Rhetoric: The Art of Persuasion

Posted by Kim Shelly Tan on Thu, Sep 6, 2018 3:15 PM. Filed under: Blog  

As a student, whether in grade school or in college, your days are probably filled with countless presentations, recitations, literature, and speech-related contests, declamations, or debates. It can get challenging because of all the factors you have to consider. "Can I speak in front of an audience?" "Should I just stand?" "Are my gestures too much?" "How will my audience react?" Most especially, "Will I be able to communicate my ideas effectively?" 

Luckily, rhetoric is a skill no one is born with and everyone can definitely improve on. Rhetoric is an art you can learn. A simple way to improve your persuasion skills is by mastering the five classical canons of rhetoric, namely: 

1. Invention 
Much time is spent on the invention process as the seamlessness of the arguments together is crucial to the impact of the entire speech. A good speech comes from a series of good points (which are not repetitive) that boils down into one cohesive stand. 

There are factors to consider when formulating powerful and convincing arguments. First, you should know your audience in order to be able to connect with them. Second, based on the kind of audience you will be having, you should be able to present the evidence they seek for. Here you could appeal to their intellect, their emotions, or the principles they believe in. 

Most importantly, consider the context of the event where you will be delivering your speech. This is to avoid saying anything that may offend your audience. At the same time, you should know what time you will be asked to be on stage so you'll know whether to shorten your speech so you would not bore your audience. 

2. Arrangement 
Orators usually follow an outline in which they organize the flow of their speech. In some cases, following the chronological order of things may be the best way to deliver your argument. If not, you can also use the other organizational strategies such as the climactic order, the general-to-specific order, and the spatial order. This depends on which approach would give your speech the best impact. For instance, if you think people can easily grasp how your points intensify as you go on, you can use the climactic order to reel their interests into your arguments and so they would wait for the most compelling evidence you are to reveal. 

3. Style 
A single message can be articulated in different ways and to ensure the effectivity of your speech, you must be able to maximize the points you make in your argument. This can be done by narrating your evidence in detail, engaging the senses of your audience in your speech. The words and sentences you use must also be carefully chosen. Using figures of speech may help you make your speech more interesting on some occasions. 

4. Memory 
Simply, memory refers to the ability to memorize your entire speech by heart. A good speech requires a flawless delivery. It is a turn off to hear a speaker pause to think or forget his points entirely even if the speech has been excellent up to that moment. In as much as some people just have strong memorization skills, there are special, innovative techniques to remember what you need to say. There should be no shame in using mnemonic devices when preparing for a public speech as they are efficient ways to assure the piece's impactful delivery. 

5. Delivery
It is not enough to be able to write a good speech and memorize it. Half of the speech's success still relies on its delivery. Delivery does not simply mean reciting the piece but saying it in such a way that it makes an impression. Projecting your voice is a good way to start, as people tend to listen more to speakers who seem confident in what they are saying. Another thing to consider is your body language, the gestures you use. You must be careful, though, because while using no gestures at all in a speech can make you look too stiff and scared, using too much can distract people and may even make you seem too nervous in facing a crowd. 

Each individual has the capabilities of becoming an effective speaker - one who isn't only fluent in the language he speaks, but one who can deliver well-developed and detailed presentations with great confidence. Global Elite Lingua Franca's Effective Presentation Skills program aims to help individuals address their anxiety issues when doing presentations and enhance their presentation and platform skills by utilizing verbal and non-verbal cues. Together, let's build our self-confidence and become the best speakers we can be.