Understanding Persuasion Strategies
Persuasion in rhetoric has been perceived as an art that involves linguistic tools and stylistic eloquence. Discuss the strategies of persuasion and the rhetorical tools that are used by successful public orators, and then apply the identified tools to a selected speech extract of 200 words to show their effectiveness.?
There isn’t much that can be achieved in the world without communication as it forms the basic foundation that governs the public and personal spheres amongst helping in mitigation of ideologies, believes and logic as well. However, communication exists in many forms far from the informal and formal set up. It exists in all sorts of environment and ultimately influences decision making. It’s therefore important to understand the most effective means of communication, with persuasion happening to be one of them. The art of mitigating, controlling and altering a believe, a remark or questionable word, phrase or statement to suit the speaker has and is still being used to date, to favor speakers in attaining their goals. Similarly, the art of delivering the said persuasion is also considered quite important as it largely influences, the audience’s attitude and behavior towards the spoken or written words, phrases or statements.
Being that it’s important for people to arrive at a common agreement in order for development to be actualized and realized, it’s therefore important to understand persuasion. Words, phrases have to be structured, arranged and delivered in a certain manner for them to deliver the message or thoughts as desired, and communicate in the expected manner. This is referred to as persuasion strategies. How factual and idealistic these thoughts may be is always a swaying reality existing in the form of persuasion (Burg, 2011).
How the message is delivered and through which form of delivery matters in determining the following cause of action. While the Greeks (Socrates) in ancient time found persuasion and rhetoric as a form of deceit especially in the delivery of justice, Romans disagreed (Rhys Roberts, 2008). They found the idea as a different form of well-constructed arguments that aided the final decision and helped the hearers judge the messages effectively (Ackrill, 1997).
In every cause of life from one form of existence (family, tribe, nation amongst other groups) to the next, every communication holds some sort of persuasion, being that human beings are social animals. One of the strategies is contrasting persuasion. This mostly occurs in a public sphere where there is competition for certain gains. Here, the audience is given the freedom of will and choice after presentation of information. It may be presented respectively or otherwise. In an optimistic manner, the speaker presents his or her information in humility and respect of the audience, while risking being viewed as a smug and a naïve person by the opposers and fellow proponents. On the other hand, the speaker can completely disregard the opinion of the audience and make his or her remarks in a rather proud, disrespectful and pessimistic way. This is mostly seen in political scenes where a speaker chooses to view the audience as rather ignorant and therefore finds his or her remarks necessary and much deserved in changing certain ideologies or opinions (German, 2010).
For persuasion to have an attachment to the targeted audience it can be presented in three forms or categories. Logos, Pathos or Ethos. Logos is the persuasion to an agreement using proved facts whereas pathos is the appeal to an audience based on emotional appeal. Ethos is the appeal to an audience using good reputation and a credible work ethic (Ackrill, 1997). The three can apply in different fields of life such as judicial systems, charitable works, sales, and marketing respectively. The three categories tend to be effective with the use of paralanguage which may exist in many forms of color, sounds, body language, tears, smiles and raised voices amongst many others. The balance between, arrangement, innovation and presentation determine the efficiency of a word, phrase or statement, used in a verbal or written statement (Zimmer, 2017).
In as much as persuasion exists in language, accompanying sounds and body movements otherwise known as paralanguage, also create emphasis on persuasion in the form of message delivery (Atkinson, 1984). Persuasion begins right at childbirth where the child expresses the need for different things involuntarily and invokes change in behavior and attitude. As he or she grows up, the expression of attention becomes more of a voluntary strategy and every action is done in order to manipulate, control or persuade. Paralanguage is used as a style of persuasion delivery (rhetoric) and is therefore regarded as a rhetorical tool (German, 2010).
Rhetorical tools enable right choices from words, phrases, images, icons, colors, organizational structures and tones, which assists in pulling the audience closer to the speakers. Their ease of use depend on the message and the audience receiving it. This is often regarded to as availability of means. It can be word choices, grammatical sentence structure, organization of content, use of punctuation, constancy, color schemes and format of the document amongst others. These affect the tone of the message, which directly affects the confidence of the speaker (Ackrill, 1997).
Some of the rhetorical tools or devices used in persuasion include invention. It’s the creation of an idea brought about by a communication problem on most occasions. It can be used in advertisement and public relations amongst others like in the pitching of ideas to investors. Another common tool used is arrangement. It’s important to organize information in such a way that there is ease transference of information, to the audience. Therefore, punctuation is an important aspect of setting tone to a speech (Atkinson, 1984).
Another important tool is style. It reflects the speaker’s personality and also the audience’s perception of a message. Rhetorical tools can be presented in various useful yet different styles among them being rhetorical questions. These are described as the questions that need no answer from an audience as the speaker asks and answers his or her own questions. This is used to draw the audience’s attention to the subject of discussion and before they can draw in opinions on the matter, the speaker answers the question so as not to have his or message deterred (German, 2010).
