Rhetorical Devices: Get Creative with your Words

It is always the wish of every presenter to deliver not only an impactful presentation but a memorable one as well. Adding a little creativity to your presentation is the cornerstone of keeping your audience attentive throughout the presentation. This creativity can come in many forms; through the design, through the structure or, in fact, through the delivery.

Rhetorical devices are simply the different ways of using words to convey meaning or ideas to your audience. This is where your inner creativity can be unleashed.

Where can you use rhetorical devices to best capture attention?

The best place to include rhetorical devices is right at the beginning of your presentation. This gives you an opportunity to establish a rapport with your audience. The emphasis here is you have to be as interesting and creative as possible. If you fail to grab your audience’s attention at this point, you might not have the chance to do so later.

3 Tips TO effectively using rhetorical devices in your presentation

Before you read these tips, please note that rhetorical devices are described in Ancient Greek, so don’t be put off by the terminology. We will use examples so that you know exactly what they mean.

  1. Simple is effective.

Don’t overcomplicate things. Include rhetorical devices that are easy to use, yet still create interest. One example is through the use of alliteration, which is the repetition of the first sounding letter in the same sentence. In the following speech, President Obama uses the ‘f’s of “finest fighting force” and the ‘d’s of “duty in distant, different, and difficult” to accomplish this:

“They are part of the finest fighting force that the world has ever known. They have served tour after tour of duty in distant, different, and difficult places.” – President Barack Obama

Another example is the use of mesodiplosis, which describes repeating a word or words in the middle of successive sentences:

“Because in those eyes, they will see what my parents saw in me, and what your parents saw in you– Marco Rubio

  1. Be creative.

Rhetorical devices can let you be creative with the wording you use; they can create an interesting and captivating twist to your presentation. Anastrophe’s, for example, change the normal word order of a sentence for the sake of emphasis:

“This much we pledge, and more” – JF Kennedy

Another example is through the use of metaphors, which you can read more on in our previous post

The final example we’ll give here is chiasmus, which is my personal favourite and can be a very effective hook for your audience. It is utilised by immediately reversing the words used in the previous sentence:

“When the going gets tough, the tough get going” – Joseph P. Kennedy

“Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done”– President George W Bush

  1. Choose relevant rhetorical devices

Rhetorical devices can only have a meaningful impact if they’re used sparingly and with relevance. Don’t force them into your presentation if you feel they are either not relevant for your audience or not relevant to the subject matter.