Painting with Words

A speech or presentation can be like the work of a Dutch Master (a simile). While Rembrandt and Vermeer worked in oil, we orators work in words. The pictures we paint are in the mind, not on canvas, but we should be nonetheless meticulous in our efforts to make them colourful.

I have started with a simile, though I personally favour metaphor. Metaphors are “figures of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.” Such phrases as “lost in a sea of nameless faces,” gives an example of some of the imagery that can be conveyed by words. But simile, with its more direct comparison, “As brave as a lion” or “As bright as a button,” provides clear unambiguous images.

I began by referring to Old World artists, but I also like the more home-spun art of the Americans. Grant Wood’s American Gothic is an excellent example. And so it is with words. Home-spun, folksy metaphors can give a colour and dimension to a speech. Here are some great examples of such down-to-earth phrases: “Nervouser than a long-tailed cat in a rocking chair factory,” “Prettier than a speckled pup,” and “Scarcer than hen’s teeth,” all leave vivid brush strokes on the imagination.

Whatever your preference in art, find the verbal brush that suits your style!



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