The term Rhetoric I'm sure you've heard it many times. And surely you know that in connection with exciting speeches, entertaining Presentations and convincing performances. But what is actually hidden exactly behind Rhetoric and why is it so important? Not only for leadership positions and entrepreneurs, but for everyone who wants to improve their persuasive power?
The term comes from the ancient Greek and means "Oratory". The dictionary defines Rhetoric Furthermore, as a "doctrine of the effective design of speech". This means that you convince people with your words by conveying content in a certain way. This applies to presentations in front of an audience as well as to conversations and negotiations. Quite simple really, isn't it?
What sounds so easy in theory, however, can be quite difficult in practice. Because the art of talking is to convey your statements so convincingly that your counterpart agrees with your opinion. To do this, you need to have a few tricks up your sleeve and use special methods and stylistic devices.
Where does rhetoric come from?
But first, let's take a few steps back to understand where Rhetoric actually comes from and how it was created. For that, we travel back in history quite far ... a little further - and stop! Welcome to the ancient world!
Already in ancient times, rhetoric was an integral part of public life. It was considered an important instrument for the transmission of knowledge. This can be roughly compared with what we know today as the methodology of the humanities. Greeks and Romans, by the way, used rhetoric even then to prepare themselves for jurisprudential or political activities.
The Greek poet Homer is considered the "inventor" or creator. His works of the 8th century BC show the first forms of what we understand as rhetoric. Homer used it as a tool for court hearings and popular assemblies. Even today, Homer's works are understood as the first basis for rhetorical rules. Even at that time, a clear structure was followed, as well as a structure or outline.
Why is rhetoric important?
Rhetoric is an important component of a wide variety of fields. What would law, politics or economics be without the art of speech? But it's not only used there, it can also greatly enrich your life. "Really, rhetoric can improve my life?" you ask? Well, hello!
As soon as you have a vision, a dream, an idea or even just a wish that you want to enforce with others, rhetoric comes into play. Actually, whenever you need to convey something convincingly. Because then the pure message or the information is not enough.
Instead, you need to package your information cleverly and support it with your body language, your movements, your looks and the emphasis of your words. Compared to the pure message, your appearance and your body language are perceived subconsciously and therefore speak to a completely different level.
It is optimal if you can convince on the information level and on the subconscious level at the same time. Rhetoric is therefore an important tool with which you ensure that you reach and convince your counterpart on all levels.
Rhetoric as a success factor
So where can you use rhetoric to convince others of you and your views? At work, for example. Imagine you have an important salary negotiation. You want to get more money than before, but you know that you won't get anywhere with your boss with factual arguments alone. Now it's time to swing the rhetoric club!
Rhetorical skills are also an advantage when addressing your team or even an entire department. Put yourself in the following situation: You have been working on a project for a long time, but the expected results do not materialize. You are jointly responsible and have to deliver the unpleasant news.
Not a situation you want to be in. The solution? Pull out your rhetorical skills, limit the damage, and convince your team that failure has positives - a learning effect, for example. Motivate everyone to give it their all a second time.
You'll see: If not only your words, but also your emphasis, your looks, your posture show that you believe 100 percent in your success, then your team does too. The better your command of rhetoric, the successful is you.
Practice makes perfect
Rhetoric lives from being implemented and used. Sure, you can acquire theoretical knowledge, for example about the skilful structure of a speech. But to become really good, you have to practice, practice, practice. And not in a quiet room, but in a real-life scenario.
You have certainly been given a few opportunities to do this in your career: Presentations at school, oral exams at university, speeches or presentations in business. Are you one of those who had no problems speaking in front of a class? Or did your hands get wet and your mouth dry when you had to speak in front of a large group?
Whether you count yourself in the first or second camp, the good news is: Rhetoric can be learned. It is worthwhile to attend a seminar or a special rhetoric course in the beginning or to be coached by a trainer. Once you have mastered the basics, you should then regularly develop speeches and presentations and deliver them in front of an audience.
This doesn't necessarily have to be the crisis meeting with your employees. The company party also offers a perfect opportunity, as well as grandma's 80th birthday or your lending appointment at the bank. The next target agreement meeting with your boss is also a good chance to use your rhetorical skills. Or next week's customer meeting, where you have to convince your business partner of your innovative new product.
And when does your rhetoric power start?
Opportunities are a dime a dozen, you just have to see them and take them. Of course, your goal doesn't have to be to stand on a stage and entertain the masses. But if you know practical tricks, you can fall back on your rhetorical skills at the right moment. This will not only help you communicate more successfully, but will also make it easier for you to convince others and help you get through your (working) life with fewer headwinds. Sounds great, doesn't it?