22 November 2019

“Good rhetoric is important. Researchers have many good reasons to consider how they express themselves and how they speak.” So said Anders Eriksson, docent at Lund University, who held a seminar at the FoES autumn meeting in Lund, 20-21 November.

Anders Eriksson, Lund University
Anders Eriksson pointing out the fundaments of rhetoric. Photo credit: Mikael Sönne

Aristotle – still going strong

Ethos, logos, pathos – the three components of Aristotle’s model of persuasion are still valid, and together form an excellent structure for a speech. It is important for a speaker who wishes to influence others that he or she inspires confidence in the audience, presents fact-based arguments, and infuses the delivery with emotion.

Foes meeting in Lund november 2019.Foes meeting in Lund november 2019.

“Of course, rhetorical theory has progressed since Aristotle, but these three components are still valid. Some researchers have added a fourth component, ‘authenticity’, but this is in essence included in the idea of ethos”, says Anders Eriksson.

The number of applicants to the rhetoric courses in Lund is four times the number that can be accepted. There are several reasons why it is important that researchers and doctoral students are able to express themselves well. One of them is obvious: the opportunity to enable others to understand and see the value of your article or idea, which may lead to a new research project. Just think of all the oral presentations at conferences.

Consider your audience

Good rhetoric also makes the third task of researchers easier: collaboration and presentation of results for the surrounding society.

Anders Eriksson, Lund UniversityAnders Eriksson, Lund University.

“And then there’s another reason that maybe doesn’t get recognised so often – that speaking and writing are related and built on the same base. The elements of a speech are often roughly the same as in an article or report. Improving your rhetorical skills is an excellent way of improving your writing”, says Anders Eriksson.

During the autumn meeting in Lund, the conference participants wrote speeches and delivered them to other participants. It’s a good idea to think about who makes up the audience, and then adapt your message to them. What expectations do they have? How much do they already know? Do they have a positive view of you and the subject, or are they critical? Another good idea is to construct the speech around three common objections to the message you are presenting.

“This can work to create a structure to what you want to say. You then address the arguments in advance, and at the same time present the most important material that you want the audience to take home”, says Anders Eriksson.

  • Some photos from the meeting in Lund are presented below. More photos are on the internal Lisam page for members of FoES.


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