The Power of the Spoken Word

Imagine you are giving an address to potential HSC students about the power of the spoken word. In your speech refer to at least 3 of the prescribed speeches you have studied in this module.

Hello, and welcome to this discussion about the power of the spoken word. I’m sure that in your studies as students, you have come across an array of techniques that empower words and allow them to formulate great meaning, ideas and themes.

In famous speeches given by credible people, this becomes evident. Such is the case with the speeches given by Paul Keating, Faith Bandler and Aung San Suu Kyi.

These speeches show that words and the expression of those words are at the core of communicating to audiences. People are able to use strong words and constructive language techniques in order to articulate their views, or they can simply use meaningless rhetoric and not get across to their listeners.

Words are the embodiment of intention. Even in the pauses between the intake of breath and the uttering of words, a speaker is able to communicate certain feelings to their audience.

Because of speaking, we’re able to produce awkward silences. We’re able to create sexual innuendo with just the simple inflection of our voice. Studies have even shown that when someone’s hand is placed in freezing cold water, they’ve had a higher pain threshold if they were allowed to swear. That’s power.

Famous political chants, like “The people united will never be defeated”, often make use of repetition, alliteration or assonance, in order to create rhythm. When these words are said aloud they can have immense power, and that rhythm helps to achieve it by uniting the people who are chanting it. This chant was also originally a Spanish chant, but even when it is translated across cultures, contexts and languages it still remains powerful.

So what are some examples of powerful language in speeches?

Paul Keating certainly uses it in his ‘Funeral Service for an Unknown...