiences of watching a butterfly move, and getting stung by a bee.
Adding “CREAM” to your speeches are like adding cream to your coffee. It will make your words go down more smoothly, and leave an awesome sweet taste in your listener's mouths. And just like your local coffee shop, it will keep them coming back for more!
Kwesi Millington helps speakers to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.