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Rhetorical Techniques. Also known as Oratorical Techniques. The Rhetorical Triangle. Ethos—appeals to speaker’s/writer’s character & credibility. Logos—appeals to logic. Pathos—appeals to emotions. Ethos.

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rhetorical techniques
Rhetorical Techniques

Also known as Oratorical Techniques

the rhetorical triangle
The Rhetorical Triangle

Ethos—appeals to speaker’s/writer’s character & credibility

Logos—appeals to logic

Pathos—appeals to emotions

  • Ethos is the Greek word for “character”. In order to convince people, a speaker must establish that he/she is worth listening to.
  • It’s the sense that a speaker gives of being competent/fair/ authoritative
  • Trustworthiness
  • Credibility
  • Reliability
  • Think about how one speaks to an opponent—with manners and respect-- “My honorable opponent. . .”
example of ethos
Example of Ethos


“Let tyrants fear. I have always so behaved myself that, under God, I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects. And therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation or disport, but being resolved, in the midst and

heat of the battle, to live and die amongst you all.”

- Queen Elizabeth I (1588) from a speech meant to encourage her troops to fight against the Spanish Armada

  • Rational Appeals
  • Appeal to the logical reasoning ability of audience
      • Facts
      • Case studies
      • Statistics
      • Experiments
      • Logical reasoning
      • Analogies
      • Authority Voices (quotes from experts)
  • Showing that your argument is well-researched can lend your argument credibility
  • Emotional Appeals
  • If the speaker can inspire an emotional connection with the audience, they are more likely to agree with the speaker
  • Get the audience to feel what you feel
    • Anger
    • Pity
    • Outrage
    • Sympathy
  • Get the audience to be sympathetic to your cause
pathos example
Pathos example

“Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace-- but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of

chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

- Patrick Henry (1775) from speech delivered to Second Virginia Convention

rhetorical techniques1
Rhetorical Techniques
  • Rhetorical Question: a question to which no answer is expected; often used to emphasize a point or idea

“You don’t expect me to go along with that crazy scheme, do you?

  • Restatement: to state again a key idea in a different or new way; often used to emphasize an idea
    • “Tonight is the last chance we have. I say it will be decided tonight. Tomorrow all will be over.”
  • Repetition: to repeat or say again using the same words/phrase
    • “I have a dream that. . . I have a dream.” (MLK)
  • Anaphora: repetition of a word of phrase at the beginning of successive phrases, clauses or lines
    • “Mad world! Mad kings! Mad composition! (King John, II,

Concession and Rebuttal: acknowledging a point from the opposing side, then answering with a better point; demonstrates that the speaker has considered the other side of the argument (gives speaker more credibility)

A learning environment (the classroom) needs to be free from distraction so students can focus their concentration on the task at hand. Cell phones break that concentration and therefore should be banned from school altogether. Those against my position will argue that the phone is an absolute necessity in case of an emergency. They are right - a phone is a vital communication tool in any stressful situation. Our school, therefore, has several. One is located at the main-A floor reception desk, another at the attendance desk, one at the counseling desk as well as the library. If these are not enough, there are phones in every classroom as well as in all of the administrative and counseling offices – so, what’s the problem? A parent desperately needing to speak with a child can easily call the school. The message will immediately be delivered and the student can then make the call outside of the classroom, thus creating a minimal disturbance

charged words
charged words
  • Charged words are words that have an “emotional” effect on the listener because of the connotations of the words

Denotation: the actual dictionary definition of the word

Connotation: the emotional aspect of a word

  • Connotations can be positive (excellent, joyous, freedom) or negative (horrid, hateful, prison)
  • Speakers choose their words carefully and use connotations to their advantage.

Example from Richard Nixon’s 1952 speech

But just let me say this last word. Regardless of what happens, I am going to continue this fight. I am going to campaign up and down America until we drive the crooks and the communists and those that defend them out of Washington, and remember, folks, Eisenhower is a great man, and a vote for Eisenhower is a vote for what is good for America.