How to convince and persuade by the use of words is something that fascinates me. Regardless of whether the words are written or spoken the power to move other people with your choice of words and formulation of what you wish to say has been evident from time immemorial.
From Aristotle’s ‘Rhetoric’ (also known as ‘the Art of Rhetoric’, ‘On Rhetoric’, or a ‘Treatise on Rhetoric’) to Adolf Hitler to Martin Luther King to Winston Churchill to Barack Obama, the ability of a speaker, through the judicious use of words and some basic guiding principles, to make a change is clear.
Recently, I came across a video on YouTube from Simon Lancaster which sets out 6 rhetorical devices to allow you speak like a leader. Here’s the video
The 6 tools he identifies are
- 3 breathless sentences (eg ‘Veni, Vidi, Vici’)
- 3 repetitive sentences (‘we will fight them on the beaches; we will fight them on..’)
- Contrasts (between what you are advocating for and the situation if you do nothing)
- the use of metaphor
- exaggeration (Donald Trump is a successful exponent)
- a rhyme (‘if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit’ used by defence counsel, Johnnie Cochran, in the OJ Simpson trial)
These tools can be used in many situations where you wish to convince or persuade, not just in speeches or wishing to sound or speak like a leader.
And they are tried and tested for thousands of years since Aristotle first gave us the tools of rhetoric.
I touched on some lessons we can learn from Aristotle when it comes to communicating in this video: