Using Rhetorical Devices To Make A Speech Better

Speakers can use rhetorical devices to create better speeches
Speakers can use rhetorical devices to create better speeches
Image Credit: brett jordan

When we give a speech, we really only have one main tool that we can use to communicate the importance of public speaking: our words. Our goal is to capture and hold the attention of our audience; however, sometimes this can appear to be very challenging because all we have to work with are words. However, what we need to realize is that we actually have a number of rhetorical devices that we can bring into play that can help us to achieve our goals. We just have to know what these devices are.

The Tools That Speakers Have

Speakers and writers both have a set of tools that they can use in order to make their creations more appealing to their audiences. Clearly the differences between these tools is that speakers are looking for ways to make their spoken words have more punch while writers are looking for ways to make their written words be remembered. Speakers have a collection of rhetorical devices that they can use while writers have a collection of literary devices.

We need to note that there are some devices that belong to both groups. A good example of this would be a metaphor (a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable) which belongs to both groups. Speakers need to understand that rhetorical devices help a speaker to express their feelings about a given subject using articulate persuasion. Literary devices help a writer to communicate their story with eloquence.

The Power Of The Tools That A Speaker Has

Rhetoric devices allow a speaker to shape their ideas so that they can better appeal to their audience. The goal is to find a way to appeal to an audience’s sense of logic, emotions, or the passing of time. These are the classic methods described that are referred to as ethos, pathos, logos and katos (appeal to the authority, appeal to the audience’s emotions, logical appeal and time and place). These have been determined to be the best way to influence an audience’s decision-making process. When your audience is trying to make a decision they will often rely on their brain, heart, morals, or a sense that they are running out of time.

When we are giving a speech, we want to use rhetorical devices to add artistry to our speech. The hope is that by using them we can add both color and flair to our speech. We are not necessarily trying to use these devices to convince our audience to take any specific action. Rather, what we are trying to do is to make the speech that we are giving become more beautiful and graceful.

Rhetorical Devices Available To Speakers

There are number of different rhetorical devices that many speakers don’t know about. One of these devices is called tmesis. This device is being used when you split a word and insert another word in the middle of it. You would do this in order to provide emphasis for the word that you have inserted. This is a technique that you can use in order to emphasis a point while still getting a laugh from your audience. An example of this would be:

“…the movie stared Tom number 1 action hero Cruise…”

Another rhetorical device is called hendiadys. This is a tool that uses the word “and” to link two nouns in order to express a single idea. A good example of this would be “husband and wife”. Speakers don’t have to limit themselves to just using nouns with this technique, they can also use verbs such as in “listen and learn”. Some of the power from this device comes from the fact what when you are using it, you will have to slow down to say the phrase.

One final example of rhetorical devices is anaphora. This device is in use when a speaker relies on repetition of the first part of a sentence in order to build substance and significance. When a speaker uses this devices to build up their main point they can amplify the significance of their main point.

What All Of This Means For You

When we are preparing to give a speech, it can seem as though we don’t have a lot of tools to work with in order to share the benefits of public speaking. All we have is words. However, it turns out that we actually have a lot to work with if we can become aware of the rhetorical devices that are available to us. Understanding what these devices are and how to use them can allow us to make our speeches more colorful and add some flair to them.

Both speakers and writers have different sets of tools that they can use to enhance their works. Speakers have rhetorical devices and writers have literary devices. There are some devices that both groups can make use of. Rhetorical devices help speakers to shape their ideas so that they can better appeal to their audience. By using rhetorical devices a speech can become more beautiful and graceful. Tmesis is a rhetorical device in which a word is inserted inside of another word. Hendiadys is a rhetorical device in which the word “and” is used to link two words together. Anaphora is a device that allows a speaker to repeat the first part of their sentence.

Speakers have an incredible number of different rhetorical tools available to them. In order to add color and flair to your next speech, take the time to research what rhetorical devices you would feel comfortable adding to your next speech. Once you have included them, your audience is going to be in for a treat as you share your speech with them. They’ll be able to remember what you told them and how you told it to them long after you are done speaking.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: How many rhetorical devices do you think that you can work into a single speech?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

As is the case with most speakers, we both give and end up listening to many different speeches. After a time, they can all start to blur together. However, because of the importance of public speaking it is our responsibility to listen to each and every speech that we have an opportunity to hear. Our goal should be to evaluate each speech – what is the speaker doing right? What could they be doing better? This all leads to a fundamental issue that is related to speaking: just exactly how should we go about evaluating speeches?

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