Linguistic patterns to increase your engagement

There are two interesting linguistic patterns that help you engage your audience. The fist is Tricolon – or the rule of three. The second is called Anaphora and really the repetition of a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. Anaphora builds toward a climax thus creating a strong emotional effect.

How do I use the TRICOLON and ANAPHORA in my workplace presentations?

Despite the fact that people like Obama and the late Steve Jobs use them with such elegance, mastery and artfulness, it’s pretty common for people to feel scared of using such linguistic patterns out of fear of sounding ‘artificial’, ‘false’ or ‘dramatic.’ So here are some tips to make it use of these powerful linguistic devices:

  1. Write out your presentation script (as you would usually do).
  2. Then go over your script and see where you can introduce the TRICOLON.  All you need to do is look through your script for places you have used either a noun, a verb or an adjective and simply add two more! (note see below examples: “challenge, real stretch, wonderful way”; “committed, excited and capable”; “exciting, stimulating and results focused”).
  3. Next, see if you can massage the sentences so they begin with the same one or two words (note: see below: “These KPIs”; “This project”; “We pulled through”)

Example of a TRICOLON:

Here’s an example of a TRICOLON. Let’s say you’ve originally written, “These KPIs are going to be a stretch for many of us.”  You can see that this is a bit of a ‘nothing’ way to express the point.  To make this more inspiring, all you need to do is add two more words to the word stretch.  For example:  “These KPIs are going to be a challenge.  These KPIs are going to be a real stretch for many of us. Yes these KPIs are going to be a wonderful way for us to really achieve something this quarter!”  See how it works?  Awesome!

Example of an ANAPHORA:

You might be going to say to your manager: “I’d really like to work on this project”.  But if you’re sick of asking for more responsibility and being ignored, overlooked or passed over, in fact if you’re sick of feeling like you have way more knowledge, skills and abilities than people give you credit for, why not try the following: “This project is something I’d like to work on very much.  This project would utilize the skills I’ve developed in my role so far and this project would give me a chance to show you how committed, excited and capable I am at achieving results for our team.”  I mean really, how could they say no?

Example of both the TRICOLON and the ANAPHORA together:

Well actually, if you’re concentrating you’ll see that I’ve used both the TRICOLON and ANAPHORA in all my examples here.  For fun, here’s one more example:

Let’s say you were going to say, “2011 was a tough year but we all pulled together to achieve a pleasing result”.  Now this is OK as a statement but not very memorable.  So, break the sentence into three sentences and begin with something more memorable:

For example, “We pulled together even though it was a tough year.  We pulled together and formed a cohesive team.  We pulled together and produced a very pleasing result and now we’re set for an exciting, stimulating and results focused Q4”.

TRICOLON and ANAPHORA make all of these revisions far more memorable than the original sentences and phrases. So the next time you’re giving a presentation, give these two techniques a try. And notice what an improvement this makes to your overall effectiveness.

p.s. why don’t you go through this article and see where I’ve added the TRICOLON and ANAPHORA to make this article more interesting for you?  Cheeky hey?

Happy Presenting!