If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? – Harmony and Public Speaking – TALLspeaking

10 May

In music, harmony is pleasing to the ear, a concordance of sounds, and a balance that beholds. In speechwriting, you can employ a harmonizing sentence structure to balance the beginning and the ending of a series of (at least) three sentences.

Think of putting your sentences on a teeter totter: whatever weight you put on one side must be balanced by weight on the other side. This technique is more formally known as parallel structure.

Shakespeare’s used this teeter-totter, harmony technique in Shylock’s speech in The Merchant of Venice (Act III, Scene 1):

If you prick us, do we not bleed?
If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
If you poison us, do we not die?
And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

Here is another example of harmony adapted from Super Bowl winning Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy in 2006.

Talent is God-given. Be helpful.
Praise is Man-given. Be thankful.
Conceit is Self-given. Be mindful.

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