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What Aristotle can teach us about persuasive speaking January 26, 2010

Posted by Connie Burtcheard in Tips and Topics.

In a recent blog by Andrew Dlugan titled “Ethos, Pathos, Logos: 3 Pillars of Public Speaking” identified Artistotles secret to being a persuasive speaker.

He introduces us to the three pillars that Aristotle outlined.  He identifies Ethos ad the credibility or character of the speaker.  He then tells us that Pathos is the emotional connection the speaker has with the audience.  He explains that Logos is the logical argument.

In this post, Dlugan states several times both in his statement as well as in response to a few of the commentators that all three of these pillars are important when giving presentations.  He teases us in this post about how each individual pillar relates to our speaking and promises to address each pillar individually in future posts.

I agree with him that each pillar is important in public speaking.  I also agree with the comment that depending on the audience and purpose of the presentation will determine the order of importance of these pillars.

I will continue to pass along Dlugan’s posts on this subject, but I would also like to get your opinion of which of these three pillars ranks the highest and under what circumstances.


1. Chris Gustafson - February 2, 2010

I would say that Pathos, your emotional connection to the audience, holds the most importance of the three. I can’t count the number of speakers who, while they may have made the most logical argument or hold a lifetime’s worth of credentials, did not connect with their audience or with me personally. Picture a physician and their bedside manner. While a doctor is certainly well-educated and hopefully, is making medical decisions based on sound logic, he holds no sway with the patient if his bedside manner or presentation is condescending or he just seems uncaring or distant. Conversely, a doctor with average skills or intelligence (yes, they exist…) that is able to build a strong emotional bond with the patient and their family is able to achieve more and risks less, statistically, of being sued if there is a bad outcome. Make an emotional connection with the audience and you have an open door to present your logic and build your credentials with the listeners.

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