Week three

Workbook activities

Rhetoric argument


Review of rhetoric argument

The video In Defense of Rhetoric: No Longer Just for Liars (2011) discusses the term rhetoric and defends its use in modern society.

ClemsonEnglish (2011) explains the term rhetoric as ‘the study of the technique of using language effectively’ and describes its use as an ancient art which has survived as an academic discipline in the modern university. Rhetoric speech is used is used as an advantage in political speech and one of its great users is Barack Obama.

Another term explains rhetoric as breaking down components of language and argument and how to persuade and make arguments (2011). This is done by using facts and knowledge that produces true data. When explaining how rhetoric works, a good argument ClemsonEnglish brings up is that as communication methods evolve to fit new media, university students are challenged to communicate effectively in the fast paced global village.  This is an accurate representation of how communications students or professional communicators can become overwhelmed by the amount of communication methods available.

Epistemic rhetoric is also discussed as a means of adjudication between knowledge of claims (2011). This is good point as it highlights the need for rhetoric when acquiring knowledge and facts for an argument.


Summary of ‘Rhetoric by Aristotle’ (Aristotle 350 BCE)

Book 1


Rhetorical study is concerned with modes of persuasion.  Likened to a demonstration, since we are most fully persuaded when consider things to have been demonstrated. The orator’s demonstration is an enthymeme which is the most effective mode of persuasion. Enthymeme is a sort of syllogism which is the business of dialectic.

Rhetoric not just to succeed in persuading but able to arrive as near as possible to success as each situation allows.

Rhetoric speech persuasion:

  • Achieved by speaker’s personal credible character
  • When speech stirs emotions
  • When a truth has been proven through persuasion

How rhetoric is useful:

  • Things that are true and things are just have a natural tendency to prevails over their opposites.
  • An argument based on knowledge implies instruction but not everyone is able to take instructions.  Therefore, we must use our modes of persuasion and argument to instruct.
  • We must be able to employ persuasion on opposite sides of a question to see what the facts are and can confute unfair arguments.
  • No other art draws opposite conclusions: dialectic and rhetoric alone do this.
  • Man should be able to defend himself with speech and reason.
  • Rhetoric can see man confer great benefits by a right use but also inflict injury by using it wrongly.

Dialectic in speech

Dialectic – The art or practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments (The Free Dictionary 2016).

Rhetoric is the counterpart of dialectic. Whether to defend or attack others, at random or through practice, the subject can plainly be handled systematically, for it is possible to inquire the reason why some speakers succeed through practice and others spontaneously. It is the function of an art.

Neither rhetoric nor dialectic is the scientific study of any one separate subject: both are faculties for providing arguments. This is perhaps a sufficient account of their scope and of how they are related to each other. certain propositions being true, a further and quite distinct proposition must also be true in consequence, whether invariably or usually, this is called syllogism in dialectic, enthymeme in rhetoric.

Syllogism in speech

Syllogism – Reasoning from the general to the specific (The Free Dictionary 2016)

Every one who proves anything at all is bound to use either syllogisms or inductions. Dialectic does not construct its syllogisms out of any haphazard materials but out of materials that call for discussion.  It is possible to form syllogisms and draw conclusions from the results of previous syllogisms.

Enthymeme in speech

Enthymeme -A syllogism in which one of the premises or the conclusion is not stated explicitly (The Free Dictionary 2016)

Speeches that rely on examples are as persuasive as the other kind, but those which rely on enthymemes excite the louder applause. The enthymeme and the example must deal with what is in the main contingent, the example being an induction, and the enthymeme a syllogism, about such matters. In speech, the materials of enthymemese are probabilities and signs, which must correspond respectively with the propositions that generally and those that necessarily true.

Example: where there’s smoke, there’s fire. The hidden premise: The smoke causes fire. (Literary Devices 2016)

Every one who effects persuasion through proof does in fact use either enthymemes or examples: there is no other way.  The difference between example and enthymeme is made plain by the passages in the topics where induction and syllogism have already been discussed.

Book 2

How character, emotions and frame of mind effects speech

An orator’s character is important in political speech and he should always be in the right frame of mind. Three character attributes inspire confidence for an orator: good sense, good moral character and goodwill.  If a speech is adapted and reflected to an orator’s character, audience’s react well.

Emotions that effect an orator are: anger, calmness, friendship and enmity, fear, shame, kindness, pity, indignation and envy, emulation.

