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Canons of Rhetoric: Using Presentation Language with Style

October 20, 2015 / Blog credibility, Greco-Roman, historical inspiration, history, presentation tips, public speaking, rhetoric, Rick Enrico, SlideGenius

We started this blog series off with the relevance of invention and arrangement in crafting presentations.

This post focuses on the third canon known as style, or expression.

If the first two phases were concerned more with what is said, style concentrates on how it’s said.

It’s often thought of as ornamentation, which means “to equip, fit out or supply.”

However, style is more than frivolous decoration of ideas.

Let’s see how it can create a bigger impact in your pitch.

Here are the five virtues of style explored:


Effective use of language is an important aspect of public speaking.

Presenters need to ensure clear and precise communication to captivate audiences and command their attention.

Even the most minute mistakes can attract rabid ridicule.

Error-free communication can keep you away from hostile comments and reactions.

Apply the nuances of language such as vocabulary, syntax, and grammar into your speech to secure your credibility.


Making your audience “read between the lines” is a solid presentation killer.

It can trigger disinterest, especially if people don’t identify with your vocabulary and speaking style.

Be comprehensible to everyone.

Use strong verbs to add a punch in your message.

Keep your sentences and paragraphs short to avoid jumbling different points.

Speak with smarts and clarity to better connect with your viewers.


This virtue of style doesn’t necessarily mean providing logical proof.

Evidence tackles language’s appeal to emotions.

It focuses on eliciting emotional responses from the audience.

Don’t just verbalize facts. Introduce arguments creatively.

Share some evocative experiences or stories to make your message more persuasive.

Use vivid descriptions that appeal to physical senses for more impact.


Proper decorum must be observed in all instances, including professional speeches.

With respect to style, words should fit with the subject matter.

This concept governs the overall use of language with accompanying moderation and timeliness.

Gauge the event you’ll be speaking at, and try to measure the expected level of formality needed.

Develop your message and modify it to the given circumstances, occasion, and viewing audience.

A measured approach speaks volumes when presenting yourself as a consummate professional.


Ornateness is about building beautiful imagery and strong rhythm.

It adds impulse to truth with the power of poetry and metaphor.

Straight facts can end up boring your listeners.

You can spice up your presentation with sayings and expressions.

Explore classic figures of speech like alliteration, onomatopoeia, and antanaclasis

Smart use of idioms and turns of phrase add creativity and add fun to your idea.


This rhetorical canon embodies strong speaking skills which multiply the effectiveness of any idea.

With the right mix of virtues, effective style touches people’s emotions to create greater impact.

Delivering a speech isn’t just about going over a list of facts and data.

It’s also about communicating truth with poise, form, and finesse.

Master this canon to satisfy your audience’s appetite!



Classical Rhetoric 101: The Five Canons of Rhetoric – Style.” The Art of Manliness. March 13, 2013. Accessed October 16, 2015.
Virtues of Style.” Silva Rhetoricae. n.d. Accessed October 16, 2015.


Featured image: “Procession on the Ara Pacis (I)” by Institute for the Study of the Ancient World on