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Repeat after me: the power of repetition

Did you know using repetition in your speech can raise the impact of your presentation and make your message land more?

In this blog, we explore the 2 main types of repetition, why it is so effective and how you can start using it today.

The two main types of speech repetition

There are two main types of repetition commonly used in presentations and speeches.

1) Clausal repetition - this is where the same word, clause or phrase is repeated multiple times, in succession.

Example: "I came, I saw, I conquered", Julius Caesar, in a letter to the Roman Senate, c.47BC

Example: She is something special, a diamond that shines in the night. Yes, she is a diamond that shines in the night.

2) Punctuated repetition - this is where the same phrase or sound-bite is used at moments throughout a speech, but not necessarily directly after each other.

For example, the UK Government's Stay Home, Protect The NHS, Save Lives, was a phrase used during the pandemic to urge people to stay at home. It was often used by the Prime minister and other senior members at various points throughout their speech (often the start and end) when presenting to the British public.

Why is using repetition when presenting so important?

There are three reasons why this is such a brilliant technique.

  1. It helps your message be better understood. If people didn't hear it the first time, or didn't quite understand, they will the second or third. That's why it's a great idea to use repetition when explaining complex statistics or concepts, or when giving important instructions (much like the government example above).

  2. It adds impact and weight. If you have something powerful to say, don't risk it going amiss. Using repetition can make your message land even more with your audience by creating dramatic impact.

  3. It adds rhetorical flourish and aural satisfaction. Put very simply, repetition is a rhetorical technique that sounds soothing to the ear. Much like repetition in a song, repetition when presenting can have a similar effect in creating a pleasing sensory satisfaction in your audience. We like to hear it.

How to start using this presenting technique today

Like all sophisticated presenting and public speaking tools, repetition in speeches is something you need to deliberately practice.

To begin, try marking on your notes in advance the words or phrases you want to repeat. Take your queue cards and use an asterisk to remind yourself of the areas you want to emphasis. Remember - don't over-do it. Repetition is most effective when used sparingly, at the right moments.

As you become more advanced, you'll be able to improvise and use repetition naturally and intuitively, paying attention to the audience and the mood in the room.

Try this technique today and see what difference it makes to your presenting style.

Wanting more? Book a 1-1 session today and practice with an experienced coach. Check out our services here.


HelpMePresent is the tutoring of presenting. We offer 1-1, flexible, accessible sessions that can be easily booked, including packages specifically for women and international speakers. Click to book now.

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