Your rhythm as a speaker

My challenge to you as a speaker this month is to do a mini exploration into rhythm. Then let it inform your next talk.

Here are 3 different ways that you can do this. Pick what suits. Or if you are a total speaker geek like me, do all 3…


Pick a speaker that you love, watch one of their talks, and jot down everything that you notice about how they use rhythm in interesting and effective ways.

If you’re not sure where to start with this, you could watch this speech by Obama and take note of when and how he uses repetition. And can you find a place where he groups examples in 3s?

We respond to cadences and rhetorical devices, whether or not we are used to identifying and describing them.

Barack Obama’s 2008 acceptance speech


Watch this refresher on the ‘power of the pause’ that I made after an intense period of working with TEDx speakers – who all needed help with this. I break down why your audience needs you to pause.

The power of the pause


Pick a talk that you have enjoyed that has a transcript. (You can find these for example on .)

Then see what you can notice about the rhythmic construction from reading it – both on a micro level (within sentences) and on a macro level (the bigger construction).

You then get the treat of watching it, and experiencing how it sounds.

A beautiful talk to listen to is this one by Shane Koyczan.

And remember, we aren’t doing this to become more formal than we need to, or to try and sound like somebody else. We are doing this to expand what we notice about rhythms. To learn and to absorb. To enjoy the music of language and speech.

 I hope that you have a fantastic month!

PS – I sometimes meet people who think that they don’t have any rhythm. I promise you that you do. You have a heartbeat. And have you ever watched little children responding to music, or the sounds of picture books, or the feeling in their body as they hit a drum or xylophone? It’s in us, whether or not we are used to articulating it. That’s just a process.