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The Power of Language in Your Presentations

June 5, 2019 / Blog

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Imagine life without language. Hard, isn’t it?

When you’re giving a presentation, whether it’s to raise money, making a sales pitch or just helping people to learn more about your business, the words you choose are everything.

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Language is deeply ingrained in us, intertwined with our beliefs, culture, identity, and our experience as humans. It is the representation of the reality that we live in and it is the tool we use to make sense of the world.

It is a social construct and humans are inherently social creatures. It reflects our reality and holds significant power over us. The question is how?

The Science of Language

Linguists and philosophers believe that language shapes how we perceive the world through our understanding of its structure and how the meaning is conveyed to us. Aristotle started the conversation with his concept of rhetoric, which is the art of persuasive speaking or writing. This art form touched lightly on compositional techniques, and later became part of the umbrella that is linguistics, the study of language.

Since our perception of the world is limited by the language that we use, language is a powerful tool that can be used to set limits.

People in power have used speeches to move their audience and gather supporters, their ideologies delivered in a way that evokes their intended social effects. Their beliefs and ideas are often delivered by organizing specific words in patterns, coupled with grammar style that is razor sharp in its precision.

“You need to do it” versus “just do it.”

“You need to do it” implies a directive. An average person will tend to bristle at it. Remember during your teenage years, when your parents tell you to do something and you do the complete opposite? The use of the word “need” tells the listener that something must be done or else. The former takes away the agency of the person and the first instinct is usually to defy it.

“Just do it,” on the other hand, is not only short and concise (perfect for recall) but also gives leeway for the listener to decide whether to do it or not. It gives them a choice. Using “just” at the beginning of the sentence suggests that the speaker is daring the listener to do something. It motivates the listener to respond to the challenge… no more excuses.

Just do it.

You can influence people with the right words in the right order. It’s all about how you say it.

Language as a Symbol

Before you go and call the best PowerPoint design company that you could find, consider the content first.

Through linguistics came semantics, which is the study of meaning and offers an in depth look at signifiers. Ferdinand de Saussure states that language is a self-contained system composed of signs that function based on their relationship with one another. Each sign has a unique meaning shaped by culture and experience within that system.

For example, the color “red” has different meanings around the world. Love in the West, good luck in Asia, and death in Africa. The same principle is applicable to language as words are symbols, that carry their own meaning.

Remember that words signify different meanings. Are you “mad” or “furious?” Mad implies anger that will pass, while being “furious” denotes that a mere apology will not be acceptable.

Consider the words and phrases that you will use in your presentation, as the words you choose to use can evoke reactions such as worry, joy, happiness, and anger.

Remember that language is more than words. It signifies the meaning behind the words. Once you have grasped the nuances of the language that you intend to use in your presentation, you may call a PowerPoint expert to handle the design for you. Paired with the optimal body language, your presentation is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Choose the Best Word for Your Message

Not sure you’re communicating your story as best you can? At SlideGenius, we help people just like you tell their stories better. No matter the industry, no matter the time frame, we can help you to take your project and make sure you’re getting the most out of it. We’ve done it for thousands of clients already. Just reach out for a free quote.