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Using Ethos Pathos and Logos

Good rhetoric not only makes you appear competent and likeable, it can also lay the foundation for completely new professional opportunities. With this in mind, it's always a good idea to take a look at your own communication skills and question where there is still room for improvement. In this article, we would like to introduce you to three important components of rhetoric and explain how you can use them to further captivate your audience. It's about logos, ethos, and pathos.

Want to know how to write an essay using ethos pathos and logos? Read here:

The rhetorical triangle

Rhetoric is a multi-faceted topic that would certainly provide material for numerous blog posts. In this one, we would like to limit ourselves to the so-called rhetorical triangle, consisting of logos, ethos, and pathos, and explain to you what is behind these terms.

To begin with: a good rhetorician uses all three areas and thus creates a triangle that is as balanced as possible. As soon as one component predominates, the triangle shifts in the respective direction. This does not automatically make a speech, a presentation or an interview worse. But the listener or reader will probably notice that the sender has placed particular emphasis on one of the three pillars. It is up to you whether you want to accept this or even consciously use it - or not.

Logos: We want facts, facts, facts

An excellent speech is based on facts - most people probably agree on that. Especially at a time when online discussions are often deliberately emotionalized and far removed from any logical argumentation, it becomes clear how important facts, "hard figures" and logical causalities are for a common consensus.

Or in other words, logos is the area that gives your rhetoric the necessary credibility and underpins your status as an expert. You can accomplish this through, for example:

  • Statistics and studies
  • Quotes
  • Evidence
  • Arguments
  • Indisputable truths

Logos appeals to the rationality of your audience or readers. It is therefore much less about their emotional world than about logical connections, facts, and comprehensible statements. In short: Logos forms the professional as well as factual basis of your rhetoric and as such is indispensable in almost all cases.

Ethos: Trust through personal values

The rhetoric pillar Ethos primarily addresses the emotionality of your target audience, but also makes use of various rational intersections. Here, the principal focus is on conveying who you are and what you stand for. The goal of ethos is therefore to create trust, to bind listeners or readers to you and to convey to them what values and positions you stand for.

You can use a variety of information for this purpose, for example:

Your background: education, studies, professional experience - all this shows who you are, where you come from and what you stand for.

Your values: Define three key values that you will always incorporate into your rhetorical contribution.

Your point of view: listeners or readers want to know exactly which "side" you are on.

Ethos is most effective when you are honest with your audience from beginning to end and do not play a role. Authenticity is an important factor in good rhetoric and must never be forgotten.

Pathos: The world of emotions

A successful rhetoric contribution lives not only on facts and (personal) values but also on as much emotion as possible. Even if it may seem unprofessional at some points, you should never be stingy with emotions and captivate your audience in this way.

Whether joy, anger, helplessness, euphoria or sadness - almost every emotion has its place in rhetoric and may gladly be expressed through voice, facial expressions and gestures. Of course, it is important that the emotion

  • can be identified without doubt (your audience must not wonder: "Is he/she upset or euphoric now?") and
  • is appropriate (jubilant joy when talking about global warming, for example, could cause irritation).

The rhetorical goal of pathos is to literally sweep your audience along and captivate them. You may exaggerate a little bit - as long as you always keep your own authenticity in mind and stay true to it.

If you want to give your rhetoric the necessary pathos, you can, among other things:

  • Express emotions linguistically, but also nonverbally
  • Use metaphors and other "language images"
  • Consciously vary your voice (speak higher, lower, slower, faster)
  • Address your audience directly as "your" or "you're".
  • Integrate pictures and videos into your presentation
  • Interact with your audience in a deliberate and purposeful way (if possible)
  • Inquire about the emotions of your audience (if possible)