How to Write a Motivational Speech using Rhetorical Devices

Funny Motivational Speaker Giving Compelling SpeechIf you are planning a speech, and want to persuade others, it helps to brush up on the following rhetorical devices. Make your points memorable, and draw attention to good reasoning, with a well placed smattering of the following devices in your motivational speech: 

The Rhetorical Question

Here you ask a question, where the answer is implied or obvious. This technique is used to force the listener to agree with you and build rapport. 

For example: Great weather, isn't it? Perhaps one of the most used rhetorical questions, if the weather is great, this builds instant agreement. Other examples include:

  • Is this a problem? (Clearly, or you wouldn't ask).
  • Could we do better? (Obviously, yes we could always improve).
  • Do you want more money, more wealth and more time? (No, I'll pass).

The answer to these (often vague) questions, are obvious, so they build agreement instantly. As keynote speakers we rely on this technique often as it builds momentum.


Involves successive words, phrases and clauses with the same (or very similar) grammatical structure. Ideas are much more memorable when repeated in a similar fashion.

For example:

  • She is sneaky and manipulative
  • Easy come, easy go
  • Flying is safe, comfortable and fast
  • “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” - John F. Kennedy


Repeating a word or phrase for emphasis. This is one of my favorite techniques, if you can repeat ideas, it builds momentum and gives the listener time to agree with your thoughts.

For example: 

  • Martin Luther King's I Have a Dream speech uses repetition to carry the theme and message continually through the motivational speech.

Other examples:

  • “When there is talk of hatred, let us stand up and talk against it. When there is talk of violence, let us stand up and talk against it.” - Bill Clinton
  • You can use repetition and just switch it up a bit too...
  • Lately, times have been tough. We have seen resources go down, and workloads go up, we have seen uncertainty rise (simply repeating the idea and adding to it slightly).


Used to further the line of reasoning, a comparison is made between two things. Analogy is useful to help compare with something else to explain something.

For example:

  • You are as annoying as nails on a chalkboard.
  • Just as the earth evolves around the sun, my world revolves around me.


Refers to an exaggeration used to make a point. A literary device we employ on a day to day basis, exaggeration helps the audience clearly understand your point of view.

An example:

  • This is the worst day ever!
  • I am dying of exhaustion!

In your next motivational speech, strategically place some of the above rhetorical devices to move the audience to action.


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