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From the desk of Steve Lowell, Master Speaker and Mentor to those who speak in public.

TELL A COMPELLING STORY

Use the Active Voice

When telling your stories, engage your audience’s imagination by speaking in the active voice as much as you can. What does that mean? It means making the characters in your story actively involved so your audience can visualize the action.

For example, when I say, “This book was written by Steve Lowell,” the first thing you picture in your mind is the book. There is no action. But when I say, “Steve Lowell wrote this book,” you picture someone, some representation of me, writing the book. As a speaker, you want to create action pictures in the minds of your audience, and active voice allows you to do that.

There are times, however, when the passive voice is preferable. If the emphasis is placed on something other than a person, or if the person is unknown, passive voice can be used. “The package was sent last week.” Notice, however, that there is very little visual context with that statement. Sentences in the active voice have energy and directness, both of which will keep your audience listening.

So, what’s the lesson? Speak in the active voice whenever you can. It keeps your conversation livelier.

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