Should you use big words when giving a public speech?
Often people want to know whether or not they should use big words when giving a public speech. In your day-to-day lives with your colleagues in your workplace, you might use certain industry-specific words that have a very specific meaning to the group of people you talk to.
Now those words are extremely important because they help you get your message across quickly without having to explain things in shorter words and longer sentences, so they definitely have their place.
Do they have their place in a public speech? The answer is, well, it depends. It really depends on who you are talking to and what message you want to get across.
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Would You Speak Like That To Your Spouse?
One of the things that I like to do to gage whether I should use the words in a public speech, especially when it’s relating to an industry and maybe the people that I’m talking about aren’t as specifically in an industry as I am, is I will go home and I will talk to my wife and I will use those words with her.
When I see her eyes glaze over, then I know she doesn’t understand that word.
If she doesn’t understand it, then the chances of people in the audience not understanding as well.
What I try and do in my training, in my speeches and everything is to keep my words short, to keep my words simple, so I can reach the largest amount of people.
Make Sure Everyone Knows What The Word Means
You might use a word that’s very specific to your industry, but you need to make sure that everyone in that crowd knows what that word is. If only half the crowd know what that word is and you say that word, well you just lost them.
They’re sitting and thinking for 20 minutes, “What does this word mean? I don’t understand what he’s talking about,” and you’ve moved on to the next point and they completely haven’t even heard anything you said, because you used words that they didn’t understand.
The short answer is in most cases no. I wouldn’t use big words in a public speech and that is because I want to reach the most amount of people with my message. The best way to do that is to keep your speech short, simple, so that everyone can understand it.
If You Do Use Big Words Make Sure You Define Them
If you do need to use big words during your speech or industry-related lingo during your speech, then what I suggest is that you put an explanation in when you use that word.
Say you are talking about, well I work in pharmaceuticals, so talking about substitution. Now not everyone may understand what that word means. If I’m using that in a training or in a speech, then I’m going to explain what that means.
If you have acronyms or lingo or other things like that and you think, “Okay, not everyone will understand that.” You can just put a definition in there.
“So, talking about blah blah, which is this,” and then go on with your speech. Talking about X and then adding a quick definition and then keep going on, so you don’t have people sitting there going, “What is that mean?”
You’ve actually engaged the audience, brought them in, they now understand what that word is and you can then go on and use it throughout your speech.
You don’t have to give the definition every single time but definitely the first time you use it so people understand what it means and the context of your speech.
The Short Answer is Don’t Do It Where Possible
When it comes to using big words or industry-related lingo in your speech, the short answer is no, don’t use it unless you’re 100% sure that everyone will understand what you’re talking about.
Then the longer answer is that if you do want to use larger words or difficult words, put an explanation in, so people understand what you’re talking about and then move on with your speech.