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The Five Canons of Rhetoric

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Aristotle defined them:

1. Invention: finding ways to persuade.

2. Arrangement: putting together the structure of a coherent argument.

3. Style: presenting the argument to stir the emotions.

4. Memory: speaking without having to prepare or memorize a speech.

5. Delivery: making effective use of voice and gesture.

One could make a strong case for the first three being all you need to know about producing anything written.

The fourth, “Memory,” is important in order to be able to summon up appropriate examples and analogies at a moment’s notice without having to stop and look something up.

This can interrupt an otherwise easy flow of words, thoughts and ideas.

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  • RJ

    I once was required to give the “Best Man” speech at a wedding reception. The group of people assembled was not massive, maybe 100. But I was scared shitless. (I absolutely DREAD public speaking…)

    However, despite what was probably an obvious nervousness on my part, I delivered a pretty damn good, though somewhat brief, speech.

    Touching, yet not emotionally heavy-handed. Slightly humorous, but no lame set-ups or punch-lines.

    Rhetoric is a wonderful skill to master. Sadly, I am preconditioned to be but a novice at this art form…

  • Thanks for the list, Joe. The first three items certainly apply to the writers (including blog writers) whose work I enjoy.

    Probably because I am good at #4, I actively enjoy public speaking. I once had to step in to deliver a training class when the original speaker came down with food poisoning. I was originally there to assist with the technical setup, but I had attended 1 class given by the “official” speaker. I was able to deliver the class entirely from my own memory of the one I had attended.