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Thursday, June 9, 2016

Generating Power

Effective Speech Shows Clear and Cogent Organization of Ideas.
Basic Principles of Speech 4th Edition (Sarett/Sarett/Foster)

Effective Essays Show Clear and Cogent Organization of Ideas.
(Initial principle modified to apply to the writing of brief essays.)
Clear defined:
  • Easy to perceive, understand, or interpret: the voice on the telephone was clear and strong; clear and precise directions; her handwriting was clear; am I making myself clear?
  • leaving no doubt; obvious or unambiguous: it was clear that they were in a trap; a clear case of poisoning.
  • having or feeling no doubt or confusion: every student must be clear about what is expected.
(New Oxford American Dictionary)

Cogent defined:

Powerfully persuasive
"a cogent argument"
(WordWeb Pro)
  1. (esp of an argument) powerful
  2. Convincing
(Chambers Dictionary 13th Edition)

It is riveting to hear clear and cogent speech.  It is dismaying to be caught in a morass of verbiage that hides more than it reveals.  The reason is simple.  Obfuscation is obvious and maddening.  It wastes everyone’s time.

Our judgment of speech is remarkably value free.  We may fundamentally disagree with a clear and cogent speaker and frustratingly agree with an inept one.  That is, we can freely admit that the speaker we disagree with is highly skilled while the one we agree with only manages to stumble along.

The power of ideas to a significant extent depends on the how they are expressed.  In an essay I could write “It has come to my attention that several matters need to be addressed” or I could write instead “Houston, we have a problem.” Clearly, in writing as in speech, one should aim directly for the target then let the arrow fly.

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