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Repeat Key Phrase


Techniques Public speaking > Speaking Tips > Repeat Key Phrase

Description | Example | Discussion | See also



Develop a phrase that embodies a key message that you want to get across then repeat the phrase on a number of occasions. Although the exact words repeated are often best, you can also repeat variations of the same phrase, particularly if it fits better in a varied form.

Be careful not to over-do this. There should be reason for each repetition, such as to emphasize a new point or summarize details.

A way of doing this is to elaborate on aspects of the message and then end each paragraph with the key phrase, such as Barack Obama's victory speech where he ended a number of section with 'Yes we can'. Another variant of this is to start and end paragraphs or sections with the same phrase.

A similar effect can be gained from using a key word as long as it is central, such as Winston Churchill's 'We will fight them on the beaches' speech, where the word 'fight' is used many times.


We must bring him to justice, because if we do not bring him to justice then others might follow. But how can we bring this man to justice? I do not know. All I know is that we must bring him to justice.


A problem with making a speech is that you want people to take the key message away and yet many find it hard to put into words what you said, even though they may have loved the speech. A key phrase is a little give-away, something they can take and repeat to others (and to themselves, of course), so spreading the word.

Repetition is a simple method that increases the chance that listeners will remember what is said. When we hear something repeated, we start to see a pattern and so pay more attention.

Putting the phrase at the start and end of a section is simply using the primacy effect and recency effect to further increase the chance of the phrase being remembered.

See also

Using repetition

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