6 rhetoric tips that you really should forget

There are plenty of tips around regarding how to “speak” effectively. Read which are good and which may not be so good.

1. Speaking without notes is the only good way to deliver a speech.
Speaking without the need for notes is the aim of every speaker, but what does it really mean? Do we mean the whole speech without notes or only part of it? After all, a good speaker is someone who has something worth saying.

Therefore, what could we have against well structured keyword notes? The speaker can then intersperse the speech with some spontaneous comments. This also takes away much of the fear of interim questions, as the speaker does not have to worry so much about losing the thread.

2. Are you still using PowerPoint in your presentations or do you prefer to captivate your audience?
The fact is, PowerPoint is an integral part of modern presentations. The reason why some PPT presentations are more reminiscent of someone simply reading aloud is that there is far too much text on the slides. No one listens, because everyone is reading.

But if you know that the presentation slides and handouts are two different things and that the reference view allows the presenter to speak freely and interestingly, then PPT is OK.

3. Accept your voice as it is.
Accepting your own voice is certainly an important step, but only as a starting point for voice training. The voice is an important part of communication and has a lot of influence on what we say and how we say it and also the effect it has on the listener. Consequently, it is sensible and professional to train your voice.

The good news is, your voice can be trained, such as by regularly reading poems aloud.

4. Glibness
Hit back hard, respond in a glib manner, have disrupters put down with group pressure—be ready to strike. That is a declaration of war and contradicts the rhetorical idea of aplomb and charisma and, also the principles of appreciation, goodwill and consideration.

If you consider the alternatives to glibness, the difference soon becomes very obvious: imaginative, witty, clever, astute … with esprit, smart, elegant and, above all, with confidence. Cowboy or expert?

5. A good speech has several short, sharp sentences
Really—short and sharp is so yesterday. People who use this style in their presentations often come across as clumsy, rushed, stiff, nervous and even bland.

The fact is, a speech is not a way of writing and therefore needs melody and images. And this is where the supreme discipline of presentation comes in—narration. It can fascinate, touch and move the audience—pure rhetoric.

6. You must be politically correct
What can you say and what not these days? Although we perhaps now use the term ‘politically correct’ excessively, simple ideas such as taboo, proper behavior, decency and moral codes were once the mainstays of values-based speeches. Trying to enforce political correctness with the language police is questionable—at least in terms of the effects. If too many rules have to be observed, this restricts our freedom and freedom of speech no longer exists.

People who have no respect, values or decency will not be stopped, swayed or re-educated by political correctness. However, people who appreciate, show goodwill and are considerate to their fellow human beings do not need rules like this.

Oliver Groß

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