Unpleasant Rhetorical Situations

In this semester’s public address course, we have had to give a speech of awareness/explication, advocacy & boycott, and commemoration. We have been able to employ a variety of the models and techniques learned throughout class such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, establishment of ethos, pathos, and logos, refutation strategies, the reflective thinking method, Monroe’s Motivational Sequence, etc. These have helped us to develop speeches that relay intended messages while appealing to appropriate rhetorical situations. One rhetorical situation that I feel is more difficult to address and where these rhetorical techniques we have learned are harder to employ is for unpleasant rhetorical situations.

I think of these unpleasant rhetorical situations as times when a speech is required but it is on a very sad, upsetting, disappointing, or even embarrassing topic. Some of these situations are concession speeches, public apologies, eulogies, or even an allocution to a judge. These tough situations make it more difficult to follow the models we have discussed thus far. There is still a need to establish ethos, pathos, and logos, but not a specific method of which to do this as there is for a persuasive speech or an informational speech. Therefore, I believe that these speeches would be the most difficult to write.

~ Sarah Theobald


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