Introduction to the Canons of Rhetoric

In the Introduction to the Canons of Rhetoric, I was shown and explained five canons that come into play when producing a public speech. The video made me pause and think a few times in the past I may have overlooked each of these categories; invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. The way I used to prepare for public speeches was very unorganized and kind of going with the flow.

Ultimately, the video demonstrated alternative ways to hit a public speech right on the nail. The first canon was invention or in other words, the brainstorming of ideas. I believe this step is crucial when delivering any speech. In class, I constantly think of what I want to say on the material being discussed. The invention canon, can be useful and point a speaker towards topics they may want to talk about. The invention also includes developing a thesis which from past experiences I have failed to do.

The arrangement canon to me is parallel with the way to structure an ordinary English essay. The writer has all the information in front of him and her and can then decide in which order they wish to present or talk about the information.

Reflecting on past experiences the style canon seems to be the most important. The style of speech a speaker chooses to use can really make or break the whole essence of the speech. The style is made up of literary techniques to help the speaker keep their focus with the audience listening using techniques such as tropes and figures of speech to help back up information the speaker is saying. For me this is the most crucial.

The next canon, memory, is an area I have not had much experience in through out my academic years. Yes, I have had to memorize vocabulary and dates but not whole speeches. This canon made me come to the conclusion that through simple memorization techniques, the speaker can be confident with their subject at hand. Visual aids seemed to stick out the most in the video. I have used visual aids in the past to help me get through a speech or brief lesson. Also, the video talked about flash cards with phrases to re-jog your memory during a speech. I have to say I can agree with this technique but I also realized this may be a visual distraction for your audience while speaking to them.

The final canon is delivery. This also seemed to be more of a refresher rather than new material. From mistakes made and corrected I have come to realize in my sophomore of college that the tone of your voice can do a lot when speaking to your audience. The tone sets the mood and gives emotion to your words when speaking. Last but not least, hand and body movement in my opinion should left to a severe minimum. The audience should be focused on the words coming out of your mouth, not what your hands are doing. Although, the use of minimum hand movement can help you explain things more vividly to your audience.

Source: Introduction to the Canons of Rhetoric

2 thoughts on “Introduction to the Canons of Rhetoric

  1. I also mentioned the idea of having notes when doing your speech because it helps with remembering key points. I know that this works because I recently had to do a presentation and I prepared a list of points to assist me with the presentation. It helped me a lot, but because I’m so nervous whenever I present something, I messed up majority of the time.

  2. Another area of memory/preparation is timing out your speech in advance. I’ll be honest, I really dislike having to keep time while students speak; it distracts me from what I want to do, which is pay attention to the speech. You’re right that visuals can be distractions; it’s one thing to keep the attention of an audience, but if grab their attention but have nothing worthwhile to say, that’s a waste of everybody’s time.

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