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"Speak for Yourself" - Karen's Short & Pithy Quarterly Newsletter

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By Karen Cortell Reisman

You may be asking, "What's the Anaphora Effect?"

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr.'s American federal holiday marking his birthday, celebrated this week, I want to share one of the genius components of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech delivered in 1963 during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

He used the Anaphora Effect exquisitely.

Definition of Anaphora: It's the repetition of words at the start of successive clauses, phrases or sentences.

Why use Anaphora phrases? To create a rhythm, heighten emotion, and add emphasis to make the message easier to remember.

In MLK's famous speech:

  • "Now is the time" is repeated three times in the sixth paragraph.
  • "One hundred years later", "We can never be satisfied", "With this faith", "Let freedom ring", and "free at last" are also repeated.
  • Of course, the most widely cited example of anaphora is found in the often quoted phrase "I have a dream", which is repeated eight times as King paints a picture of an integrated and unified America.

You might have learned in your English writing classes to not repeat words too often in written form. It depends. Using a catchy phrase can enhance your email or Chairman's Report.

Your Speak For Yourself© challenge: use the Anaphora Effect to create more buy-in during your speeches.


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