You know those people who seem to be born on stage? It doesn't matter what the topic is or how many people they're speaking in front of: The art of rhetoric was just dropped in their lap. But can anyone really learn rhetoric?
For them, performing on stage or speaking freely in front of smaller and larger groups of people does not involve sleepless nights, sweating or nervous twitches. No! For this group of people, free speech is absolute comfort zone. Fear of rhetoric? Not a trace! Learn rhetoric? No problem!
How can I learn rhetoric?
It's like anything: practice makes perfect. Nowadays it is hardly possible to bypass the basic knowledge of rhetoric. Because in all kinds of situations in life we need to communicate freely, confidently and sovereign - not only professionally, but also privately. Every person should therefore learn rhetoric to a certain extent.
Learning rhetoric plays a major role even in times of digital media. Because one-to-one communication is still unbeatable - and good rhetoric is still the be-all and end-all. In this article, we would like to tell you which tips you can use for this.
If you'd like to learn more about this topic, download our free Keynote development workbook now.
Learning rhetoric - The best tips at a glance
Verbal and non-verbal communication
You've probably heard it before: "You can't, not communicate". This is the first of the five axioms according to the communication scientist Paul Watzalawick. What this means is that whether you communicate with language or just stand there in silence, you are always communicating.
Because both the language and the behavior itself can and will be interpreted by your counterpart (individual or group), interpreted and in doubt also evaluated. And yes, your sovereignty is also a rhetorical tool - and the start of every performance. Which stylistic means help you to learn rhetoric, you will now learn from us.
Authentic appearance - nonverbal rhetoric
You can think of it like this: You go on stage. It's your moment. You have prepared for it for many weeks, you are pretty sure that everything will go well. The intensive rhetoric training has prepared you for all eventualities and you know that you can draw on and use everything you know about rhetoric today.
You go on stage, still silent, the audience applauds, you stand there and at that moment you realize that you urgently have to drink another sip of water. No problem, the audience still applauds.
But then it goes silent - and you stand there with your glass of water in your hand, drinking, saying nothing, still orienting yourself ... and: communicating! Because your silence says a lot: Your mind is not on the matter. And the audience can sense that - without you having said a single word.
Learning rhetoric: Your way to the stage - or: All beginnings are difficult
But before you go on stage, let's go back to the beginning: What is rhetoric? And how can rhetorical means be understood and used practically? Who is rhetoric suitable for and what do we need the art of speech for?
Rhetoric is the ability to speak convincingly in front of an audience and in one-on-one conversations. Rhetoric is therefore the art of free speech. In order to speak freely, clearly and distinctly, there are some rhetorical means, some of which you surely know.
These make it easier for you to get your message across as clearly as possible. But be careful: Both your language and the use of rhetorical devices must always be in proportion to the knowledge, age and dsjkdjsk level of your audience and in relevance of your topic.
Very figurative, vivid language lends itself to motivational speeches to an audience that can understand these rhetorical devices as such. For example, "To get the cup, I worked like an animal."
Of course, this skill does not fall from the sky. Quite the opposite: as in so many areas of life, a lot of practice and routine is required.
Imagine you want to learn a new language. To make this a reality, to create a routine, you practice the vocabulary of the new language day after day. The more diligently you practice, the easier it will be for you to speak the language - even in public.
And it is exactly the same with rhetoric. Without practice, training and routine you will not become a good speaker. Not in front of one person and not in front of hundreds of people. Yes - that's exactly how it is, unfortunately. But don't panic: There are some very valuable tips & tricks you can use to learn AND apply rhetoric in a short time.
Rhetorical devices - an overview
The special thing about rhetorical devices is that you can strengthen or weaken the effect of your language and what you convey by using the respective device.
Imagine you have a toolbox full of tools with which you can strengthen your statements, make them stronger and more effective. That's exactly what rhetorical tools are: helpers that work wonders in language! We have summarized the 5 most important rhetorical tools for you here:
Alliteration: Words strung together with the same initial sounds. "Milk makes tired men cheer up. Effect: Emphatic, memorable.
Metaphor: Visualization of facts, where image and expression are connected by special properties. "A flood of people". Effect: Illustrative.
Climax: Increase from the weaker to the stronger. "The Earth, our solar system, and the entire galaxy." Effect: forceful, emphasizing.
