Great speeches have the power to persuade people to change their opinions about any issue. It’s for this reason that experts analyze them in great detail.
A common thread among most great speeches is the use of Aristotle’s three modes of persuasion—Ethos, Pathos, and Logos. These are commonly known as Aristotle’s Appeals or rhetorical appeals.
While speakers should study these to make effective speeches, the audience also needs to know about them to identify how they are being persuaded into believing certain points of view.
Ethos, Pathos, Logos: Meaning And Functions
Ethos is an appeal from a position of authority. The audience believes in what speakers have to say when they recognize their authority on any subject.
Speakers can use educational qualifications, work experience, or personal passion to establish their credentials.
For example, you would believe a news story if it appeared on a credible news source like CNN or the BBC rather than if you read about it first on social media. The more credible the source, the stronger your belief in it.
Pathos appeals to the audience’s emotions. Speakers use this technique to sway the audience by creating sympathy for their cause.
Speakers can also appeal to a common issue that is important for most of the audience. They can unite the audience, say, through their love for the nation or their fellow human beings. For example, the Tata Salt advertisement appeals to the patriotism of consumers by talking about how proud the brand is to be the “salt of India”.
Logos appeals to reason and logic. Speakers use logical arguments that lead to a particular conclusion. They also use facts, data, figures, and common truths to convince the audience about their message.
Speakers rely on the audience’s intellect and reasoning faculties to agree with their arguments and the final message.
When speakers can convince the audience that the message they are conveying is the only logical choice, you can assume that they have made good use of the concept of Logos.
How to Leverage Ethos, Pathos, Logos
To effectively use Ethos, Pathos, Logos in public speaking requires dexterity.
Let’s take the example of Ethos. Once speakers establish their credentials, they use them to build rapport with the audience. A foundation of trust is built upon this rapport. It is this trust that they tap into. For example, the Colgate ads feature dentists who endorse the product and say it’s the best. All of us trust dentists so we believe in their message.
Pathos is deeply interlinked with body language. A faltering voice, loss for words, a slumped posture are all subtle ways of demonstrating emotions. Pathos isn’t just limited to emotions; it also uses humor. A well-placed joke can create likeability for the speaker. For example, many well-known standup comedians use jokes and humor to deliver harsh and uncomfortable political truths.
Logos is used a lot, especially in public opinion. It is the preferred tool for academics and public intellectuals. The strength of Logos is that the speaker appeals to the audience’s common sense.
Some believe that Ethos, Pathos, and Logos are distinct approaches and you can use only one at a time. This is not true. All great speakers combine them in their speeches.
Harappa Education’s Speaking Effectively course shows you how to optimize your message using the three Aristotle’s Appeals. The course also teaches you how to make your speeches believable and connect with your listeners. It has sections dedicated to making an impact and using empathy in daily conversations. Sign up now to become a true influencer.
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