Canons of Rhetoric

Rhetoric and its five canons (or pillars) are the traditional technique to understand and use effective communication originated from ancient Roman and Greek. 

So, the five canons are: 

  1. Invention (What to Say)
  2. Arrangement (Structure of the content)
  3. Style (Language and other choices)
  4. Memory (How to Present or learn the presentation)
  5. Delivery (Use of actions and more)

As you can read, the five canons of rhetoric are nothing but five skills that anyone needs to learn to become an effective Public Speaker. 

Let’s learn each of them one-by-one. 

Invention (What to Say?):

It is the process to come up with what you wanna talk about with your audience. What are your points of view on that particular topic and what key message you wanna spread that helps your audience understand your views. 

For this, it is important to have clarity and a proper understanding of your topic(s).

Example: A political candidate comes up with several major points she wants to bring up in a debate.

Arrangement (Structure of Content):

This is the process of giving structure to the content that you prepared in the 1st stage (i.e. invention). Here you need to add all the things you prepared in the inventions and arrange them in a good manner. 

The arrangement of your speech could consist mainly of three stages: introduction, body, and conclusion. You need to prepare it very wisely.  

It doesn’t matter if you’re using any native language or the professional one, it is important to make sure you arrange the speech in the correct order or good manner.

Example: A political candidate decides that she will first talk about civil rights; next, she will talk about the economy; finally, she will talk about international relations. 

Style (Language & other choices):

Here you need to make some choices like language, audience, what should be in your presentation, and by which method you’re gonna pitch (or convince) your audience for your subject. 


We know anyone can use three ways to pitch the audience Ethos (using ethics and character), Pathos (using emotion), and Logos (using logic).

So, deciding all these things will help you to deliver your speech effectively. 

Example: A political candidate uses a humorous metaphor in which she compares being in Congress to being in a zoo.


As the name suggests its meaning. It is referred to as remembering enough to deliver the speech fully and fluently. 

Many great public speakers visualize their speech, do rehearsals, explore new ways, use key or bullet points to remember all the speech. 

Example: A political candidate rehearses her speech so that she doesn’t need to use a teleprompter or script. She is able to make eye contact with the audience and more effectively use body language.


It is the last stage of the 5 Canons of Rhetoric. Here you need to use all your resources wisely and effectively. We all know that your actions speak more than words so use gestures while speaking or delivering your speech. 

Work on your voice tone and pitch (like where your voice should be high and where it should be low), take pauses (but not more than enough), work on body language (or gestures), control your breaths, and way to deliver your points or thoughts

So, these are the 5 Canons of Rhetoric that make your speech effective and play an important role in communication. 

We all know how important public speaking skills are, so practice every day and see the changes. 

5 thoughts on “Canons of Rhetoric”

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