The How to Speak so People Listen Dictionary Part 1: Fundamentals

by Mike Clayton  - November 6, 2013

How to Speak so People Listen is filled with specific concepts and models. To make a valuable resource for readers, and to introduce non-readers to some of the core concepts of the book, I have created a dictionary. As a bonus, this dictionary also contains additional terms and ideas that are not contained in How to Speak so People Listen.

It is in 16 parts and has around 100 entries.

If you like dictionaries, take a look too at The Yes/No Dictionary based on my earlier book, The Yes/No Book.


Part 1: Fundamentals

Let’s start the dictionary off with some fundamental ideas that every speaker needs to understand -�whether you are speaking in public or in private; to a small group or large, about professional matters or personal.


Call to action (noun); When speaking in a formal context, your call to action (or CTA) exhorts your listeners to do something specific. A CTA is one way to create a focus for your peroration (qv).

Canons of rhetoric (noun); The ancient Roman lawyer and politician Cicero was famed for his rhetorical skills. He set out five things a great speaker must study and master; the five canons of rhetoric. These are: invention (deciding what to say), arrangement (designing your speech or presentation), style (suiting your way of speaking to your audience), memory (learning what you are going to say � no notepaper or PowerPoint in ancient Rome) and, finally, delivery (platform skills).

Conversational hook (noun); A snippet of information onto which you can hang your next piece of conversation. For example,�’I have been out of the office, on holiday.’�Here, the hook is ‘on holiday’, so you respond ‘I hope you had a good time; where did you go?’

CPP (acronym); Stands for Compelling, Persuasive and Powerful�the three criteria for speaking so people will listen, understand�accurately, agree, remember, and act.

Division (noun); Old fashioned term for the part of a speech or presentation where you introduce a disagreement between yourself and either an opponent or what the audience believes to be true. The division creates tension and leads you to proof (of your argument) and then refutation (of your opponent’s points).

Exordium (noun); Old fashioned (Latin) term for the opening of a speech or presentation.

Hook (noun); What you say or do to grab the attention of your audience

Hook, conversational (noun); See Conversational hook.

Pep (n): Energy, high spirits, vitality, vigour.

PEP (acronym); Passion, Energy, Poise -�three things you need to when you are speaking to an audience. Good delivery has PEP. In front of an audience, you need to demonstrate your passion and commitment for your subject, energy and enthusiasm in your delivery, and poise in the way you carry your body and words.

Peroration (noun); Old fashioned (Latin) term for the close of a speech or presentation.

Refutation (noun); Old fashioned term for the part of a speech or presentation where you anticipate what objections your opponents will raise, and you deal with them.

Rhetoric (noun); Skilful, persuasive speech � often structured deliberately, crafted into a specific style and delivered with PEP (qv).

Speaker’s Filing Cabinet (noun); When you are speaking formally, to an audience, you should create the conditions for memory as early as possible. The Speaker’s Filing Cabinet is a tool to help you with this.

The How to Speak so People Listen Dictionary Part 2: Persuasion

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