If you want to add some class to your next speech, if you are looking for a way to make your audience come to tears or break out in laughter, then perhaps what you need to do is to incorporate some poetry into your speech. I’m not talking the “Roses are red, Violets are blue…” variety, but rather poems that really mean something and which can lend their weight to your speech.
Just What Is This Thing Called Poetry?
Just in case you’ve been out of school for just a bit too long, maybe we should take a step back and make sure that we’re all on the same page when it comes to this poetry thing. The good folks over at Wikipedia seem to have a pretty good handle on it when they define poetry as being a:
“Literary work in which special intensity is given to the expression of feelings and ideas by the use of distinctive style and rhythm…”
We all know about the importance of public speaking and poetry is yet another way to get our points across. Because of the way that the words are put together in a poem, they can easily flow off of your tongue and into your audience’s mind. When your audience hears a line of poetry, they process it differently from everything else that you’ve been saying. It can almost instantly cause a reaction to occur in your audience.
The poems that we have all heard were written by famous, what else, poets. What this means is that when you add their poetry to your speech you’ll also be adding a new level of importance to what you are saying.
What’s The Best Way To Use A Poem In Your Next Speech?
The power of poetry is something that you can add to your next speech in order to make sure that your speech makes an impression on your audience. Celia Berrell writes a lot of poetry and she points out that you can’t add an entire poem to your speech, instead you’ll have to add just pieces and parts.
When you reach the point in your speech that you’ll start to recite the part of the poem that you’ve selected, you’ll find that you now have a license to do more. You can use more gestures and you can use more vocal variety to convey your message. You audience’s listening skills will be peaked because hearing poetry is not something that they do every day. It’s poetry so people expect you to act like a poet while you are reciting the poem.
The power of a poem comes from the specific words that make it up as well as the sequence in which they flow. In terms of presentation tips, clearly you’ve got some memorization to do here. On top of that you’ll need to take the time to practice, practice, practice. Reading poetry is probably not something that you do every day and so you are going to have to invest the time and energy that it’s going to take so that when you recite the poem, it sounds natural.
Finally, Celia makes a good point when she points out that just like you, your audience probably doesn’t encounter poetry every day. Therefore you can’t just hit them over the head with a poem right off the bat in your speech. Instead, you need to take the time to introduce both the poem and the poet. Give some backstory on when and why the poem was written. Tell them what the meaning of the poem is before you share the actual poem with them. By doing this you’ll prepare them to be wowed by the words of the poem.
What Does All Of This Mean For You
Even the most unread among us has heard some poetry at some point in our lives. The people who write the classic poems really know how to use words to create lyrical phrases that stir the memory and generate deep feelings.
Your next speech can tap into the power of poetry if you’ll just take the time to work some poetry into it. Take the time to prepare your audience for the poem that you’ll be sharing with them and then keep it short and to the point. Taking the time to carefully practice your delivery will allow you to ensure that the poem makes a lasting impression.
The goal of every speech is to make a lasting impression on your audience. The poet Mary Elizabeth Coleridge knew how hard it was to tap into an audience’s memory when she wrote:
Strange Power, I know not what thou art,
Murderer or mistress of my heart.
I know I’d rather meet the blow
Of my most unrelenting foe
Than live-as now I live-to be
Slain twenty times a day by thee.
Take the time to work some poetry into your next speech and you’ll have found a way to make a lasting impression on your audience.
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Dr. Jim Anderson