After Invention, the next canon is Arrangement. Arrangement is the process of organization of a speech or piece of writing. Arrangement is divided into six parts:
- Introduction (Exordium)
- Statement of Facts (Narration)
- Proof (Confirmation)
Introduction includes two parts: 1) Introducing the topic, and 2) Establishing credibility.
- Introducing the topic means that you are including the purpose of your communication (persuade, teach, inform, etc.) If you are delivering a speech, the introduction is a crucial point: it could mean the difference between an audience member tuning in or tuning out. With a plethora of online media choices today (blogs, articles, news websites, social media, podcasts, etc.), it is important to pay close attention to the introduction. Using a quote, fact, rhetorical question, or a story are some ways to grab the attention of your audience.
- Establishing credibility is related to ethos (which was discussed earlier). As a communicator, your credibility is an important element in establishing credibility with your audience.
Narration is the relation of facts and background information on your topic. Facts can be dry, but they can be used persuasively and shared in interesting ways.
Division comes after narrating the facts; it is a way to transition into a summary of the arguments you are going to make. In team policy debate, we refer to this as a “roadmap”. A roadmap gives the audience the direction of where you are going. (For example, you may hear statements like “I have three points…”). You are taking your audience on a journey, and a roadmap gives them an idea of the stops you are making on that journey.
The Proof refers to the main body of your speech or essay. This is the portion where you will construct logical arguments, and refer back to the facts and stories previously mentioned. This is where you make your main point or argument.
Refutation is the portion where you acknowledge the weaknesses in your argument. By acknowledging counterarguments, you can respond to doubts that may be in the mind of your audience. Also, acknowledgment of the opposing side is an appropriate usage of ethos. With many arguments, there are often compelling arguments on both sides. By being truthful and upfront about both sides, you establish credibility and gain the trust of your audience.
The conclusion is where you sum up your argument. Use figures of speech and pathos to convincingly drive your point home. Make your conclusion strong and memorable. A good example of a memorable conclusion is Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, with the words “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”. That conclusion employs figures of speech and was very powerful. Even today, we remember and refer to elements of that speech and memorable lines.
Stay tuned for the next canon: Style.
Question for you: Do you often use the counterargument in your speech or essay? How can you improve your introduction and conclusion? Which part of the Arrangement phase presents an area of improvement for you?