This information was written by Alan Stevens, and originally appeared in “The MediaCoach”, his free weekly ezine, available at

One of my all-time favourite comedians, George Carlin, once said “Rhetoric paints with a broad brush”. That’s largely true, but there are some occasions when it can be a sharp and potent weapon in speeches. Here are four techniques you can use to make your words even more effective.

1) Anadiplosis. The repetition of one or several words that end one clause and begin another.

Example: “Some men are born with greatness , some men achieve greatness , and some men have greatness thrust upon them” – William Shakespeare

2) Praeteritio. The pretended omission of something, which has the effect of strengthening its impact.

Example:It would be unseemly for me to dwell on the Senator’s drinking problem, and too many have already sensationalized his womanizing…” – An opponent of Senator Edward Kennedy

3) Chiasmus. A very powerful effective technique where the words in one phrase or clause are reversed in the next. 

Example: “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good – Samuel Johnson

4) Tricolon A much-used and strong technique where words or phrases are used in threes.

Example: “Never in the history of human endeavour has so much been owed by so many to so few – Sir Winston Churchill

Skip to content