Rhetoric is Not Dead

Posted by on Apr 20, 2011 in ComLead

Words are torn apart and abbreviated during typical conversation via texting or e-mail. When you talk with people how often do you hear OMG in conversation? Our written abbreviations have translated into the spoken word. That does not mean that these words cannot be combined to construct moving, inspiring oration. I finally watched The Last Lecture. It was given in 2007 by Randy Pausch at Carnegie Mellon. The lecture was focused on the ability to achieve your childhood dreams and stay true to your youthful aspirations.

What gets me about this lecture is the structure and clarity of which he presents his thoughts. As students, lectures are constants in our daily routine. Some are better than others, and you begin to appreciate tools for engagement. The genuine nature of Pausch’s dialogue and his humor make latch onto his words.

Pausch made sure to direct the attention of the listener to the message. He did this by proving that although he was dying of pancreatic cancer, he was not a victim. His life was well lived, and he was well-loved. These things are hard to convey purely by words. It takes intonation and pace, as well as inflection and careful delivery to make this seemingly casual lecture resonate so powerfully with the audience. The Last Lecture was not only a powerful reminder that dreams are possible, but that the gift of rhetoric still stands to be one of the most direct ways to make an impact on an audience. Take a look for yourself and tell us what you think.

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