August 21, 2015 fm

The Easiest And Most Difficult Rhetorical Device

A speaker’s life could be so easy. You could follow Craig Valentine’s advice and enter the re-living room. You could re-live moments in the past. You could re-live moments of happiness, moments of love, moments of despair, moments of defeat, moments of rain, moments of snow, moments of smell and sound and taste and touch.

Your life as a speaker could be so easy. But – do we follow the easy path?

I learned that for most of us the easiest and most difficult rhetorical device is the device exemplum. Exemplum is a figure of amplification using an example, brief or extended, real or fictitious, to illustrate a point.

Instead of taking advantage of exemplum, far too often I listen to speakers who only talk generically. It all stays general.

  • I had a good childhood.
  • I like my job.
  • We should be more active in sales.
  • I loved staying at my grandma’s. 
  • And then I went to study in the UK. 

This is how most of us talk. Generic, general, trash bin.

Do we illustrate our point, when we speak generically? Do we help our audience to visualize our point, hence make it more memorable for them?

Take the statements from above. How would they sound, if you used exemplum to illustrate your point?

  • My childhood was great. I remember playing hide-and-seek on the “pirate’s island” every afternoon. That was freedom.
  • I used to do boring administrative stuff only. Now I’m in charge of blowing new life into our corporate culture. I love my job.
  • Let’s be more active in sales. Let’s do 100 cold calls each one of us by the end of the week.
  • I still remember the smell of the freshly baked Sacher torte made by my grandma. I loved being with her. 
  • And then I left the paella behind and started to study with fish and chips and burgers. I even ate tons of beer in the UK. 

Stop speaking generically and generally; start to use exemplum in your everyday communication. And you know what will happen?

Suddenly your speaker’s life will be so much easier.

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