Voluntary strategic expression of persuasion diversifies, from infancy to different cultures and language setups, among them being intimate set-ups, social gatherings, political rallies, advertisements amongst other public relations in a bid to change the behavior and attitude of the hearers. These environments require more tools tailored to suit a certain audience. Some of them include rhetorical triplets, which are used so as to draw a climax to a speech. Rhetorical triplets being the use of repetitive words at the beginning of three consecutive sentences, highlights on a subject, a word of meaning, or a phrase that is critical to the message delivered. In some situation especially in advertising where there is need to constantly remind the audience of a message severally, wholesale repetition is used. This is the art of constant reputation of messages and images, so as not to have the audience forget about the intended message.
It’s important that the speaker remembers his or her speech so as to avoid reciting the message to an audience as that can spoil the audience’s perception of the message and the speaker’s credibility as well. Not as many people are interested in lifeless speeches that sound like manuals. A good speech is enabled by good research and passion in the subject of discussion. Lastly, delivery is dire in every communication as it leaves a lasting impression of the speakers and dictates, the grandness or plainness of a message (Zimmer, 2017).
Another form of persuasion is the self-presentation persuasion. It’s often referred to as contemporary persuasion. This is a strategy mostly used in public relations so as to create favor for employers to both their employees and consumers. It dwells on the economy of an organization and also public policy-making, and thus information is creatively formatted, so as to reach to the target audience and the facts can, therefore, be rather unclear and lacking logic. They hold no room for audience response or arguments, and the focus is placed solely on the holders of information (Burg, 2011).
The Role of Paralanguage in Persuasion
Synthetic personalization is also used to create an environment of false friendliness so as to pull an audience closer to the speaker. This style is also used in public relations, both in a public and personal environment. With the use of paralanguage like properly timed smiles, tears and proper arrangement of words in a conversation, the audience can be persuaded to agree to a presented ideology or opinion.
It’s of importance to note that in as much as persuasion seems to be in much need in a public environment, it’s also so from a personal sphere as well. However, the types of dialogue used are quite different. In a personal environment, the dialogue tends to be intimate, informal and of dialogic nature. A public environment tends to hold a planned, formal and monologic conversation. More to these, other important strategies of persuasion include a speaker’s competency to the topic of discussion and his or her dynamism in the expression of the topic. This can be achieved by incorporating different rhetorical tools such as charisma. There is also a lot of time, expertise, and energy invested into the speeches (Rhys Roberts, 2008).
Persuasion has always been a subject of contention since ancient times. It has been a subject of great division as it crosses both legal and social norms. However, it is undeniably present in every conservation, be it public, intimate, formal or informal. It’s used for different intentions and its effectiveness can only be dictated by the strategies adopted, the styles incorporated and the method of delivery. Therefore, the skillfulness, correctness, clarity, quality eloquence, preparedness, ornateness and the grandness or plainness of a message, can determine the perception to which the message is received by the audience.
“It’s funny that as I woke up today in the morning, the thought of how beautiful the sunrise is crossed my mind. Truth is, I have seen the sunrise before but I just never looked at it like I did today. It got me thinking of just how cool nature really is. There is the sun, moon, stars, rain, snow and all these other beauties to behold. We are a beauty. The animals are also a beauty as well. We wake up thriving to make our careers beautiful so that others and ourselves may like our ideas and want to give them a chance. We try to make our children a beauty so that they can grow up and spread their beauty to the world as well. We try to make everything around us a beauty, so as to keep staring at it, that we never have to tire of the world as we grow old besides our loved ones. Truth is, all we have ever done, do or are going to do is an attempt to create beauty that lasts long enough for the current and future generation. So let’s not tire now. Let’s not tire of cleaning the streets. Let’s not tire to plant more trees where some have fallen and let’s not tire to invest heavily on green energy. Let’s not tire of reducing plastic garbage and toxic chemicals in a bid to reduce the carbon footprint and let’s not tire of creating beauty for we all need it now and in the future. We are a beauty and so is the world we live in. Understand it, admire it and never forget to protect it. We owe it to Mother Nature to preserve her beauty just as she preserves ours, through life and nourishment”.
Ackrill, J., 1997. Essays on Plato and Aristotle. 1st ed. USA: Oxford University Press.
Atkinson, M., 1984. Our Masters' Voices. 1st (October 19,1984) ed. london: Routledge.
Burg, B., 2011. The Art of Persuasion. 1st ed. Shippensburg, PA: Sound Wisdom.
German, K., 2010. Principles of Public Speaking. 17th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Rhys Roberts, W., 2008. Aristostle the Art of Persuasion. 1st ed. New Jersey: Megaphone e-books.
Zimmer, J., 2017. Spice Up Your Speeches with These 3 Rhetorical Devices. Presentation Guru, 1(Built Real Impact), p. 1.
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