Take the First Step

Public Speaking is a combination of several skills, these are the skills that we are not necessarily born with, but arguably anyone can learn and excel.

Whether it’s presenting yourself for a job opportunity, outlining big ideas to colleagues, training staff, or going bigger and stepping onto a stage; your brother’s wedding or an audience of thousands. Everything you need to know about preparing and delivering an outstanding speech or verbal delivery of any kind can be learned and develop with us in a safe and friendly environment.

All you need to do is take the first step and join us. We are waiting for you!

#BeckenhamCommunicators #Toastmasters #PublicSpeaking

Beckenham Communicators Toastmasters Club

The Humorous Speech and Table Topic Contest

We had much fun on Thursday during our club’s Humorous Speech, and Table Topics Contest.

The winners of Humorous Speech Contest are;

  1. Juli
  2. Richard
  3. Alan

Richard will represent our club as Juli will be away during our Area Contest.

The winners of Table Topics Contest are;

  1. Paul
  2. Neil
  3. Nicola

I look forward to seeing you all on Saturday, 12th of October at 1 pm for Area contest at the Beckenham Methodist Church.

The Humorous Speech & Table Topics Contest

Five Cannons of Rhetoric – Five Principles of Effective Communication

Effective communication is essential to be able to inspire, influence and persuade your audience either one-on-one or more significant audience. There are tools identified, developed and used to develop those skills.

The word “canon” is most commonly used in music to describe a piece in which a melody is introduced in different parts successively, or in an expression like “the canon of literature”: a collection of books which comprise a set such as Scripture or the Great Books.

Canon means “a general rule”, “law”, or “principle.”

Rhetoric is the third liberal art, the top of the trivium, the noble art of persuasion, a skill in the tradition of Plato and Paul, Cicero and Augustine, which since ancient times has been practised and applied for noble (as well as ignoble) purposes. From ancient times up through the early 20th century, most believed learning the art of rhetoric was a noble pursuit and considered it an essential element of a well-rounded education. While some saw rhetoric as a vital tool to teach truth more effectively and as a weapon to protect themselves from those who argued unfairly and for nefarious purposes, others see rhetoric as the manipulation of truth or associate it with an overly fastidious concern with how things are said over what is said.

Rhetoric is simply the art of persuasion through effective speaking and writing.

There are two different views on the teaching of the trivium (grammar, logic and rhetoric).

The first group argues that;

  • When children are young, they can memorise quickly (“poll-parrot”), so give them lots of memorisation to develop their grammar;
  • When children are a bit older and inevitably begin to argue (“pert”), teach them logic so they can argue well;
  • When teenage students have enough knowledge and skill, they will wax creative (“poetic”), so we should cultivate eloquence—how to recognise and understand beautiful language as well as how to write and speak skillfully.

The other group argues that we cannot follow this “stages of development” approach, lest analytical grammar becomes a bane to the elementary school student, logic without meaningful application become a tedious exercise to the middle school student, rhetoric becomes the exclusive domain of the high school student. Therefore, the skills of the trivium should be learned and refined throughout one’s life and in parallel.

The Five Canons of Rhetoric give us five general principles, or divisions, which, when we come to understand and apply them, will make our communication more effective. Therefore, you can use “five principles of persuasion” or “five principles of effective communication.” These principles are commonly known as;

  1. Invention,
  2. Arrangement,
  3. Elocution,
  4. Memory,
  5. Delivery.

#1. Invention (Inventio):

The process of developing and refining your arguments.

The invention, according to Aristotle, involves “discovering the best available means of persuasion.” It may sound simple, but Invention is possibly the most challenging phase in crafting a speech or piece of writing as it lays the groundwork for all the other phases; you must start from nothing to build the framework of your piece. During the Invention phase, the goal is to brainstorm ideas on what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it in order to maximise persuasion. Any good orator or writer will tell you they probably spend more time in the Invention step than they do any of the others.

