Persuade with 5 Canons of Rhetoric

When you want to get somebody to change an attitude, belief, value, or behavior — happens just about every day — you need to employ the art of persuasion.  A quote from a student of mine:

“Thus, to change a person’s view, their belief or their actions is to slide through their ears and into their skull and embed yourself into their brain.”

How does one do so?  Rhetoric, of course.  Since it has probably been some time since you studied the 5 canons of rhetoric, here is a short reminder.

1. Invention (inventio) is finding the means to argue your point.

2. Arrangement (dispositio) is the organization of your argument, such as the most common organization of problem/solution or lesser-used refutation.

3. Style (elocutio) is your choice of words and phrasing or how you put together your specific arguments.

4. Memory (memoria) is what you employ to help your audience remember what you tell them, such as repetition, catch phrases, and visuals.

5. Delivery (pronuntiato) is the non-verbal aspect of communication including voice volume and articulation along with facial expressions and gestures.

What I commonly see is that people will put significant effort into the first canon of invention, but very little effort in the remaining four.  It is easy to just come up with the reasons of why somebody should do as you suggest, but that is not enough.  If you employ all five principles, you will be much more effective at persuading others.  Why?  Because people on not just influenced by logic (logos), but also by pathos (emotion or passion) and ethos (credibility).

So the next time you want to persuade, remember there are 5 canons of rhetoric, and use them all.