Speech Techniques

Speech techniques help us to speak well in public. Speeches, like all other forms of writing, use a variety of techniques to improve their effectiveness. For some people, the thought of having to give a speech is enough to fill them with dread and the promise of a week's worth of sleepless nights. As with everything else in life, it is possible to practise and to improve your skills.

Test your knowledge of effective speech techniques with this quiz.

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  1. The purpose of most speeches is to...
    Most speeches are meant to be persuasive. Sometimes they are unashamedly so and at other times the persuasiveness is more subtle
  2. What is the effect of using the second person (you / yours) in a speech?
  3. What is the effect of using the first person plural (we / us / our) in a speech?
    Speakers who use 'we', 'us' and 'our' can be very persuasive - or can seem manipulative, if they are not careful
  4. Which of the following should NOT be used in a speech?
  5. 'For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and ploughed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.' - These words from Barack Obama's Inaugural Address demonstrate the use of which rhetorical device?
    The rule of three also applies to simple lists of three words (i.e. 'faith, hope and charity')
  6. Looking again at the extract from Obama's speech, which sentence contains the most examples of emotive language?
    The second sentences includes these emotive words: toiled, endured, sweatshops, lash, whip, hard. The first and third sentences have emotive subjects (emigration, war) and would not benefit from overly emotive language
  7. Read these lines from General Charles de Gaulle's speech following the Nazi invasion of France. Which of them is an example of using a parallel structure (parallelism)?
    'Brought about our defeat' and 'lead us to victory' are parallel structures: they share a similar grammatical structure
  8. Read these lines from Oliver Cromwell's 1653 speech to Parliament. Which of the following is an example of antithesis?
    Antithesis involves the juxtaposition of two contrasting ideas
  9. When preparing for a speech, you should do which of the following?
  10. Which of the following will NOT help to combat nerves during a speech?
    It's amazing how quickly people speak when they are nervous - slow down, but do think about your varying your pace and tone

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