So, what sorts of things should you be thinking about during the Invention phase? Without some direction and guidance, brainstorming can often be fruitless and frustrating. There are four key things to consider during this stage:

  1. Audience: One of the key factors in crafting a persuasive piece of rhetoric is tailoring your message to your specific audience. If you identify the needs and desires of your audience, it will help you to determine which means of persuasion would be the most effective to employ.
  2. Evidence: Evidence could be facts, statistics, laws, and individual testimonies. It’s always good to have a nice blend, as you can persuade different audiences by different types of evidence. Therefore, getting to know your audience is figuring out what kinds of evidence they will find most credible and compelling is essential.
  3. The means of persuasion: You probably heard three means of persuasion from Aristoteles; pathos (emotion), logos (logic) and ethos (credibility). Again, it would help if you determined, which means of persuasion fits best for your audience. Ideally, you’d have a nice mixture of all three, but again, different audiences will be better persuaded by different appeals.
  4. Timing: Duration of your speech is essential; in some cases, a long, well-developed, and nuanced speech is appropriate; other times, a shorter, and more dynamic presentation will be more effective. It depends on your audience and the context of your speech.

It takes time to develop an idea, or subject for your speech, do not force yourself to speed up this stage. Once you have a clear idea of your speech, then you need to develop this raw idea and organising it into a solid storyline of building your argument. Ancient rhetoricians develop and a natural structure to create a compelling case which called Statis.  

Stasis is a procedure designed to help a rhetorician develop and clarify the main points of his case. Stasis consists of four types of questions a speaker asks himself. They are:

  1. Questions of fact: What is it exactly that I’m talking about? Is it a person? An idea? A problem? Does it really exist? What’s the source of the problem? Are there facts to support the truth of this opinion?
  2. Questions of definition: What’s the best way to define this idea/object/action? What are the different parts? Can it be grouped with similar ideas/objects/actions?
  3. Questions of quality: Is it good or bad? Is it right or wrong? Is it frivolous or important?
  4. Questions of procedure/jurisdiction: Is this the right venue to discuss this topic? What actions do I want my reader/listener to take?

These questions may sound completely elementary, but trust me, when you’re struggling to get your mind around an idea for a speech or writing theme, stasis has an almost magical way of focusing your thinking and helping you develop your argument.

#2. Arrangement (Dispositio):

The process of arranging and organising your arguments for maximum impact.

The arrangement is simply the organisation of a speech or text to ensure maximum persuasion. Classical rhetoricians divided a speech into six different parts. They are:

  1. Introduction (exordium)
  2. Statement of Facts (narratio)
  3. Division (partitio)
  4. Proof (confirmatio)
  5. Refutation (refutatio)
  6. Conclusion (peroratio)

If you’ve taken debate or philosophy classes, you’ve probably seen this format for organising a speech or paper.

a) Introduction: There are two aspects of an effective introduction: 1) introducing your topic and 2) establishing credibility.

Your introduction is crucial for the success of your speech; your audience will determine whether your speech is worth listening to in the first few seconds. Therefore, I would suggest starting your speech by telling a captivating story that draws your audience in and engages them emotionally.

You have to establish your credibility by using ethos rules to appeal to your character or reputation to persuade your audience. Remember, it doesn’t matter how logical your argument is if people don’t think you’re trustworthy or a credible source, you’ll have no chance to influence them.

b) Statement of Facts: The statement of facts is the background information needed to get your audience up to speed on the history of your issue. The goal is to provide enough information for your audience to understand the context of your argument. If your rhetoric is seeking to persuade people to adopt a specific course of action, you must first convince the audience that there really is a problem that needs to be addressed. Things to remember, do not just give some facts and numbers, make your audience to listen by creating a compelling story.

c) Division: After stating your facts, the most effective way to transition into your argument is with a partition: a summary of the cases you’re about to make. The division is your audience’s roadmap; you will take them on a journey of logic and emotion, so give them an idea of where they are going, so it’s easier to follow you. As an example, “I have three points to make tonight.”

d) Proof:  The proof is the body of your speech; you need to construct logical arguments that your audience can understand and follow. Your evidence should relate back to the facts you mentioned in your statement of facts to back up what you say. If you’re suggesting a course of action, you want to convince people that your solution is the best one for resolving the problem you just described.

e) Refutation: It might be surprising, but when you crafted a strong and convincing argument of your case, you need to highlight the weaknesses in your argument to your audience. This tactic would seem to be counterproductive, sharing the gaps of your arguments will actually make you more persuasive in two ways.

