Many years ago I attended a workshop led by World Champions of Public Speaking, Craig Valentine, and Darren LaCroix. They spoke about using direct and succinct language when drafting speeches. Below are some of tips that you can easily apply to both your speech writing, and to your blog writing.
Expletives (also called empty words) are: “There is/was,” “There are,” or “It is/was.” Starting your sentences with explicates reduces the energy and flow of your message.
Before: “It was the setting of the sun that made it hard to see the speaker at our outdoor event.”
Correction: “The setting sun made it hard to see the speaker at our outdoor event.”
Avoid Noun Strings.
Noun strings weigh down sentences, and force the listener or reader to work harder to understand the message. To fix, rearrange the sentence to eliminate a series of nouns used as adjectives.
Before: “The Club’s Executive committee met to discuss their written draft for the club’s Toastmasters International Club Success Plan.”
Correction: “The Club Executive met to discuss their Club Success Plan draft.”
Avoid Vague Nouns.
A noun may be specific or general. Phrases formed around general nouns such as: “person,” “place,” “situation,” or “thing,” clutter sentences.
Before: “She is a specialist in the area of the Pathways projects.”
Correction: “Sarah is a specialist in Pathways.”
Convert Nouns To Verbs.
When a sentence includes a noun ending in: “tion,” change the noun to a verb to simplify the sentence.
Before: “Members will team up in the creation of new guidelines.”
Correction: “Members will team up to create new guidelines.”
Eliminate Prepositional Phrases.
A prepositional phrase is a group of words consisting of a preposition, its object, and any words that modify the object.
Before: “At the charter meeting, Dave gave out cupcakes to all attendees with blue and yellow sprinkles on them.”
Correction: “At the charter meeting, Dave gave all attendees a cupcake with blue and yellow sprinkles on them.”
Replace Complex Words With Simple Ones.
Simply multisyllabic words.
Before: “The Club President will administer the forms today.”
Correction: “The Club President will hand out the forms today.”
Reduce Wordy Phrases To Single Words.
You risk losing your listener’s or reader’s attention with an overly wordy sentence. Replace phrases that signal a transition with simple conjunctions, verbs, or other linking words.
Before: “Due to the fact that the weather has changed towards the worst, tonight’s in-person meeting has been changed to a virtual meeting format.
Correction: Due to the changing weather, tonight’s in-person meeting is virtual.
Use an Active, not Passive Voice.
When a sentence includes: “appear,” “are,” “be,” “become,” “is,” “feel,” “look,” “seem,” or any other linking verbs (known as copulative verbs), reframe the sentence to omit the verb.
Before: “The activity was seen by us as a great way to bond with each other”
Correction: “We saw the activity as a great way to bond.”
Use Simple Verbs instead of Verb Phrases.
A verb phrase consists of a verb with another word that further explains the verb tense, action, and tone. To simplify your sentence, fine the verb buried in a verb phrase and omit the rest of the phrase.
Before: “I have been participating in club meetings.” (verb phrase is: “have been participating”)
Correction: “I participate in club meetings.”
Use Words, Not Their Definitions.
Replace explanatory phrases with a single word that sums up that explanation.
Before: “The event speakers also need to be approachable so that members would be able to gain any returns that exceeded what they personally wanted for themselves from the experience.”
Correction: “The event speakers need to be approachable so that members gain from the experience.”
Created by Nancy Movrin DTM District Director 2023 – 2024