Ethos, Pathos, Logos: how to persuade people - Deepstash
Ethos, Pathos, Logos: how to persuade people

Ethos, Pathos, Logos: how to persuade people

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“Persuasion is clearly a sort of demonstration, since [people] are most fully persuaded when we consider a thing to have been demonstrated.”



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<p>Aristotle called these the ...

Aristotle called these the three artistic proofs. Combined together, they allow any orator to make their message more powerful, and increases their likelihood to convince their audience. While they are extremely advantageous skills to master in order to persuade people, they’re also useful in order to understand how you’re being persuaded yourself.

While ethos is focused on you, logos is focused on the message, and pathos on the audience.


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Ethos: appeal to authority

Ethos is all about building trust. It can be defined as how well you convince your audience that you are qualified to speak on the subject. It may seem obvious that if someone is listening to a talk about design, they’re more likely to believe a professional designer than a professional cook, but there are many ways to create credibility.

The most obvious one is to use credentials, either yours or by being introduced by a prominent authority in the field who can vouch for your expertise. 


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Pathos: appeal to emotions

The terms empathysympathy and pathetic are all derived from the word pathos, which means “suffering” or “experience” in Greek. It consists in appealing to your audience’s emotions—to make them feel what you want them to feel by triggering specific emotional reactions. Great storytellers are usually skilled masters of this mode of persuasion.


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Logos: appeal to reason

Finally, you obviously need for your message to make sense—or at least to seem logical. Unfortunately, it is possible to use the three modes of persuasion to convince an audience of something wrong.

Logos is the way you present your arguments in a logical order, which must feel so straightforward and rational that no other alternative can be conceived by your audience.


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How to use ethos, pathos, and logos

How to use ethos, pathos, and logos

  • Establish ethos. You need to build your reputation by developing deep expertise in the topics you want to address.
  • Develop pathos. Pathos is all about your ability to tell stories.
  • Convey logos. With logos, your goal should be to make your message logical and understandable.


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Scholars have discussed the mechanics of persuasion since ancient times. Persuasion encompasses every aspect of culture, with rhetoric as a crucial tool to influence every sphere of society, from mundane negotiations to big national debates. One could argue any form of communication is a form of persuasion. Whether through writing or talking, at home or at work, with friends or customers, chances are you spend a good amount of your time trying to persuade someone of something. In Rhetoric, Aristotle defines three main ways to persuade people: ethos, pathos, and logos.

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