5 Core Principles of Rhetoric
By Lucy Adams
Winston Churchill, one of the greatest orators of all time, weekly appeared on radio with a speech aimed at increasing the confidence of his people during the war. He dispelled their fears and convinced them that they were fighting for a just cause.
Over time, his eloquence became legendary. Churchill deeply understood the art of rhetoric and was able to build his speech as like he was speaking face-to-face with a person, not the whole nation. His words had an impact on all people, regardless of the education or social status.
But do we need rhetoric today?
Yes, definitely. Rhetoric helps us express thoughts clearly, defend our point of view, as well as motivate and persuade others, which are one of the most important skills in the XXI century.
Let’s review the canons of rhetoric and try to find out how to use them to improve communication skills...
#1 Four Key Questions to Make Sure Your Speech is Consistent
At first, you need to explore your topic as thoroughly as possible. Prepare the best arguments and approaches to convince your audience. Use four types of questions to organize your thoughts:
- Questions about the facts: What is the theme? What is the cause of the problem? What are the facts and studies that confirm/destroy your point of view?
- Questions about the definitions: clearly specify the topic and analyze its elements. See if there is ambiguity and try to find out the moments that may be perceived incorrectly.
- Questions about the quality: What values do your arguments touch? How accurate are your conclusions?
- Questions about the form of speech: Are you sure you’ve chosen the best channel of communication (a public appearance, an email letter, a phone call, etc.)? Think about the actions your audience should take and how to make these actions as simple as possible. Who is your audience? Is it educated well? Will it understand the subject of your message or what does it need to understand it fully?
#2 Arrangement of the Information
This is a process of information organization in the correct order to convince the audience. You can choose your format, but usually, it consists of the next elements:
- Facts and circumstances.
- Possible refutations.
Remember that your presentation should be accurate, clear and complete.
#3 The Choice of Style
This canon takes into account the way you express your ideas and thoughts. Without a special style, a person loses its uniqueness and merges with other unremarkable speakers. You may speak to an audience, using complex metaphors and jargon or build your speech on simple and short sentences that cause a feeling of passion and confidence. Anyway, a public appearance should evoke emotions, and preferably the ones that you want.
Develop your sense of humor; it will help to relax the audience when needed or smoothly switch the topic. Touch people’s imagination and emotions, they will listen to you with pleasure.
#4 Excellent Memory is a Key to Eloquence
An orator looking at a piece of paper looks pathetic. Use mnemonics to remember your speech completely and not lose connection with the audience. Take a course on the memory development – there you will find everything you need to know to remember information more effectively.
Well, another challenge is to make your audience remember a lot of what you said, as well as call it to action. Prepare an action plan and share information sources with those who want to understand the subject better.
Speech is the final and the most complex part. Avoid everything superfluous; the body language, the tone of voice, diction, pronunciation, gestures, facial expressions – all these are extremely important factors that affect the perception of your speech. You should try to increase the trust of the audience. Make it believe that you’re sincere, confident, open, and completely understand the topic.
The major successes will come later, but good speakers are valued at all times, so cultivate this skill!