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Tips & Techniques for Using Simple Sentences

Tips and Techniques for Using Simple Sentences in Presentations

Like a piece of minimalist art or a simple Japanese zen garden, saying “more with less” takes some practice and preparation

Writing for an oral presentation is different than writing for a written document or publication.  The way or brain processes the information requires us to be short and to the point.  Here are 6 tips and techniques for using simple sentences in your presentation or speech.

1. Use Active Voice

Utilize active voice whenever possible, as it creates more direct and engaging sentences. Passive voice can make sentences longer and less impactful. For example, “The team completed the project” is more direct than “The project was completed by the team.“

2. One Idea per Sentence

Stick to one idea per sentence to avoid overwhelming your audience with too much information at once. Short, focused sentences help maintain clarity and prevent the risk of listeners losing track of your message.

3. Avoid Complex Sentence Structures

Minimize the use of complex sentence structures, such as nested clauses and excessive punctuation. Instead, opt for subject-verb-object patterns that are easier to follow. Break down complicated ideas into separate, simple sentences. Chop long sentences in two, and aim for fewer than 20 words per sentence.

4. Be Specific and Concrete

Use concrete and specific language to paint a vivid picture in the minds of your audience. This not only enhances comprehension but also makes your speech more engaging and memorable.  One juicy adjective or nourishing noun, might help “trim the fat”, transforming a complex concept to a straightforward statement.

5. Listen and Learn

Pay attention to other speakers, trainers, and newscasters. These speaking specialists have mastered the art of simple straightforward sentences and delivery.  It’s been said that newscasters write for a 10th grade learning level. The words they choose, and the simplicity in their delivery makes it easy for most to follow along.  Find a few public speakers and emulate their style and delivery techniques.

6. Write for the Ear

Your topic might be dense and complex, but your message and delivery should be simple and straightforward.  Aim to “Write for the Ear”  Most often, the goal of your presentation goal is not to show how smart you are, but to communicate the message for greatest impact and memory.  By writing as if you’re speaking – and rehearsing it out loud – you’ll gain a sense of how it sounds to your audience.  If they need deeper details, you can explain with a document or more engaging conversation. 

Simplicity in language doesn’t mean sacrificing depth or impact. By using simple sentences strategically, you can enhance your speech’s clarity, engagement, and memorability, ensuring your message resonates with your audience effectively.

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