"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind."
Words are the primary mechanism we use to transmit ideas. Words encourage, challenge, persuade, teach and transform. Yet many business presenters speak without adequate knowledge of, or attention to, the tools that can hone their craft.
I highlighted some of these tools in Part I and Part II of The Power of Language. Here are some additional rhetorical devices that can be effectively integrated into your presentations to make your message come alive and connect with the audience. Also check out the Successful Speeches Blog for ways to make your presentations more memorable.
[Click on the speaker's name below to go to an audio and text version of the speech.]
Antithesis gives balance to a sentence or clause by intentionally juxtaposing contrasting ideas. The juxtaposition adds emphasis to both concepts.
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
A technique where the first and last word or words of one phrase are repeated in one or more successive phrases. This is another way of structuring repetition, which is always a powerful tool.
"Let us let our own children know that we will stand against the forces of fear. When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it."
A question in which the answer is obvious or implied and therefore, no answer is expected. Because it is human nature to answer a question in our heads, even if we don't do so out loud, this is a very effective device to force the audience to react, expand their thinking and get them to consider possibilities. It is frequently phrased as "What if...."
"How can we allow the rich and powerful, not only to rip off people as consumers, but to continue to rip them off as taxpayers?"
Ralph Nader, 2000 NAACP Convention Address
Rhetorical devices add so much richness to your presentation or speech: they make your message and ideas more memorable; they expand the understanding of the listener; they build a powerful connection with the audience. Why not start using them in your next presentation?