Many of the past year's Speak Previews® articles sparked comment and questions from our readers. So here's a little more on some of the most frequently mentioned topics and points. Keep those responses coming!


As you consider quotations to open a presentation or speech, pause at those that startle because they run contrary to the expected. They may offer you a distinct launching point, one that you can subsequently argue for or against. With such a line as the one below, you can then agree or disagree—but in either case you will have grabbed audience attention and woven a red thread of context and meaning into your talk.

Gratitude—the meanest and most sniveling attribute in the world. - Dorothy Parker


We received a note in praise of onomatopoeia, the use of a word whose sound imitates the thing or action it refers to. The device adds precision and interest; it creates images that evoke emotion and refine understanding. It's likely that you use onomatopoeic words regularly: flutter, splash, hiss, meow, babble, grind, click. Such words bring sound and sense together. Substituting one for a non-descriptive word will enliven your prose.

Alliteration may do the same, and it's another device with which most of us are familiar. Take a look at food brands or the names of businesses and you'll see it. Consider the cartoon characters you have known: Donald Duck, Betty Boop, SpongeBob SquarePants. This repetition of initial identical consonant sounds or of any vowel sounds in a series of words or phrases pleases the ear, making a name or phrase more memorable. Try it both to draw attention to your words and to make them stick in the mind of your audience.


We hit the mark with our Ten Tips list! We thank you for your feedback, some of which stressed the importance we place on rehearsing. Repeated practice helps you reach your best natural self as a speaker … and that's just who you want and need to be when you deliver.


Closely related to our articles on effective delivery and establishing credibility is ongoing research conducted by social psychologist Amy Cuddy. In this TED talk she explains "how your body position influences others and even your own brain." Body position, she suggests, affects brain chemistry, and those effects can improve or undermine your performance. "Fake it until you become it," she urges, a practice with which we have no argument.

As the year closes, ECG and Speak Previews wish you the happiest of holidays and a bright New Year.