Aristotle never goes out of style: how to persuade your audience

Do you think that you are not a naturally persuasive person? Maybe you aren't but you can learn how to be.

You have a message to deliver, you want to persuade your audience to do something or you want to make yourself known. You need your audience to believe you, to see the logic in what you’re telling them and to feel a connection with you and what you’re saying. 

These are Aristotle's three proofs (or appeals.) These work for any kind of content, whether it's a presentation, a promotional video or advert. 

​So what exactly are the three proofs and how can you use them?

Ethos: This is your credibility. Why should the audience believe what you are saying? Make sure the audience knows about your relevant experience and qualifications. Why do people who have written a book so often get asked to do TED talks? Because the book is a sign of ethos, that you are en expert in what you’re talking about.

If you're presenting, don’t stand in front of your audience and reel off your whole CV, but do make sure you drop in some anecdotes about your experience, or that the audience are aware of your background before you start speaking. Highlight any relevant experience or qualifications when you introduce yourself (but keep it short and to the point.)

Here's an example of ethos in advertising: we believe Beckham because we know who he is and what he does

Logos: this is logic. You need to back up your message with facts. If you are trying to persuade your audience to buy your products, you need to present them with some facts and figures about how this product will help them.

Brexit bus
Logos in action, even if it was a total lie...

Pathos: This is an appeal to your audience’s emotions. Make your audience feel and they’ll remember what you’re saying. Make a connection with them by making eye contact and smiling. Make them laugh. Make them feel angry about injustice. Make them feel sad. Tell them a story. Speak to their hearts.

Charities often use pathos to appeal to our emotions: pathos

Next time you're planning a presentation, or any kind of content, think about how you can incorporate all three of these methods of persuasion and see just how persuasive you can be.

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