I am all about good communication skills. For my regular posting schedule, I use a 5-week schedule by counting the number of Wednesdays in the month. May had five so this is number five, and I consider different topics for each of the five weeks. Here are my weekly topics.
Week One: Rhetoric
In this week’s post I bring up topics ranging from theories of rhetoric to logic to figures of speech. For example, we falsely assume because one person of a certain group behaves in a certain way, they all behave that way, not only an error in logic but a potential insult to others. I might also discuss figures of speech like the power of metaphors and the emphasis of parallel structure. We all use rhetoric in some way, and these topics help create a working knowledge of clear thinking and create more accurate communication.
Week Two: Words, Sentences, Syntax
Words have meaning. We need a common vocabulary not only to communicate our ideas but to avoid a tower of Babel (Bible: Genesis 11) society in which we fail to build communities because we have no unified way to talk. Though some perverse schools of thought believe that words are tools of oppression and power, considering our innate need to communicate and build communities words are appropriate devices. Words are not oppressive; they build connections with one another. We’ll talk about how we string words together in sentences to form complete thoughts, and we’ll clarify how best to construct them. Contrary to many English departments in higher education, we still need correct grammar to write effectively.
Week Three: Quotes, Speeches, Great Letters in History
There aren’t many better ways to understand great ideas and how to construct them than by reading masterful speeches and great letters from history. Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, and former slave Frederick Douglas not only spoke words of great wisdom but also provided models of how to construct great speeches. Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address is a masterful reflection on the Civil War. Martin Luther King, Jr. only spoke for about twenty-three minutes but gave us a memorable picture of his dream for equality based on character, the “I Have a Dream” speech. I’ll also throw in memorable quotes and ask you to give reasons why you agree or disagree. (Hint: logic discussed in week one may help.)
Week Four: The Ancients
It may come as a surprise that many of our significant ideas on public speaking were first delineated by ancient Greeks, Romans, and others. In this fourth week of posts we’ll look at various aspects of Aristotle, Cicero, Quintilian and others. Aristotle’s three pillars of public speaking—logos, ethos, and pathos—still provide a good foundation for persuasion. What sounds like an exercise in academic theory will surprise you. Some old ideas are still good.
Week Five: Miscellaneous
When there is a fifth Wednesday of the month, topics can range from book reviews to current events and even to requests for topics from my readers. It won’t be entirely a no-holds-barred approach, but I’ll try to provide some interesting tidbits of information not covered in previous posts.
I’ll do my best to make all weeks relevant and interesting not just academic and sterile exercises. I believe our ability to communicate clearly and to have good conversations has been stymied by the internet, texting, and insufficient education. Now with Chatbots on the rise, using our innate abilities is more important than ever. Writing and thinking clearly are still some of the most important skills we need in our personal as well as our professional life. Be prepared to give your brain a tune-up!
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© 2023 Robert T. Weber and Words Done Right LLC