Introduction to Rhetorical Strategies

Rhetoric, in the broadest sense of the word, is the art of communicating. Scholars from Ancient Greece until today have studied the finer points of rhetoric, and as laypeople, we employ rhetorical strategies in every interacting we have. Government agencies disseminating information to the public, advertising firms selling a product, friends deciding which movie to see, and parents explaining the wonders of the world to their children all engage rhetorical skills in different ways to effectively reach their audience.

For such an ancient subject, the methods and strategies of effective rhetoric remain largely the same. An understanding of the fundamentals of rhetoric is as helpful today as it was centuries ago. We improve our skills to communicate any message more effectively. In addition, we develop the ability to dissect and analyze the many messages all around us.

Why It Matters

The oil and gas industry operates in a complex global network of companies, governmental organizations, citizen groups and individual stakeholders, all with different goals, values and areas of expertise. In order for this network to function well, all these groups must communicate effectively with each other. And on the individual level, a successful network requires a firm grasp of rhetorical concepts and strategies. As representatives of all these groups attempt to understand and address each other’s needs and concerns, they must be able to adjust and tailor their use of language to the specific audience and situation. Good rhetorical skills will bring success to your professional development, as well as benefits to the ongoing dialogue about the future of energy and the place of oil and gas within our world.  

Learning Objectives

  • Learn to make persuasive arguments that appeal to logos, ethos and pathos
  • Evaluate writing for the right style and tone for the situation
  • Recognize and switch out synonyms as appropriate in describing situations

Images: “Typewriter” by Mike McKay licensed under CC BY 2.0