Public Speaking

Character (ethos) logic (logos) and passion (pathos)

The ability to persuade has never been in more demand. Anyone who can win hearts and minds will not be out of work for long. If communication begins with understanding, then it surely ends in persuasion. The old Greeks called it rhetoric: the art of speaking or writing effectively such as the study of principles and rules of composition formulated by critics of ancient times and  the study of writing or speaking as a means of communication or persuasion. Today, few of us study this art. But this ancient talent still has plenty to teach us about influencing and persuading with different effects and techniques.
Aristotle established that persuasion was a combination of three elements for a speaker: establishing a trustworthy reputation among his audience, using logic and stirring their emotions. This trilogy used to apply to ancient generals and orators as it does today for any manager selling an idea at a meeting.


Ethos is an appeal to the authority or credibility of the presenter, as well as the moral values that the members of the audience share in relation to the subject of the presentation or conversation. If the presenter knows or assumes that the members of the audience share certain moral values, the presenter then can appeal to those values to support their idea. In order to do that, the presenter has to demonstrate how their idea will agree, promote, or is connected to those moral values. It is also how well the presenter convinces the audience that he or she is qualified to present (speak) on the particular subject. It can be done in many ways:

By being a notable figure in the field in question, such as a college professor or an executive of a company whose business is related to the presenter’s topic.

By demonstrating mastery of the argot of the field.

By being introduced by or producing “bona fides” from other established authorities.


Pathos is an appeal to the audience’s emotions. It can be in the form of metaphor, smile, a passionate delivery, or even a simple claim that a matter is unjust. Pathos can be particularly powerful if used well, but most speeches do not solely rely on pathos. Pathos is most effective when the author or speaker demonstrates agreement with an underlying value of the reader or listener.

In addition, the speaker may use pathos to appeal to fear, in order to sway the audience. Pathos may also include appeals to audience imagination and hopes; done when the speaker paints a scenario of positive future results of following the course of action proposed.


Logos is logical appeal or the simulation of it, and the term logic is derived from it. It is normally used to describe facts and figures that support the speaker’s claims or thesis. Having a logosappeal also enhances ethos because information makes the speaker look knowledgeable and prepared to his or her audience. However, the data can be confusing and thus confuse the audience. Logos can also be misleading or inaccurate, however meaningful it may seem to the subject at hand.

Tips to prepare your next presentation

Increase these values by:

  • demonstrating that you share common values with your audience
  • delivering personal commitment to your proposal
  • showing practical good sense and moderation