I’ve got another idea that will work to make your speeches move from the “good” to the “excellent.” That idea is to use Stylistic techniques in your presentations. How will you organize your speech? Will you use metaphor in the introduction? How will you describe a value you advocate without being too abstract? How do you like my use of dialectical questions in this section of the packet? I chose to use questions in this paragraph because I wanted your input and your interest. When you choose stylistic devices for your speeches, you should have similar rationales. The speaker who incorporates style into her speech is like a homebuilder who adds the fine trim and decorations to a home, is like a gardener who manicures green lawns, is like the artist painting aesthetic beauty, is like, well, you get the idea. What will you do to your speech to bring out its persuasion?


You need to understand the situation in which you speak. You have a given audience. You have a given issue to discuss. You need to connect the issue to your audience. Will your audience agree with your position on the issue? Will they know much about the issue? Will they care about the issue? A student in one of the Public Address classes I taught urged termination of aid to the contras (a group fighting the government in Nicaragua in the 1980’s). The day before he had heard another student give a pro-contra speech. He knew the issue was fresh in people’s minds. He was aware people had different levels of knowledge about the issue and he knew many in the audience would not agree with him. He developed his speech with this knowledge in mind. He considered opposing arguments, explained details some might not have understood, and developed the speech so that his opponents would have difficulty in disagreeing—by using stylistic devices. From your understanding of the exigence in which you speak will come the vision you need to choose the right stylistic techniques to use.


The choice of the right stylistic device is not easy. Wording a given portion of a speech just right, delivering a portion of a speech, organizing the speech, each could literally take forever since there are an infinite number of ways in which to do each of the parts of speech. The art of speaking offers its painter a choice of brushes, colors, and drawings. You know what you want to accomplish with your speech. You know the difficulties you will face. The key is finding the right style to overcome the difficulties to accomplish your goals. Bill Clinton has often given speeches in the face of considerable opposition. Yet, he manages to keep a solid following of supporters (although he certainly has his detractors as well). Clinton and his speechwriters know that stories of hard working Americans, and appeals to fair policies that solve problems are hard to attack. So, Clinton’s speeches have a remarkable number of these stylistic techniques. What stylistic devices will you choose? Again—define your needs and then find the right stylistic device that meets the need.