First, it gives you a chance to pre-emptively answer any counterarguments an opposing side may bring up and resolve any doubts your audience might be harbouring. Bringing up weaknesses before your opponent or audience takes the bite out of a coming counterargument.

Second, highlighting the weaknesses in your argument is an effective use of ethos. No one likes a know-it-all. Recognising that your case isn’t iron-clad is an easy way to gain the sympathy and trust of your audience.

f) Conclusion: The goal of your conclusion is, to sum up, your argument as forcefully and as memorable as possible. If you want people to remember what you said, you have to inject some emotion into your conclusion.

#3. Style (Elocutio):

The process of determining how you present your arguments using figures of speech and other rhetorical techniques.

When we prepare to give persuasive speeches, the focus is usually on what we are going to say. While it’s essential that you have something substantive to say, it’s also important how you present your ideas. The canon of style will help you present your ideas and arguments so people will want to listen to you.

Five virtues of style developed by Aristoteles followers would help you to deliver your message in style:

a) Correctness: An effective speaker uses words correctly and follows the rules of grammar and syntax for clear and precise communication. Most importantly, correctly using language establishes credibility (ethos) with an audience because it indicates the speaker or writer is well-educated, understands the nuances of language, and pays attention to details.

b) Clarity: Many people think to be persuasive they need to “look smart” by using big words and complex sentence structures. The reality is that the simpler you write, the more intelligent you seem to others. It’s hard to be persuasive when people can’t even understand what you’re trying to say. A couple of quick tips:

  • Use strong verbs. Avoid is, are, was, were, be, being, been. So instead of saying “Diane was killed by Jim,” say, “Jim killed Diane.” Shorter, clearer, and punchier.
  • Keep average sentence length to about 20 words. Ideas can get lost in super-long sentences.
  • Keep paragraphs short. Shoot for an average of five to six sentences a paragraph. Ideally, each paragraph should contain just one idea.

c) Evidence: Most people are persuaded more by emotion (pathos) than by logic (logos). One of the best ways to elicit an emotional response from people is to appeal to their physical senses by using vivid descriptions.

For example, let’s say you’re making the case to your state legislator that your state needs to devote more funds towards fighting childhood hunger. Instead of starting your speech or letter by spouting off a bunch of dry facts, it would be more persuasive to tell a story of a specific child who’s a victim of hunger. In your story, describe the conditions this child is living in–the smells, the sights, the sounds. Describe the pangs of hunger that gnaw on his stomach every night while he lies crying softly, curled in ball on a urine-soaked mattress.

Who wouldn’t want to help this kid? That’s the quality of evidence in action.

d) Propriety: Propriety means saying the right thing, at the right place, at the right time. It is the quality of style that determines which words could be fit for purpose and appropriate for the specific audience or occasion.

e) Ornateness: It involves making your speech enjoyable to listen by using figures of speech and manipulating the sound and rhythm of words. Classical rhetoricians focused on incorporating different figures of speech to decorate their statements. Here is an example of using Alliteration by Bill Clinton;

“Somewhere at this very moment, a child is being born in America. Let it be our cause to give that child a Happy Home, a Healthy family, and a Hopeful future.” — Bill Clinton, 1992 Democratic National Convention Acceptance Address

#4. Memory (Memoria):

The process of learning and memorising your speech so you can deliver it without the use of notes. Memory-work not only consisted of memorising the words of a specific speech, but also storing up famous quotes, literary references, and other facts that could be used in impromptu speeches.

