Do you know the secret?
If you don’t, you may be wondering what a 2300-year-old theory has to do with public speaking today.
In a word — everything!
In this article, you’ll learn what ethos, pathos, and logos are. You’ll also learn what every speaker needs to understand about these three pillars of public speaking.
What are Ethos, Pathos, and Logos?
In the simplest terms, they correspond to:
· Ethos: credibility (or character) of the speaker
· Pathos: emotional connection to the audience
· Logos: logical argument
Together, they are the three persuasive appeals. In other words, these are the three essential qualities that your speech or presentation needs before your audience will accept your message.
Before you can convince an audience to accept anything you say, they have to accept you as credible.
There are many aspects to building your credibility:
- Does the audience respect you?
- Does the audience believe you are of good character?
- Does the audience believe you are generally trustworthy?
- Does the audience believe you are an authority on this speech topic?
Ethos is your level of credibility as perceived by your audience.
Pathos is the quality of a persuasive presentation which appeals to the emotions of the audience.
- Do your words evoke feelings of: Love? Sympathy? Fear?
- Do your visuals evoke feelings of compassion?
- Does your characterization of the competition evoke feelings of disapproval?
Emotional connection can be created in many ways by a speaker, perhaps most notably by heartfelt stories. The goal of a story, anecdote, analogy, simile, and metaphor is often to link an aspect of our primary message with a triggered emotional response from the audience.
Logos is synonymous with a logical argument. It involves answering the questions below:
- Does your message make sense?
- Is your message based on facts, statistics, and evidence?
- Will your call-to-action lead to the desired outcome that you promise?
Which one is most important?
Ethos is usually seen by many scholars as the most important of all three appeals. Conversely, Aristotle believed Logos was paramount. However, when we analyze the most successful speeches of all time, they tell a different story.
Human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson received the longest standing ovation in the history of the globally famous TED conference. In his March 2012 speech titled, “We Need To Talk About An Injustice,” Stevenson shared his concerns about the racial imbalance in America’s justice system.
Stevenson knows a few things about persuasion. He argues cases in front of the U.S. Supreme Court—and wins. His 18-minute TED talk also won big. In addition to giving Stevenson a standing ovation, the audience assembled in the auditorium that day donated $1 million to Stevenson’s non-profit organization, the equivalent of $55,000 per minute that he spoke.
When Stevenson’s speech was studied, 65% of it was pathos. What can you learn from Stevenson’s power of persuasion?
If there’s one thing you can take away from his presentation, it’s this simple fact: You cannot reach a person’s head without first touching their heart. The single best way to make a heartfelt connection with your listener is through pathos and storytelling.