It’s not what you say, but how you say it”, and that’s precisely why you will need stylistic devices in your presentation.

All throughout history great speakers have made great use of stylistic devices. Aristotle wrote about them in the 4th century BC….  Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. Martin King, Helen Keller, Muhammad Ali, Barrack Obama, Steve Jobs, and most recently Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson, all integrated clever stylistic devices into their speeches and presentations.

Malala Yousafzai’s famous quote, ‘One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.’ Is undoubtedly impactful and memorable, but why?

Because in this simple quote, Malala uses the Stylistic Device: Anaphora.

So, what are Stylistic Devices?

Stylistic devices are techniques that we can use to craft our message into dynamic language which can capture our audience’s attention, highlight our key points, and make our message memorable.

Adding stylistic devices to your presentation is like adding sambel to your soto. They spice up your presentation! The best part is, integrating some fantastic devices doesn’t have to be difficult.

Take a look at these 9 Simple Devices you can experiment with in your presentation.

#1 Metaphor and Simile

Metaphors and similes are figures of speech which make comparisons between things that are different. They are a great way to explain something so that your message becomes easy to understand and a great way to make your language colorful and engaging. Metaphor and Simile create mental images in the minds of your audience. They stimulate the brain and make your message more memorable.

Metaphors make indirect or nearly hidden comparisons between two things that are unrelated, but share some similarities.

You’ve probably heard the expression “Time is money”, this is an example of a metaphor.

A CEO at an annual company event gave a speech and said “We still have many mountains to climb, but we have made great progress this year.” In this example, the CEO is comparing ‘facing and overcoming challenges’ to ‘climbing mountains’, this is another example of metaphor.

A simile is similar to a metaphor. It also makes a comparison between two things which are unrelated.  The difference is that similes make a more direct comparison, they use the words “as” or “like.”

  • Adding stylistic devices to your presentation is like adding sambel to your soto.
  • A great presentation is like a work of art.
  • Many people feel that public speaker is like swimming with sharks.
  • Some presentations are as boring as watching the clock
  • For many people public speaking is as scary as jumping off a cliff.

How could you use simile or metaphor in your presentation?

#2  The Power of Three!

3 is a powerful number and if you pay attention to what’s around you, you will notice many things come in groups of 3. Sets of 3 are easy for our short term memory to recall. The human brain is great at recognizing patterns, and 3 is the shortest pattern possible. This combination of patterns and brevity is what makes sets of 3 impactful and memorable.

Take a look at some of these examples

  • Everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end.
  • People need to be inspired, motivated, and involved!
  • A successful person is one who knows how to balance work, rest, and
  • Our product is safe, affordable, and long lasting.

The rule of 3 can be simple to use. Experiment with these:

Presenting a product      – 3 adjectives     Our product is A, B, and C.

Discussing a problem     – 3 affects         This has caused A, B, and C.

Offering solutions           – 3 advantages   This will allow us to A, B, and C.

Look around and you will see sets of three everywhere. Even the times of day are a set of three – morning, afternoon, and evening!

#3 Anadiplosis

No, it’s not some kind of strange alien spider. Anadiplosis is a Greek wording meaning “doubling” or “repetition. It is a technique where the last word or phrase is repeated to begin the next.

Like this…

Communication is the key to success; success is the key to happiness.

Try experimenting with these:

  1. _____________ love; love _____________
  2. _____________money; money _____________
  3. _____________technology; technology_____________

Although the name will leave you tongue tied, anadiplosis is easy to use and it’s a terrific way to highlight key words and points in your presentation.

#4 Anaphora

You can probably tell by their names that Anaphora and Anadiplosis are related. Anaphora is also repetition. It is the repetition of the same word or phrase at the beginning of new clauses or sentences. Anaphora acts as a focal device. It emphasizes ideas and its rhythm builds emotion and is nearly hypnotic. It’s a great tool for inspiring, motivating, and persuading.

A very famous example of anaphora can be seen in Dr.  Martin King’s “I have a dream” speech. In this speech the words “I have a dream’ are repeated over and over again.  The repetition of “I have a dream…” develops a concept and builds emotion in the audience.

Look at this example:

“What if I told you the great communication was the key to your next big business deal? What if I told you that great communication was the secret of all successful relationships? What if I told you that anyone, absolutely anyone could be a great communicator?”

 As we can see in the above example, anaphora is often used to develop an idea or concept.

What key words or phrases could you use and repeat in your presentation to develop and idea or concept.

#5 Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of a sound in the first syllable of each phrase. The move title “The Fast and The Furious” is a good example of alliteration. The alliteration occurs in the /f/ sound which begins both fast and furious.

