Corruptions of the Rhetorical Stance

Can you guess which video corresponds to which unbalanced stance?


What not to email your professor

After spending so much time in class examining a poorly-written email, I thought you all would appreciate this video (made by a professor):


[note: this video doesn’t include an actual email from a student — but trust me, we profs receive MANY emails very similar to this one]

Welcome to a new term of RCM 300

Hi everyone!

This is a site I’ve been using over the last 2 years to provide extra resources to aid in your understanding of our course’s theory. Often in class we don’t have enough time to fully explore all the theory, so this blog gives me a chance to share resources and links to help you better understand what we are covering.

This week we are starting to talk about the foundational theories of rhetoric, so you may want to check out some of the past posts I’ve done on the modes of appeal and the big question.

Here’s a video from Braveheart that shows some of the means of persuasion at work:

Report resources

Over the last 2 years I have been gathering extra help for you to use under the “Formal Report Resources” tab at the top of the blog or under the “research report” post category.  Within the week you will be turning in the Assignment #3: Report Planner. The resources in the above links will help you start to plan your research question, find sources, and get writing the report that is due in mid-March.

Don’t leave working on this assignment until the last minute!  If you have any questions about the report writing process, please feel free to get in touch with me.

Here’s the video we watched in class on coming up with a good research question:

Ambigious communication

We’ve just finished discussing MacLennan’s (2009) 9 Axioms in class — one of my favourites of the 9 is the axiom “Communication is frequently ambiguous: what is unsaid can be as important as what is said.”

I really like this axiom because I think it helps us understand why it’s important to pay attention to HOW we communicate.  We are often exposed to unstated assumptions in our day-to-day communication. The more technical way of understanding this concept is the rhetorical term of enthymeme.  An enthymeme is a way of making an argument where one of the premises is not stated.

So, going back to my example I gave in class — if after getting cut off by a driver I say, “Oh! He’s from ALBERTA!”, what is the unstated premise of my argument?  Albertans can’t drive.  

A good place to find enthymemes is in advertising. Check out this Mac versus PC commercial:

What are the unstated assumptions at work here?

Beyond applying this Axiom to advertising, this theory also reminds us to pay attention to the gaps we leave in our communication — we need to take control over how we come across to our audience. If something we say or write can be interpreted in several ways, we need to make sure the way our audience understands our message is according to the way we would like to be understood.


Welcome to RCM 300

This is our blog for RCM 300: Effective Professional Communication. It’s been running for 2 years, and on this site you’ll find resources to supplement whatever we cover in our classes.

As you explore the content on the blog, make sure to check out the Categories and Post Tags on the right sidebar.  Above on the toolbar under the blog’s title, you’ll find a section on what this blog is About, along with some Advice for RCM 300 students (given from students who have completed the course).

Feel free to comment on any entry – any participation on the blog counts towards your ‘professionalism’ mark for the course.


Public speaking rounds resources

Starting next week will be our 2+ weeks of public speaking rounds, where you and your fellow classmates will have an opportunity to showcase the rhetorical skills and tools you’ve been acquiring over the term.

Remember that your speech is meant to have a persuasive focus — that is, you must advocate a specific ACTION for your audience to take.

As you put together your presentation, check out the class wiki from RCM 401 (Public Speaking): “The Speakers’ Handbook.”  This is a  collection of resources that my public speaking class put together last year. On this wiki you’ll find advice/help on many aspects of your persuasive speech, including:

  • Delivery strategies (visual and vocal tips)
  • Logos strategies (help with your speech’s introduction and conclusion sections)
  • Pathos strategies (sections on audience adaptation and establishing WIFM)

There’s also many links in past blog entries on Public Speaking that include videos, articles, and tips on how to do well on this assignment.

The job package

In the next few days, you all will start putting together your Assignment #5: the Job Package which consists of: the job ad, your cover letter, resume, and CACEE form.

As you put together your materials, remember that one of your biggest constraints to consider is that you are not being read in isolation — your application must set you apart from the competition.  This clip from the comedy ‘Fun with Dick and Jane’ does a good job of illustrating that point:

Check out the past entries on the blog for additional resources and help on the various parts of this assignment.

Preparing for your research report

Next week you’ll need to turn in Assignment #3, the Report Planner, which represents some preliminary work on your report topic. In preparation for that assignment, here are some links you may find useful:

  • Here is our RCM 300 Library Guide, put together by Tasha Maddison (the same friendly face in the Library Modules on BBLearn). This site is a great place to start your report writing process — there’s pages on journal articles/databases, help with writing about your topic, and there’s also citation help.
  • If you’re still in the process of trying to figure out your approach to the topic, here’s another YouTube video that offers some tips on securing a good research question.

Remember, the more work and planning ahead you put into Assignment #3, the easier it will be to complete the Formal Research Report that is due in November.

The big question & the oil sands

To contrast the advertisement we discussed in class last week, here’s an ad about the oil sands from an environmental group:

How would you apply the question: “Who is saying what, to whom, and for what purpose?” to the above advertisement? How is their approach different than the ad from the oil sands producers?

[Here’s an interesting op-ed from 2010 that discusses the more “personal” approach of the oil sands advertisements]