The Art of Persuasive Speaking and Writing

In a effort to strengthen my writing skills, I recently enrolled in a Rhetoric class. Day one, we were asked to think about speakers that we admire. The discussion that developed from that question gave me an idea.

I think it would be a very valuable experience to watch some different TED Talks and try to identify why some speeches and speakers are more persuasive, inspiring, and interesting than others. My goal is to watch and review one TED Talk a week and push myself to write why I think their speech was or wasn’t effective. I want to explore why some speeches and speakers are more powerful and effective than others. Are there common themes even when the subject is vastly different? Are there patterns? Is it just personal preference?

These days, rhetoric gets a bad name—we often hear phrases like, “that’s just rhetoric,” “left-wing rhetoric,” or “right-wing rhetoric.” Many dismiss rhetoric as empty and meaningless, or useful only to scholars and politicians.

Malcolm Gladwell once said “You read nonfiction because you’re in search of something powerful and fundamental about what it means to be a better person.” When I first read those words from Gladwell, my immediate thought was, “This is why I write. I write because I’m in search of something powerful and fundamental about what it means to be a better person. And I want to learn to write in a powerful effective way that will cause others to think, and reflect, and to become curious.

At the bottom of this blog you’ll notice a “Categories” section. From there you can select “TED Talks” to read though my thoughts on a variety of TED Talks in search of what makes speeches and speakers more effective and powerful than others.

March 30, 2020

Time writing: 30 minutes

Total time writing on this blog: 200 hours