• David de Souza

'The Elements of Eloquence' - 80/20 Summary

Updated: Oct 6



  • Score: 9/10

  • Category: Story Telling

  • Mental Models: Anchors, Denial, Expectations & Predictions, Incentives, Innoculation, Reciprocity, Supply & Demand, Surface Area, Utility



Mental Models from the book:


'The Elements of Eloquence' can be summarised with 10 mental models:


1. Alloy


Create a word sandwich to add finality, emphasis or judgment. The formula is: (Word or phrase) + (brief interruption) + (word or phrase). For example: burn, baby, burn.


2. Attentional Bias


Humans, don’t talk in lists but that’s what makes them so effective. They startle and bewilder. They grab your attention. We aren't used to them.


3. Authority


Asking a rhetorical question both parties know the answer to can assert authority and belittle.


4. Catalysts


End a sentence with a word and begin the next with that same word. This gives both sentences power, strength, and the illusion of logic. It is satisfying, both beautiful and structured. It is progression. It is like a story that leads to a climax.


5. Emotions


A long sentence drawn out, with many commas stops you from being too emotional. You can't be too rude or enthusiastic with a long sentence.


6. Emotion: Mystery


Using a pronoun before a noun creates mystery and grabs your attention. For example: 'Nobody heard him, the dead man' instead of 'The dead man was not heard'.


The 14th Rule. The use of specific numbers (instead of “many”) feels mysterious and significant.

7. Randomness


Start a pattern (with 2 items) and break it (with the 3rd). For example: Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

8. Replication


Two phrases or sentences that are parallel and structurally similar can be used to imply the two things are the same even when not. For example: "Have a break, Have a KitKat" & "The Future is Bright, The Future is Orange".


9. The Law of Diminishing Returns


Repeating words twice, ads a bit of emphasis. Three times and it's "Like a nuclear bomb, effective but a bit weird if you use it every 5 minutes" For example: 'Location, Location, Location' & "Ask me 3 main priorities of government and I will tell you: education, education, education".


10. Vividness Bias


Use two senses described in terms of another. For example: 'Colours are harmonious' & 'Her voice is silky' & 'Music that stinks'.


Let me know how these summaries can be improved? Contact me via Email (david@thisdomain.co) or on Twitter.


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