September 25, 2023
8 min read
Speaking passionately is a powerful and persuasive communication skill that transcends mere words. Passionate speakers leave a lasting impression, whether they’re addressing a room full of people or engaging in one-on-one conversations. We’ll discuss what passionate speech is and share practical advice on how to speak passionately.
If you wanted to find another phrase that pairs well with “passionate speaking,” you might use “how to speak eloquently,” as they often go hand-in-hand. But, it’s difficult if not impossible to find an exact substitute. Passion when speaking is a quality that can be hard to describe — a je ne sais quoi. But, you know passion when you read it; you know it when you hear it.
Passionate communication can refer to spoken (public or interpersonal) or written language. It’s the art of using language in a fluent, ardent, and emotionally impactful way. Passion often involves the skillful use of rhetoric, including techniques such as metaphors and similes to create a compelling and memorable message.
Passion in speaking isn’t restricted to a specific vocabulary or accent. Instead, it’s about how you convey your message. It’s a quality that entails using language in a way that resonates with your listeners — making complex ideas accessible and evoking emotions when needed. A person who knows how to speak passionately possesses the ability to inspire, persuade, and engage their audience — leaving them not just informed but moved.
In short, passionate speaking is a work of art. It’s not merely uttered; it’s crafted. It’s not a blaring car horn; it’s a symphony.
Examples of passionate speaking will demonstrate what it is and help you know how to speak passionately yourself. So, if you want to be a passionate speaker, read a lot of well-written material. Listen to speeches that are crafted and delivered brilliantly.
To get you started, let’s take a look at a few examples of passionate speech from public speaking as well as interpersonal communications. We’ve contrasted each example with alternative language to drive home the difference. Read these examples aloud to get the full effect.
""“Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood.”""Martin Luther King Jr. • “I Have a Dream”
Notice these choices in King’s language:
What if King had used these words instead?
""“The present time is appropriate for the realization of the pledges associated with democracy. It is also the time to transition from segregation to racial justice, as well as to relocate from racial injustice to brotherhood.”""
It’s the same message, but it doesn’t hold the same passion. Let’s look at an example from another icon in public speaking.
""“Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this Island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be free and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands. But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves that, if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, ‘This was their finest hour.'”""Sir Winston Churchill • “Their Finest Hour”
Notice how clear Churchill is about the grave reality they face. He doesn’t mince words; he doesn’t present a rose-colored vision. While he uses figurative language, it serves to make reality concrete rather than obscure or soften it. Imagine that Churchill had said this instead:
""“Hitler is aware that he must defeat us on this island or face defeat in the overall war. If we can successfully resist him, there’s a chance that all of Europe could become free, and the global situation may improve significantly. However, if we don’t succeed, the entire world, including the United States and everything we cherish, will face a prolonged and darker period, exacerbated by the misuse of scientific advancements. So, we should prepare ourselves for our responsibilities and conduct ourselves in a way that, even if the British Empire and its Commonwealth endure, people will still remember this as a noteworthy moment in our history.”""
Informative, but not as passionate.
Passionate speaking isn’t limited to public speeches; it can occur in conversation. If you want to learn how to speak passionately, read material such as literary fiction that’s strong in dialogue. Let’s look at some examples from fiction.
""“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves; it is not my nature.”""Jane Austen • Northanger Abbey
Imagine if Austen had written it this way:
""“I’d do anything for my real friends. I wouldn’t even think of partially loving people; that’s not like me at all.”""
Are you starting to get the hang of it? Let’s look at another example from Austen.
""“Oh! Do not attack me with your watch. A watch is always too fast or too slow. I cannot be dictated to by a watch.”""Jane Austen • Mansfield Park
Are you reading these aloud? Listen to this alternate wording:
""“Please spare me the lectures about time constraints. Watches are unreliable, and I won’t let one be the boss of me.”""
Now, you might be thinking that the difference is between 19th-century and modern language. So, let’s look at some examples of passionate speech from more recent works.
""“So, how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?”""Anthony Doerr • All the Light We Cannot See
What would that beautiful sentence sound like if it weren’t as passionate? Perhaps like this:
""“A brain is stuck inside a dark skull. So, how can it generate a bright reality?”""
Let’s consider another example from modern dialogue:
""“‘Loving someone is like moving into a house,’ Sonja used to say. ‘At first you fall in love with all the new things, amazed every morning that all this belongs to you, as if fearing that someone would suddenly come rushing in through the door to explain that a terrible mistake had been made, you weren’t actually supposed to live in a wonderful place like this. Then over the years the walls become weathered, the wood splinters here and there, and you start to love that house not so much because of all its perfection, but rather for its imperfections.'”""Fredrik Backman • A Man Called Ove
Now, what if Sonja weren’t as passionate?
""“Loving someone is like moving into a house. First, you’re in love with everything that’s new. You can’t believe it’s yours, and you worry every day that someone will tell you they’ve made a big mistake and it’s not yours after all. Over time, things in the house get old and start to break, and you end up loving the house because it’s not perfect, not because it’s perfect.""
By now, you should notice that passionate language isn’t boring; it isn’t clunky. It gets the message across, for sure, but it does more than inform. It’s elevated in some way. And, you don’t have to be Martin Luther King Jr. or a character in a celebrated work of literature to speak with passion. Let’s look at some dialogue from the fabulous flick “The Princess Bride.”
These examples should help you get into the habit of noticing the differences between language that’s ho-hum and language that’s full of passion.
People who know how to speak passionately have fairly broad vocabularies. Passion often involves choosing just the right words for the occasion. So, it helps to have more words to choose from.
Again, it helps to be an avid reader. Read widely; explore different genres and eras. Take note of words that are new to you, look up their meaning, notice how they’re used, and practice using them yourself.
In addition to reading a lot, you can use vocabulary-building apps, play word games, keep a vocabulary journal, create flashcards, and write more.
Keep in mind that building your vocabulary is an ongoing process. Gradually, you’ll find yourself using a broader range of words in your everyday communication, making your language more expressive and nuanced.
Also, remember that passionate speaking isn’t about using big and fancy words that most people don’t know; it’s about using the right words. The more words you know, the more options you’ll have.
Rhetorical devices add depth and beauty to your language. Several of the examples above include techniques such as metaphors, similes, alliteration, and parallelism. The more you’re exposed to rhetorical devices, the more you’ll recognize them and find ways to use them yourself. So, listen to speeches and debates, and read rhetorical works. Study the techniques. Practice using them. (You can practice creating metaphors with the fun online game Metaphor Mania.)
Speaking passionately is a valuable skill that can elevate your personal and professional life. It’s not about sounding posh; it’s about connecting with others through the art of language. By mastering the basics, expanding your vocabulary, and practicing the techniques of rhetoric, you can become a more effective and impactful communicator.
Remember, passionate speaking is a journey. And, with dedication and practice, you can transform your speech into a powerful tool that leaves a lasting impression on your listeners.
Note: This post was created in partnership with artificial intelligence.
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