The Dandelion Group

Technique of the week

Framed dilemma

How do you persuade a hostile audience? It requires a lot of effort and time, but you can start with an aporia.

Even though the Greek word “aporia” refers to a loss, this rhetorical device can make you win laurels. Aporetic figures are commonly used by poets, such as William Shakespeare, Samuel Becket and Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Authors expose a dilemma with a question or doubtful statement. The goal is to gain sympathy and change the frame of the debate by describing a difficult situation and inviting the audience to plug solutions.

How to prepare aporias

  1. Assess how the audience thinks of you.
    (e.g. They think I am a lazy person unwilling to find a job.)

  2. Identify three big problems that make it hard to improve the situation.
    (e.g. digitalisation, age, negative replies)

  3. Reframe the setting by explaining the dilemma with the help of questions.
    (e.g. How do you predict the job market in view of digitalisation? What career should a 55-year-old , unemployed woman pursue? How do you remain positive when you mainly receive no or another negative reply?)

Exercise

Botswana’s court is currently holding hearings on decriminalising gay sex. Prepare a short speech (including an aporia) for the judges.

Ben WilhelmComment