Polished Presenters Use Awesome Alliteration

  • SumoMe

Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintstone,  SpongeBob Squarepants.

All cartoon characters.

All examples of alliteration.

Alliteration is the repetition of the same sound at the beginning of nearby words. It is the fifth rhetorical device in the acronym SCREAM (Simile, Contrast, Rhyme, Echo, Alliteration, and Metaphor).  Use the techniques of SCREAM to capture your audience’s attention with colorful language and anchor your points the minds of your audience members.

Like rhyme, alliteration can be a powerful memory aid, anchoring points in the minds of your audience members.  Alliteration is one reason we easily remember clichés such as sink or swim, a dime a dozen, and the favorite of every speaker, perfect practice prevents poor performance.

But alliteration can be very effective without being so obvious.  I analyzed John F. Kennedy’s 1961 Inaugural address and found several instances of subtle alliteration (If you want to read or listen to this speech, click here):

  • same solemn oath
  • man holds in his mortal hands (parallel alliteration)
  • for which our forebears fought
  • to friend and foe alike
  • whether it wishes us well or ill
  • we shall pay any price, bear any burden
  • the survival and the success of liberty
  • colonial control
  • struggling to break the bonds of mass misery
  • sovereign states
  • writ may run
  • before the dark powers of destruction
  • the steady spread of the deadly atom
  • peace preserved
  • bear the burden
  • a grand and global alliance
  • high standards of strength and sacrifice
  • let us go forth to lead the land we love

 A couple of alliteration “Don’ts:”

1. Don’t go overboard.  Usually 3 words starting with the same consonant is enough.  Extreme alliteration starts to sound like a childhood tongue twister such as “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.”
2. Don’t use weird words.  While you can get ideas for synonyms using a thesaurus, don’t use words that you wouldn’t normally say.

In other words, have fun, but not too much fun with alliteration.  Don’t say things like:  “Abundant alliteration is always awesome” or even, “Polished Presenters Use Awesome Alliteration.”

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