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Speak Like A Novelist Writes

Posted: January 23, 2012 at 8:34 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Speak Like A Novelist Writes

with Dr. Bill Lampton

In shaping their material for audiences, speakers will benefit by following the example of novelists.

Consider these three fiction devices that will appeal to listeners as well as readers:

1. Novelists keeps their readers in suspense.
ex. In your introduction you might illude to a startling incident. I am going to tell you about a day in my career that could have ruined me–yet wound up being the best thing that ever happened to me. But first I have to set the background for you.

2. Novelists use strong sensory appeal.
ex. Let’s go back to the just mentioned meeting with the new supervisor. I saw a huge man and I was sure he wanted to intimidate me by his overbearing physique. His voice was gruff, more of a growl than a series of tones. The coffee he handed me was bitter, needing the sugar he omitted. His office reeked from the cigar he smoked, in defiance of corporate policy I might mention. His handshake was a real crusher, serving as another symbol of his authority.

3. Novelists stimulate readers through dialogue.
ex. Go beyond a general description of that first meeting with that supervisor. Give the dialogue verbatim.

“Welcome to our department, Mr. Martin.”
“I’m not so sure you’ll really want to welcome me after you hear what I’m going to tell you.”
“Why? Do you have bad news for me?”
“It will be bad news news to you that I will require you to shape up or ship out within the next six weeks.”
“So…what do you want me to do differently?”

Summary: When you prepare your next speech imagine how an acclaimed novelist would get the message across compellingly. Create suspense and sustain it for several minutes. Appeal to the five senses and stimulate your listeners by reconstructing dialogue. Amazingly, what puts writers on a best seller list can put speakers on a best presenters list.


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