I have been rhetorically sensitive on numerousoccasions. One of them was when delivering a speech to my students’association group about our peer education and mentorship program.The association is comprised of university students who traversevarious high schools disseminating career advice. The associationalso carries social campaigns such as water conservation, saying noto sexual assault, and civil education. As a member of the contentdevelopment team, I am usually rhetorically sensitive when creatingposters, brochures, and pamphlets for our public arguments. Thispersonal reflection gives an account of my rhetorical sensitivity inreal life scenarios.
While giving speeches to students anddeveloping content for social media campaigns, I have cared about myaudience. The speeches target high school children, hence a lot moresimplistic in their language and structure. On the other, thematerials for the public campaigns target a wider audience, hence thecoverage of a wider scope in their content. In both instances, I careabout my audience in order to ensure that the point gets home. Beforemaking the final speech or public campaign material, I usually readit aloud severally to ensure that it is comprehensible for my targetaudience. Whenever I feel that the message is clouded, I usually makemodifications to address my audience better or attain a desiredpurpose.
I remember one time I was writing a speech forthe career mentorship program aimed at empowering high schoolstudents to make better career choices. My primary area of focus wasthe factors to consider when choosing a career at the universitylevel. In my draft, I had given statistics of how a larger percentageof students who had specific career goals in high school ended uppursuing their dream careers in college. I also drew flowcharts tohelp them understand the process of decision-making. At a glance, thespeech looked like lecture notes for an undergraduate course inCritical thinking. Going through the speech, I realized how boringthe figures and flowcharts would sound to high school students-especially the cool ones.
I made the decision to change my speech inorder to improve the attention span and comprehension of my audience.Instead of the statistics and flowcharts, I opted to include mypersonal story in the speech. I figured that a personal story wouldidentify with the dilemma that most students face when trying tochoose a career path. In the story, I talked about how hard it wasfor me to decide the best career for my interests and how Iapproached several people until I was able to settle on one careerpath. On the day of delivering the speech, the rhetorical sensitivityworked because I could see my audience maintain eye contact throughits entirety.
I also had to change things up in my publiccampaign brochures in order to achieve the intended purpose. Indeveloping the brochure for water conservation in our locality, I hadopted to appeal to logos in the entire piece. Then I realized how thetechnique has been overused in most of the climate change conferencesI have attended. I changed the content to create more appeal topathos. On the front page of the brochure, I used an image of amalnourished child in the middle of the desert. Under the image wasthe caption “We too could be in this position if we did notconserve the little water we have left.”