The first rule of rhetoric: Let us start with the basics of speaking.

The fundamental role that is mostly neglected
First rule of rhetoric: Let us start with the basics of speaking.

The first rule of rhetoric


Does everyone have to say something about everything? In my opinion, the most important rule of rhetoric and good communication style is that those who have nothing to say should shut up.

You have something to say? Let's make sure it gets the chance it deserves.

The first and most important rule of rhetoric



1. rhetorical rule:


Those who have nothing to say should shut up.


It is worthwhile to consider the most important rule of rhetoric. And it isn’t a new one.




The basics of communication


The first rule of good style – almost sufficient in itself – is that you have something to say.

Arthur Schopenhauer




Once upon a time…


I had an otherwise very esteemed colleague who used to express himself regularly every 15 minutes. And he did this largely independently of the topic and the relevance of the personal contribution to it. He had read in a career guide that behavior would be good to progress with his career.

With cause and effect, it is sometimes such a thing. He has succeeded well with his career, and therefore he will probably consider this recommendation right. I think, however, that he was able to make a career with his other knowledge and skills. His verbal contributions in meetings, however, were no pleasure for everyone else involved. It was a direct violation of the 1st rule of rhetoric: Who has nothing to say, better shut up! Or in the words of Abraham Lincoln: “It is better to remain silent and be suspected of being an idiot than to speak and thereby remove all doubts.




Am I exaggerating my position?


With some distance to this article, I tend to relativize my thoughts. I still stand by the basic statement, but the words can also be misunderstood. After all, I am a great friend of the idea that speakers express their thoughts while forming an opinion and sharing it with others. This can be very enriching for everyone involved. It is not about one’s ego, but about contributing something.

So every speaker is invited to think about his or her intention beforehand.

Preparation of important speeches and presentations


Those who do not speak are not heard, and even those who speak up are not always successful. There are a few more steps that need to be mastered.

Do you want to convince with your message and also as a personality? Then I will help you to prepare your speeches and presentations. You determine the scope. At least, I recommend a test run with professional feedback for you and your message. Then you will know how you and your content are perceived, what you should do, and what you should leave out, where there is potential. Why do you want to get such helpful feedback so late after your real performance? Then it is too late for adjustments. Benefit from the advantage. My definition of luck: Preparation meets opportunity.

You can best estimate for yourself where the effort is worthwhile concerning the expected benefit. Here you will find the fees for my support (communication, psychology, language, structure, voice, body language, storytelling, rhetorical means, media such as PowerPoint and Co., etc.)

You are not in Berlin right now? Then choose meetings with me via telephone or video support. Whereby, there are quite good reasons for a trip to Berlin.

By the way, many people suffer from such intense stage fright in front of an audience, and therefore their performance lags behind their possibilities. Too bad, because with my help performance in a good condition is possible. Just in case...

A good start: Professional feedback with suggestions for improvement​


How persuasive are you and your messages in speeches and presentations? How good are you at the 111+ most important presentation skills? I have been analyzing speeches since 1998. After evaluating 14,375 speeches and presentations, and numerous mistakes of my own, most of which I only discovered after a delay, I can tell you exactly what works with which audience. Let me give you the feedback that will help you get ahead. You will receive essential feedback and recommendations, as well as the impulses you need to persuade your audience in concrete situations.

Are you interested? If so, here is how to get helpful feedback with recommendations for improving your speeches and presentations.

Just ask me personally


Please post any questions that may be of interest to other readers in the comments. Looking for professional help?

If you are interested in coaching, training or consulting, if you have organizational questions, or if you want to make an appointment, you can reach me best via this contact form (you can choose whether you want to enter your personal data) or via e-mail ( You can also reach me by phone at +49(0)30 864 213 68 or by cell phone at +49(0)1577 704 53 56 from Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to 18:00. Most of the time I am in meetings, so please leave a message with your phone number in Germany. Please remember to be very specific about the reason for your call. I will get back to you as soon as possible. The privacy policy can be found here.

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First rule of rhetoric: Those who have nothing to say should shut up. - Karsten Noack

This article is a short excerpt from the more comprehensive course materials my clients receive in a group or individual training or coaching.

Published: May 2, 2015
Author: Karsten Noack
Revision: August 20th, 2023
Translation: ./.
German version:

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