Personification: Humanization of a thing. "Time is running." Effect: Illustrative.
Comparison: Two terms or states of affairs that are similar in one or more characteristics are related by "as" or "like": "Strong as a bear." Effect: Vivid, emphasizing.
Note: You can find more rhetorical devices & info at the end of this article.
As written above: Body language is the be-all and end-all of rhetoric. Sounds strange - doesn't it? After all, it is the verbal communication with which you want to convince. In fact, it is your appearance, your appearance and yes, even your clothes that determine the overall impression. If you are insecure or reserved, your audience will notice it immediately!
Overcome your fear of speaking!
It's easier said than done, of course, but unfortunately it's true: If you want (or need) to speak, you not only need to master at least the basic knowledge of rhetoric, no, you need to overcome your fear of speaking. This can be done with this simple tip:
Encourage yourself! You are good and you can do it. Just tell yourself that over and over again before your performance - like a kind of mantra.
"I'm good, I can do this!" Because: The more positive you are, the more confidently you will be able to sell your speech, your presentation or your concern to the audience.
And it doesn't matter whether you are speaking in front of one or several people. Just make it clear to yourself again and again: You have a concern and want to inspire, convince or inform your audience.
Prepare your presentation!
Okay, you now know 5 important rhetorical devices that you can use in your language. Of course, it doesn't matter which language you speak - the main thing is that your audience understands you.
You now know how to perform and how to formulate your message. In this paragraph, it is now about preparing the rhetoric, the content and the performance. Here too, we have a great tip for you:
Really make sure you've gathered everything you need for your talk! And by everything, we mean: Everything! Whether it's clothes, presenter (the remote control for your presentation - if you have one), your presentation (if you have one), your notes, your topic, the focus of your message, the right socks for your suit, comfortable shoes for your dress, date, time and place - and, and, and....
You see it for yourself: The list of your preparation can be endless. Therefore, take enough time, prepare yourself and make notes on everything you still need to clarify or want to clarify. Because: The best rhetoric is useless if you forget half of your things on day X!
So we hold:
The most important thing for a successful lecture, a rousing presentation or an unforgettable speech is: Learn rhetoric! And: Appear confident. Feel comfortable with what you say, with what you wear and with where you are. And even if something doesn't fit the way you want it to: stay positive, confident and believe in yourself. After all, you are the expert on your topic!
Learning rhetoric works for everyone
The targeted use of language is the most beautiful skill that we humans can have. The good thing is that each of us is capable of learning rhetoric in order to achieve our goals.
To make the power of rhetoric clear to you, we have linked you below to a speech in which the speaker is simply convincing through his quality.
Best watch the speech once you've read through this article.
The biggest mistake: not learning rhetoric
Let's say everything is prepared: You have your performance date, the audience knows about it, you have your topic and your clothes are ready. But: You have no idea how to effectively convey your thesis, your message or your concern in front of an audience - no matter if you are speaking in front of a small circle or on a big stage.
As you now know, there are numerous rhetorical devices that support you in your communication. A metaphor can be used to illustrate an aspect - and thus turn something complicated into something very simple and understandable.
Alliteration is a great rhetorical device to grab the listener's attention. "Milk perks up tired men" is a classic example. A parallelism makes you think "You sing loud, you talk soft". And as I'm sure you know, everything your listeners think about stays in their heads.
Rhetorical devices like the neologism are also a great tool for your speech. A neologism, which you create from two or more terms, remains in the listener's memory. The important thing here is: Don't get too abstract. The neologisms should make sense in the broadest sense.
The climax offers you the gradual increase of the words - and draws a great arc of tension. You already have the audience's attention.
As you can see, there are numerous rhetorical tools that can make your presentation a success - if you use them correctly. So practice diligently and "learning rhetoric" is easily applied in practice!
Conclusion: Learning rhetoric is possible for everyone
In this article, we have provided you with some tips that you can use to improve your public speaking.
We are sure: It makes no difference whether you are a beginner or not. With the right methods, you too can learn rhetoric and raise your language skills to a new level.
We would like to support you on this path. That's why we'd like to give you our workbook "Keynote Development." Just click on the link in the box and download the ebook for free.
How did you like this article? Do you have any other rhetoric tips that you would like to share with us? Then simply leave us your opinion as a comment. We look forward to discussing this exciting topic.