Business Writing Tip #56—A bit more about rhetoric

Today I thought I’d share three more rhetorical devices that you can use in writing or in presentations.

Rhetorical Questions

One of the most well-known rhetorical devices is the rhetorical question. This is a question that we ask without expecting an answer. We ask it for effect. Your audience knows the answer to the question. In presentations, asking a negative question is an effective way to get your audience to think about something.

Just because it's spring and the flowers are beautiful

Just because it’s spring and the flowers are beautiful

Think about:

  • Shouldn’t we be learning from our mistakes?
  • Don’t we all know that this is true?
  • Isn’t this what we need to do know?

Contrasts and Opposites

Another fairly simple technique. It’s most effective when you make your main point second.

  • If we don’t seize the opportunity, someone else will.
  • Some people are saying we can’t afford to pay for staff training. I say we can’t afford not to.
  • Five years ago this company was going nowhere; today we’re number one in the industry.


By reversing the word order in a statement, you can add a sense of formality.


  • We’ve done better in Central Europe than anywhere.
  • Nowhere have we done better than in Central Europe.

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