December 6

Switching Gears Can Improve Your Message

gearsA really common and helpful little rhetorical technique that will make your writing far more easy to understand is something I call switching gears.

Essentially, it is the act of changing the direction of your argument, by either discussing the opposite of what you have been talking about, correcting possible misunderstandings that may have arisen, or bringing up a related or contrasting topic. You have been making a point, and reiterating that point, until you begin to realize that you are on the verge of making a nuisance of yourself. So just stop beating your drum and come at the issue from a different angle.

You probably already practice this technique. Anytime you start a paragraph with “On the other hand . . .” or “This does not mean that . . .” or “In the same way . . .” you are doing gear-switching. You do it without thinking, but it’s always better to do something consciously, so that you can do it with more finesse—and avoid doing too much!

Which leads to the point that you don’t have to use this technique with every argument. (Notice that I just switched gears myself? It’s addictive!) But it’s often helpful when you want to avoid beating your argument to death.

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Posted December 6, 2014 by Dave Fessenden in category "Uncategorized


  1. By David A. Miller, II on

    “Life in a Putty Knife Factory”…loved it then, buying it again after seeing H. Allen Smith’s name. The practical jokes that newspapermen play on each other are probably worthless, but oh, are they fun! Read it again if you still have a sense of humor.

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