Fit Focus Flair

Lesson 6: Use everything in the verbal bag of tricks, but sparingly

Use Alliteration:

Alliteration is the deliberate arrangement of words with the same letters and sounds at their start for explosive effect. Alliteration is a trick of the spoken word. A technique that is very popular with tabloid newspaper editors, TV presenters and poets…


  1. Magazine articles: “Science has Spoiled my Supper”, “Too Much Talent in Tennessee”, and “Kurdish Control of Kirkuk Creates a Powder Keg in Iraq”
  2. Comic/cartoon characters: Beetle Bailey, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Phineas and Ferb, and the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers.
  3. Children’s Books: Animalia by Graeme Base is a famous example of alliteration within a storybook.
  4. Shops: “Coffee Corner”, “Sushi Station”, “Best Buy”.
  5. Expressions: “busy as a bee”, “dead as a doornail”, “good as gold”, “right as rain”, etc..

Try Onomatopoeia:

The formation of names or words from sounds that resemble those associated with the action or thing to be named, or that seem to suggest its qualities; babble, cuckoo, croak, ping-pong, quack, sizzle and snore are all probable examples.

It can also mean the use of words whose sound adds meaning to the meaning of those words. “Whoosh” is a word that actually sounds like the sound that you are using it to describe.

Slimy, slithering, slippery and squelchy are words used to describe how something feels. The words themselves have a similar feeling. Slithering sounds wet and greasy and disgusting so hopefully the impact of the sentence and the overall meaning is enhanced.

Use the Rhythm of the words:

“Rhythmic speech or writing is like waves of the sea, moving onward with alternating rise and fall, connected yet separate, like but different, suggesting of some law, too complex for analysis or statement, controlling the relations between wave and wave, waves and sea, phrase and phrase, phrases and speech. In other words live speech, said or written, is rhythmic, and rhythmless speech is at best dead.” (Fowler’s Modern English Usage)

Some people use meter, the counting of beats and pauses and syllables and lines as the measure of rhythm. Don’t bother. Just get into the habit of saying what you write or intend to say out loud. If it sounds good then it’s probably rhythmical. If it sounds stilted, confused, over-complex then it probably isn’t.

In case you missed any, you can find links to the other posts in this series below.

1. Remove abstract language

2. Remove business jargon

3. Avoid cliche like the plague

4. Use visual imagery

5. Use simple metaphor

6. Use everything in the verbal bag of tricks – sparingly

This is a part of my Fit, Focus & Flair model. To be great, a presentation must be a perfect FIT for the situation; the content must have complete FOCUS on it’s purpose and message; and it must have enough FLAIR to stand out on the day, and in our memories. Learn more about developing your Fit, Focus and Flair.

Jim Harvey

Jim Harvey

Managing Director at The Message Business
Jim is the MD of The Message Business, a company which helps FTSE 100 companies to sell themselves, and their products better. Speech writer, Prezi trainer and designer, coach and consultant, Jim also finds time to be a proud father and husband.
Jim Harvey


  1. Pingback: Lesson 5: Use the simple metaphor to help… learn Jeremy Clarkson’s only trick

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