When people know that a speaker constantly needs his notes for his speech, it weakens their credibility and the confidence the audience has in the speaker’s authenticity. Also, notes put distance between the speaker and the audience. The ancients called memory “the furnishing of the mind”; one may have a million-dollar mansion, but without beautiful and useful furniture, it is somewhat useless.

Which one you would prefer; a man with his nose buried in his notes, reading them behind a lectern or the one who seemed like he was giving his speech from the heart and who engaged the audience visually with eye contact and natural body language? It pays to memorise your speech.

Memory, as St. Basil said, is “the cabinet of the imagination, the treasury of reason, the registry of conscience, and the council chamber of thought.”

For our communication to be truly persuasive and effective, we need to ensure that our audience remembers what we’ve communicated to them. The first step in getting people to remember what you’ve said is to have something interesting to say.

Once you’ve formulated a compelling message, follow the basic pattern discussed in the canon of arrangement to make your speech easy to follow. Give a solid introduction where you set out clearly what you plan on sharing with your audience. As an example, “I have three points to make tonight; inspiration, persuasion and leadership.”

Throughout your speech, stop and give your audience a roadmap of where you’re at in your speech. If you’ve just finished the first part of your speech, say something like, “We’ve just covered inspiration. We’ll now move on to my second point, persuasion.” This constant reviewing of where you’ve been and where you have left to go will help burn the main points of your speech into the minds of your audience. Use compelling stories, anecdotes and quotes to add credibility and connect your audience with your message.

#5. Delivery (Actio):

The process of practising how you deliver your speech using gestures, pronunciation, and tone of voice.

Similar to the canon of style, the canon of delivery is concerned with how something is said. While the canon of style focuses primarily on what sort of language you use, delivery focuses on the mechanics of how you impart your message such as body language, eye contact, hand gestures and how you use your tone of voice during the speech.

Here are a few key tips for increasing the effectiveness of your oratorical delivery:

Master the pause. The key with a pause is timing; use it only in spots where it will be effective places where you really want to highlight what comes after the pause.

Watch your body language. When you’re speaking, your voice isn’t the only thing talking. Your body is also communicating. Your posture, head tilt, and the way you walk on stage all convey a message. Some occasions may require a formal while other occasions will require a more laid back approach.

Vary your tone. Nothing will put your audience to sleep faster than a flat and monotonous voice regardless of the content of the speech. Use inflexions to reveal that you’re asking a question, being sarcastic, or conveying excitement.

Let gestures flow naturally. Let your hands flow naturally inline with your speech and message. If you use it effectively, hand gestures can give added emphasis to your words. Otherwise, you might lose credibility.

Match your speed with your emotion. How fast or slow you speak can affect the emotion you’re trying to convey. There are six different speech speeds and the corresponding emotions they’re meant to elicit;

  • Rapid: haste, alarm, confusion, anger, vexation, fear, revenge, and extreme terror.
  • Quick or brisk: joy, hope, playfulness, and humour.
  • Moderate: useful for narration, descriptions, and teaching.
  • Slow: gloom, sorrow, melancholy, grief, pity, admiration, reverence, dignity, authority, awe, power, and majesty.
  • Very slow: use to express the strongest and deepest emotions.

Vary the force of your voice. Playing with the strength and weakness of your voice will allow you to express different emotions. You can express anger, ferocity and seriousness with a strong and loud voice or a softer voice can convey reverence and humility. Varying the force of your voice can also help draw listeners into your speech.

Enunciate. It’s easy to trip over your tongue and slur words together when you’re speaking in public. But really focus on enunciating your words as this will make you easier to understand. You can use articulation practices by using tongue twisters.

As an example, if you want to target “s” and “sh” sounds, say the following tongue twister three times; start slowly and slightly increase your speed each time.

“The sun was shining on Sharon Street, where I saw Shane and Sarah sitting near the shoe shop.”

Look your audience in the eye. When you look people in the eye, you make a connection. You cannot possibly look an entire audience in a big meeting room, in this case, adapting “W” or “M” method could be very useful; While you are delivering your speech, scan the entire audience naturally while you are drawing invisible “M” or “W” word. Maintain contact for a few seconds. If it’s too short, you’ll seem nervous and shifty. If you look too long, you’ll start creeping people out.

