Lesson in Rhetoric

Part of the curriculum for the Bulgarian Language and Literature (BLL) ….class, secondary school – Bulgaria


Public speaking on civic issues

What will you learn in this lesson?

What is public speaking / a public speech?

What are the genre features of a speech from a rhetoric pint of view?

What is the structure or composition of a public speech?

What is a civic issue, a significant topic in society, a current situation?

How to write the text of my speech? How to deliver a speech? What is an appropriate situation for a speech? * What is the purpose of your speech?

How to prepare for a public speech? How to be an impactful / powerful speaker?

What factors contribute to public speaking being successful, powerful and impactful?

What is public speaking? What is a public speech? What is a public statement?

What are the genre features of speech from a rhetoric pint of view?

A public speech is made on a topic important and significant to society or on an issue of current concern to a group in society.

The topic may be economic, social, cultural, educational or other.

Public speaking plays a significant role in civil society.

Speeches are delivered by politicians, party leaders, ministers, prime minister, NGO representatives.

A public speech includes a thesis or a statement in which one’s position as a politician, a citizen, a representative of a group in society, a leader in an institution, a manager in a business organization is presented.

From a rhetorical point of view, the speaker should prepare the text of the speech, the arguments and the rhetorical figures.

The speaker uses a variety of sources to find arguments preparing for the speech.

The speaker gets advice from specialists and experts in communication, rhetoric, media, public relations.

The speaker prepares the speech before hand. She / He should rehearse carefully before delivering the speech. It is most important to know how to use technology, including a mobile phone on which audio or video recordings can be made.

What is the structure or composition of public speaking?


The body of the speech

Conclusion – final part

The structure of a speech or public speech is in three parts: introduction, body and conclusion.

In the introduction or before it, the addresses to the audience are distinguished, which should be done according to the speech etiquette / business etiquette / diplomatic etiquette.

The purpose of the introduction is to attract attention, introduce the topic, and arouse the interest of the audience.

Appropriate rhetorical techniques are: sentences or aphorisms, ice breaking, communicating the topic.

The main or body part has a different structure or composition. The orator may outline the development of a process in stages, chronologically and by important dates. The speaker may introduce the main theme and develop it by giving additional information in stages. The speaker may divide the main part into three subparts and present a separate issue or topic in each subpart.

The conclusion has different functions. If the speaker has said in the introduction what he is going to talk about and has already done so in the main part, the conclusion should contain summaries and generalizations draw conclusions and generalisations. If he has posed a significant societal problem, the conclusion should give options for solving it. Another option is for the speaker to make appeals to the audience to participate in solving the problem.

In emotional speeches, the speaker makes appeals and messages after the conclusion or as a finale to the conclusion. He can synthesise the main messages.

What is a civic issue, a significant topic in society, a current situation?

When are speeches made? On what occasions? In what situations? For what purpose?

These are topics that are important to civil society, to an institution, to a region, to a group of society. Civil issues are about how citizens participate in society and what the relationship is between citizens and the state, between citizens and state institutions. Such issues can be freedom of speech, corruption, social benefits for the needy, people with disabilities, volunteering, accessibility to education, care for socially disadvantaged people and groups, increasing people’s digital literacy, etc.

Speeches are delivered by representatives of state institutions: ministries, agencies, etc.

Speeches are delivered at international forums and conferences or in international organisations.

Public speeches are given by representatives of parties during election campaigns to address topics related to citizens and society.

Representatives of non-governmental organisations speak on topics of relevance to particular groups in society, especially social and economic issues.

Speeches are given during demonstrations and protests by citizens.

How to prepare for public speaking? How to be an impactful speaker?

A speaker prepares by finding information from various sources. She / He makes a plan for the public speech. The speaker edits the text. She / He writes a final draft before training, rehearsing and delivering the speech.

Main questions and aims: What arguments should I use? How do I find the arguments? How do I structure the arguments?

The speaker searches for and finds arguments from official and reliable sources: from history, from scientific publications, from laws, from administrative documents. He structures the arguments to a thesis or a claim. The orator tries to convince the audience of their thesis.

What factors contribute to public speaking by being successful, powerful and impactful?

The speaker combines arguments with rhetorical figures. The speaker combines verbal/linguistic devices / tools with non-verbal devices / tools.

In the 21st century, the presenter combines linguistic, non-verbal and visual means / tools / devices. He prepares by training his / her voice.

The speaker tries to use appropriate facial expressions and gestures. The speaker distributes visual contact among different parts of the audience.

She / He observes the rules of dress code.

The speaker may speak outdoors or in a hall, standing behind a tribune.

He tries to be impactful by combining different means according to the situation.


Task 1:

Write a text for a public speech on one of the following topics, or formulate the topic by having a representative argue that it is significant to the public that you will speak on civic issues!

Task 2:

Watch the speech of… Watch the video clip of the speech…

What issues related to society are presented by the speaker? How does the speaker speak? What language devices does the speaker use? What arguments does he use? What non-linguistic devices does he use: posture, facial expressions, gestures, gaze, voice?