Obtaining the Oratory Skill of Eloquence

BostonSpeaksBlog (11).png

How to develop that special something that separates the great speaker from the good.

Throughout the history of humankind, there have been those who stood apart in the sphere of public discourse. These men and women have been leaders, philosophers, teachers, and visionaries. These great communicators fueled revolutionary actions, reversed long-held public opinions, and strengthened armies with just their words. They are remembered as great orators, renowned for their eloquence and charisma.

Did my description of these public speaking masters inspire you? Wouldn’t you like to have just a little bit of that power to sway hearts and minds?

You can!

Okay, I’m not going to teach you how to move armies. But by learning to speak more eloquently, you will be better equipped to encourage and inspire your team, community members, or friends. And even if your message isn’t revolutionary, you can still change your world one step at a time.

So what is this special something called eloquence? Merriam-Webster defines the term as “discourse marked by force and persuasiveness.” Vocabulary.com tells us that “Eloquence is powerful, moving, magnificent use of language.”

That seems simple enough, right? We can do magnificent and moving. No problem. Seriously, though, you can learn to be more eloquent.

In this article, I’m going share my four R’s of oratory to get you started.

Ready? Let’s become magnificent users of language.

Four R’s to Elevate Your Oratory

One: Relax

It isn’t just the words you speak that make you eloquent. Non-verbal cues such as gestures, facial expressions, and tone of voice all affect your audience’s perception of you and your message.

When you are confident, you inspire others’ confidence in you.

How can you ensure that your body language communicates your confidence?

Forbes contributor Carol Kinsey Goman advises readers to “relax and to focus more on your audience than on yourself -- in order to let your natural, sparkling personality and body language “speak up.””

Two: Rehearse

A public speech or presentation is not the time to try out words or phrases that are new to your vocabulary.

You don’t need to use complicated phrases and terminology to communicate persuasively. In fact, the best speakers choose words that are simple and clearly understood by their audience.

But, if your message requires using complicated phrases -- practice makes perfect. Practice saying key words and phrases from your speech out loud until your delivery is clear and natural sounding.

Three: Rhetorical Devices

In his review of the book, The Elements of Eloquence, Manner of Speaking John Zimmer says that “when used properly” rhetorical devices “can set a speech on fire so that it blazes in the memories of those who heard it long after the speaker has left the stage.”

What are rhetorical devices? They are techniques involving the selection and placement of words in such a way as to add emphasis or convey a particular effect. You probably hear and use rhetorical devices all the time, but may not know their names. For instance, saying you use these devices all the time is an example of hyperbole. And I used alliteration in the title of this article.

If you need some help coming up with a rhetorical device that works for you, The Elements of Eloquence details 39 from which you can choose.

Four: Research

Have you ever listened to a speaker and felt as if their words touched your soul? The greatest orators have the power to stir feeling deep inside their listeners. This effect goes beyond just their words. Their eloquence springs from the rhythm, tone, and conviction of their speech.

To truly understand this effect, you need to experience it. So do a little research. Find the speeches of people who inspire you and study them. From Maya Angelou to Daniel Webster, there are many examples to choose from.

In Conclusion...

I hope I’ve persuaded you that you can speak with eloquence. And, I hope that you’ve been inspired to share your message through public speaking. If you’re in Boston, be sure stop by Boston Speaks and tell me all about it in person. I’m always happy to meet a fellow orator.