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Persuasive Speaking Methods in Election Campaigns and Political Debates

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1. Introduction

1.1. Background

To make a political speech more persuasive includes several factors, with the most significant being the ability of the politician to apply an effective language. In politics, words have a powerful effect. It is the mechanism to make an action or an idea rational and justifiable, or to provoke feelings in the audience and influence their voting decision. It is essential for a politician to appropriately use this power of language in every public appearance, during their political campaigns, and try to successfully apply it, in order to attract the attention and provoke the positive opinion of the audience. So employing appropriate speaking methods is an important factor in persuading and convincing the target audience. The ability of politicians to choose and use an effective language to gain the intended objectives can be a material factor of their future success or failure.

1.2. Scope of the Study

The complicated and sophisticated speaking methods used by politicians to make their speeches as effective and convincing as possible take several forms. This study tries to investigate the most common mechanisms, by exploring the effect to the targeted listeners, supported by real life political instances where these principles have been applied.

2. Analysis of factors

2.1 Metaphor

Metaphor is usually used in the language of politics, during their political campaigns and debates .

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them , without using the words “as” or “like”, as is done in simile.

Metaphors are very powerful in affecting voters’ decisions, since they easily imply an ideology or political conviction. Moreover, the use of metaphors helps the audience to grasp the meaning of many abstract notions, such as ideas and emotions, which are vaguely defined .

Since politicians usually deal with complicated concepts, that cannot be always easily expressed, metaphor is frequently applied in political discourse: it helps people to understand complex concepts and functions as a persuasive tool3.

Some examples of metaphors used in political speeches are the following:

• Obama commercial titled “Forward”, ending with “America is on the way up.”

• Mitt Romney’s campaign phrase “It’s time for America’s comeback team.”

• Paul Ryan’s campaign phrase “put the nation back on a path to renewed prosperity for all.”

• Franklin D. Roosevelt with the phrase “I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.”

2.2 Rule of three

In speeches, debates and other form of communication, the use of a series of three elements is commonly used (“rule of three”) . Whatever the nature of the speech act, and political speech, the three-part list is attractive to the speaker and listener because it is gives a sense of unity and completeness. The rule of three is mot used merely for repetition; It can have different words, but with a similar general meaning. Another reason that the rule of three effectively communicates praise or criticism is that, by listing similar items, a political message is strengthened and amplified4.

In political speeches, some examples of the rule of three used are the following:

• Abraham Lincoln: “Government of the people, By the people, For the people.”

• Martin Luther King: “When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.”

• Barack



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