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Speechcraft: Learning to Use Words Effectively

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Using Words Effectively

Using words effectively can help improve your communication skills. Public speaking, an important aspect of that, can be practiced while in high school or even younger if you have access to a speaking group. My sons honed their speechcraft via a speech club that they started at the beginning of high school.

In this post

Today, you will see how effectively using words can make a speech memorable.

In our speaking club, speakers move through increasingly difficult speeches. The 4th speech focuses on “How to Say It,” i.e. using words effectively.  You craft a speech that focuses on word choice and arrangement. 

Here is the text of a number 4 speech, titled “Tastes Like Chicken” which one of my sons wrote (age 16). While the speaker makes a huge impact with timing and delivery, if you smile at just the word usage, then the speech accomplished the goal of effective word choices.

Here is the speech in outline form.

Speech 4: “Tastes Like Chicken”

Intro: Paint the Picture of Deliciousness

See the char-broiled steak on your white plate. Cut into its juicy tenderness revealing the perfectly cooked pink inside. Lift the slice towards your mouth and smell the delicious aroma. Bite into the slice expecting an explosion of flavor, but instead, an indescribable blandness fills your mouth: chicken. Allow yourself to realize your true hatred for chicken. Why is chicken so bad?

1: Give Overview of where speech is going

Chicken isn’t necessarily evil, it just lacks flavor. Although this lack of flavor can be overcome, the chicken will no longer taste like chicken. As easy as mask the blandness of chicken, it’s equally easy to make it taste terrible. The worst dish ever created is made of chicken. However, this is only partially the chicken’s fault because chicken is bland.

2: Emphasize lack of flavor

Who here has eaten roast chicken, show of hands? How about duck. Who has eaten duck? If you would rather eat duck than chicken, leave your hands up. This is because duck has lots of flavor. Chicken doesn’t.

Eating chicken is like riding a little kid’s roller coaster: it’s incredibly boring and never changes. I haven’t ever heard anyone eating chicken say this is unbelievably delicious without adding “For chicken” to the end of that sentence. I doubt anyone has ever made that sentence without adding those words.

Just to prove my point, have you ever wondered if there’s a reason everything tastes like chicken? It’s because chicken is bland. It’s far easier to make something taste bland than to make it have a pleasant taste and chicken is bland, so everything tastes like chicken.

3.  Counter arguments

I can see some of you thinking, “I totally disagree with everything you’re saying. I can think of at least two mouthwateringly delicious chicken dishes.” Those two dishes are Chick-Fil-A and Chicken Parmesan.

The addictive goodness of the Chick-Fil-A sandwich can be attributed to its greasy, deep-friedness, its crunchy gluten laden breading, and the delicious sauce poured over it. You could be eating a roasted used gym sock between two slices of bread and you wouldn’t know the difference.

Chicken Parm’s deliciousness can be attributed to crunchy breading, tasty red sauce, and melty golden-brown cheese.

These two dishes have one thing in common. They have flavor. Flavor that is not CHICKEN! It’s not the chicken that is delicious, but everything else. The deliciousness of the other flavors masks the chicken. The only way to make chicken taste good is to mask its flavor.

You will find this is true of any chicken dish which tastes good.

4: Describe the Dreaded Dish

Although chicken cannot taste good, it can taste bad. Very bad. The worst dish known to the human race is made of chicken. Not canned chicken, no, something far more terrifying. Not the horrible chicken stew where the bones hinder your every bite and the texture of the chicken is rubber, no, something far viler indeed. Their very name strikes fear in the heart of any chef.

Chicken muffins.

They are exactly what they seem like. A baked good … with chicken.

Although each dish tastes fine by itself, combining these two is like making sushi ice cream. These aren’t just any chicken muffins, no, these are SCD, screaming chilling death, chicken muffins. They didn’t just have chicken in them, they were made of boiled chicken.

One fateful morning, I woke up and strolled into the kitchen. I asked my loving, kind mother, “What’s for breakfast?”

“Chicken muffins.”

“Ha ha. Really, what’s for breakfast?”

She wasn’t joking. Like condemned men, my brothers and I cowered in fear and awaited our fate. They arrived. They were the Frankenstein of food, a patchwork of misery and suffering. We took a bite of this nauseating dish, then without hesitation, we placed them in the trash can. Why? Because chicken muffins are unfit for human consumption. Chicken can taste terrible, but it can’t taste good.

5: End with call to action

Chicken by itself is bland or worse. Chicken masked by other flavors may be tasty. Eat chicken to experience a bland, boring sensation. If you enjoy flavor, eat other food.


My son enjoyed crafting this speech because he said that it allowed him to really tap into his creativity, humor, and dislike of chicken.  The subject made good fodder for a speech that focused on using words effectively because there were many opportunities for descriptive language and vivid images.

I hope you enjoyed the speech and learned the value of using words effectively.

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