The Basics of Wielding Rhetoric

The Basics of Wielding Rhetoric

The Basics of Wielding Rhetoric 1920 1080 The Conscious Professional

“Rhetoric, which is the use of language to inform and persuade, is very important in shaping public opinion.” – Ray Comfort

When speaking in public, we are often trying to convince the audience of something or to make the audience feel a certain way. To do this, whether consciously or not, we must use rhetoric. Rhetoric is the art of shaping language and, to some extent, speech delivery to persuade the listener of something.

Of course, this is used in many situations. Most notably perhaps, politics. But the selling of any big idea, which is often what business is all about, requires persuasion. Rhetoric is your friend. And once you begin to understand how it works, you will be able to use it to move your ideas forward.

Here, we will briefly look at the 4 pillars of rhetoric, to open up your understanding of its mechanics so that, for your next speech, you may employ them in an effective and impactful manner.

1. Logos

Logos refers to the soundness of your logic and reasoning. In a public speech, this is presented primarily through the quality of your clarity, simplicity and structure. It is the way in which you argue that your big thought, theme, or idea has logic behind it. It is how you communicate, in the most distilled sense, the strength of your idea. When logos is lacking, your idea will come over as ill-thought-through, convoluted, and as though you don’t fully understand what it is that you are trying to put across.

Use logos. Keep things tight, precise and logical, with a clear journey, throughout.

2. Pathos

Pathos refers to your ability to emotionally connect with your audience. During a speech, you may wish to try and tap into the feelings of your audience by telling a personal story, or by focusing on something close to their hearts. For example, in a courtroom, a lawyer might use pathos in order to appeal to the juror’s emotions by outlining something to do with an accused’s difficult background, or a victim’s age or significant loss.

Use pathos. Tap into the emotions of your audience.

3. Ethos

Ethos refers to the establishing of your own credibility and character. In the guise of a public speech, this basically means ‘getting the audience to trust you’. In a serious business setting, this might mean literally outlining your credentials and relevant achievements. In a more light-hearted situation, like an after-dinner speech, for example, this is better achieved by disarming the audience early on with a joke or anecdote.

Use Ethos. Get the audience on your side as quickly as possible.

4. Kairos

Kairos refers to timing. I’m not talking about comic timing… although this does help if any of your speech is anecdotal. It’s about order. About choosing when to include certain pieces of information for maximum impact. You may wish to withhold a certain detail, as it may pack a bigger punch later on. It might be prudent to omit some details altogether, to avoid mugginess of content.

Use Kairos. Order and time the release of details in a conscious and impactful manner.

You might think that rhetoric is too technical or fussy a thing to employ in a speech. Perhaps you would like to be freer in your speech construction. That, of course, is up to you. However, if you are not a natural or experienced speech writer, you will be amazed how quickly employing just a couple of these principles will help your speech to flow and convey clarity and confidence.

By Chris Thomson


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