Personal Development
Rhetoric: How to Inform, Persuade, or Motivate your Audience

Rhetoric: How to Inform, Persuade, or Motivate your Audience

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What is Rhetoric?

Rhetoric is a combination of the study and art of effective communication. It is used to inform, motivate, or persuade an audience in a specific setting. This practice has been around since the days of Ancient Greece, with Aristotle noting three types of persuasive speech: forensic/judicial rhetoric, epideictic/demonstrative rhetoric, and symbouleutikon/deliberative rhetoric.

How to Practice Rhetoric

The practice of rhetoric begins with a process of analyzing the rhetorical situation, or the context, of the particular situation. It can involve understanding the speaker (rhetor) and their characteristics, the target audience and their characteristics, the setting, the topic, and the purpose or goal. All of these elements will affect the way the speaker delivers their message.

Aristotle's Five Canons of Rhetoric are utilized to create persuasive speeches: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. The invention component involves selecting the relevant content to be included, while arrangement strategizes the order and length of the sections of the speech. Style focuses on crafting words to evoke emotion, and memory and delivery are concerned with memorization and presentation, respectively.

Three Appeals of Rhetoric

Aside from the Five Canons, Aristotle describes three appeals of rhetoric, which are methods of persuading an audience: ethos, pathos, and logos. Ethos concerns the establishment of credibility and character, pathos deals with an emotional connection, while logos is the logical and rational argument.

Regardless of the context, these five canons and three appeals should be at the center of any rhetorical message. Combined, they help a speaker accurately and effectively deliver their message in order to inform, motivate, or persuade an audience in a specific setting.

Rhetoric - The Art of Persuasion

Rhetoric is the art of using words to influence an audience. It has been used by ancient Greeks in speeches, debates, and other forms of public communication. It consists of the three pillars of persuasion - ethos, pathos, and logos - which, when balanced, can be very effective in moving an audience.

Ethos - Establishing Your Credibility

When presenting to an audience, it's essential to establish your credibility. This can be done through introducing yourself and the ethos you bring to the table. Introducing personal stories to show that you abide by your own recommendations is a great way to demonstrate credibility. Additionally, using facts, statistics, and quotes from reputable sources can go a long way in establishing your ethos. You should also show that you are unbiased by admitting any points of agreement between you and your opposition.

Pathos - Appeal to Emotion

Using pathos is an effective way to get your audience to feel a certain emotion. This could be done using colorful language, analogies, and metaphors to evoke positive emotions such as joy when relating to your argument, and negative emotions such as anger when connecting to your opponent's. Additionally, transporting your audience through storytelling can create a strong emotional connection. It is also important to match your words with proper body language, facial expressions, and eye contact.

Logos - Appeal to Logic

Logos employs evidence to back up an argument and requires the audience to think logically. It is recommended to use precise figures and charts that are easily understandable, as well as a clear connection between evidence and conclusions. Additionally, discussing the opposition's point of view and building your argument based on widely-held beliefs can be highly persuasive. Visual evidence such as objects or videos can also be difficult to challenge.

Rhetorical Modes

Aristotle believed that logos was the most important element of rhetoric, although by itself it lacks impact. To create a strong argument, therefore, it is advised to use all three pillars equally. The rhetorical modes that can be used as tools of persuasion include narration, description, argumentation/persuasion, division, comparison and contrast, and cause and effect.

Common Literary Devices

In order to make writings more engaging, common literary devices such as alliteration, allusion, anaphora, adynaton (a hyperbole used to suggest impossibility), and others can be used. Alliteration involves the repetition of the same letter or sound at the start of multiple words, allusion uses a reference to a popular culture event or person, anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase, and adynaton is a way of expressing impossibility using exaggeration.


Rhetoric can be a powerful tool when used ethically and effectively. While it can be used as a potent persuasion tactic, there is potential for it to lead to lying and manipulation. Ultimately, it is up to the speaker to use rhetoric responsibly.

15 Different Types of Figures of Speech

Figures of speech can add color and texture to your writing, making it more interesting and engaging for readers. Here are 15 different types of figures of speech that you can use in your writing.


Antanagoge is when a negative point is followed by a positive one to reduce the impact. For example, "It's expensive but it's unbreakable."


With antimetabole, a phrase or sentence is repeated in reverse order. Winston Churchill is famously known for his use of antimetabole when he said, �It is not even the beginning of the end but is perhaps, the end of the beginning.�


Antiphrasis is the use of a phrase or word that is opposite to its literal meaning to create an ironic or comic effect. An example of this is calling your friend Tiny even when they are 6 foot 5.


With antithesis, two opposite ideas are put together in a sentence for contrast. For example, �That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.� - Neil Armstrong.


An appositive places a noun or phrase next to another noun for descriptive purposes. For example, "Your friend Sam is waiting outside for you." or "The neurologist, a well-renowned expert in Paediatric Neurology, looked at the scans."


With epanalepsis, the initial part of a sentence is repeated at the end of the same sentence. An example of this is, "Today, I want it done today."


Epithet uses an adjective or phrase to emphasise a person's characteristics. Often, this adjective or phrase becomes linked to the person and can be used with their name or instead of their name. An example of this is Eddie the Eagle.


Epizeuxis is the repetition of one word in immediate succession for emphasis. An example of this is, "That film was great, great, great."


Hyperbole is an exaggeration not meant to be taken literally. Examples of this are, "I've got tons of work to get through." and "I'm freezing."


Metanoia is when you correct a statement you just made, either deliberately to strengthen or soften it. An example of this is, "This has made my day, no, my month."


Metaphor is a comparison made by stating one thing is the other. An example of this is, "This cake is heaven."


Metonymy is when something is referred to by the name of something closely associated with it. Examples of this are referring to business professionals as "suits," royals as "Crown," and a plate of food as a "dish."


Onomatopoeia are words that are similar to the sound they describe. Examples of this are "Hiss," "howl," and "buzz".

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