Colorful language can capture an audiences’ attention and it can anchor your points in their minds. The following acronym was modified (by adding “simile”) from the book, Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln (a book I highly recommend for any speaker!). The SCREAM structure was coined in 2005 by Dr. Randy J. Harvey, the 2004 World Champion of Public Speaking and has been taught around the globe since then.
In future posts, I will take a closer look at each of the components of SCREAM.
Simile—using “like” or “as” to compare (sort of a gentler form of a metaphor)
He screamed like a little girl. He hid under the table, as quiet as a mouse.
Contrast—pairing of opposites
Churchill: There is only one answer to defeat and that is victory. (It’s a bonus if you can also use alliteration. For example: From the depths of tragedy, he rose to triumph)
Some opposite pairs: Present—Past (or Future), Beginning—End, Dark—Light, Friend—Foe.
Benjamin Franklin: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Echo: Repetition of a word or Phrase
Churchill: We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the streets, we shall fight in the hiss; we shall never surrender.
Alliteration—repetition of the beginning sounds of a word.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: I have a dream that my little children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Metaphor—directly says that something is something else.
- His beard was a lion’s mane.
- Bullets of hate shot from his mouth.
- His bark is worse than his bite.
You can even combine rhetorical devices:
Shakespeare (Romeo speaking of Juliet):
“O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright! (Metaphor—Juliet is so radiant)
Her beauty hangs upon the cheek of night, (Metaphor—dark night sets off bright beauty)
Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear”; (Simile—another expression of above metaphor).