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The 10 Rhetorical Strategies Everyone Needs To Know

Do you want to get your point across more effectively? Then, learn how to persuade anyone with these essential rhetorical strategies.
by Rob Gillham | Nov 29 2022

Almost everyone has been swayed by a speaker or writer’s message at some point in their lives. Everyone is familiar with being persuaded in a professional, communicative manner, whether by a friend, professor, or supervisor.

Strong interpersonal skills and leadership potential are indicated by these persuasion skills. Rhetorical strategies are used by many persuasive speakers, writers, and effective communicators to drive their success.

It is common to find rhetorical devices in essays, persuasive writing, and even speeches. Rhetorical strategies can also be used in everyday communication, whether you’re aware of them or not.

Communication can be enhanced by rhetorical strategies that allow comparisons to be made, bold points to be made, and ways for people to connect with your message.

This article examines some of the most commonly used rhetorical strategies that you can use both in literary context and in your everyday speech.

What Are Rhetorical Strategies?

The aim of rhetorical strategies is to encourage action or persuade others through wording during communication. Listeners’ views can be managed using these language devices across written and spoken media.

During speeches, rhetorical devices are often used. In motivational, political, and educational speeches, rhetoric emphasizes particular points in deliberate ways to lead a group to think or act in a particular way.

It can also be used as an argumentative tactic during a debate. A great deal of literature also uses rhetoric to further communicate with the reader.

It is possible to strengthen written communication and reader understanding through rhetorical strategies. It is not necessary to convince someone to do something in order to persuade them.

By using words, you can help the reader understand a situation from your perspective.

How Do Rhetorical Strategies Work? 

There are three main types of rhetorical strategies used to persuade:

  1. Logos refers to intellectual persuasion (pronounced like ‘low-goss’, unlike a logo (‘low-goes’) that represents a company).
  2. Persuasion through emotion is called Pathos
  3. Establishing trust and authority through Ethos

It is a rhetorical strategies’ primary benefit to develop and strengthen a connection with the audience, making it easier to persuade them to agree with the author’s viewpoint.

You can do this by emphasizing, comparing, or repeating. Speakers or writers can also use rhetorical strategies to establish their authority, making them appear trustworthy. There are many applications for rhetorical devices in the workplace.

Here are some examples:

1. After passing the first round of interviews, you may be asked to give a presentation to a panel to demonstrate how you would solve a workplace challenge. To make a good impression, you could use rhetorical devices.

2. After a meeting with colleagues and managers, you may be asked to write a report about how your role will impact a future project. Written communication allows for the use of more specific rhetorical strategies, such as symploce (for an explanation, read on).

3. A team presentation on performance and outcomes is likely to be required after a project is completed. By using rhetorical strategies, you will be able to convince your colleagues that your project is successful in a more persuasive way.

4. In the HR department, you may be asked to write health and safety procedures documents, which fully explain the benefits of adhering to the safety protocols. They can be more engaging if rhetorical strategies are used in them, so that the workforce is more likely to read them.

5. If you and your colleague are asked to pitch the services of your company to a new client, you will want to pull out all the stops to be the most persuasive you can be.

To establish authority, build a bridge with the audience, or share information in a positive light, all of the above scenarios require persuasion. All of those things can be accomplished using rhetorical strategies.

The Most Common Rhetorical Strategies

Below is a list of some common rhetorical devices and examples of how to use them in writing or speaking. If you’re planning a speech, writing a letter, or having a political debate with your neighbors, consider some of these strategies.

As a result of this rhetorical strategies list, you can improve your communication skills and enliven your conversations by using these devices:

Metaphors and similes

To persuade someone, similes and metaphors are common rhetorical strategies. The purpose of these rhetorical resources is to compare two different items and show how they are alike.

In this way, the comparison is much clearer, and the meaning of what you are trying to convey is enhanced. Even in everyday conversation, people use similes and metaphors.

In comparisons, similes use the words “like” or “as,” while metaphors say the two things are the same.

