Using the Right Words in Your Speech

orwellWell over 50 years ago, George Orwell, the author, published his six rules for the use of good written English.

I believe they are just as useful to consider when you are preparing a speech, so here they are:

  • Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print;
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do;
  • If it is possible to cut out a word, always cut it out;
  • Never us the passive where you can use the active;
  • Never use a foreign phrase, scientific word or a jargon word if there is an everyday English equivalent;
  • Break any of these rules rather than say something outrightly barbarous.

Jargon is my personal bugbear when listening to speeches (or even everyday conversations). Every profession has its own form of shorthand that is understood by its members and not by others. Acronyms are also creeping into public speaking – these are even worse.

The best comedy routines can be based on the overuse of jargon, cliches and acronyms so don’t let your important speech become a target for amusement!