Rhetorical Devices & Presentation Success

April 8, 2019

The craft of rhetoric can enhance a presentation's success through audience engagement, information retention, and more. Many of today's best addresses, from political speeches to awards ceremonies, use these tools to capture an audience and convey a message. To best utilize this tool in your presentation, take a look at a few of our favorite strategies and see which best melts with your subject:



Aporia: A feigned statement of doubt by the speaker and a question to the audience about how he should act.

Example: ""How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." - Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Exclamatio: An exclamation that expresses the emotional affection of the speaker.

Example: "Yes, I will marry you!" - a naive bride in Las Vegas


Interrogatio: A rhetorical question in which the answer is self-evident.

Example: “Why wilt thou have pleasure in an harlot?" - Proverbs 5


Personification:  The attribution of human properties toward things or animals.

Example: "The worshipped sun peered forth." - Romeo and Juliet


Polysyndeton: Repetition of conjunctions in a series of coordinated words, phrases, or clauses.

Example: “Let the whitefolks have their money and power and segregation and sarcasm and big houses and schools and lawns like carpets, and books, and mostly–mostly–let them have their whiteness.” - Maya Angelou


Looking for more information on relevant presentation skills? Check out the Dog and Pony Show blog post on presentation lessons we can learn from Oprah Winfrey's 2013 Harvard Commencement Address!

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