in English Language, Writing Skills

In order to write and/or deliver a successful speech, you must be able to understand and skillfully use rhetorical devices.

‘Rhetoric’ is the art of persuasive speaking, it was first developed in Ancient Greece and is still used by politicians, businessmen and leading professionals in almost any field of work in the present day. Below, you’ll find a list of the key rhetorical devices that will help achieve a highly persuasive style in speech writing at any level. 


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Hypophora

Asking a rhetorical question, and then answering it yourself. It can be even more effective than a standard rhetorical question.

E.g.

Why do we keep destroying the planet? Greed and convenience, that’s why.

Who actually likes taking exams? I sure don’t.

Bathos / Anticlimax

building up tension but having an underwhelming and unexpected ending. This is a frustrating technique that can be used to create empathy or sympathy, as well as humour, sadness or disappointment — a highly emotive technique.

E.g.

He hit me. Right in the face. And do you know what I did? Nothing.

So I spent five days straight awake, powered only by coffee and chocolate bars, manically typing my essay to make sure it was due on time. I missed football in the park with my friends. I didn’t go to my sister’s birthday party. I even ignored phone calls from my girlfriend and risked my whole future happiness with her! When I got it back, I just scraped a C grade.

Listing

A range of words or phrases in a deliberate list. It can feel like you’re presenting a large amount of evidence for something, or that there’s a lot going on. It can also be used to overwhelm the audience.

E.g.

Honestly, who wants to be a housewife these days? There’s so much to do: cook, clean, tidy, raise the kids, run errands, sort the garden, washing, ironing and organise activities… it must be so exhausting!

  • Asyndetic listing (only commas between listed items): He’s an explorer, and he’s travelled absolutely everywhere: Spain, France, Germany, Portugal, Morocco, Kenya, Australia, India, China, Japan, the USA, Brazil, the Arctic circle… you name it, he’s been there. — creates a compressed feeling, intense and quick to read.
  • Syndetic listing (using conjunctions between listed items): The feast was huge! They had roast chicken and steaks and burgers and chips and garlic bread and salads and coleslaw and apple pie and ice cream. — creates an extended, drawn out feeling, each image in the list is emphasised. In this example, it also conveys intense excitement.

Facts and figures

it’s very hard to deny someone’s opinion when they have a lot of factual evidence to back it up. This can include definite facts or statistics and numbers. The more detailed and specific you are, the more convincing this technique will be.

E.g.

In a recent survey conducted by our own research and development department, 90% of amateur athletes under the age of 35 said they have experienced a direct improvement in their performance by using our product.

In a report conducted by the United Nations (UN) in May 2019, it was stated that an estimated 1 million species worldwide are now under threat of extinction.


Here’s a previous post on the same topic, check it out to have a complete understanding of rhetorical devices and how to use them!

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