Analyze any great argument from any time period and you will observe that the speech will contain at least one of these 3 modes of persuasion. These terms and the art of Rhetoric were invented by the brilliant mind Aristotle. The terms we are talking about are Ethos, Logos, and Pathos, the fundamental building blocks of persuasive speech. The ability to persuade a audience is a extremely important skill that traverses all domains of life.
A pre-requisite to learning the three modes of persuasion is the phase of invention. Invention is the phase where you research not only your side but the opposing sides argument as well. Thinking in advance what arguments could be used for or against any given proposition as well as deciding which argument is best for your side is crucial to success in argumentation.
Do not forget about the audience, as that is of much significance. You must know the audience, what they like, how they feel, any preconceived notions they may have and expectations. Without this solid base of understanding you will be on a one way trip to failure.
Now before I delve deep into the 3 modes of persuasion, I will give a brief run down for each. Ethos is the establishment of your authority to speak on a/the subject. Logos is logical argument. Pathos is utilizing emotion as opposed to logic to persuade the audience.
Would you rather a person with a medical degree treat you or a “WebMD doctor”? Credentials are how we are able to trust someone without having prior experience with them. Credentials are a form of Ethos. Ethos establishes your credentials on the subject matter so that the audience is able to trust you.
Audience needs to know that you are an expert in your field and that you know it damn well. In addition, the more closely you are able to relate to your audience the more they will trust you. Two speakers that have identical credentials, the one who is able to more closely relate with the audience will win the audience over.
After ethos is established, logos comes into place. Think of it like this, ethos is the stable base for your argument and logos is the locomotive that pushes it forward. The logic of the argument. You must seem very confident and straightforward with your logic, as if the audience could not think of an alternative.
Aristotle found that logos is most effectively used when you get the audience to reach the conclusion on their own. The audience will think of themselves as clever for figuring it out for themselves before you reveal it.
Another tool that can be used is the ‘commonplace’. A commonplace is an accepted premise that the audience shares. All forms of reasoning begin with a set of premises. In rhetoric the initial set of premises are regularly commonplaces. A commonplace is a cultures collective shared wisdom. To the audience, they often come across as common sense arguments.
It is smart to begin with a commonplace, and arrive at one in conclusion.
Many when they think of pathos they think of emotions along the lines of sad and dramatic. Reality is that pathos can be any emotion, frustration, jealousy, happiness, patriotism, etc. Any type of emotional response can be used.
It is essential to know your audience. Trying to evoke a feeling of sadness in a group of Nazi’s over a black man being persecuted would be next to impossible.
Paromologia is the tactic of conceding to an opponents point to come across as honest or scrupulous. This is to strengthen your own argument. Analogously, it is a tactical retreat to put you in a better position for the next round.
Jokes are a great tool to connect with the audience. More than just waking a sleepy audience, jokes allow you to come across as good-hearted and friendly, and are a form of ethos, as laughter is typically dependent on shared knowledge. Jokes and being able to create laughter in an audience show that you are relatable to them.
The three modes of persuasion are best used when they are incorporated into every part of the speech/text. It is not linear, more like a blend.
Feel free to ask any questions as I always look forward to answering and helping others out!