Persuasive argument 

A persuasive argument is often driven and connected to emotions and the use of persuasive speech leads an audience to decisions.  All orators us a topic and try to argue something that has happened or will happen in the future. Possibility of the future is particularly associated with political speech. ‘Fables’ are often used to quote the past and orators often use them in political speech to explain what will happen in the future. When using examples for persuasive speech, using a number of examples in the beginning and just one at the end will be sufficient.

Maxims in speech

A maxim is a statement used in argument for speech and generally used by those with considerable experience.  There are four kinds of maxims. Maxims produce a general declaration of moral principles and the orator will be seen as a man of moral character.

Refutes in argumentative speech

Refutes are used to argue an opponents by noting contrast or contradictions where it may be applicable. They can used by a counter-syllogism or by bringing an objection. Objections can raised in four ways: attacking an opponent’s statement, putting forward another statement, putting forward a statement contrary to it or quoting previous decisions.

Book 3




Aristotle 350 BCE (translation by  w. Rhys Roberts). Rhetoric, ebook, Classics MIT, Internet Classics Archive, viewed 16 March, 2016 http://classics.mit.edu//Aristotle/rhetoric.html

ClemsonEnglish 2011, ‘In defense of rhetoric video’, YouTube, viewed 24 March 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYMUCz9bHAs&feature=youtu.be&hd=1

Literary Devices 2016,’ Literary devices – enthymeme’, Literary Devices, viewed 31 March 2016, http://literarydevices.net/enthymeme/

The Free Dictionery 2016, ‘The free dictionary – dialectic’, The Free Dictionary, viewed 28 March 2016, http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dialectic.










Week two

Optional activities

Joy Damousi – ‘There is nothing wrong with Australian speech’

Unaware of the concerns ABC radio held regarding their broadcast speech during the 1940s, I found it interesting to read the arguments of Australian speech on our radio.  Mitchell (Damousi, 2016) argued for tolerance when confronted with differences of language and accent . ‘Question a man’s pronunciation of a word and you may touch him as nearly as if you doubted his moral integrity. Differences in political opinion are often more readily tolerated than differences in pronunciation’ (Damousi, 2016). Mitchell wanted all types of Australian speech to be accepted and discouraged the accent prejudice that existed in England. However, others expressed opinions in favour of the traditional English accent. ‘National arrogance and conceit can go no further than to claim that an untrained Australian voice is superior to that which results from study and hard work…Please do not degrade the cultural level of ABC announcers (Damousi, 2016).’ Clearly, during this time, there were still those who still held our Sovereign State in a higher regard than our own.

‘Convict creations’ critical review

In general, I found this article to be interesting but, in some parts, quite ridiculous.  The discussion on diminutives regarding how Australians use a shortened form of a particular word, ie. arvo for afternoon, was baseless. The author suggests that perhaps an explanation for their (diminutives) creation in Australia is that they harmonise many of the sharper English words with the smoother Aboriginal words that are common in the place naming of rural Australia, ie. Ulladulla or coolabah (2016). I don’t agree and feel diminutives reflect our laid back and casual culture.

Nick Vujicic reflection

Fletcher Dean (2011) suggests that the five steps to being a successful speech writer are: begin by focusing on the audience, solve the audience’s needs, give your speech structure, don’t rely on PowerPoint presentations and to add style to your speech. Nick Vujicic has a vibrant speech style and is well received by his audience. Vujicic (2011) opens his speech enthusiastically by asking the audience with “How you doing? You all fine? Nice to see you!” With this approach he instantly engages with the audience.  Secondly, Dean (2011) suggests to solve the audience’s needs. In Vujicic’s case, his appearance may intrigue the students so he very quickly jumps to the obvious: his wheelchair and the fact he was born without limbs. He gives a detailed description of his wheelchair and shows what he can do with foot and puts the audience at ease. He also doesn’t rely on PowerPoint or any other form of presentation to aid his speech, he maintains the audience’s attention at all times through his speech style.  Lastly, Vujicic has a charismatic and original character.  He is able to convey his message through speech by being real and approachable to the students.

Race speeches

The speeches by President Barack Obama and Dr Martin Luther King were both regarding race discrimination to African American people but they were delivered in completely context.  Obama speaks with a very sympathetic and subdued voice to create a mood and draw in his audience. Whereas King speaks with an inspirational and almost theatrical voice to keep his audience’s attention.  Obama is subjective in his views on racism and doesn’t directly blame or place the responsibility of racism on anyone. However, King gives detailed facts of racism in different states of America and the effects of it.  Both do give parts of their speech structure by giving timelines of events and evidence of racism.  I found Obama’s speech to very personal for himself as he mentions his own personal experiences of racism.  I felt King was speaking more about the African American community and binding together as a unit rather than focus on himself at any point.  Both also clearly emphasis certain words to get their point across. For Obama it was racism, laws and me. King emphasised racism, together and freedom.