I hope you find this article useful, by understanding the Five Canons, you can see how each of these fundamental components can help you to develop a lifelong aptitude for effective writing and speaking—hopefully communicating the truth winsomely and persuasively in a world that so desperately needs it.

Harun Dagli – Club President

Big Changes In Life Start With Small Steps!

Every Toastmaster journey starts with a single speech. We celebrate our clubs progress with all our members including the new ones and our guests with an exciting evening.

Also, we selected our new committee to take us to the next stage of our journey, following the steps of founding President Florian and his successful committee members.

Because we believe that “The man who moves a mountain begins with carrying away small stones.”

30 Rhetorical Devices and How to Use Them

Rhetorical devices are as useful in writing or public speaking as they are in life. Also known as persuasive devices, stylistic devices, or just rhetoric, rhetorical devices are techniques or language used to convey a point or convince an audience. Moreover, they’re used by everyone — politicians, businesspeople, and even, you guessed it, your favourite novelists.

You may already know some of them: similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia. Others, maybe not (bdelygmia, we’re talking to you). However, at the end of the day, you’ve probably run into all of these devices some time or another. Perhaps, you’ve even used them yourself. Moreover, if you haven’t, don’t let their fancy Greek names fool you — they’re pretty easy to implement, too. However, before you dive in, let’s identify the different categories of rhetorical devices out there.

Types of Rhetorical Devices

Although there exists plenty of overlap between rhetorical and literary devices, there’s one significant difference between the two. While the latter is employed to express ideas with artistic depth, rhetoric is designed to appeal to one’s sensibilities in four specific ways:

  • Logos, an appeal to logic;
  • Pathos, an appeal to emotion;
  • Ethos, an appeal to ethics; or,
  • Kairos, an appeal to time.

These categories haven’t changed since the Ancient Greeks first identified them thousands of years ago. This makes sense, however, because the ways we make decisions haven’t changed, either: with our brain, our heart, our morals, or the feeling that we’re running out of time.

So without further ado, here is a list of rhetorical devices designed to tug at those strings, and convince a listener to give you what you want — or a reader to continue reading your book.

List of Rhetorical Devices

Of the hundreds of rhetorical devices currently classified, we’ve compiled 30 of the most useful ones, as well as some examples of these devices in action. Get ready to master the art of rhetoric for yourself, and your audience or readers.

1) Accismus

Source: Walter Crane

Accismus is feigning disinterest of something while actually desiring it or the rhetorical refusal of something you want.  Like in one of Aesop’s Fables:

Driven by hunger, a fox tried to reach some grapes hanging high on the vine but was unable to, although he leapt with all his strength. As he went away, the fox remarked ‘Oh, you aren’t even ripe yet! I don’t need any sour grapes.’ People who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain would do well to apply this story to themselves. “

2) Adnomination

Many rhetorical devices are linguistic tricks that make statements sound more persuasive, like adnomination: the repetition of words with the same root in the same sentence. The difference lies in one sound or letter. A nice euphony can be achieved by using this poetic device.

This rhetoric is sure to somehow work on someone, somewhere, someday.

He is nobody from nowhere and knows nothing

3) Adynaton

Adynata are purposefully hyperbolic metaphors to suggest that something is impossible — like the classic adage when pigs fly.

Moreover, hyperbole, of course, is a rhetorical device in and of itself: an excessively exaggerated statement for effect. Or in simple terms, Adynaton is the simple art of exaggeration to gain more influence.

4) Alliteration

Alliteration is the repetition of consonants across successive, stressed syllables… get it? This most often means repeating consonants at the beginning of multiple words, as opposed to simple consonance, which is the repetition of consonants regardless of which syllable they’re placed on.

Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven makes use of both: “And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain.” “Silken” and “sad” are alliterative, but the consonance continues into “uncertain” and “rustling.” And as a bonus, it contains assonance — the repetition of vowel sounds — across “purple curtain.”

