Persuasive power: The Importance of Ethos, Pathos and Logos

Our current understanding of public speaking’s importance has been a continuous work in progress that has been time tested and time approved by over 2300 years of practical use and teaching. The importance for understanding the knowledge and skills that are associated with public speaking as well as its implemented use, makes it an essential tool for success in a variety of social, educational and working organizations. However, one essential aspect captured by public speaking truly identifies why it is such an essential tool for humankind, that being its persuasive power. The persuasive power that is granted through the successful use of public speaking ideals and standards allows for people to take a leading role in their wants and desires in life. This powerful concept of persuasion that is embedded deep in the attributes of public speaking is an unmistakable and overbearing pulse found in a multitude of both social organizations and personal relationships.

Associated attributes of persuasion:

  • Influence
  • Power
  • Motivation
  • Confidence

So exactly where does the backbone for the persuasive power inside public speaking develop from?

The answer lies in the three major components of Ethos, Pathos and logos that allows for the development of persuasion to take place inside a speech. The component of Ethos provides an understanding for the importance that a speaker’s credibility or character has in establishing persuasion. The second component of Pathos deals with the ability for a speaker to emotionally connect to the audience that he or she is speaking to. Finally, the third component logos establish the argument that is being discussed and presented to the audience. Each one of these components provides an essential link to the audience, persuading an audience to accept the message you are trying to express and in turn support the position you have established in your speech. It is important that each component is analyzed in order to see how they develop persuasion inside a speech.

Ethos

Aristotle stated, “We believe fair minded people to a greater extent and more quickly than we do others.” The first level of judgment that is casted by an audience is targeted at a speaker’s credibility. Before a speaker even takes a stage to speak, the audience has already begun to analyze the speaker in a variety of ways.

Credibility is established an analyzed through audiences perceptions on:

  • Respect
  • Authority
  • Trustworthiness
  • Expertise
  • Physical and Emotional presentation
  • History

Further development on Ethos

Pathos

Aristotle stated, “To understand the emotions—that is, to name them and describe them, to know their causes and the way in which they are excited.” The ability to tap into audience’s emotions can evoke feelings of connectedness and evoke the motivation to act and prescribe to the speaker’s thoughts and positions.

Emotional connectedness can be reached through:

  • Vivid storytelling
  • Descriptive use of language
  • Engaging delivery of information
  • Emotional emphasis in themes and words
  • Humor

Further development on Pathos

Logos

Aristotle stated, “Persuasion occurs through the arguments when we show the truth or the apparent truth from whatever is persuasive in each case.” Clear, concise and logical arguments provide substance to the speaker’s message. Aristotle believed that humans are fundamentally reasonable and are capable of making decisions based on what makes the most sense.

Arguments are supported and can be based off:

  • Facts
  • Statistics
  • Studies
  • Examples
  • History
  • Evidence

Further development on Logos

These three core pillars of persuasion set the foundation for connection between the audience and the speaker to be achieved. Though some people hold views on how important each component is, an application of all three components: Ethos, logos and Pathos allows for deeper development and support for persuasion to be expressed.

Sources:

Kennedy, G. A. (1991). On rhetoric: a theory of civic discourse. New York: Oxford University Press.

Sproat, E., Driscoll, D., & Brizee, A. (2012, April 27). Aristotle’s Rhetorical Situation. Purdue OWL: The Rhetorical Situation. Retrieved September 30, 2013, from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/625/03/

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