Are you serious about becoming a better public speaker?  

Public Speaking has been around for thousands and thousands of years and today’s blog is based upon a system that was brought together and organized by the Roman Orator Cicero around 50 BC. It’s called the 5 Principles of the Art of Persuasion or, in Roman terms, The 5 Canons of Rhetoric.

I know, sounds a bit boring, right?




Today we are looking at the 5 Canons of Rhetoric: Invention,  Arrangement, Style,  Memory and  Delivery

Let’s look at the 5 principles first and then I will take you through how to use each one of them specifically to organize your speech in a more professional way.



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What is most important about this system is that even though it was written in ancient times, it’s still in use today and has played a central role in Western education in training orators, lawyers, counsellors, historians, statesmen and poets.

If you learn these 5 principles, you will become a better speaker. 

So, if that’s your goal, read on. 


1: Invention     .

Invention refers to coming up with or inventing a new idea to present in a speech.

Any good communication starts with having a good idea. The best way to develop your ideas is to simply start with a brain dump. What I do, is I grab a whole bunch of sticky notes and start writing ideas down on the sticky notes and place them on the wall. Don’t worry about judging them or organizing them just yet. Simply get all of your ideas written down, one idea per sticky note, and then place them all up on the wall. Make sure you include elements to support your main idea. For example, stories that can illustrate your idea more effectively, or statistics, or anecdotes, and anything that will help you illustrate or argue your main idea even better.


2: Arrangement 

Now, we are going to organize your ideas into a logical fashion. Once you have all your ideas placed on the wall, you need to determine which order they need to be in to deliver a smooth and flowing presentation. So, start by arranging your content pieces, images, stories, anecdotes and so forth to make your message clearer and more succinct. Our goal is to organize the content into a structure that flows really well and delivers maximum impact for your audience.


3:  Style 

Style refers to the choices you make that will impact your listener or audience. 

For example, one style may be delivering content in a formal conference type setting. If you have an audience that is completely comprised mostly of, say accountants, you may want to include some graphs and numbers so your style matches your audiences’ expectation and understanding of the topic. You may also need to consider your word choice, tone of voice, your speaking pace, visuals and other emotion-evoking style options. Make sure you know who your audience is and adjust the style according to their needs. 


4:  Memory      .

Memory in this context does not mean memorizing all of your speech word for word. There is nothing more nerve wracking than trying to memorize a script like an actor. Instead, what I mean regarding memory is how much knowledge and understanding you have gained from the actual research and preparation you have already done. The more you increase your knowledge on the subject and the more you research, the more you understand about your topic. This knowledge and understanding of your content are your insurance policy. The more you know about your topic, the better your presentation will be. See, if you can get the organizational structure working so well, the ideas seamlessly flow from one to the other and you no longer need to rely on your notes. Easy!


5:  Delivery      .

Delivery refers to how you actually present the message in person or on video for that matter. During a speech, we need to consider all aspects of the delivery including: eye contact, posture, gestures, facial expressions, pacing, articulation, the way you dress, with powerpoint or without, with hand held microphone or with a headset. Perhaps there is a stage, with a lectern, or perhaps not. Every situation will be different, so understanding where you are going to speak and what platform you will be speaking on will help you determine how you deliver your speech. The most important part of delivery is, of course, your rehearsal of the content BEFORE you deliver it in front of an audience. Make sure you practice your content at least a dozen or more times to get the content and flow into muscle memory before the actual delivery date. 

There you have it the five principles of persuasive speaking. 

Do not forget: Speak up. Speak out. Be ready to be heard because remember: YOUR VOICE MATTERS.