Action Verbs in Speech Writing

Action verbs in speech writing give your words immediacy. They carry color and passion, communicating with clarity and precision. Use them, and they'll stop your audience from thinking here's another 'blah, blah, blah, bland' speech.

Image: Diego Medran; young man talking - background swirl of 'blah, blah, blah'

Let's look at an example so you see what I mean.

Mary expressed her disappointment by pulling a face.

That's lots of words and, although it does get the idea across, we can do better.

We'll rewrite using an action verb.

Mary grimaced.

or Mary frowned.

or Mary winced.

or Mary glowered.

or Mary scowled.

Each one of those choices is stronger as well as concise. They convey more precisely what Mary's reaction and mood might have been.

How about these sentences?

Which one contains the power verb setting the scene and the mood so that we can imagine it immediately?

  1. John sauntered down the street.
  2. John walked down the street.

'Walk' lets us know what he's doing but 'saunter' does more. It lets us know what he's doing as well as the way he's doing it by conveying his mood.

In speech writing the challenge is always to find the words that say more for less. A well chosen verb does just that. It slices through 'blah, blah, blah, bland' reaching the core of your message, and the hearts and minds of your audience. You'll find yourself listened to and appreciated more.

Word hunting - use a thesaurus

If you need a hand to jump start your action verb collection use an
online thesaurus. The link is to my favorite.

As an example I searched; 'shout'.

The results: bawl, bay, bellow, cheer, clamor, exclaim, holler, roar,
scream, screech, shriek, squall, squawk, whoop, yammer, yap, yell and more.

Now I can differentiate and be specific. The word I choose will describe the scene I intend to write about and its emotional intensity more effectively than 'shout'.

Example: The boss shouted but exactly 'how' did he shout?

- Did he bawl?
- Did he whoop?
- Did he shriek?

See what I mean? 

Enjoy getting vocally vibrant with your verbs!


Click for more about how to write a speech and structuring speeches using a speech outline