Hover through the fog and filthy air.

Fair is foul, and foul is fair

5) Anacoluthon

“When Gregor Samsa woke up one morning from unsettling dreams, he found himself changed in his bed into a monstrous vermin.”

The opening sentence of Kafka’s Metamorphosis is famous because it ends somewhere entirely different than where it started. This means it is an anacoluthon, used to challenge a listener or reader to think deeply and question their assumptions.

Anacoluthon is a grammatical interruption or lack of implied sequence within a sentence. That is, beginning a sentence in a way that implies a certain logical resolution, but concluding it differently than the grammar leads one expect. It is an interruption or a verbal lack of symmetry.

6) Anadiplosis

Anadiplosis is the repetition of the word from the end of one sentence to the beginning of the next, and it has been used by everyone from Shakespeare to Yeats to Yoda:

(Source: Lucasfilm Ltd.)

“Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

7) Anaphora

On the other hand, anaphora is the repetition of words or phrases at the beginning of following sentences. Like in Ginsberg’s Howl — no, not that famous opening line, but instead the ones that follow it:

“Who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war…”

… and so on for the next hundred or so lines. Then, there’s epiphora or epistrophe: the repetition of words at the end of sentences. Moreover, if you combine both, you’ve got a symploce.

Or from Obama;

“People of the world – look at Berlin!

Look at Berlin, where Germans and Americans…

Look at Berlin, where the determination…

Look at Berlin, where the bullets holes…

People of the world – look at Berlin…!

8) Antanagoge

Rhetoric is employed to persuade, convince, or convey — in other words, to get your way. So, it’s only natural that flattery would have its rhetorical device in the form of antanagoge: the inclusion of a compliment and a critique in the same sentence. In simple terms, Antanagoge, to follow a negative point with a positive point.

Examples;

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

I failed my test, but I will pass the next one.

Hurricane Sandy caused a lot of damage, but at least it wasn’t like Katrina.

9) Anthimeria

Anthimeria is the misuse of one word’s part of speech, such as using a noun for a verb. It’s been around for centuries but is frequently used in the modern day, where “Facebooking” and “adulting” have seamlessly become part of the lexicon.

Feel bad? Strike up some music and have a good sing (Verb used as noun)

10) Antiphrasis

Antiphrasis is a sentence or phrase that means the opposite of what it appears to say. Like how the idiom, “Tell me about it” generally means, “Don’t tell me about it — I already know.” It’s also known by a much more common name: irony.

11) Antonomasia

Antonomasia is, essentially, a rhetorical name. Antonomasia is a figure of speech that employs a suitable epithet or appellative to cite a person or thing rather than the original name.  Like “Old Blue Eyes,” “The Boss,” or “The Fab Four” — affectionate epithets that take the place of proper names like Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, or the Beatles.

12) Apophasis

You may have noticed by now that a lot of rhetorical devices are rooted in irony. Apophasis — also known as paralipsis, occupatio, praeteritio, preterition, or parasiopesis — is one of these: bringing up a subject by denying that it should be brought up. This is a classic if oft-maligned political tactic and one frequently utilised by the 45th President of the United States, particularly in his interesting tweets. For example:

“Why would Kim Jong-un insult me by calling me ‘old,’ when I would NEVER call him ‘short and fat?’”

13) Aporia

Aporia is the eloquent expression of the doubt — almost always insincerely. This is a common tool used by businesses to connect with a consumer base, particularly when regarding new inventions that might be met with a doubtful audience.

“To be or not to be; that is the question” or

For instance, take Steve Jobs’ introduction of touchscreen technology:

“Now, how are we gonna communicate this? We don’t wanna carry around a mouse, right? What are we gonna do?”