In my personal opinion, I found Obama’s speech to be more effective in receiving his intended message of racism in America. His subdued voice, evidence of personal experiences, advice on potential changes and how he ends his speech on a positive note to be more engaging.

35 greatest speeches

Of the 35, I had heard of all but 11.  After reading samples of the speeches, I personally liked Winston Churchill’s defiant style, Ronald Reagan’s honesty and compassion and William Faulkner’s optimism.

Educating Yorkshire

I have seen Musharraf on another program which detailed the struggles and treatment of people with stammers.  It was emotional to watch not just Musharraf but others who have struggled all their lives or after an incident that caused their speech impediment.  I can personally relate with this video and these people as I have a 4 year old daughter who is overcoming a stammer.  Even though she is confident and has a great vocabulary, it is heartbreaking to see her struggle with her speech. We have gone through speech therapy and continue to work with her to help her overcome her impediment.


Workbook Activities

Definition of professional voice

In my opinion, professional voice is defined by how an individual tactfully delivers their speech in context, more so than content. A professional voice can turn the most mundane topic in to an enthralling speech that engages an audience and maintains their attention.   Great speakers such as Barack Obama and Martin Luther King are and were great speakers of their time.  Both have great presence and possess a charismatic speech style that accentuates their professional voice. Obama’s professional voice can be compared to lyrics. Liberman (2008) explains there’s a certain amount of repetition — the ‘Yes We Can’ theme — that allows this kind of weaving of vocal lines. But if that’s right, then what’s really musical about that speech was not so much its delivery, but its composition. It was written like a song, but not performed like a song. King’s professional voice was inspirational and theatrical.He engages his audience with movement, raises and lowers his voice and it flows like a performance. Both Obama and King, as orators, possessed a professional voice that successfully delivered powerful messages.

What makes a great speech?

A great speech can make or break an orator. In times of crisis and catastrophe, a great speech can unit a nation. I agree with Dean (2012) who describes five steps to a successful speech; begin by focusing on the audience, solve the audience’s needs, give the speech structure, don’t rely on PowerPoint presentations and add style to the speech. These steps are followed by many, including Barack Obama. Obama is one of the great orators of our time. Greene (2011) explains that he uses all “4 Languages” of human communication to deliver his best speeches.  He has the ability to excite an audience with energy, (“Visual Language”), give them a compelling story line to follow (“Auditory Language”), rest their anxieties as you show an unshakable grasp of the facts, details and nuances, (“Auditory Digital Language”) and, most importantly, to connect with, touch, move and inspire one’s audience, (“Kinesthetic Language”) (2011).

Record emphasis in professional news reading

During Kate Stowell’s recorded news script, I noticed that she often emphasised the first word of the paragraph but not always.  There wasn’t a consistent  pattern where Stowell emphasised words but in some places it was every 3 to 4 words. For example, the following indicates the words which were emphasised:

“Australia finally has a Federal government after seventeen days of negotiations with the three independent regional MPs. Labor will continue to govern the nation for the next three years after two of the three independents agreed to support a Labor government”.

Stowell would emphasis the first names of the politicians mentions and her tone would decrease towards the end of the paragraph.

In comparison, my recorded news script did not have as consistent rhythm and pattern. In some places I did emphasis important words, such as “govern” and “best interests”. Also, similar to Stowell, I emphasised the first word of the paragraph and first names of the politicians. Probably the most apparent feature I was lacking was a strong speech voice like Stowell.



Dean, F. 2012, ‘5 steps to a successful speech’, Speechwriting 2.0, [blog],viewed 15 March 2016, http://thespeechwriter.typepad.com/onspeechwriting/2011/12/5-steps-to-asuccessful-speech-part-1.html

Frenkel. D 2011, ‘Public speaking 101: A lesson in leadership from Obama’, The Drum, viewed 18 March 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-16/frenkel-public-speaking-101-a-lesson-in-leadership-from-obama/3674660

Greene R. 2011, ‘Obama is America’s third greatest presidential orator in modern era’, Huffpost Politics,viewed 18 March 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-greene/obama-is-americas-3rd-gre_b_813868.html

Liberman M. 2008, ‘What makes Obama a good speaker’, Observer: News and PoliticsFarrar Strauss and Giroux, New York, viewed 17/03/16, https://penusa.org/sites/default/files/didion.pdf