Being a persuasive speaker requires a number of skills. You have to be charismatic. You have to be convincing. And, most importantly you have to speak powerfully to speak effectively.

Greek philosopher Aristotle’s three appeals of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos hold the secret to being a persuasive speaker and get the right message across. Logos, or appealing to the listener’s logic, Ethos, or the appeal of the speaker’s credibility, and Pathos, or emotional appeal help one to be an effective speaker. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his address to the nation to announce the extension of the lockdown successfully used Aristotle’s three appeals while addressing all the citizens of the country. His speech is a perfect example of effective communication during a crisis as the message reaches its audience in a persuasive manner. 

Modi delivered the address from a common man’s shoes. He acknowledged one’s challenges of acquiring necessities or of reaching out to their family, but at the same time repeatedly iterated, “You are doing it”. 

The speech referred to the harvest festival celebrations in its regional forms such as Baisakhi or Vishu. Along with it, the mention of Dr. B.R. Ambdekar’s birthday and the first words from the Constitution’s preamble,  “We, the people of India…”, added to the emotional appeal of the address. The emotional appeal was a clear example of Aristotle’s Pathos in the prime minister’s speech. 

The prime minister also used Aristotle’s appeal of Logos in his speech. He did a great job of convincing Indians that the lockdown measures are the most logical thing to do. He mentioned the strict standards the government had undertaken even before there were a few cases. The basic message: We are on the right track as a nation.

Aristotle’s appeal of Ethos, or the element of credibility, is also used in the speech. He said the state was making sure no stone was unturned in controlling the spread. Helping farmers, providing comfort to the poor, ensuring a smooth flow for supply chains and strengthening health infrastructure establishes the credibility of the state to deal with the COVID-19 crisis. 

The use of Logos, Ethos, and Pathos contributed to the success of the speech. Also, Modi successfully erased the boundary between himself and his audience by persuasively appealing to the Indian citizens for their support and coordination. 

And Modi left Indians with a call to innovate and to take care of themselves and others. He powerfully used his speaking skills to rally Indians to join hands in the fight against the coronavirus. 

Be cautious and stay safe. 

Ankit Batheja is Manager, Learning Impact at Harappa Education.


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