14) Aposiopesis

Aposiopesis is essentially the rhetorical version of trailing off at the end of your sentence, leaving your listener (or reader) hanging. Like the ending of Mercutio’s famous “Queen Mab” speech in Romeo & Juliet:

“This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs,

That presses them and learns them first to bear,

Making them women of good carriage:

This is she—”

Or in simple: “If you do that again, I will…”

15) Asterismos

Asterismos is simply a phrase beginning with an exclamation. A word that gives weight or draws attention to the words that follow. Like every other sentence in Moby-Dick: “Book! You lie there; the fact is, your books must know your places.” But if no sentence follows, it’s exclamatio: an explicit expression like “My word!” that warrants no follow-up.

16) Asyndeton

If you’ve ever removed conjunctions like “or,” “and,” or “but” from your writing because the sentence flowed better without them, you’ve used asyndeton.

This is a favourite of Cormac McCarthy, like in this passage from Outer Dark: “A parson was labouring over the crest of the hill and coming toward them with one hand raised in blessing, greeting fending flies.” And like most of the enigmatic author’s preferred rhetoric, it is almost intentionally confusing — whether the parson is blessing or greeting or swatting flies is never clarified. Alternatively, he also makes extensive use of polysyndeton: the intentional use of conjunctions to affect sentence flow, like replacing commas with the word “and.”

“The car crashed, exploded, burned, melted”

“In the cave there was a bear, a puppy, a tiger, a moose”

“I came, I saw, I conquered”

“The government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth” A. Lincoln

17) Bdelygmia

Befitting its ugly spelling, bdelygmia or abominatio is a rhetorical insult — the uglier and more elaborate, the better. Like most rhetorical devices, Shakespeare was a big fan. So was Dr. Seuss:

“You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch; You’re a nasty wasty skunk, Your heart is full of unwashed socks, your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch. The three words that best describe you are as follows, and I quote, ‘Stink, stank, stunk!’”

“I’ve got a staff meeting to go to and so do you, you elitist, Harvard, fascist, missed-the-dean’s-list-two-semesters-in-a-row Yankee jackass”

18) Cacophony

Cacophony is one of the most loosely defined devices out there — simply, it is the use of words that sound bad together. That probably sounds pretty ambiguous, until you remember that Lewis Carroll invented words for his poem “Jabberwocky” just to make it sound harsh and unmelodious:

“’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.”

And it goes hand in hand with euphony — the use of words that sound good together, like this passage from an Emily Dickinson poem:

“Oars divide the Ocean, / Too silver for a seam.”

“There will be a time when you believe everything is finished.

That will be the beginning” Louise L’Amor

19) Chiasmus

A Sentence in which two words in the first half are criss-crossed in the second half. “Despised, if ugly; if she’s fair, betrayed.” This excerpt from Mary Leapor’s Essay on Woman is a great example of chiasmus: the reversal of grammatical structure across two phrases, without repeating any words. So, no, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair” does not count. Rather, that is antimetabole: the repetition of words or phrases in reverse grammatical order to suggest logical truth… even if it’s infallic. Ask not what rhetorical devices can do for you. Ask what you can do for rhetorical devices.

“All for one, and one for all” The Three Musketeers

“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country” JFK

20) Climax

The turning point in the story. The main character may learn something new, a change takes place, now the conflict can be addresses. Narrative arcs aren’t just for novels. Sentences can have a climax, too — the initial words and clauses build to a peak, saving the most important point for last. We’ve been using climaxes rhetorically since at least Corinthians:

“There are three things that will endure: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

It is also a figure of speech in which series of words, phrases or ideas is arranged in an ascending order of importance or emphasis.

“We’ll hear him, we’ll follow him, we’ll die with him”

21) Dysphemism

Dysphemism is a description that is explicitly offensive to its subject, or, perhaps, even its audience. It stands in contrast to a euphemism, which is implicitly offensive or suggestive. Basically, a dysphemism is a word or phrase people use to make something or someone sound negative, bad and unlikeable. Most racial epithets started as the latter, but are recognised today as the former.

