I read an article the other day, doesn’t really matter which one, that really grabbed my attention and engaged me.
As I continued to read, the realization came to me that this wasn’t the self-help or informative style of article that I usually sought out. Oh no … it was a rant! A rant, thinly disguised as expert advice.
I enjoy a good rant. Rick Mercer, of CBC’s the Mercer Report, is turning ranting into an art. His rants are fast paced, always have a recognizable target and are easy to follow. Even if you haven’t heard of the facts or evidence that he backs his argument up with, it leaves you wondering about what he has said and eager to find out more on your own.
The author of the article broke the rules of ranting, saying that anyone that disagreed with his ‘facts’ was stupid, making it personal to me. That got me thinking about rants in general. Are there any rules when writing or orally delivering a rant? Does the end justify the means? Is this another ‘might vs right’ scenario? Does good taste come into play when delivering a rant, or is it a ‘no holds barred, anything goes’ type of scenario?
Since rants seem to becoming more common, I thought it might be interesting to research best practices on how to rant with the best of them.
Vocabulary.com describes rant as follows: A rant is an argument that is fuelled by passion, not shaped by facts. When the shouting starts on talk radio, or when a blog commenter resorts to ALL CAPS — you’re almost certainly encountering an instance of ranting.
As for actual definitions, they provide the following: talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner; a loud bombastic declamation expressed with strong emotion and/or pompous or pretentious talk or writing.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m not getting the warm fuzzies from those definitions. Let us bring the term ‘raving’ into the discussion. Once again, Vocabulary.com defines raving as: talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner [that sounds familiar!] and/or praise enthusiastically.
So if I understand ‘ranting and raving’ … ranting is when you go off on a tear about a subject, and raving is when I speak enthusiastically about a subject. I guess determining whether one is ranting or raving is in the eye of the beholder!
Vocabulary.com goes on to say … Rant comes from the Dutch ranten, “to talk nonsense.” Rave is a close synonym — in fact, “to rant and rave” is a popular expression. When rant is used as a noun, it means something like tirade. The first recorded usage of rant is from the end of the sixteenth century, in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor. By the middle of the turbulent seventeenth century, the name Ranters was used as a catchall pejorative for various groups of radical Christian dissenters.
The best place to start to create your award-winning rant is with a subject that fires you up. Perhaps you read an article on Linkedin as I did or a newspaper article or a piece on your local television news that gets your creative juices flowing. If you seem to be spending a lot of your time thinking about the specific topic, sharing and discussing your beliefs with others and possibly even losing sleep over it, odds are you have the meat for a good rant. You just need to have the potatoes to go with it. Are you knowledgeable on the subject? Do you have a special insight that the original person doesn’t seem to have? If so, then you are probably ready to move forward.
Rae’s Recipe for Ranting:
I recall a story that I believe took place in Prince George B.C. a few years back, where a local politician stated that “things were so tense that they were burning crosses in the front yards of the houses.” There was no truth to her so-called fact. Not only did it affect her credibility, it opened her to ridicule and I believe that her comments were lampooned on CBC’s This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Royal Canadian Air Farce. Rants can sometimes go sideways on you if you aren’t careful.
Part Two: Nailing the Tone (derived from Wikihow)
- Every time you make a claim in your rant, get in the habit of asking yourself, “So what?” Then answer that question.
- Highlight contradictions or logical fallacies. The best way to rant is to skewer the topic at hand by pointing out all the ways in which it’s completely wrong, ridiculous, or terrible. Connect the dots for us.
Part 3: Avoiding Common Mistakes
- Don’t make it personal. Argue about the content, not the individual who created the content. Despite what Part 2, derived from WikiHow above, eludes to, the goal is not to destroy your opponent, only to win the argument. Keeping in mind that it very well may be a one-way argument as the other person may never know that you are even disagreeing with them unless you bring them into the disagreement. Avoid the temptation to attack the character. Caution is advised in that some people have a brittle ego and do not have the ability to accept contrary views to their own. There is the possibility that they may lash out at you with an actual physical or on-line cyber attack. As one who has worn the mantle of ‘devil’s advocate’ many times I have seen some nasty responses to people who haven’t liked their world view challenged.
- Address the issue from an intelligent point of view. You’ll be on a fast-track to embarrassing yourself if you go out and start ranting about an issue you know nothing about. Get smart before you start making noise.
- Avoid logical fallacies. Your rant has to make sense, even if it’s running on its passion. Be familiar with the basics of creating an argument and sustain it with good points and logic, or your rant will fall apart. Every argument should include:
Closing Thoughts: We are bombarded daily with media sound bytes, diatribes from people with access to the media and force fed “official” propaganda from our elected officials. Crafting and delivering a rant in response to a cause that irritates you may not change the world around you but it might just change one person’s opinion. Then another and another … That’s how social movements develop. Go ahead … rave when you are passionate about a subject that you strongly believe in and rant when you strongly disagree with someone else’s opinions. I look forward to hearing your rants … or maybe not!
For further discussion on public speaking, speech development, communication skills and Toastmasters, visit the Live For Excellence Book Store for the following publications:
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The Savvy Emcee: How to be a Dynamic Master of Ceremonies
Working With Words: Adding Life to Your Oral Presentations
Rae A. Stonehouse is an author, speaker, and self-publishing consultant dedicated to helping others embrace constant improvement and overcome challenges. With over 40 years of experience as a Registered Nurse in psychiatry and mental health, Rae brings a wealth of knowledge and passion for self-development to his writing and presentations.
As a 25+ year member of Toastmasters International, Rae has systematically built his communication abilities and self-confidence to share his insights as an author and speaker. His self-help books and personal development presentations aim to have conversational one-on-one connections with readers and audiences.
Rae is known for his wry sense of humor and sage advice delivered in a relatable coaching style. After four decades as a nurse, Rae has rewired rather than retired, actively writing and pursuing public speaking. He strives to share lessons learned to help others achieve personal and professional growth.