PART 2: Arrangement | A series about Rhetoric – Five PARTS explained.

Remember ethos, logos and pathos? And how do you continue after having completed the first part of rhetoric? Well, you will start by arranging your arguments by creating an introduction, main part and a conclusion – just like you normally would. The main part then contains the storyline or narrative in which you present your arguments. It may be useful to first rank them in terms of strength, so clearly state what your strongest and weakest arguments are, and everything in between.

The next step would be to select rhetorical figures that will help diminish or enlarge your arguments in a way that suits its purpose best. Leith (2011) proposes an old-school, commonly used ‘ad herennium’ structure for speeches; one that is also commonly used when writing essays. This structure dates back to Aristotle’s time, which consists of six parts, which are the following.

  1. Exordium – Present your ‘ethos’ appeal in the attempt to engage and captivate your audience immediately to be able to persuade them more easily. Leith (2011) explains in his book that the original handbook ‘ad Herennium’ contains four ways to go about it. Here, I’ll quote his quote: ‘[w]e can by four methods make our hearers well-disposed: by discussing our own person, the person of our adversaries, that of our hearers, and the facts themselves’ (2011, p. 84).
  2. Narration – Set the stage for your arguments when introducing your talk. Here, the question words come into play, like ‘who, what, when and where’. Moreover, it should be ‘short and sweet’, so brief and pleasant or relevant (Oxford dictionary, 2020). Here you can present definitions, and spin and frame all you want. More on the topic of ‘framing’ later. If you are discussing complex matters, then it can be useful to strategically ‘dumb it down’ a little by only presenting two options, while more could actually be possible. Use ‘either [..] or […]’ for this purpose. The upside of framing this part of your talk well is that you might be able to favourably influence how it is perceived and might make your talk stronger in terms of argumentation later in the game.
  3. Division – State the points of agreement, followed by points that are at issue. According to Leith (2011), it would be a good idea to limit the points discussed here to three and avoid discussing more or fewer points than introduced because it may make things fuzzy and may diminish the persuasive and communicative effect of your speech.
  4. Proof – Focus on ‘logos’ and make your case, truthfully and use common sense and try to connect with your audience by appealing to common beliefs and shared values.
  5. Refutation – You can either refute the arguments truthfully or do it strategically by drawing ‘false comparisons’ between what your opponent has said and concepts to persuade your audience to see things in a more negative light to get them on your side. More specifically, depending on how well you have done so far, you can decide to misrepresent what your opponent has said, or even mix it up by changing the order in which proof and refutation are presented. It would naturally be possible that your audience sees what you are doing and may indirectly or directly call you on it afterwards. In this fifth part, you can use framing, too. More on that topic later.
  6. Peroration – Use rhetorical figures for repetition, for example. This is where there is room for ‘pathos’ and style. Perhaps, for this reason, Leith (2011) calls this the part where speakers ‘can really have fun (p. 104)’.

In conclusion, make sure to end strong when you conclude your talk. Following this structure while preparing for talks will help you determine and analyze your arguments, and allows you to carefully choose your rhetorical figures setting you up for success.


Leith, S. (2011) You talking to me? Rhetoric from Aristotle to Obama. Profile books. ISBN: 978-1846683169


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