The title of today’s post is true. Words matter very much. With the right words, we can lift people up. With the wrong words, we can tear people down. Words matter.

I gave a presentation today. I was speaking about how to give effective presentations. One of my key points revolved around the word rhetoric. I tried to give an adequate explanation of why it matters and the best way to use it.

What is rhetoric? I’m so glad you asked.

Rhetoric is the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques. (many thanks to Siri for providing that definition.)

In short, rhetoric is the ability to use words to persuade the people you are addressing, whether through speech, or written word. Many people use it for good to persuade others to believe in themselves, or to achieve great things. Others have used it for very nefarious ends… Think Adolf Hitler.

Whether for good or bad, the people I described above realized the words matter. By constructing sentences, and delivering them in the right ways, the speaker could achieve the end goal they had set out to achieve.

There is also another definition for rhetoric that we must be mindful of:

Rhetoric is also language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content. (Thank you again Siri.)

How many times have you listened to someone speak and your first thought is, “Wow, that person’s full of it”? You know, instinctively I by the way they are talking and the words that use, they are up to no good. Their words fall flat, because their intentions and words are empty.

There’s a verse in the Bible that talks about this that I love:

In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. James 3:5 NLT

The words that we speak matter very much. We can make grand speeches with ill intent, and cause a great fire of turmoil and distrust. Or, our words can create hope and cause a spark that will help others burn with excellence.

I hope that my rhetoric has helped you see you have a great responsibility with the words that you use. You can do so much good. I encourage you to do it.

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