Introduction to Language and Style

What kind of language should you use in your speech? Should your words be blunt and to the point? Or should you use soaring rhetoric and lofty ideas? Well, it depends on the subject and context of your speech!  As Shakespeare puts it, “Suit the action to the word and the word to the action” (Hamlet Act 3, Scene 2).

No matter what kind of language you decide to use in your speech, certain things will always be true: your language must be appropriate for oral delivery (rather than written style); it should be as concrete and meaningful to your audience as possible; and you should avoid exclusionary, inappropriate, and inaccurate language. In the following section, we’ll look at techniques to achieve these ends.