Rhetorical Strategies

Key rhetorical strategies underlie effective communication – regardless of the type of communication. Age old techniques – such as metaphor, argument structure, etc. – can help even modern documents get their messages across to the right audiences. This page lists resources that explore those strategies and help you to apply them to communication acts.

  • For a technical audience of engineers, quantitative data often holds the key to persuasion. For more general audiences, however, narrative or storytelling has been shown to potentially hold greater sway. In addition, the effectiveness of both techniques is context-based and contingent on the type of ...

  • One of the cardinal sins in professional communication is to focus on what you want to say, rather than what your audience needs to hear. A poet or a novelist may have the privilege of their audiences wanting to hear what they have to say, ...

  • One of the most frequent things we hear from audiences – both of reports and presentations – who fail to engage with and understand the content being communicated is: “What’s the story?” It may seem like an odd request, since engineering communication may not seem ...

  • For the engineers that I have taught, one of the most challenging communication tasks is explaining scientific concepts to less technical audiences, such as the general public. Yet explaining their work to the public – and other audiences with varying levels of technical know how ...

  • We asked Aachen University’s Claas Digmayer to talk about the importance of public communication in the acceptance of new sustainable technologies. In this video, he describes how two similar technologies, Carbon Capture and Storage and Carbon Capture and Utilization, have been received quite differently in ...

  • We don’t always say what we mean … In fact, we often avoid direct speech acts – saying what we mean – in the service of politeness and conflict avoidance, relying instead on indirect speech to communicate complex thoughts. An indirect speech act, according to linguist John Searle, ...

  • Our expertise and resources are on display this month in The Institute, IEEE’s news magazine. A few weeks ago, Richard House, our society’s president, and Jessica Livingston, one of his co-authors on The Engineering Communication Manual, spoke with John R. Platt-a technical communication expert in his own right ...