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Elements of Excellent Expression: Speech and Essay Writing

Updated: Mar 13, 2021

In this blog post we will discuss the components of good writing, and what you can do to improve upon your written communication skills. Learning these techniques is of the essence in effective expression, whether it be for a speech or an essay.

1. Clear Message and Subject

It is crucial you have a clear message that you will build upon throughout your piece. You should explicitly and concisely state the subject of your remarks and its broader meaning. Orienting the reader to the central idea of your piece is of utmost importance as it forms the basis for your argument and your contentions. The stated purpose of your piece should be easy to understand and convey, can be supported by evidence, and is interesting and relevant to the reader. You really want to make sure they understands the pertinence of what you are trying to communicate, essentially answering that question, “Well, why should I care?”.

2. Storytelling

A core and often overlooked tenet of effective speech and essay writing is storytelling. Storytelling is the process of using fact and narrative to communicate something to your audience. Some stories are factual, and some are embellished or improvised in order to better explain the core message. Successfully done, it can help the reader grasp the content you are presenting much easier and peak their interest in your writing. Not only is your reader more likely to remember a story more easily than facts and figures, a story also stands a greater chance of inspiring action and change.

In the end, people are emotional creatures, which is why it’s important to have a human aspect of your presentation where you can truly connect with the reader. The best stories always have a conflict, a struggle with that conflict (or problem) and ultimately a resolution (a solution). They can be used in a variety of ways: to accentuate your contentions, hook the reader into your argument, or further emphasize the importance of your message.

3. Organization/Structure

This element of writing has to do with coherent arrangement of material. It involves directing the reader to the central and subordinate ideas by enforcing a logical and sequential structure. A piece of writing has coherence when all of the ideas are organized and flow smoothly and logically from one to the next. One way to ensure coherence in your writing is to include a clear beginning and end for each body paragraph. The first sentence of each body paragraph should set the stage for what will be discussed, and effectively summarize its key points in the last sentence. It is also important that you utilize clear transitions when necessary to move from point to point and emphasize key words and themes that come up throughout your piece. You want to create overall unity in your argument, which means that what you are communicating through your evidence and stories should relate to the topic sentence and your central claim.

4. Language

You want to make sure your word choice is clear, specific, accurate, unassuming, and free of misused jargon. Sentences should not be wordy or ambiguous; in other words, refrain from relying on the thesaurus as much as possible. Utilize figurative language where you can—not so that it detracts from the tone, but to draw comparisons that can increase the reader’s understanding of complex ideas. Similes and Metaphors are the most commonly used ones, but Allusions, Personification, and Imagery are other great devices for expressing a thought. Employing rhetoric appeals (Ethos, Pathos, Logos) in your writing is also a significant means of maintaining the reader’s interest in the topic and strengthening your argument. This could come in the form of a story, as previously mentioned, to appeal to emotions or in the form of insightful analysis to establish your credibility on the subject.

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