When and how to use Repetition and Parallelism for persuasive communication
Repeating similar ideas and drawing on parallelism are one of the most powerful ways to create memorability as a speaker and convince your audience to pay attention to your message.
What is repetition?
Repetition is a stylistic use of the same word, ideas, or themes in a sentence to emphasize something.
There are several examples of leaders using repetition:
Glennon Doyle starts each of her sentences with the same words and structure to give rhythm and balance to her speech.
― Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior
Barack Obama’s first victory speech in the 2008 election uses repetition of simple phrases to set out his intentions. Notice too how short his sentences are to allow people to easily recall information.
“… a government of the people, by the people,
and for the people has not perished from the Earth.
…This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment. This is our time.”
How to use repetition in your speeches
You want to be selective in your repetition because you don’t want to overdo it and sound like a broken record! Choose your ideas first then find words or phrases that would like to be the most memorable and influential.
Present your One Big Message to the audience early on, so the audience get familiar with your idea, then you can restate it in slightly different ways later using repetition.
What is parallelism?
Parallelism is the successive use of identical grammatical patterns of words, phrases, or sentences. It gives the sentence a rhythm that tells the audience that it’s important and to pay attention:
“They must know it is not their aptitude but their attitude that will determine their altitude.”
Reverend Jesse Jackson
How to use parallelism in your speech
Find ideas that have similarity or contrast that can be brought together with parallel structure.
Neil Armstrong’s famous line spoken from the moon on July 20, 1969 says:
“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Notice the contrast between ‘small step’ and ‘giant leap’ and between ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ not only make this sentence sound more inspirational, but it gives it rhythm and balance too.
No matter how good a speaker you are, your audience aren’t going to remember your every word, so it’s choosing those important key points and incorporating repetition and parallelism to elevate your One Big Message.
I dedicate a whole chapter to repetition in my online course: “The Art of Persuasive Speaking in Global Business”
ENROL NOW to get the tools and strategies that are going to help your presentation STAND OUT and BE MEMORABLE.