To make it more understandable; A euphemism is a figure of speech that makes something bad sound good and a dysphemism is a figure of speech that makes something sound bad or worse that it really is. This is the sample table;

22) Meiosis

Any verbal effort to make something or person less significant than really is, is a form of meiosis. So, if you’ve ever understated something before, that’s meiosis — like the assertion that Britain is “across the pond” from the Americas. The opposite — rhetorical exaggeration — is called auxesis.

“Not bad” for an excellent performance

“I guess they like each other” upon seeing a couple kissing romantically.

“One nuclear bomb can ruin your whole day”

23) Onomatopoeia

Wham! Pow! Crunch! These are all examples of onomatopoeia, a word for a sound that phonetically resembles the sound itself. Which means the finale of the 1966 Batman is the most onomatopoeic film scene of all time.

A pig grunts or goes “Oink! Oink””

A strong wind groans or cries “Whoo, whoo, whoo!”

24) Personification

It’s a lot easier for humans to understand a concept when it’s directly related to them. And since rhetoric is used to convey your point more effectively, there’s naturally a rhetorical device for that: personification, which assigns human characteristics to an abstract concept.

Personification is present in almost all forms of literature, especially mythology, where concepts like war, love, and wisdom are given humanity in the form of gods such as Ares, Venus, Saraswati. But anthropomorphism, which assigns human characteristics to animals, is almost as common, in everything from Peter Rabbit and Winnie-the-Pooh to The Hobbit and Watership Down.

25) Pleonasm

Did you know that being redundant can be rhetorically useful? Certain words are so overused that they’ve lost meaning — darkness, nice, etc. However, “black darkness” or “pleasantly nice” reinvigorate that meaning, even if the phrases are technically redundant. Redundant phrases like these are called pleonasms, and they are persuasively rhetorical.

26) Rhetorical comparisons

Some of the most prevalent rhetorical devices are figures of speech that compare one thing to another. Two of these, you surely know: the simile and the metaphor. But there is a third, hypocatastasis, that is just as common… also, useful.

The distinctions between the three are pretty simple. A simile compares two things explicitly: “You are like a monster.” A metaphor compares them by asserting that they’re the same: “You are a monster.” And with hypocatastasis, the comparison itself is implied: “Monster!”

27) Rhetorical question

You’ve probably heard of a rhetorical question, too: a question asked to make a point rather than to be answered. Technically, this figure of speech is called interrogatio, but there are plenty of other rhetorical devices that take the form of questions.

If you pose a rhetorical question to answer it yourself, that’s anthypophora (or hypophora… they mean the same thing). And if your rhetorical question infers or asks for a broad audience’s opinion (“Friends, Romans, countrymen […] Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?”), that’s anacoenosis — though it generally doesn’t warrant an answer, either. Some sample questions;

“Why are we here”

“What are you, insane”

“How can we expect him to give more than we ourselves are willing to give”

28) Synecdoche

Synecdoche, meaning simultaneous understanding. You know how a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle isn’t necessarily a square? If you referred to all rectangles as “squares,” you’d have a synecdoche: a rhetorical device in which part of one thing is used to represent its whole.  This differs slightly from metonymy, which refers to one thing by something related to it that is nevertheless not part of it. If you referred to an old king as “greybeard,” that would be the former. If you referred to him as “the crown,” it would be the latter. As an example:

The word “coke” means carbonated drink and people could easily understand for Coca-Cola or Pepsi

The word “Kleenex” is the universal word for anything you blow your nose on.

29) Tmesis

Have you ever, in a fit of outrage, referred to something un-effing-believable? If you have, congratulations on discovering a surprisingly useful rhetorical device: tmesis, the separation of one word into two parts, with a third word placed in between for emphasis.

30) Zeugma

Zeugma often used synonymously with syllepsis, is a grammatical trick that can be used rhetorically as well: placing two nouns with very different meanings in the same position in a sentence. Mark Twain was a master at this:

“They covered themselves with dust and glory.”

This might feel a bit like a list of fancy names for things you already do. If so, that’s great! You’re already well on your way to mastering the art of rhetoric. And, now that you know the specifics, you can take the next step: implementing it in your writing and public speaking swaying your audience onto your side.