8.3 The 9 Cognate Strategies

icon showing two dialogue balloons one with a smile one with a frownTone

Your choice of words, your clothing, your voice, body language, the rhythm and cadence of your speech, the use of space – these all contribute to the tone of the presentation. Tone, or the general manner of expression of the message, will contribute to the context of the presentation.

icon showing an exclamation mark inside a squareEmphasis

As the speaker, you need to consider how you place emphasis—stress, importance, or prominence—on some aspects of your speech, and how you lessen the impact of others. Emphasis as a cognate strategy asks you to consider relevance, and the degree to which your focal point of attention contributes to or detracts from your speech. You will need to consider how you link ideas through transitions, how you repeat and rephrase, and how you place your points in hierarchical order to address the strategy of emphasis in your presentation.

icon showing a heart inside a person's headEngagement

Engagement is the relationship the speaker forms with the audience. Engagement strategies can include eye contact, movement within your space, audience participation, use of images and even the words you choose. To develop the relationship with the audience, you will need to consider how your words, visuals, and other relevant elements of your speech help this relationship grow.


icon showing a lightbulb with lines emitting as a representation of "on"Clarity

“Clarity strategies help the receiver (audience) to decode the message, to understand it quickly and completely, and when necessary, to react without ambivalence” (Kostelnick & Roberts, 1998). Your word choices and visual elements should be chosen carefully, and used together appropriately, to ensure you’re conveying the right meaning. Remember it can be difficult to see dense graphics in a large presentation setting.

icon showing a stopwatchBeing Concise

Being concise is part of being clear – it refers to being brief and direct in the visual and verbal delivery of your message, and avoiding unnecessary intricacy. It involves using as many words as necessary to get your message across, and no more. If you only have four or five minutes, how will you budget your time? Being economical with your time is a pragmatic approach to ensuring that your attention, and the attention of your audience, is focused on the point at hand.

icon showing a hierarchy of topics


As the speaker, you will gather and present information in some form. How that form follows the function of communicating your message involves strategically grouping information. “Arrangement means order, the organization of visual (and verbal) elements” (Kostelnick & Roberts, 1998) in ways that allow the audience to correctly interpret the structure, hierarchy, and relationships among points of focus in your presentation.

icon showing an award with a check mark at the centreCredibility

You will naturally develop a relationship with your audience, and the need to make trust an element is key to that development. The word “credibility” comes from the word “credence,” or belief. Credibility involves your qualities, capabilities, or power to elicit from the audience belief in your character. Consider persuasive strategies that will appeal to your audience, build trust, and convey your understanding of the rhetorical situation.

thought balloon with 3 dots representation audience expectationsExpectation

Your audience will have inherent expectations of themselves and of you depending on the rhetorical situation. Expectations involve the often unstated, eager anticipation of the norms, roles and outcomes of the speaker and the speech.


icon showing a magnifying glass with a book beneath itReference

No one person knows everything all the time at any given moment, and no two people have experienced life in the same way. For this reason, ensure you use references carefully. Reference involves attention to the source and way you present your information. The audience won’t expect you to personally gather statistics and publish a study, but they will expect you to state where you got your information.

31. The 9 Cognate Strategies” from Communication for Business Professionals by eCampusOntario is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License

Talking Business Copyright © 2023 by Laura Radtke is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book