PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

Rhetorical Orgasms with Florian Mueck

PRESENT TO SUCCEED LESSONS LEARNED

Rhetorical Orgasms with Florian Mueck

In our Present to Succeed Lessons Learned series, we include all of the fascinating, valuable, and wow moments from the sessions of our debut 2021 conference. We aim to share with you the best takeaways and help you improve your presentation craft every day.

Florian Mueck is a speaking trainer and an expert on rhetoric and charisma, who is based in Barcelona, Spain but has clients from all over the world. Florian is the co-creator of the first public speaking game called Rhetoric (we have it in our office and it’s quite fun) and is the author of five books on public speaking.

He was the top-rated speaker at our Present to Succeed 2021 Conference. During his session, Florian discussed three main benefits of rhetorical techniques that you may use in your stories, speeches, and presentations. And for each of the benefits, he provided two rhetorical methods that you might use to your advantage.

Rhetorical devices

Florian began by telling us about a speech that he still recalls eleven years after hearing it for the first time. He remembers a specific phrase that he just fell in love with. So this presenter said in his speech: “I still can taste the strawberry lipstick of the girl I never kissed.” It’s a sentence that sticks with you because it’s so vivid. Florian refers to this as a rhetorical orgasm.

Content is king. But to Florian, it’s a boring king. How many times have we been bored to death by stuff that comes out of the mouths of people? And then we hear about that strawberry lipstick. That exactly is a rhetorical orgasm.

Florian was explaining how rhetorical orgasms are things that make your content memorable by being something vivid and unexpected.

Florian invited everyone watching his session to write in the chat all that is anti-climactic to them when they are listening to a speech. Things that irritate them endlessly every time they hear them.

He mentioned that one of his pet peeves is when someone starts a speech with “Good morning.” When you hear that, you already get bored. Or “Let me tell you a little story.”, or “I do not have time, so I will shorten my presentation.” All of these are so anti-climactic. And Florian is confident that you could eliminate around 80% of it.

So how can you do better? With rhetorical devices.

MEMORABLE

The first benefit you can have is to make your speech memorable. What Florian introduced first as a device to use was called “epistrophe”, which stands for repetition.

Epistrophe originally means “return”.Epistrophe is when you have chapters in your speech, for example, and after each one, you say “and you have seen nothing yet”. Your audience picks up on it and the repetition after each chapter makes it memorable.

And then, oxymorons. An oxymoron is a paradox. It can be a two-word paradox or a full sentence like Oscar Wilde’s words “I can resist anything except temptation.” It is memorable because it is contradictory. It is a contrast. You sense that something is wrong and that is exactly why you remember it.

A bonus tip that he shared was the NLP abbreviation, but with a twist. NLP for him stands for name, look, and personality. Any character that you introduce into your story, that is the way to bring them to life – mention their name, their look, and their personality. This way, your audience can connect with them better, and your persuasive power goes up.

Florian, for example, described himself as a “creative conservative.” He does not re-invent the rhetorical wheel that began with Aristotle, but he can always re-paint it creatively. A contradictory personality, like kindly arrogant, or happily divorced – brings characters to life along with their name and look.

UNDERSTANDABLE

The second benefit mentioned by Florian is rhetorical devices, which make your content more understandable.

How many times have you heard words like respect or value? They are abstract nouns. When you say something like that to your audience, everyone has a different interpretation of the word. When Florian mentions respect, every one of the almost 2K people in our conference will have a different definition. So what he suggested to be used more, is analogies.

Analogy means comparison. Florian gives an example that he has witnessed, which is when a data scientist explained his job in the following way: “Imagine that this entire room is full of ping pong balls, thousands of them. All of them are white, and there is just one red ball. I find that red ball.” With a simple analogy, his audience grasped data science right away. When you talk with an analogy, everyone understands. It’s a simplification.

Florian was shamelessly self-promoting the awesome t-shirts he has created, that you can find and order from his website.

The second benefit mentioned by Florian is rhetorical devices, which make your content more understandable.

How many times have you heard words like respect or value? They are abstract nouns. When you say something like that to your audience, everyone has a different interpretation of the word. When Florian mentions respect, every one of the almost 2K people in our conference will have a different definition. So what he suggested to be used more, is analogies.

Analogy means comparison. Florian gives an example that he has witnessed, which is when a data scientist explained his job in the following way: “Imagine that this entire room is full of ping pong balls, thousands of them. All of them are white, and there is just one red ball. I find that red ball.” With a simple analogy, his audience grasped data science right away. When you talk with an analogy, everyone understands. It’s a simplification.

Then Florian posed the question, why do people not give specific examples? They say “I have many friends,” which is generic, or “I have traveled to many countries,” which is also generic. And generic sucks. Be specific. And specific is what exemplum is. It is an anecdote or a story that makes a point because generic doesn’t make a point.

He used the example of another very remarkable first statement that he had heard and still remembers “I had a normal childhood. I squished beetles.” Oh, that is a rhetorical orgasm. It is memorable and understandable because it is specific.

Shortly said, avoid generic and be specific. Rhetorical orgasms, guaranteed.

CONVINCING

Rhetorical devices can also help you be more persuasive.

Procatalepsis is the first device he presented. Don’t worry, we also had issues pronouncing it. It refers to having a premonition, or what you already know. For example, you may be aware of an opposing viewpoint in the audience and confront it directly.

What exactly can you accomplish with this gadget? When you’re pitching for funding, for example, make a list of all the conceivable arguments against you. What can the audience or the investors have against you? Write it down, and then turn it around, put it in your presentation. This is a surefire way to kill the opposition.

And then, paralipsis, another fancy word. Florian remarked that this is one of his absolute favorites. Paralipsis is when you omit something. Yes, we know that less is more, yet we still see presentation slides with five KPIs in them together.

Paralipsis is something like saying: “Today, we could talk about all five important KPIs. The first two are amazing successes, but I will not focus on them. What I want to focus on is the three main KPIs of the last quarter.” You say something without actually saying it. This way, you do not overkill the audience with content.

Florian was extremely expressive throughout his session, which the audience liked a lot!

Let's summarize

Here you have it. You can spice up your audience with the three types of rhetorical tactics that Florian has taught you.

With repetition and contrast, you may make your content, speech, and presentations more memorable. Then, with fewer abstract terms and more analogies, it becomes more understandable. To be more persuasive, utilize procatalepsis and paralipsis.

If you apply even just those six devices, you will gain so much. Those devices are the DNA of the content. Make your audience feel more rhetorical orgasms by applying rhetorical devices.

Let us know what the most helpful takeaway from Florian’s session was for you by leaving a comment!

And while reading is great, why not see the whole session yourself? Get the Story Track Recordings for the discounted price of €39 or all 30+ sessions for just €79!

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Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!

Join Present to Succeed - the biggest presentation skills conference in the world

Whether you are part of an organization or running a business, how your slides look will always factor in your success. Learn how to become an influential speaker by joining our 30+ industry-leading speakers’ sessions.

Start engaging your audience better and influencing them to embrace your concepts, hire you, or buy your products. Now is the best moment to get your ticket!