Great Communication: The Power of Rhetoric


Definition of Rhetoric

I enjoy speaking and writing. I know I’m not brilliant at either but it doesn’t make any difference to me: I am good enough to get by and I enjoy it. Moreover this kind of Showcasing is a vital part of my new business acquisition strategy.

I learned a long time ago that if you want to make a big impression, get your message across and stand half a chance of engaging your audience you should learn how to use rhetoric, so imagine my surprise when I read the best ever summary of the ancient skill in the Mail on Sunday magazine the other weekend. I have placed a scanned copy of the article on my LinkedIn profile so if you missed it (or can’t bear to read the MoS) feel free to swing by and download it.

This blog is way too small to even contemplate explaining the power and deployment of rhetorical devices so instead I thought I’d list out my “Top 10 things you need to know about Rhetoric” to whet your appetite enough to investigate further. Here we go then: –

  1. Rhetoric was invented by the ancient Greeks 2500 years ago and has been used extensively by pretty much every politician since. The Romans loved it.
  2. Western politicians have been trainined in it for years – think JFK, Mrs Thatcher and Tony Blair (less so Gordon Brown).
  3. It is made up of a collection of devices designed to connect with the audience or readership.
  4. Rhetoric is divided up into three parts: Ethos (the credibility of the speaker); Pathos (how the audience feels) and Logos (the logic of the piece)
  5. Ethos and pathos are what wins hearts and minds not Logos. Strange but true – feelings rule OK!
  6. Rule of three: “Education, Education, Education”, “the Son the Father and the Holy Ghost”, “Location, location and location”. “Yes we can”. Also this blog entry is packed with examples.
  7. Alliteration:  “the People’s Princess”
  8. Metaphors: “Life is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you are going to get”
  9. Reversal: “Ask not what your country can do for you but instead ask what you can do for your country”
  10. Rhetoric is like salt: a little will greatly enhance the flavour but too much will spoil the dish. (This is a metaphor by the way)

The objective of this blog was to make you inquisitive about rhetoric, make you suspect that it could strengthen your communication skills and perhaps want to find out more. If you do get the scanned version of the article and if this turns you on try buying “Lend Me Your Ears” by Max Atkinson which explores it in much more depth.

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Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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Posted in Communication, Leadership, Presentation Skills
One comment on “Great Communication: The Power of Rhetoric
  1. What i find difficult is to find a blog that can capture me for a minute but you definitely add value. Keep it like this.

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Mike Ames

Passionate about making business development a profession not just a job. Built and sold a £40m group in less than 9 years. Doing it all again and loving it!

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