December 2, 2017

Books for Speakers: Rhetoric & Persuasion

Speaker's Bookshelf , Instruction , Seen|Read|Heard

A favorite question in every class we lead is this: What public speaking books do you suggest we read? Our shelves are loaded with choices. Every month we'll be featuring a pick from new books we've come across and old favorites we go back to again and again.


Thank You for Arguing:
What Aristotle, Lincoln, and Homer Simpson Can Teach Us about the Art of Persuasion

By Jay Heinrichs

If you wish you knew more about rhetoric--say, how to create and set loose chiasmus whenever you darn well please--this could be the book for you.

As you might guess from the title, Thank You for Arguing delivers lots of information using a playful tone. When we picked it up at our local independent bookstore a couple of years ago, we planned to read it cover to cover.

Instead, we find ourselves flipping it open and reading a random chapter and chuckling.

For example in Chapter 8, Heinrich takes up Cicero's tactic to "hype your objectivity" with this explanation: 

Seem to deal reluctantly with something you are really eager to prove.

This is what Hamilton and Madison did in The Federalists. It also works for a teenager who want so borrow his father's car.

Kid: You know, I'd just as soon walk my date to the movie. But her dad says no.

Father: So you want to borrow my car.

Kid: No, I want you to call her father. Tell him I can protect her against assailants, and I'll have a cell phone in case she's hit by a car.

No doubt, you are already using the techniques. Thank You for Arguing helps you recognize what you're doing--and what others are doing to you--and put a proper name on it. Because of the fun-loving approach, the lessons are almost painless, no doubt, another rhetorical ploy for which we have yet to learn a name. 

Share this article