Using euphemisms

It is sometimes necessary to reference something unpleasant or even disturbing when making a persuasive argument. By doing so, you may cause your intended audience to feel uncomfortable or leave them with lingering questions.

This may cause them to tune you out instead of listening to what makes them uncomfortable. You can avoid this problem by using a euphemism instead.

The purpose of this rhetorical device is to replace an unpleasant word or phrase with something that is more acceptable and easier to hear (or read if you’re writing an argument). Some euphemisms can go too far, especially if misused, but speakers and writers tend to use them to sidestep topics to focus on their core message.

Use chiasmus to get an emotional response

Throughout your speech or writing, you want your persuasive argument to stick in people’s minds. Chiasmus is one of the best ways to achieve this.

By simply changing the order of words, this rhetorical strategy can elicit an emotional response. By doing this, you can come up with catchy phrases.

John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address is one of the most commonly cited resources of rhetoric, in which he said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” The sentence has two parts, with the second half mirroring the first half.

The phrase sticks with you long after you hear it for the first time.

The relationship between cause and effect

Showing the relationship between cause and effect is another key component of a persuasive argument. Determine what receives the most attention based on the point you want to make.

For example, if you want to discuss why employees suffer from work burnout (the effect), you should consider the causes. You are interested in what will happen when you look at causes.

Conversely, looking at effects looks at what might happen in the future. An analysis of cause and effect is useful for crafting historical narratives, such as what policies resulted in Apple’s success.

As you show the relationship between causes and what can be changed to prevent undesirable effects, it can also provide solutions.

Anacoluthon

Anacoluthons introduce sudden changes in ideas or sometimes seemingly unrelated topics in the middle of a sentence. Conversations commonly use this device to emphasize ideas or topics.

Logos

A logos is an argument based on logic or reason. There are two types of rhetorical appeals used in this way: deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning.

Based on specific facts and historical resources, logos rhetoric uses inductive reasoning to make larger generalizations. Here’s an example of inductive reasoning: prioritizing tasks helped this worker become more productive, so all workers would benefit from prioritizing tasks.

By contrast, logos rhetoric with deductive reasoning begins with generalizations before applying them to specific situations. Deductive reasoning would consist of the following argument: reducing the number of meetings has helped companies around the world, so it could benefit one specific company as well.

Ethos

Ethos can also be used to persuade people of your point of view. By demonstrating credibility, reliability, and good character, you appeal to others’ sense of ethical values.

It’s not always easy to pull off, especially when people don’t know you well. You can, however, sway people to your side if you show them that you’re trustworthy.

Pathos

By appealing to others’ emotions through language, pathos rhetorical device is used. Pathos can be tricky to use effectively.

Facts, logic, and reasoning should be used to persuade people. However, pathos can enhance an argument, adding a human element that avoids sticking to numbers like a robot.

A story about a woman who sacrificed time and money to start her own business will likely resonate with an audience more than a statistic about how many people start businesses each year. However, the statistic may not reflect the actual cost.

Be careful not to misuse pathos as well. Be careful not to turn your argument into a sensational piece.

Pathos should also relate to the subject, as some people use it to divert attention from the main issue.

Narration

To connect with your audience, you can use narration, which is essentially storytelling. Even in academic writing, people identify more with stories than statistics.

The best storytellers seamlessly weave evidence and arguments into their stories. You don’t have to use one or more stories in your speech or article, but they can support your central point.

Whether it’s a real story or a rhetorical situation, the right story at the right time can serve as an exclamation point. By putting issues in perspective, it’s a powerful strategy.

Anadiplosis

The same word is used at the end of a sentence and at the beginning of the next sentence. Anadiplosis allows you to carry a chain of thought through to the next idea, so that your audience can follow along. The listener will be able to follow along with your ideas if you use a repetitive approach.

Take your rhetorical skills further and master the art of public speaking. Then, you can use Blinkist’s in-depth guides to improve your time management skills as well as your short-term memory

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