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Procatalepsis – Anticipating Your Audience’s Objections

By July 21, 2015August 14th, 2022No Comments
word cloud, hundreds of figure of speech, large text of procatalepsis

Procatalepsis is an impact figure of Speech for improving persuasion and influence. As a betting person, I would bet you one billion Monopoly® dollars you use procatalepsis frequently, likely as much as daily.

Procatalepsis is a strategy of prebuttal and counter argument, where you take into account your audience’s objections. You may even want to concede certain points as well as empathize with your audience. In influence and persuasion, as the communicator your are ensuring your ideas/points sound stronger and therefore, should be adopted. The level of intensity of the prebuttal is up to you — you must Know Your Audience! The desired outcome is that you demonstrate you have done your homework and show your audience you appreciate their points of view. Consider using in data storytelling, budgeting, planning meetings, training, and so much more. [Note, using questions is hypophora, a form of procatalepsis]

I share figures of speech as the English language has hundreds of literary devices to help you (dramatically) improve the effectiveness and impact of your various communication.

Whatever your goal, what is most important is the application of each figure of speech in your written, spoken, and social media communication.

When I do my consulting, workshops, training, and teach my class on public speaking and storytelling (I’m an adjunct professor at The Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland), I tell them all…

“You never have to remember the actual Greek word for the figure of speech.
You DO have to remember the concept and proper use of it.”

The Repetition Figures of Speech series includes Anadiplosis, Anaphora, Diacope, Epanalepsis, and Epiphora.

The Amplification Figures of Speech series includes Epizeuxis and Onomatopoeia.

Other figures of speech include Asyndeton, Polysyndeton, Procatalepsis, and Portmanteau.

There are three major sections:

  1. Figure of Speech. Includes a little background, usage, definition, pronunciation, other related figures of speech, and etymology.
  2. Guidelines in Using. Follow these guidelines to ensure maximum impact.
  3. Examples of Procatalepsis. Find examples from speeches, presentations, presidential addresses, poems, music, and more

1) PROCATALEPSIS – FIGURE OF IMPACT

I guarantee you, you use procatalepsis, likely daily. It is just that you are unknowingly using it to defend your position. Perhaps it was when you pitched an new project? Perhaps it was in the board room requesting approval to launch a new service? Perhaps it was when you were trying to convince your family about a vacation destination?

Common examples of using procatalepsis is when you say phrases in anticipation of your audience’s reaction. Examples include, “you may ask…”, “I know what you are thinking…”, and “some of you might wonder…”

A well-crafted sentence with procatalepsis takes into account your audience’s potential and current opposition. And defends them or acknowledges that their counterpoint is true ahead of time to move the argument forward.

Definition Procatalepsis is a strategy of prebuttal or counter argument, where you include preemptive language that refutes and discredits your audience’s objections
Pronunciation pro-kat-uh-lep-sis
Also Known as Prolepsis, Prebuttal, Anticipatio
Related to Hypophora (Ask questions and then answer them)
Etymology Derived from the ancient Greek word προκατάληψις, meaning “seizing in advance.”  From words, προ (pro” or “before”) and κατάληψις (seizing”)

2) GUIDELINES IN USING PROCATALEPSIS

Here are some guidelines for you to ensure procatalepsis, achieves your communication goals:

Use Deliberately The strength of procatalepsis as a strategic figure of speech for impact, is in doing your research. Know Your Audience!
Combine with Other Figures of Speech
Procatalepsis in and of itself, is not a figure of speech for improving your presentation, training, story, etc. I recommend combining procatalepsis with repetition figures of speech (e.g., alliteration, anaphora, and diacope) and amplification figures of speech (e.g., auxesis, epizeuxis, and pleonasm) to truly achieve your goals.
Emphasize with Your Voice In my training and teaching, I share specifics on how to use one’s voice to add (dramatic) impact to your spoken communication. Think of yourself as an orchestra with three main instruments: Your Words, your Body Language, and your Voice. Varying your tone of voice, cadence, and speed are what separates a great speaker from a good speaker.

3) EXAMPLES

Look at the examples below. See how procatalepsis is used to increase the effectiveness and impact of your words. Then experiment, mixing and combining other figures of speech for repetition and amplification in your written, spoken, and social media communication.

