Two easy writing ideas

Updated: Nov 2, 2018

Repetition is our friend.

Let me repeat that.

Repetition is our friend.

Repetition allows us to drive a point home, it immediately tells the audience that what we’re saying is important, and it breaks up the flow of your speech. Let’s take a look at two methods of repetition that we can employ in our speaking. They are:

  • epimone

  • and anaphora

Repetition using epimone

Epimone is when we repeat the same phrase in succession. I like to think of it as, ‘pause and repeat’. It’s a simple technique that can engage our audience and add emphasis to anything we say. Great speakers do it all the time. They do it so often we barely notice it. Here’s an example from arguably the greatest speech of all time, Martin Luther King’s I Have a Dream speech:

Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last

And this example from President Obama in 2004:

It is that fundamental belief — It is that fundamental belief: I am my brother’s keeper.

Pause and repeat is used when we make a powerful, short statement. We use it as follows:

1. We make the statement. e.g. ‘We must bring an end to homelessness.’

2. We pause for a second.

3. Then, more slowly, we say again, ‘We must bring an end to homelessness.’

The next technique is a close cousin to epimone. It’s…

Repetition using anaphora

This is where we repeat the same word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses. Here’s an example from President George W Bush from 2002:

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles and all related material.

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If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will immediately end all support for terrorism and act to suppress it — as all states are required to do by U.N. Security Council resolutions.

If the Iraqi regime wishes peace, it will cease persecution of its civilian population, including Shi’a, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkemens and others — again, as required by Security Council resolutions.

And here’s an example from Prime Minister Churchill in 1940:

We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…

Repetition is one of the most powerful techniques we can use in public speaking. Look for phrases that you can repeat for effect. Look for lines that you can restructure to make them more powerful. Look for places where you can insert pauses to add to the power of the repetition.

Happy writing!

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