More examples:

There are four things which separate successful people from unsuccessful people, determination, diligence, drive, and desire.

Our product is simple and safe to use.

Certain rhetorical devices like alliteration and the rule of 3 can be used together to create maximal impact.

Great public speakers are cool, calm, and confident!

# 6 The Power of Word Choice

Would you like to be ‘skinny’ or ‘slim’? Are you ‘stingy’ or ‘thrifty’? Would you like to be described as ‘lazy’ or ‘laid back’? Would you prefer a ‘smell’ or an ‘aroma’?  Would you like to live in a ‘flat’ or an ‘apartment’? Actually, in each pair of words the meaning is similar. What is different is their connotation.

Connotation is the feeling and associations that are conjured up when we hear a word.  Many words are ‘loaded’. This means they elicit an emotional response from the audience. What do you think of when you hear the word home?  How is different to the word house or accommodation?  The word home conjures feelings of warm and safety. It’s positive. House or accommodation, on the other hand, probably don’t make you think or feel very much at all. This is because they are neutral. This is what is meant by associations, connotation and emotional response.

Connotations can be positive, neutral, or negative. It’s important to think about the image or perception you want to create in the mind of your audience and then consider the connotation of the word

So, how do we make sure our words have the right connotation? It’s easy. Ask yourself how they make you feel. What’s the first thing that pops into your mind when you hear that word? This will be what you and probably others associate it with. If in doubt. you can also do a quick online search. Search (word) + connotation or (word) + association. this will help to give you an idea of how a word might impact your audience.

#7 Weasel Words

What’s a weasel? A weasel is a small animal from the same family as the ferret. It’s known for being cunning and sly, and that’s exactly what weasel words are… cunning and sly.

Weasel words are everywhere, you see and hear them every day. You’re so used to hearing them that you don’t even notice them. They are words that make claims or promises without any basis.

Like these:

“People say that…                     Who actually says?

“Everyone agrees that….            Who is everyone?

“Many experts say….                 Which experts?

“Guaranteed to…                       Guaranteed by whom?

A great public speaker once said that the most powerful word in the universe is ‘we’, only one person says it but it conjures up an army I the mind of the listener!

Try weaseling some weasel words into your presentation.

# 8 Glamorization

Glamorization quiet simply is describing something so that it seems better than it actually is. It’s not lying though, it’s the careful choice of words to ‘color’ our audiences’ perception of something.

Take a look at this picture. How would you describe this house?


You probably choose words like old, run down, small, and shack. All of these words have a negative connotation. They will create a negative impression.

Now, let’s imagine that we are real estate agents and we need to sell this house. How would you describe it so that it is attractive and desirable without being dishonest?

Instead of ‘old’, we let’s use ‘quaint’. Instead of small we can use ‘cozy’. Instead of rundown we will describe it as a ‘renovators dream’, and instead of ‘shack’ we will use ‘cottage’.

So, instead of a small, old, rundown shack we have now have a quaint, cozy cottage which is a renovator’s dream.

Take the time to consider the words you use to describe things. How can you ‘glam up’ your descriptions to create the impression you desire. Try using a free online thesaurus for ideas. A thesaurus is like a dictionary, except it gives you the synonyms of a word.

# 9 Hyperbole (Hy per bol ee)

Yesterday, I was so busy. I received a million calls!

Did I really receive a million calls? No. Does the listener think I did? No. I’m exaggerating for effect and my listener knows that. This is what is called hyperbole. In fact, hyperbole is EXTREME exaggeration!

It’s simple to use and it’s entertaining.

When I first started to create my presentation I thought it   was going to take forever, but actually it was easy!

Its 4.30pm on a Friday afternoon, there is a pile of work on your desk the size of a mountain! It then you realize your time management needs to be improved.

Start by identifying what you want to emphasize in your message, then think about quality that you want to exaggerate is it the size, the mount, the appearance… it can really be anything you choose. Finally come up with a creative way to describe it. There are also ‘tons’ of hyperbole online you can look up for extra inspiration!

Draft and then Craft

“Crafting” your message should be done after your initial planning and mini speech drafting. Don’t try to do everything at once, your brain simply won’t be able to think about everything all at the same time. You will end up with creative block. Your brain is like a computer, too many windows open and it slows down. So, take preparing your presentation one step at a time Plan – Draft – Craft. Remember, everything is a process. Great presentation aren’t pulled out of a hat like a magic trick. A lot of thought and hard work go into preparing them. The more thought and effort you put in, the better the result will be.