Examples of procataleptic phrases:

  • “You may ask …”
  • “Some of you might be wondering …”
  • “I know what you are thinking …”
  • “I know what you are going to say …”
  • “You may misunderstand the concept that …”
  • “Perhaps you know it already …”
  • “Why should I/you care about it? Because… ”
  • “This might be interpreted as …”
  • “I know this is counter to …”
  • “My ideas may be challenge our …”

 

Example 1:  The Captives by Hugh Walpole

Without Notation “I recognize what you’re going to say” … “That if they study it well they’ll see that it wasn’t our fault. But will they look at it properly? Of route they won’t. You realize what cats they’re …”
With
Notation
I recognize what you’re going to say” … “That if they study it well they’ll see that it wasn’t our fault. But will they look at it properly? Of route they won’t. You realize what cats they’re …”

Example 2:  Apology by Plato

Without Notation Someone will say: “Yes, Socrates, however can’t you maintain your tongue, and then you can go into a foreign city, and no person will intrude with you?” Now I have tremendous issue in making you understand my answer to this … and that the lifestyles that’s unexamined isn’t worth living – which you are still less probable to trust. And yet what I say is true, despite the fact that a issue of which it is difficult for me to persuade you.
With
Notation
Someone will say: “Yes, Socrates, however can’t you maintain your tongue, and then you can go into a foreign city, and no person will intrude with you?” Now I have tremendous issue in making you understand my answer to this … and that the lifestyles that’s unexamined isn’t worth living – which you are still less probable to trust. And yet what I say is true, despite the fact that a issue of which it is difficult for me to persuade you.

Example 3:  A Modest Proposal by Jonathon Swift

Without Notation I can think about nobody objection that will in all likelihood be raised against this proposal, unless it need to be entreated that the range of human beings can be thereby lots lessened inside the kingdom. This I freely personal, and it was indeed the most important layout in presenting it to the world.
With
Notation
I can think about nobody objection that will in all likelihood be raised against this proposal, unless it need to be entreated that the range of human beings can be thereby lots lessened inside the kingdom. This I freely personal, and it was indeed the most important layout in presenting it to the world.

Example 4:  The Scorpio Illusion by Robert Ludlum

Without Notation “Please,” interrupted Cooke.

“I haven’t finished. To anticipate your objection, he’s a retired officer of US Naval Intelligence. He’s relatively young, early to mid-forties, I’d say, and I’ve no real knowledge of why he left the service, but I gather the circumstances weren’t very pleasant. Still, he could be an asset on this assignment.”

With
Notation
“Please,” interrupted Cooke.

“I haven’t finished. To anticipate your objection, he’s a retired officer of US Naval Intelligence. He’s relatively young, early to mid-forties, I’d say, and I’ve no real knowledge of why he left the service, but I gather the circumstances weren’t very pleasant. Still, he could be an asset on this assignment.”

Example 5:  Never Coming Back by Tim Weaver

Without Notation “Listen, Liz, I know this is tough to hear, but—’
“I know what you’re going to say,” she cut in, her voice quiet.
“I know what you’re going to tell me to do. Accept it. Move on. Try to forget about what happened to him.”
“He didn’t respond. She’d second-guessed him.”
“Right?”
“Right.”
“Well, it’s not so easy for me,” she said.
“I’m still here in London with all the memories, living next door to his empty house. I haven’t got myself a nice little holiday cottage in Devon to disappear to and forget about everything that happened.”
With
Notation
Listen, Liz, I know this is tough to hear, but—’
“I know what you’re going to say,” she cut in, her voice quiet.
I know what you’re going to tell me to do. Accept it. Move on. Try to forget about what happened to him.”
“He didn’t respond. She’d second-guessed him.”
“Right?”
“Right.”
“Well, it’s not so easy for me,” she said.
“I’m still here in London with all the memories, living next door to his empty house. I haven’t got myself a nice little holiday cottage in Devon to disappear to and forget about everything that happened.”

References: I use a combination of my experience, my personal library of books and journals, sources from the Internet, and my 500-plus page Story Elements Resource Guide. My favorite sources include, in alphabetical order: American Rhetoric, Encyclopedia Britannica, LitCharts, Literary Devices, Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Oxford English Dictionary, Silva Rhetoricae, and ThoughtCo. My favorite books include: A Handbook of Rhetorical Devices by Robert A. Harris; Elements of Eloquence by Mark Forsyth; and A Handlist of Rhetorical Terms, 2nd Edition by Richard A. Lanham.

Updated 2022
Photography Source:  Message Cloud/Word Cloud developed by The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. © Copyright 2022, All Rights Reserved.
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Ira Koretsky

Ira Koretsky has built The Chief Storyteller® into one of the most recognized names in communication, especially business storytelling. He has delivered over 500 keynote presentations and workshops in nearly a dozen countries, in more than one hundred cities, across 30 plus industries. His specialties are simplifying the complex and communicating when the stakes are high. He is also an adjunct professor in public speaking and storytelling at the University of Maryland's Business School. With over 25 years of experience, he is a sought-after storytelling coach, global speaker, trainer, consultant, communication coach, and public speaking coach.