Author Topic: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?  (Read 535 times)

Offline Daniel

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How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« on: August 04, 2020, 07:44:22 AM »
What's the quickest/easiest way to go about doing this? In particular, how to learn all the hand/body signs; how to use these signs while speaking without getting distracted; how to speak without being nervous; how to form coherent sentences while speaking; how to come up with truthful and coherent responses on the spot without thinking; etc.?

And how much of this is simply a matter of preparedness? I suppose if I had an amazing memory, I could just memorize exactly what I was going to say as well as all possible responses to all possible questions/objections. But I don't have a good memory. And I kind of doubt that that's what actual speakers are doing. Seems they are actually able to think on their feet and/or respond without thinking.
 

Offline Kent

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2020, 08:55:26 AM »
What's the quickest/easiest way to go about doing this? In particular, how to learn all the hand/body signs; how to use these signs while speaking without getting distracted; how to speak without being nervous; how to form coherent sentences while speaking; how to come up with truthful and coherent responses on the spot without thinking; etc.?

An organization like Toastmasters can help you develop a better theoretical understanding, as well as provide opportunities for practice.

Practice is most important. You're talking about human relations here. If you don't have practice with it, you won't be good at it.

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And how much of this is simply a matter of preparedness? I suppose if I had an amazing memory, I could just memorize exactly what I was going to say as well as all possible responses to all possible questions/objections. But I don't have a good memory. And I kind of doubt that that's what actual speakers are doing. Seems they are actually able to think on their feet and/or respond without thinking.

Well, you should know what you want to say. But you shouldn't memorize it. You'll appear scripted if you memorize sentences, paragraphs, etc., which is to say you'll come across as unnatural and remote.
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Offline Greg

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2020, 10:33:32 AM »
Thinking on your feet is a talent you are mostly born with.

It is very hard to develop in a general sense.

Most people can think on their feet when they know far more about a specific subject being discussed than those around them.  Confidence in your topic is one factor.  Confidence that comes from experience is another (you have been influential in the past).

I never prepare for meetings now.  I simply study the characters and background of the people I am meeting with and make an educated guess as to what will motivate them.  Then I wing it.  When you've got away with this 100 times you realise it is a waste of time to prepare, because meetings can go off at a tangent and you need to be able to control them wherever they go.

Any of us regular forum members talking the Catechism of the Catholic Church against 95% of pew-warming novus ordinites would wipe the floor with them.  They never study it.  I know because I once had to go to a compulsory baptism course with Fr. Faggot in order to get permission for a visiting priest to use the church to baptise my baby daughter.

He was completely clueless and he was a priest.  The other people there would have struggled to name more than 3 of the 10 commandments.
 
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Offline Graham

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2020, 11:16:06 PM »
In the last three presentations I made (to about 60 and 30 and 20 ppl) I prepared mostly visual slideshows and a few hardcopy notes in case I needed reminding of some central points. The act of thoughtfully preparing these materials (along with knowing the sunject) was enough for me to successfully extemporize and field questions for upwards of half an hour. Not reading from notes or going from an assiduously memorized script meant any witticisms were off the cuff, I made plenty of eye contact and people paid attention. If you had asked me 6 years ago whether I could do this without a bad case of nervousness (including visible hand shaking) I'd have said no way. I cannot even point to something that changed or some technique I practiced. I can only attribute it to becoming more sociable and aging into being a relatively competent man, so I think this is within the capabilities of almost anyone.
 
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Offline Greg

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2020, 02:34:05 AM »
Most people will never try.  People don't try at stuff they believe they will never improve at.

I fix my dishwashers and cars because I know I can.  Most people believe fixing it is beyond them.  It is true that they will be less capable on the first task than the 11th or 99th.

Confidence comes from doing, winning, succeeding, lack of fear, not letting fear overwhelm you.
 
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Offline Alnitak

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2020, 07:24:02 AM »
Slowly reading through Aristotle's Topics, especially book 8 and probably excluding book 1 (which has some weightier philosophy), would help. The Topics were designed to be memorable ways of making arguments. His Rhetoric should definitely be read to understand the theory of making speeches.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2020, 07:25:51 AM by Alnitak »
 
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Offline Graham

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2020, 08:11:53 AM »
Slowly reading through Aristotle's Topics, especially book 8 and probably excluding book 1 (which has some weightier philosophy), would help. The Topics were designed to be memorable ways of making arguments. His Rhetoric should definitely be read to understand the theory of making speeches.

What I think the OP needs to hear is that if he wants to be good at this he should practice it, not necessarily read more about it, which means socializing more frequently and volunteering for or creating circumstances where he will have to give speeches (lile the toastmasters suggestion)
 
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Offline Heinrich

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2020, 11:42:52 AM »
Mimesis, friend. Mimesis.

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Offline Daniel

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2020, 05:11:55 PM »
Ok, thanks everyone. I think I'll check out Toastmasters. (And probably read some Aristotle too... theory can't hurt... practice doesn't help much if you don't know what you're doing to begin with...)
 
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Offline james03

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #9 on: August 19, 2020, 11:15:58 AM »
Quote
how to learn all the hand/body signs; how to use these signs while speaking without getting distracted; how to speak without being nervous; how to form coherent sentences while speaking; how to come up with truthful and coherent responses on the spot without thinking; etc.?

Are you talking about formal presentations or day-to-day interactions, like at work or whatever?

In the past, men took care of this.  The problem is pride.  So a greenhorn would start work at an all-male work place and the men would stomp out any pride the green horn had.  Once he was humble, he wouldn't be nervous anymore.  Since women have invaded everywhere, that is a lot harder to find.

So you need practice.  I recommend joining a meet-up club (like fishing), where you are a complete noob, and practice humility.  In other situations push yourself to talk to strangers.  Also, watch what other people are doing.  If you are starting out, it is better to listen than talk, but practice talking some.  I don't know much about Toastmasters, but that sound promising.

1.  Learn humility to lose the fear.
2.  Practice.
3.  Practice some more.  This builds confidence.
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Offline Jacob

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Re: How does one learn rhetoric/eloquence?
« Reply #10 on: August 19, 2020, 08:55:32 PM »
Back in high school, I ended up on the debate team.  The formal debates were pretty structured in format, not a lot of thought there as far as formulating a speech for public consumption.

But sometimes the debate tournaments I went to had individual events the night before, one being extemporaneous speaking.  Participants would draw at random a topic.  They'd go back to their team's box of material and look for clippings on their subject.  After a half hour, they'd to a room with several judges and speak for several minutes on the topic.

That could be pretty harrowing if one drew a topic he didn't know anything about and the box didn't have anything on the subject.
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