My most favorite rhetorical technique is the antithesis. Ok, maybe repetition too. So – Antithesis – the sentence that has opposing thoughts/concepts/words, usually in a parallel structure, that make your audience THINK.
I use antithesis in all of my speeches and I discuss it when teaching public speaking in every context.
Today’s antithesis of the day, from Thomas Jefferson: “If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.” So, as we all know, I rarely post on my blog or facebook, well, because I’d rather be out speaking in public. But I am going to try to do better.
I’d lead a presentation with this quote as follows: “Thomas Jefferson once said, ‘If you want something you’ve never had, you have to do something you’ve never done.’ [pause/eye contact with the audience] Let’s think about that for a few moments…[pause/eye contact] What is something you’ve wanted, but have never had? [pause] What is that thing? Is it a feeling, an object, a city you want to go to? What is one thing that is on your bucket list? [pause]
Today I am going to talk about the value, [very very short pause], the benefit… [pause], the wonder [emphasize wonder], of doing something you’ve never done before. And maybe, just maybe, during our time together today, you’ll think about how doing something you’ve never done might lead you to accomplish something you’ve always wanted to do. [pause].
So let’s get started. There are three things we’ll look at today to accomplish that task…. they are… ”
And that is how I’d use that quote.
I had to think about how I would use it for a good 20 minutes or so – even as an expert in public speaking you still have to think about how you can use a quote. Normally I start with my subject matter and then find the quote, but today I decided to start with the quote, because Alexa give me a quote every morning. Yes, I am a quote geek. In this example, I included some of the delivery techniques I would use, such as pausing and eye contact, so you can see how to deliver the intro, not just what can go into it.
So – I don’t expect a response to this question, since I’ve posted maybe one or two times in the past few years, but I’ll ask it anyway. What OTHER rhetorical techniques did I use in this opening. Repetition? If so, what types? There are many. What else? If you don’t know what type of rhetorical techniques are available to you as a speaker, you can look it up on my blog, read it in my book, or simply go to AmericanRhetoric.com – which is arguable the best speech and rhetorical technique site that exists on the internet.
Happy thinking! If you want to take the time to read, think and respond to this one, use an antithesis (one of your own or not) and say how you’d use it when beginning a presentation. If not, that’s ok. I hope to do more and maybe you’ll respond when you have time in the future.