When we speak, we are selling our message, our unique insight, our brand, our ideas, and our service. If that service is intangible, it’s even more important to be able to speak persuasively, so that others are aware of the value that we offer. 

We are all in sales, whether directly or not. 

A presentation with a strong persuasive element can provide information to people in a way that inspires them to take action. 

The art of persuasion is a skill worth learning. The ancient Greeks believed that every person should study public speaking and the art of persuasion. 

According to Aristotle (c. 384 B.C. to 322 B.C.) an Ancient Greek philosopher and scientist, there are three forms of rhetoric used to influence people. 

Ethos, Pathos and Logos. 

To speak persuasively you need to understand and apply each of these three elements.

To speak like a leader and stand out with your presentation skills, consider the wisdom of Aristotle when you next speak.

Ethos

The Greek word ethos refers to ethical appeal; it’s how we convince an audience of our credibility, character and reputation.

In establishing your authority to speak early on in your talk, you can demonstrate expertise in your field. You can include this as part of your speaker introduction or by reference to a particular piece of research or work in the area. A well-crafted introduction and opening that has a balance of establishing credibility and addressing the ‘what’s in it for them’ is an ideal way to start. 

It’s easy to call yourself an expert. How do you demonstrate ethos in your presentations to back up your claim? 

So, how do you consider ethos when planning your next high stakes presentation?

1. Know your topic  

Ideally, you will be speaking on a topic in which you are a subject matter expert and keep abreast of current trends and insights into your theme. No one expects to attend a talk with stale or irrelevant information, so keep your content fresh and topical. 

2. Know your audience 

What does the audience understand about your topic of expertise? Are they fellow industry experts? Or do they know little to none about the subject? When you take the time to find out what you can about your audience, you can pitch your message at the appropriate level. No one wants to be baffled by jargon, and equally as ineffective is to water down material to an audience who crave the details. While you can never please everyone, if you find out who will be attending your talk, you are more likely to deliver content that reaches the intended audience. 

3. Demonstrate confidence and presence

How you deliver the message is as important as what you say. When you work on your body language, natural movement, gestures and voice, you can present in a way that gains attention. Things to avoid are; saying sorry, shrinking, speaking in high-pitched tones, and speaking ‘at’ rather than ‘with’ people. Learn to work and control your breath and your voice, so that you can stand grounded, and speak with authority as well as authenticity. 

Logos

speak persuasively using the concept of logos

Logos is how we appeal to logic and reason, and we can do this by providing evidence to support our message. Think about what data, facts and figures you can include that supports your message and gives it logical appeal. When we don’t get the right balance of logic versus emotion, we are less likely to appeal to our audience to take action.

Here are three ways that you can include logos to your presentation:

1. Use stunning visuals

I am not a fan of slides, as too often they are used poorly. However, when the right slide is used at the right time to provide relevant information to support your case, it works well. Think about how you can present your information and data in a way that is highly visual, engaging and memorable. 

2. Develop a logical argument

Your audience won’t be on board if your material is not presented in a clear and compelling way. A sound and logical argument is part of the premise for your speech. Use vivid, descriptive and sensory language. Providing a persuasive argument does not have to mean overloading with technical blurb or jargon. So long as you can make the connection between your point and your case, your overall message will be more persuasive.

3. Use real examples 

Real examples and case studies that are relevant to the context and content for a particular audience will go a long way. If the audience is unable to connect with your logical argument, they won’t come on board with your message. 

Pathos

speak persuasively using the concept of pathos

Pathos is how we appeal to the emotional side and connect with the feelings of our audience, and is a tool that we can use to create a shared experience. If they don’t feel anything, they don’t do anything differently, and it’s not necessarily the warm and fuzzy feeling you want to elicit. There may be times when creating feelings of anger and frustration may be the required catalyst for change. As speakers, we are not in the business of making people feel good; we are in the business of helping people to change for the better. 

Here are three ways that you can add pathos to your next talk

1. Use analogies and metaphors

When you use figures of speech, including analogies and metaphors, you can create an emotional connection by tapping into the emotions felt by your audience. It may be a simple image or model that you show or a brief example. 

 2. Have some fun

To help your audience to take action, allow them to enjoy the experience. Even if your topic is heavy, consider how you can use light and shade so that you can lift the room. It’s not about being deliberately funny; it’s about uncovering the humour using everyday examples and observations. You don’t have to be a natural comedian to add fun and humour into your talks. Humour elicits emotion.

3. Tell stories

There is no better tool available to us as speakers than the ability to weave stories through our material. Let your stories do the work, use storytelling as a tool and take people on a journey.  

If you utilise pathos well, your audience will feel the same emotions that you do. Your audience will feel the pain, the joy, the hope, and the fear of the characters in your stories. They will no longer be passive listeners. They will be motivated to act.”

Andrew Dlugan

Here’s how can I help you

If you are looking for a keynote speaker for your next event let’s chat about how I can help make your event a success.  

If you would like to work with an experienced and certified Public Speaking and Business Storytelling Coach to help you prepare and deliver a pitch, award or conference presentation, then let’s chat about how we can work together. Wherever you are located in the world we can work together via Zoom or if you are based in Australia we can work together in person.

If you’d like a complimentary analysis of your speaking style and message or you’d like to chat about how I can help you transform your communication and speak persuasively then please get in touch.


As a Certified World Class Speaking and Storytelling Coach, I’ll help you mine, refine and deliver captivating stories for your business or brand and speak persuasively. Whether it is the boardroom, ballroom, platform, podium or stage, together we will craft powerful presentations with compelling stories that are hard to forget.

I help leaders who want to make an impact with their message through speaking and storytelling so they can be confident, memorable and credible as a communicator.