Whose Speech Is It, Anyway?: Speech Style 96 Yes:Business executive, postal carrier, police officer, chair or chairperson, flight attendant You also want to avoid racist language or language based on ethnicity. For example, the term "gypped" comes from "gypsy." As a result, "gypped" is highly offensive to gypsies because it implies that they are thieves. Go Figure Figures of speech (also called figurative language) are words and expressions not meant to be taken literally. Figurative language uses words in new ways to appeal to the imagination. These expres- sions create comparisons and connections that use one idea or image to enhance or explain an- other. This can make your speech especially memorable--even quotable. Figures of speech include images, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, and personification. Illustrate with Images An image is a word that appeals to one or more of our five senses. Imagery can be found in all sorts of writing, but it is most common in poetry. Imagery is important in speech because it can make your address memorable by telegraphing meaning. A memorable image can stay in your mind long after you have forgotten the rest of the speech. If you can get pictures floating through people's minds, your speech will be the one they remember. A striking image transforms a ho-hum address into an unforgettable experience. A case in point is former President George Bush's image of "a thousand points of light" for the spirit of volunteerism. The image produced an emotional response, fulfilling the popular politician's tendency to inspire. Here's a longer example from Martin Luthering, Jr.'s famous "I Have a Dream" speech: I have a dream today that one day in the state of Alabama, whose governor's lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains, and the crooked places will be made straight.... In 1963, when this speech was delivered, it presented a waterfall of images that were within a vast audience's grasp. Many count this as the most powerful speech in their memory. Speechmakers in any realm--business, politics, and private life, to name just a few--can apply imagery to their speeches. To find images that you can use, look at the usefulness of your topic or commodity. Trace the subject from the producer to the consumer. Dare to Compare with Similes and Metaphors A simile is a figure of speech that compares two unlike things. Similes use the words "like" or "as" to make the comparison: "A dream put off dries up like a raisin in the sun" is an example of a simile. Class Act