Slidegenius, Inc.

Canons of Rhetoric: Applying Invention to Presentations

May 21, 2015 / Blog classical rhetoric, five canons of rhetoric, invention, presentation skills, public speaking, Rick Enrico, SlideGenius, speech skills

Every presenter aims to craft a powerful speech that leaves the audience with lasting impact.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Get hundreds of PowerPoint slides for free.

Sign up for your free account today.

Sign Up now

The ancient Greeks and Romans were at the forefront of developing such effective speeches. Today, we’ve picked one canon of classical rhetoric to discuss how it can become the backbone of your presentation.

The History of Rhetorical Knowledge

Although the Ancient Egyptians were renowned orators, the Greeks were the first civilization to codify public speaking into what is now known as Rhetoric. It was the great philosopher, Aristotle, who introduced the basics of rhetorical knowledge. Speakers from Rome further developed the idea with further studies, which gave rise for the Five Canons of Rhetoric.

These phases were: invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery, these canons serve as principal outlines for designing a persuasive speech.

Let’s focus on the rhetoric of invention.

What about Invention?

Roman scholars Cicero and Quintilian described invention as the process of developing and refining your argument. In the twentieth century, researchers reinvented it, considering it the most crucial process since it sets your message’s direction.

Does science come to mind when you see the word “invention?” This canon is a presentation science that you can use for smoother speeches.

Invention controls the whole idea of your main discussion. It lets you classify your key points so you can deliver the right spin required for each idea.

Doing research streamlines your thoughts automatically.

Applying Invention

When planning your persuasive piece, the invention phase is the start of your main idea. It’s like devising a new gadget where you need to collate facts and perform research collectively.

We’ve listed a few of Aristotle’s rhetorical topics to help you form your arguments:


Comparison comes after you’ve identified a specific issue to discuss. This is the stage where you can use playful language. Get the message across by using figures of speech like metaphors, similes, and even analogy.

Cause and Effect

The cause and effect relationship has been around for decades. Use this to establish a strong stand for your arguments, while also persuading your listeners to accept the whole idea.


The great thing about circumstance is that lets your audience determine what’s possible and impossible. Complement your argument with a realistic appeal by drawing facts and testimonies from reliable sources.

The rhetorical canon of invention offers a great framework for organizing your thoughts. If applied correctly, you’ll have fewer worries about delivering your speech with a more persuasive and effective lens.

Start your presentations right by mastering invention using the rhetorical way.

SlideGenius Blog Module One

Download free PowerPoint templates now.

Get professionally designed PowerPoint slides weekly.

Sign Up Now


Cicero’s Classical Canons of Rhetoric: Their Relevance and Importance to the Corporate Workplace.” April 23, 2008. Accessed April 29, 2015.
How to Organize Your Ideas with a Presentation Storyboard.” SlideGenius, Inc. September 1, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2015.
Improve Your Presentations with the Power of the Metaphor.” SlideGenius, Inc. November 17, 2014. Accessed April 29, 2015.
Newbold, Curtis. “How the 5 Rhetorical Canons (Invention, Arrangement, Style, Memory, and Delivery) Will Make You More Persuasive.” The Visual Communication Guy. April 6, 2015. Accessed April 29, 2015.
McKay, Brett & Kate. “Classical Rhetoric 101: The Five Canons of Rhetoric – Invention.” The Art of Manliness. January 26, 2011. Accessed April 29, 2015.


Featured Image: “Hades and Persephone” from