The Dandelion Group

Technique of the week

Catchy antitheses

Speech is silver, silence is golden. Starting a post on communication with this saying seems odd at first but don’t be bewildered by the beginning as everything will become clear in the end. Today, we look at antitheses, which create contrast to capture your audience’s attention.

An antithesis is a technique using two opposing items in a parallel structure. These can be nouns (speech-silence), adjectives (silver-golden) but also verbs (bewilder-clarify). You also find it in books. In his novel “A Tale of Two Cities”, Charles Dickens opens by combining antitheses with listing and anaphoras.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”

How to create contrast?

  1. Fold a blank sheet of paper.

  2. Look at the topic and scribble related expressions or key words in the left column.
    (e.g. on modelling: skinny, BMI, healthy, fashion, art, women, catwalk, colourful, beautiful, pressure)

  3. Write down opposing terms on the right.
    (e.g. obese, unhealthy, unfashionable, science, men, lion's den, pale, ugly, freedom)

  4. Pick a handful of pairs and form 3-5 sentences that support your message. You can increase the contrast by including an opposite noun, verbs and adjective in one sentence.

  5. Start or conclude your speech or presentation with a strong antithesis.
    (Wandering down the catwalk has become walking into the lion's den.)

Exercise

The European Union recently raised its target for renewable energy. Come up with two catchy quotes for a press release using an antithesis. You can choose whether you welcome the higher target or not.

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Ben WilhelmComment